Tag Archives: AL East

Hey, Red Sox, Play to Win the Game!

With two on and and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning of an eight run ball game against the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon, a Red Sox legend strode to the plate, the powerful…Sandy Leon.

OK, maybe not a Red Sox legend. But a Red Sox legend was supposed to. David Ortiz was set to come to the plate before Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to pinch hit Leon, a backup catcher for the Sox. Big Papi has been swinging a hot bat of late and had smashed a ball into the bullpen in right in the fifth inning, but Farrell decided to take out the dude people come to the ballpark to see and sub in the guy nobody’s heard of.

David Ortiz homered, but the Red Sox struggled on a sunny Sunday at Fenway.

David Ortiz homered, but the Red Sox struggled on a sunny Sunday at Fenway.

My brother Dan turned to me and said, “that makes me want to leave.” And I said, “me too,” and we stood up and headed for the exits on Yawkey Way.

From a purely baseball perspective, it was a pretty brutal day at Fenway–starting pitcher Eddy Rodriguez’s stuff was pretty on point for a while, but E-Rod (idk if people call him that) fell victim to a brutally suck out-y fourth inning in which a series of bloop singles and misplays in the field led to a six run frame, and Rodriguez left after struggling again in the fifth; Pedroia kept losing balls in the sun; the bullpen sucked (per usual); and the Red Sox never led.

But the one thing that really stuck in my craw was the decision to pull Ortiz in the ninth.

Sure, the Red Sox weren’t going to win. Only a miracle would have erased the eight run deficit the Red Sox were facing. But sports fans’ fandom, particularly good fans–the masochistic ones who root on their teams through thick and thin–hinges on the idea that sports games (and seasons) are not over ’til they’re over. That old Yogi Berra quote cuts straight to the core of sports fan (or player, for that matter) psychology. It’s why we wear rally caps. It’s why we love a fantastic comeback. Or a huge underdog. Games must be played to the end. It’s not over until the clock strikes zero. Or until the fat lady sings. Or whatever cliche floats your boat.

When a team says, “eh, we’re done with this game,” it’s a big F you to its fans. Sure, exceptions can be made. When you’re down 25 late in the fourth quarter of a basketball game, or 35 in a football game, sure, throw in the scrubs and run down the clock. But, as a general principle, the white flagged is best waved as late as possible in sports.

Of all teams, the Red Sox should know that. After all, it was the BoSox that came back from down 3-0 to the Yankees in ’04. In fact, the Red Sox have had enough late-game comebacks in the past decade to devote an entire blog post to them. And Ortiz is Mr. Clutch. There is nothing better than Ortiz in the box with runners on in the ninth. (Actually, that’s a lie: Ortiz in the box with runners on in extras might top it.) And what possible benefit could come from bringing in Sandy Leon? Did Ortiz need the rest? Had sitting on the bench all afternoon exhausted him? Was Ferrell worried about Ortiz pulling a hamstring on the walk to the plate? Had Ortiz already retired to the clubhouse for some fried chicken and beer, John Lackey style?

The Red Sox are not a very fun team right now. They’re a fielding disaster, their pitching is horrendous, and half their lineup is underperforming. But they’re still a pro baseball team. It’s one thing for Sox fans to be treated to bad baseball. It’s something else entirely to be treated to a team that quits on games.

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2015 MLB Preview: AL East

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the first College Sports Town divisional preview for the 2015 MLB season. I’m going to take a look at every team in the league, analyze each one’s offseason moves, and offer my prediction for what their respective seasons will look like. As always, I’m going to begin with the AL East. It has been a year of turnover for several teams in this division. The Tampa Bay Rays lost manager Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman along with several promising young players, the Boston Red Sox could not bring back ace Jon Lester, and the New York Yankees said goodbye to a little-known shortstop named Derek Jeter (perhaps you heard something about his retirement?). Will any of these teams be able to adjust to these changes well enough to challenge the Baltimore Orioles for the division crown?

Divisional Breakdown

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. New York Yankees

Team Breakdown

  1. Baltimore Orioles

Powered by Nelson Cruz’ league-leading 40 home runs and the stellar play of Adam Jones, the Orioles had a terrific 2014, winning 96 games before falling to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. This season, the Orioles will return a fairly familiar roster. Though Nelson Cruz will be missed in the middle of the lineup, new acquisition Delmon Young aims to provide production in the DH role. And though someone other than Nick Markakis patrolling right field at Camden Yards seems strange, Travis Snider is a promising replacement. The most important acquisitions of the offseason for the Orioles were the returns from injury for Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters. If these star players can return to form, the Orioles will be a formidable offensive threat once again in 2015. With a rotation that remains fairly solid yet unremarkable, and a serviceable bullpen, Baltimore will once again depend on the core of their lineup to power the team to victory.

Verdict

Best Case- Jones is stellar yet again, Machado, Davis, and Wieters are All-Stars once more, and the Orioles win the AL East for the second straight year.

Worst Case- Cruz’ production cannot be replaced, Baltimore’s core of stars is injury-riddled once again, and Baltimore falls short of a playoff spot.

If Chris Davis can return to his 2013 form, the Orioles will take flight once again.

  1. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have for several years been the bane of my prognosticating career, as the squad has bounced from last place in the AL East in 2012 to a World Series championship in 2013, then back to last place in 2014. However, I have confidence that I have finally pegged them accurately as a wild card team in this upcoming season. Just like their division rivals the Orioles, the highlight of this Red Sox team is the lineup. Joining Boston mainstays David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, who both signed massive contracts this past November, and my Rookie of the Year pick Rusney Castillo. The Red Sox should score plenty of runs, especially if young players like Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts produce adequately. The concern for this squad lies with the pitching staff. Jon Lester chose to go to Chicago rather than headline this bunch of solid yet unspectacular starters. Presumptive ace Clay Buchholz is wildly inconsistent and oft-injured, and it remains to be seen if solid pitchers Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson can maintain a higher level of success. The bullpen is decent, with Koji Uehara closing, but is filled with question marks like Craig Breslow and and Edward Mujica. The pitching staff has the potential to be quite good, but it might also be a disaster.

Verdict

Best Case- The offense fires on all cylinders, the staff impresses, and the Red Sox win the AL East.

Worst Case- Ortiz shows his age, the offense can’t score enough to make up for lackluster pitching, and the Red Sox miss out on the playoffs again.

Pablo Sandoval, pictured here with his brother, will be a key component of the Red Sox lineup.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays

The 2014 Blue Jays performed decently, finishing third in the AL East after falling behind in a tight AL Wild Card race. Toronto followed that performance with perhaps the splashiest offseason in the AL East. In addition to acquiring Michael Saunders and Russell Martin, the Blue Jays traded Brett Lawrie and prospects to the Oakland A’s for All-Star Josh Donaldson. Though Melky Cabrera will be missed at the top of the lineup and Colby Rasmus will be missed in center, Toronto’s offensive production should be similar to last year, when the Jays scored the fifth most runs in the league. In what is seemingly a trend in the AL East, the weakest part of this team is the pitching staff. R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are solid but old, and the loss of the promising Marcus Stroman to an ACL tear will hurt. Toronto will have to hope Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris can live up to their potential and fill the voids in this rotation. In the bullpen, Brett Cecil will take over closing duties from the departed Casey Janssen. Toronto had one of the worst bullpen ERAs in the MLB last year, so hopefully this shakeup will improve things.

Verdict

Best Case- The offense is imposing, Sanchez and Norris pitch well, and the Jays return to the postseason for the first time since 1993.

Worst Case- Martin is injured, the staff shows its age, and Toronto finishes last in the AL East.

Josh Donaldson, attempting to taste the Canadian air, is a welcome addition to the Jays.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays

After finishing under .500 for the first time since 2007, Tampa Bay overhauled their roster and front office. In addition to the aforementioned departures of Maddon and Friedman, the Rays traded away or let walk key players including Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, and Wil Myers. The new Rays lineup might not be worse than that of last year, when the Rays scored the fewest runs in the AL, but it is not that impressive. New manager Kevin Cash will have to hope for bounceback years from Evan Longoria and James Loney if he wants to be competitive in 2015. John Jaso should provide power in the DH spot and highly-touted prospect Steven Souza will, at the very least, provide stellar defense in the outfield. The Rays might have the best rotation in the AL East, which is impressive considering the youth of their starters. Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi all performed quite well last year, and Drew Smyly, acquired in the David Price trade with Detroit, has looked tremendous in his brief Rays stint. It will be up to them to keep games close for this relatively weak offense. Tampa’s bullpen is a bit of a mess at the moment, and it will be up to Brad Boxberger, Jake Mcgee, and new acquisition Kevin Jepsen to keep things relatively under control.

Verdict

Best Case- Longoria has an MVP-caliber year, the rotation is stellar, and the Rays sneak into a wild card spot.

Worst Case- The offense sputters, the inexperience of the rotation is on full display, and the Rays finish in the AL East cellar.

Evan Longoria, after realizing Maddon, Zobrist, and Price are gone.

  1. New York Yankees

Now, I’m not predicting that the Yankees will finish dead last in the AL East because it gives me great pleasure to do so (even if that may be true). The fact is, the Yankees overachieved during the 2014 Derek Jeter farewell tour- sorry, the 2014 season. The difference between their actual win-loss record and their expected (Pythagorean) win-loss record was 7 games, as the Yankees led the American League in luck. Even though the Yankees did make some quality moves this offseason, I do not think that the 2015 team will be as competitive as last year’s. The lineup can be solid when everyone is healthy, but health could definitely be an issue for a team that depends on so many older players. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Chase Headley are all fairly good and should provide good production, but Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann had disappointing debut seasons in the Bronx and it will be up to them to turn things around, which can be tough when one is on the wrong side of 30. Also, Brian Cashman is presumably counting the days until he can replace Stephen Drew with Rob Refsnyder at second base. This is not to mention the return of Alex Rodriguez, likely to the DH spot from which he should provide a lot of drama, if not production. The rotation, like the lineup, can be pretty good when healthy, but that is a dubious assumption to make. Masahiro Tanaka was outstanding in his debut season, but his decision against Tommy John surgery for his partial UCL tear could come back to haunt him. Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia both have long injury histories, and both Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova will start the season on the DL. I’m a fan of Nate Eovaldi, whom the Yankees acquired from the Marlins, but there is a concerning lack of starting pitching depth for such an injury-filled rotation. The bullpen is the brightest spot on the team, with new acquisition Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances serving as a vicious end of game combo.

Verdict

Best Case- Tanaka’s arm holds up and he is a Cy Young candidate, the lineup stays healthy and productive, and the Yankees win a wild card spot.

Worst Case- Tanaka needs Tommy John, the rotation and lineup is filled with casualties, and the Yankees finish last in their division for the first time since 1990.

A-Rod, seen here attempting to bat with no hands, will bring even more drama into the Bronx this year.

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2014 MLB Preview: Divisional Previews

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to College Sports Town’s divisional previews of the 2014 MLB season. Posted on this page are links to previews for each division. I’ve worked very hard to bring you what I hope are accurate predictions for the upcoming season, and I’d appreciate feedback, as always. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Tim Balk for all his help in making these extensive posts actually interesting. Thank you, and enjoy!

AL EAST

AL CENTRAL

AL WEST

NL EAST

NL CENTRAL

NL WEST

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2014 MLB Preview: AL East

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the first divisional preview for the 2014 MLB season. To begin, I’m going to take a look at what is perhaps again the best division in baseball, the AL East. Apart from the Blue Jays, every team in this division has a realistic chance to reach the postseason. The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees shared the same exact record last year (85-77), and each team has done nice work in the off-season, although the Yankees have, unsurprisingly, far outspent the Orioles for more prized free agents. The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a season in which a group of talented rookies joined a couple of All-Star veterans to lead the team to a wild-card berth. Oh yeah, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox happen to be in the division as well. Like I said, the AL East is one of the best divisions in baseball, and, as always, the battle for its crown should be very interesting.

Divisional Breakdown

1. Boston Red Sox

2. Tampa Bay Rays

3. New York Yankees

4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Toronto Blue Jays

Team Breakdown

1. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox went from worst to first last year, winning the 2013 World Series in their first year under new manager John Farrell. The level of success established by the new manager will be continued this year, as the Red Sox will win their second straight AL East crown. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia still make up the heart of this lineup, but young guns Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Will Middlebrooks should add some firepower to a lineup which last year scored the most runs in baseball. The rotation is very good too: Clay Buchholz, when healthy, is one of the best pitchers in the division, while Jon Lester and John Lackey are generally solid. Add to those three a full season of Jake Peavy, and the rotation should do very well. Come the ninth inning, Koji Uehara was the best closer in the league not named Craig Kimbrel last season, and he will look to continue his wild success this year. This Red Sox squad is talented, with a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership.

Verdict

Best Case- The Red Sox repeat as World Series champions. Bogaerts wins ROY, Buchholz wins the AL Cy Young, and Ortiz keeps on launching balls into the atmosphere.

Worst Case- Ortiz’s aging body gives out, Buchholz is once again plagued by shoulder issues, and the rookies look unready and overhyped. The Red Sox win a wild-card spot but don’t go anywhere in the postseason.

Boston is Papi's city, and he's ready to lead them to another divisional crown

Boston is Papi’s city, and he’s ready to lead them to another divisional crown.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays, as they have done for the past 5 years, found a way to win in 2013. Manager Joe Maddon led his squad to the AL Wild-Card game, where they beat the Cleveland Indians (only to lose to the division rival Red Sox in the divisional round). The Rays are hoping to replicate that success this season.  Last year, ace David Price (who, despite trade rumors galore, is still in Tampa Bay) and All-Star 3B Evan Longoria were healthy and played well, but it was young talent that pushed the Rays into the wild card berth. Wil Myers, the crown jewel of the James Shields trade, was as good as expected, taking home the AL ROY award, and young pitchers Matt Moore, Chris Archer, and Alex Cobb all looked extremely promising. The players in the youth movement will only continue to grow and improve this season, which bodes well for the Rays’ playoff hopes. Add to that mix All-Star closer Grant Balfour, signed from the Oakland A’s this off-season, and the Rays look poised to make the postseason for the second straight year.

Verdict

Best Case- Longoria plays like an MVP while staying healthy all season, Myers continues to improve, Moore and Price form a deadly duo at the top of the rotation, Balfour has 40 saves, and the Rays get back in the playoffs.

Worst Case- Longoria once again falls victim to the injury bug, Archer and Cobb don’t improve, Price is dealt mid-season, and the Rays miss out on the postseason.

Longoria is going to like what he sees from the Rays this year.

Longoria is going to like what he sees from the Rays this year.

3. New York Yankees

2013 was a disappointing year for the Yankees. They finished tied for third in the AL East, missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years. In response, Brian Cashman went out and signed as many high profile free agents as he could. As a result, the Yankees are looking strong. The lineup is plain scary. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran join Derek Jeter (who, if you haven’t bothered to come out from under your rock this winter, is retiring at the season’s end), Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, and Brett Gardner. These 7 guys are going to produce a lot of offense. The Yankees lost Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and, most importantly, Robinson Cano this past off-season, yet the hit on their offensive production shouldn’t be too bad (except at second base. Brian Roberts would be a great replacement for Cano– if the year was 2007). The rotation is very good as well. C.C Sabathia looks slim and ready to make up for a disappointing 2013, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova are looking to improve upon strong showings last season, and, as for Michael Pineda and the newly signed Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees might have two of the best pitchers in the division at the end of their rotation. The bullpen obviously has been affected by the departure of the G.O.A.T Mariano Rivera, but David Robertson should do a serviceable job in lieu of Mariano. Besides, with their lineup, the Yanks are hoping that the leads they will be protecting are sizable.

Verdict

Best case- Tanaka wins ROY, Pineda pitches well, and Jeter plays like he’s a decade younger, leading the rejuvenated lineup to the AL East crown.

Worst Case- The injury bug bites the Yanks. Jeter’s aging body completely crumbles, along with those of Texiera, Sabathia, Beltran, McCann, etc… Robertson is a disappointment, Tanaka doesn’t live up to the contract, and Pineda’s arm falls apart once more. The Yankees miss the playoffs and send their captain off on a sour note.

Alex wants to play, too!

Alex wants to play, too! How upsetting!

4. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles, a year after making a surprise playoff run, didn’t have enough in the tank to win a 2013 wild card spot. Without Yankee-like willingness to spend, the Orioles did not massively improve this off-season. Still, they should be good enough to compete for a wild-card spot this summer. Joining home run king Chris Davis and All-Stars J.J Hardy, Adam Jones, and (a favorite at College Sports Town and someone who will hopefully make a full recovery soon soon) Manny Machado are sometimes-exciting 2B Jemile Weeks and the powerful Nelson Cruz. The lineup is talented, but a lot will be asked of them due to the state of the Orioles’ pitching staff. Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez are decent, and the newly-acquired Ubaldo Jimenez was effective last year for the Indians, but the Orioles’ rotation is pretty lackluster. The bullpen will likely be worse than last year’s, without former All-Star Jim Johnson, and the Orioles lost out on All-Star Grant Balfour. The immortal Tommy Hunter will be closing games for the O’s. The Orioles better hope they score a lot of runs, because it seems that a lot of runs will be scored against them.

Verdict

Best Case- The lineup produces wildly, and the rotation is just good enough to win games for the Orioles. They squeak into the playoffs when the Yankees and Rays falter.

Worst Case- The production of the lineup is not enough, as the leaky rotation lets up too many runs. The Orioles can’t win the close games they did in 2012, and they can’t replicate their success from that year. They miss the playoffs again.

Machado and the O's have a shot to make the playoffs if he can come back to make plays like this!

Machado and the O’s have a shot to make the playoffs if he can come back to make plays like this!

5. Toronto Blue Jays

It’s painful to admit it, but I was way off last year when I predicted the Blue Jays would be the best team in the AL East. They were a disappointment last year, and I think the disappointment will continue this year. They have a similar situation to the Orioles in that they have a powerful lineup (albeit not as good as the O’s) but questionable pitching. Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion all are very talented, but beyond those three, there are many question marks. Is Brett Lawrie going to fulfill his potential as a top 3B? Is Melky Cabrera going to return to his San Francisco form or were the PEDs just really effective? Even with the questions, the lineup is still in better shape than the rotation. R.A Dickey did not play like a reigning Cy Young winner last year (thanks for Syndy, you guys!), as his knuckleball appeared less effective. In order for the Jays to improve, R.A must retrieve a little bit of that 2012 magic. The rest of the pitching staff is equally inconsistent. Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and J.A Happ were disappointing last year, and will likely remain disappointing in 2014. The bullpen was good last season, but its status this year is unclear; their prospective closer, Casey Janssen, has not pitched this spring, but All-Stars Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil have been good thus far. Still, the bullpen would be more useful if the Jays had leads to protect. The Blue Jays have some good pieces, but it would be very surprising for them to make a playoff run.

Verdict

Best Case- Reyes, Bautista, and Encarnacion are All-Stars, Lawrie is the second best 3B in the AL East, Dickey and Co. get their act together, and the Blue Jays contend until September.

Worst Case- Reyes and Bautista are injured/traded, Lawrie is a disappointment, Dickey’s knuckleball is flat, and the Jays flounder.

Jose is clearly attempting to run away from this ill-fated team.

Jose is clearly attempting to run away from this ill-fated team.

There you have it. The AL East crown will return to Boston next year, and the Rays will accompany the Red Sox to the postseason. That’s it for the first edition of College Sports Town’s 2014 divisional previews. Next up, the impressive AL Central, the home of two of my playoff teams– but not necessarily the ones you would think.

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2014 MLB Preview: Playoff Picture

Hello once again, baseball fans. It’s time for my predictions for which teams will make the playoffs, and which team will bring home the vaunted World Series title for 2014. As always, the season will take many twists and turns, but these are the teams I expect to see playing for the title in October.

Divisional and Wild Card Winners AL East- Boston Red Sox

AL Central- Detroit Tigers

AL West- Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Card #1- Tampa Bay Rays

AL Wild Card #2- Kansas City Royals

NL East- Atlanta Braves

NL Central- St. Louis Cardinals

NL West- Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card #1- Washington Nationals

NL Wild Card #2- Cincinnati Reds

Wild Card Matches

AL- Tampa Bay Rays defeat Kansas City Royals

NL- Washington Nationals defeat Cincinnati Reds

Divisional Round

AL- Detroit Tigers beat Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games, Boston Red Sox beat Oakland Athletics in 5 games

NL-  St. Louis Cardinals beat Washington Nationals in 4 games, Los Angeles Dodgers beat Atlanta Braves in 5 games League Championship Matchups

AL- Detroit Tigers beat Boston Red Sox in 6 games

NL- St. Louis Cardinals beat Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games

World Series

Detroit Tigers beat St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games

tigers

Cabrera and Verlander will finally lead the Tigers to postseason success.

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The Curious New York Yankees

Alex Rodriguez may not be able to lead the Yankees to the playoffs, but his entrance does add more drama to what has been a dramatic season in the Bronx.

Alex Rodriguez may not be able to lead the Yankees to the playoffs, but his entrance does add more drama to what has been a dramatic season in the Bronx.

This year, the New York Yankees have been as much a sideshow as a Major League baseball team.

Now, with a month and a half left in the season, they are trying desperately to claw their way into the playoffs.

They’ve struggled mightily with health this season–Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Travis Hafner have all missed LOADS of time on the DL–the dude who’s supposed to be their ace, C.C. Sabathia, is having the worst season of his career, and their everyday catcher for the most part has been Chris Stewart (who has an OPS of .581).

The Yankees have managed to maintain a record above .500 throughout the season despite all this, but the story of the season for the Yankees has been, until recently, closer Mariano Rivera’s swan song– the 43 year old closer plans to retire after this season.

Now Alex Rodriguez has taken the attention off of Rivera, as the Yankee slugger has made his return to the Bronx while appealing the historic 211 game suspension he received from the MLB.

The embattled star may appear to be a distraction for the Yanks, but he does bring a powerful bat to what has been one of the most punchless lineups in baseball.

The boost he can give the Yankees was on display yesterday against the Tigers as he blasted a towering solo home run in the second inning and drove in another run with a sharply hit single in the third inning.

In the game, the Yankees managed to score four runs on the formerly nasty (and still good) Justin Verlander. One of the other runs came via a solo bomb by another recent add to the Yankees roster, old friend Alfonso Soriano, who has mostly struggled since arriving in New York a couple of weeks ago but is also capable of providing the Yankees’ moribund offense a shot in the arm.

The Yankees entered the ninth inning against the Tigers with a 4-2 lead, but the usually masterful Rivera blew the save (his third blown save in a row–another oddity in this strange Yankee season), giving up home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The Yankees bounced back in the bottom of the ninth, as a Brett Gardner home run gave them a 5-4 victory (and got Mariano Rivera a well earned win).

The five run outing hardly represented an offensive outpouring for the Yankees, but A-Rod and Soriano swinging their bats well, particularly against a quality pitcher like Verlander, can’t be a bad sign for the Pinstripes.

To date, the Yankees are seven games back in the Wild Card race. It would take a remarkable hot streak from the Yankees to sneak into the playoffs. And with Derek Jeter’s return not imminent and Granderson, Soriano, and Rodriguez still trying to find their grooves, the Yankees do not appear to have the offense to make such a run.

But that doesn’t mean the Yankees are going to stop providing entertaining games like the one they played in against Detroit. In fact, two out of their last four games have gone to extra innings, one of which came in the form of the Yankees’ final loss in a three game sweep they fell victim to against the lowly Chicago White Sox.

And, of course, the circus surround Rodriguez is interesting too.

Who knows, maybe the Yankees will rediscover their offense and make a run at October baseball. After all, the Yankees, who have a 6-1 record against the Indians and an 0-4 record against the Mets this season, have been nothing if not unpredictable so far this summer.

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MLB Preview 2013: AL East

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the first of what I hope will be a funny and informative series of divisional breakdowns. I’m bringing you information about the teams all the way from Toronto to Miami and every one in between. Today, I’m going to cover the wildly different AL East, where a new team has risen to take the prestigious crown away from its normal holders.

Divisional Breakdown

1. Toronto Blue Jays

2. Tampa Bay Rays

3. New York Yankees

4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Boston Red Sox

Team Breakdown

Toronto Blue Jays

The past 20 years have been difficult for the Blue Jays, as they have gone without a playoff berth for the 3rd longest time in the MLB. This year, the management of the Jays decided they were tired of that trend and brought in such key acquisitions as R.A Dickey, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle (really anyone of value besides Giancarlo Stanton from Miami). The acquired position players should fit in very nicely with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie. On the other side of the field, the rotation can hold up against anyone in the MLB, with a bevy of talent in Dickey, Johnson, Ricky Romero,  Buherle, and Brandon Morrow. The Blue Jays have to worry about the usual competition from the Red Sox and Yankees this year, as the teams are either retooling or dealing with injury problems.

A return to a retro look is a return to glory for the Blue Jays

A return to a retro look is a return to glory for the Blue Jays

Best Case Scenario- The offseason moves pay off, injuries stay away from the key players in the lineup, and Toronto reaches the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Worst Case Scenario- The moves seem to be ill-advised, as the expensive contracts of their new players and injury troubles drag on their gameplay. Toronto, with a broken wing,  has its playoff hopes crash and burn.

Tampa Bay Rays

Even though the Rays performed well last year, finishing 90-72, they still finished 3rd in the AL East behind the Yankees and surprising Orioles. This year, however, the Yankees face injury troubles galore and the Orioles are expected to regress, so the Rays should swoop in to claim 2nd place in the division. Evan Longoria, fresh off his 6-year, $100 million dollar contract extension, should carry the load if he stays healthy, and Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings will support him. Their rotation is not as strong as it was last year, as the Rays dealt both James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for stellar young prospect Wil Myers (among other players), but it is still headlined by the reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price, as well as 10+ game winners Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. Manger Joe Maddon will find a way to make this ball club win games, as he always does.

Unlike the Blue Jays, I advise the Rays to stay away from their old looks and their losing ways

Unlike the Blue Jays, I advise the Rays to stay away from their old looks and their losing ways.

Best Case- Longoria stays healthy, Jennings and Zobrist contribute like they are supposed to, the rotation is serviceable (and Price is consistently great once more), and the Rays enter the playoffs once more.

Worst Case-  Longoria is injured once again, the rotation cannot handle the loss of Shields and Davis, and the Rays fall behind to 3rd in the division behind their rivals the Yankees.

New York Yankees

Oh, the Yankees. The seemingly ever-successful team was very good last year, going 95-67 and finishing first in their division enroute to the ALCS, where they got swept by the Detroit Tigers. This offseason has brought a Mets-esque wave of bad luck to their neighbors, as players like expensive, drug-filled, and declining Alex Rodriguez, along with Michael Pineda, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira, are injured. The Yankees, who rely on their power, lost 149 home runs from their lineup already, and it’s not even April. The only bright spots are returning Mariano Rivera (who will retire at year’s end) and Derek Jeter (who suffered a setback today with his injured ankle), along with new additions such as Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner . Manager Joe Girardi will have his job cut out for him this year.

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/the-sad-yankees

Sad A-Rod is sad!

Best Case- The injured players return soon enough that their absence isn’t too much of an issue, the new players perform well, Mariano Riveria is solid in his final year, Jeter’s ankle and hitting holds up for a season, and the Yankees squeak into the final wild-card spot with grit and small ball (and perhaps mid-season splurging, reminiscent of late George Steinbrenner).

Worst Case- The injured players take all the pop out of the Yankees lineup, the new additions fail to match even lowered expectations, Riveria and Jeter cannot perform as well as they have in years past, and the Yankees finish 4th (or even 5th!) in the division they expect to dominate, to the delight of most of the league (and free world).

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles surprised many last year when they went 93-69, finishing second in the division behind the Yankees and winning the initial AL wild-card game before losing to the Yankees in a hard-fought 5 game ALDS. Manager Buck Showalter helped lead this team back to prominence last year, helping them win their first game since 1997, but the Orioles will regress this year. The Orioles did not change a precarious bullpen, and will have to depend on All-Star Adam Jones and young talent like 3B Manny Machado and SP Dylan Bundy. While all are tremendous talents who have bright futures ahead of them, I don’t believe that the Orioles will reach the postseason again this year.

http://smatoday.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-tweety-bird-parable.html

This bird might not be happy at the end of 2013

Best Case- Jones and Machado supply both offense and stellar defense, Chris Davis keeps hitting bombs, Bundy and the rest of the rotation is solid, and Showalter somehow gets the Orioles into the playoffs two straight years in a row.

Worst Case- The Orioles’ luck runs out as they are no longer winning all of their extra-inning and one-run games, their young talent is not producing or gets injured, and last year’s incredible run is viewed as a fluke by media and fans alike.

Boston Red Sox

Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox had a dreadful 2012, going 69-93 a year after a historic September collapse and reorganization of the front office and managerial positions. This year, another new manager, John Farrell, has been brought in to try to coax wins out of a strange but talented bunch of players. Although the Red Sox are rebuilding, they still were players in the free-agent market this winter, signing Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, and Mike Napoli. If those players can work well with mainstays such as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Will Middlebrooks, and Jon Lester and and Clay Buchholz pitch well, the Red Sox could have a very nice 2013. My advice to Red Sox fans, however, is to not expect that.

Jim Rogash/Getty Image

Don’t cry, Papi!

Best Case- The rotation and lineup are relatively injury-free and without drama, Farrell can control his players on and off the field, and the Red Sox don’t embarrass themselves as they’ve done in the past couple years, making a push for the playoffs.

Worst Case- The Red Sox implode once more, as injuries and drama undermine whatever success they have. Farrell gets out of town after one year, and expensive new players are ridiculed and booed at Fenway.

There you have it! That’s it for the first edition of dbc482’s divisional breakdowns! Next time, I will cover the surprisingly deep AL Central. Can anyone defeat the AL champion Tigers this year? Find out tomorrow!

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