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Mar
26
2007

Fearless Baseball Predictions: American League

Well, Spring has sprung, and with the start of the baseball season less than a week away, I've decided to throw my "expert" picks into the vault for the upcoming 2007 season.  I'm not going to make wild predictions like picking the Devil Rays in the AL East or choosing the Royals to represent the American League in the World Series just for the sake of being different.  That takes no guts.  So, without further ado, here are my picks for the AL this year:

AL East

1. Yankees

2. Boston Red Sox*

3. Toronto Blue Jays

4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

*Wild Card 

I still believe the Yanks have the best team in the division even with their recent pitching woes.  Their lineup is balanced from top to bottom and they should really beat up on the lesser teams in the league.  Look for Alex Rodriguez to put up MVP-type numbers in his "opt year" and for Derek Jeter to continue being Derek Jeter.  But the deciding factor (as always) is the Sandman: Mariano Rivera.  If there is one guy who is responsible for the Yanks winning 4 World Championships and 9 straight AL East crowns, it's Rivera.  He's the main reason why the Yanks make it an even ten straight in 2007.  In my opinion, the Red Sox definitely made the right decision by reinserting Jonathan Papelbon back into the closer role.  David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are still the best 3-4 hitters in baseball.  That's why they get the nod for a wild-card berth.  The Blue Jays could be tough, especially if Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett stay healthy.  B.J. Ryan was also lights-out in his first year as the Blue Jays closer.  The Blue Jays are closing the gap on their rivals in the East, but still come up a bit short.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Chicago White Sox

3. Minnesota Twins

4. Cleveland Indians

5. Kansas City Royals

As much as I'd love to see Kenny Rogers, I-Rod and Gary Sheffield finish in 4th place this year, I can't deny that they still possess a strong starting rotation and an even stronger bullpen.  I also really like Jimmy Leyland's managerial style.  The Tigers let the division slip away in the final regular season game last year, but this year they get the job done.  The White Sox should challenge the Tigers for the division lead all summer, but I don't think pitchers Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle and Javier Vazquez can be counted on to pitch well consistently.  If the ChiSox get off to a slow start, look for Ozzie Guillen to be an early candidate on the managerial hot seat.  The Twins came out of nowhere to steal the division last year, but they can't start Johan Santana every game and their offense (even with last year's MVP Justin Morneau and batting champion Joe Mauer) lacks the overall depth to scare most teams.  Manager Rod Gardenhire has done a great job in Minnesota, but he just doesn't have the horses to make a run in this division.

AL West

1. Los Angels Angels of Anaheim

2. Oakland Athletics

3. Texas Rangers

4. Seattle Mariners

I'm amazed how the Angels don't win 100 games every season.  Their starting rotation is one of the best in the league, their lineup has a nice mix of power and speed and they have a dominant closer in Francisco Rodriguez.  If Bartolo Colon is fully recovered from his off-season rotator cuff injury, this team could easily clinch the West before the kiddies go back to school.  The A's are the league's zombie team; they refuse to die.  Every year they lose key players and every year they still contend.  But, the loss of Barry Zito hurts and Rich Harden has to prove he can remain injury-free.  Like the Twins, their offense doesn't frighten anyone, but if Nick Swisher can cut down on his whiffs and Milton Bradley can keep his cool, maybe the A's can contend with the Angels.  As for the Texas Rangers, I can only offer this:  Buck Showalter was dismissed from the Yankees after the 1995 season.  Result in 1996: Yanks win World Series.  Showalter was fired from the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2000 season.  Result in 2001: D-Backs win World Series.  Showalter was let go after the 2006 season with the Rangers.  Result in 2007: ? (Third Place).

AL Champ: Yankees

Am I picking with my head or my heart?  A little from column A, a little from column B.  The starting rotation was a concern even before the recent rash of injuries, but I still think the Yanks have the best team.  But, the BoSox are always tough, the Angels always give the Yanks trouble and the Tigers are the defending AL Champs, so it's not going to be easy in 2007.  Here's hoping my predictions turn prophetic and help the Yankees to their 40th pennant.

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5 Comments
[March 27, 2007 7:43 AM]  |  link  |  Reply
brandon said

Your predictions make me laugh. If Matrix were here, he'd laugh too.

You might want to rethink all of your Mariano praise. I mean, did you forget about Bernie? How many rings would the Yanks have won without HIM? Where would they be without all of his clutch hitting? What about all of those homeruns he brought back with his glove? Man, if I had a dime for every diving catch that guy made in the outfield or every base he stole when the Yanks desperately need it...he'll be missed. I love that guy.

Anyway, back to your predictions, the Sox will finish right where they were last year. Third place. Their pitching has gotten worse and they still have no one in that line up put around Man Ram and Mo Vaughn. Papeloser was too weak to finish the season last year, what makes them think he'll be able to do it this year?

Memo to all Yankee fans:
STOP GIVING THE RED SOCKS SO MUCH CREDIT! THEY SUCKED LAST YEAR, AND THEY ARE GOING TO SUCK THIS YEAR! IT'S GOING TO TAKE MORE THAN A TRICK PITCH FROM A GUY WHO'S NEVER FACED AMERICAN LEAGUERS', TO WIN THE DIVISION.

[March 27, 2007 12:48 PM]  |  link  |  Reply
Mike said

You're a funny man, Brandon, I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last.

I'm also glad that you're FINALLY giving Bernie the credit he deserves.

So, who gets the wild-card then?

[March 27, 2007 4:30 PM]  |  link  |  Reply
Marco said

Mike, I like your predictions. Very vanilla but, all in all, well thought out. However, I think you underestimate the Twins, like so many people do before the year starts. Come late in the season we'll all wonder how they remained right in the mix. As for Brandon I think you need to take a quick look back to last year. The Red Sox were right in it until that famous 5 game sweep in Fenway. They finished third because veteran teams that know they can't make the playoffs always pack it in early. Do you really think they would have tanked the year if they were still fighting for a playoff spot?

[March 27, 2007 4:53 PM]  |  link  |  Reply
Mike said

Marco,

So, I guess you're a big fan of Boof Bonser?

[March 28, 2007 7:43 AM]  |  link  |  Reply
brandon said

Marco, that 5 game sweep was in August. There were still 30+ games left in the season for the Sox to make up ground. Are you saying they packed it in with 30+ games left? I don't think that's true. They just suck. After the Yanks beat up on them, the Blue Jays did the same. The Jays actually owned Boston if I remember correctly. That's why they finished in third place. So I don't buy this idea that they "packed it in" because they weren't going to make the playoffs.

You guys can stop fearing Boston. They aren't the Devil.

You should be more worried about the NY media and their negative effects on today's players. Don't become one of them Marco! Don't do it! Think about your education! Think about what they taught you at Connecticut's School of Broadcasting!

See you at the party, Balletti!






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