|Trade Deadline Moves Could Shape AL Playoff Picture||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on August 13, 2011
After one of the busiest trade deadlines in several years, contenders are gearing up for the final two months of the season. Many prominent players switched teams, some of whom went from a last place team to a team entrenched in the playoff hunt.
With so many close races in the AL, it should be interesting to see if trade deadline acquisitions can be a major factor for a team trying to secure a spot in postseason. Here are At Home Plate's post-trade deadline AL playoff predictions:
The Red Sox acquired the oft-injured Erik Bedard. He's been a serviceable starter for the Mariners when healthy, but he's only started 46 games the past three seasons. It's curious that Boston would place its faith in an injury-prone starter when injuries have already hurt the team.
Boston also added Royals infielder Mike Aviles to give them some depth at shortstop. He goes from a last place team to a first place team that will be playing many meaningful games in September.
Meanwhile, the Yankees stayed put at the deadline. They were rumored to want to add a starting pitcher, but a deal was not made. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have been pleasant surprises, but how much longer can they sustain their success?
Until A-Rod returns, Boston's offense has a slight edge over the Yankees. Still, there's little chance another team catches New York in the Wild Card race.
Division Winner: Red Sox
AL Wild Card: Yankees
The AL Central was a close race for a while, but recently the Tigers have started making their move. Detroit has a comfortable lead in the division but didn't make any huge splashes at the deadline.
They added Wilson Betemit from the Royals and Doug Fister and David Pauley from the Mariners. While these guys are good role players, they aren't impact players that will help capture the division.
However, they don't need to be. Justin Verlander is on top of his game, and the team's offense is clicking at the right time.
The Indians shocked the baseball world by acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez. He hasn't come close to repeating his form from earlier last season, but if he pitches well, this could be a good fight.
Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo are recovering from injuries, so the Indians brought in Kosuke Fukudome. Entering the final two months of his lucrative contract with the Cubs, a change of scenery may do him wonders.
Cleveland has had a nice bounce back season, but it might fall just short.
Division Winner: Tigers
The AL West looked like a one-team race once the Rangers went on a hot streak earlier this summer. However, the Angels have been surging and are now right on Texas' heels.
The Rangers haven't had too many weaknesses this season, but one has been the bullpen, mainly the bridge to Neftali Feliz.
Texas was willing to part with promising starter Tommy Hunter and slugger Chris Davis to acquire Koji Uehara from the Orioles. The team also traded for Padres setup man Mike Adams.
Not only did the Rangers strengthen their bullpen, but they also did so with arguably the two best relievers (besides Heath Bell) that were available at the deadline.
The Angels stayed put, but the contributions of youngsters Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo as well as a surge in starting pitching, including Ervin Santana's no-hitter, have been the reasons for the recent surge.
This will be an interesting race to follow and may come down to head-to-head matchups. The teams still play each other 10 times including the final three games of the season. That will likely be a must-watch series.
While the Angels should make things competitive, the defending AL champs are the safe bet.
Division Winner: Rangers