Monday, March 30, 2009

Predictions 2009: AL

The American League. Junior circuit. Buckers of tradition. Laughers in the face of history. Whiners about their precious pitchers having to do anything remotely athletic. Let's take a look at how things might shape up this season for our overconfident kid brother. (Note: These predictions are based on absolutely nothing substantial or scientific. At best, they represent how I hope the races will turn out. At worst, they are merely lists wherein I try to remember which teams are actually in certain divisions. I have better uses for my time than paying close attention to the AL, after all. If you want more accurate guesstimates, visit some of the other UCB soothsayers.)
AL East.
The instigators. The (arguably) toughest division in all of baseball. Starting with the Yankees, these teams take up well more than their fair share of the spotlight. What helps me deal with this, though, is the fact that the spotlight doesn't back off just because you're having a "bad hair day" or one of your star players "admits to using performance-enhancing drugs". The good with the bad and all that.
I predict:
1. BOS Red Sox. It's hard to get too creative with this division, although last year was as surprising as anything. I just don't see Tampa repeating, and even with CC and AJ and JC, I don't think the Yankees have quite overcome their own egoes just yet. Besides which, they seem insistent on playing Jeter in an everyday role, and he's just awful. Think of Boston as my "default" pick for this division. 2. NY Yankees. See above. I hate their free-spending ways, but they do have CC. 3. BAL Orioles. They have César now, after all. For this team, he's an improvement. 4. TB Rays. Pennant hangover. Does that apply? 5. TOR Blue Jays. 2018 will be their year.
AL Central.
Much like the NL Central, this division is largely overlooked by the National Media. Is it the unsavory locale? Is it the unappealing location? Is it the unpleasant region? Is it...? Okay, we get it. We don't have a coast. We're stuck in the middle of the country with our cows and our "dirt for sale" and our well insulated mid-sections. That doesn't mean we don't have some good players and competitive teams, but much like your weather, Southern California, some things never change.
I predict:
1. CLE Indians. A-Rey will lead them to the promised land. Plus, they made a few notable acquisitions this off-season, although I can't seem to think of one right now. 2. MIN Twins. I wasn't going to rank them this high, but then I saw Slowey pitch. I had to give them props just for having him in the rotation. 3. CHI White Sox. I can't say anything bad about the Sox, partly because I get a kick out of Guillén, and partly because the black unis scare me. Unfortunately for the South-siders, they're going to come up short again this year. 4. KC Royals. Getting better every year. 5. DET Tigers. Getting worse every year.
AL West.
Really, I don't have much to say about the division that could just as easily be called "Angels 'n stuff". Oh, right, the A's picked up Matt Holliday. That should turn things around for them.... *rolling my eyes*
I predict:
1. LA Angels of Anaheim. They lost K-Rod but picked up Fuentes. Honestly, even without Rodríguez, I think they could have sleep-walked across the finish line last year. 2. TEX Rangers. Ehh. They're in this spot mostly for the sake of argument. Stranger things have happened, you know. 3. OAK Athletics. Oh, and Springer. 4. (white space) Reserved for the Astros* whenever baseball figures out how to divide 30 by six. 5. SEA Mariners. They aren't just going to lie on the floor of the basement of the division anymore, they're going to force MLB to contract the construction of a sub-basement. Mark my words, somehow the Mariners will finish fifth in a four-team race.
So, now that I've properly ticked off fans of almost every AL team, I guess we sit back and watch the season unfold, then meet back here in November and see how close I was. Come back tomorrow for the start of the National League predictions. We'll kick things off with the East, then cover the Central on Wednesday, and the West on Thursday. Friday, we'll pick our playoff favorites and speculate on who will take home all the various hardware. *I don't have any problem with the 'Stros being in our division, but if MLB were to pluck away a team from our abundance, the westernmost city, as you'll note, is Houston. Obviously it wouldn't be the Cardinals.