Saturday, April 3, 2010

2010 American League East Preview

  • This is the BIG one:

The American League East is where all the drama/storylines/propaganda are. Home to the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, it's expected to be a battle down to the wire in which only two of the three "powerhouses" will make the playoffs.

I don't see it that way.

Not even close.


American League East:

  1. New York Yankees----Wins-100; Losses-62; GB ---
  2. Boston Red Sox----Wins-89; Losses-74; GB-11.5
  3. Tampa Bay Rays----Wins-79; Losses-83; GB-21
  4. Baltimore Orioles----Wins-77; Losses-85; GB-23
  5. Toronto Blue Jays----Wins-70; Losses-92; GB-30


New York Yankees:


Even with the controversy that Alex Rodriguez inevitably attracts; the debate about Joba Chamberlain's role; the burning question of who's going to be the all-important long-reliever; the usual atmosphere that follows the Yankees around, it's been less chaotic around the Yankees than it's been in the past. Much of that is due to GM Brian Cashman taking control of the entire organization from top-to-bottom.

You can ignore the usual stuff that emanates from the most famous team in sports; it's easily forgotten how well-constructed they are. Yes, they do still have an issue with the debate about Chamberlain; with Cashman's penchant for misjudging pitching; with manager Joe Girardi's strategic gaffes; the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera contract situations; and of course, ARod and the tornado that's always surrounding him no matter what he does----none of that matters.

The Yankees have a deep starting rotation; with Chamberlain in the bullpen where he belongs, a devastating bullpen; a star-laden and relentless lineup; and the wiggle room to improve during the season if they need to. (Keep an eye on David DeJesus from the Royals if the Yankees need an outfielder.)

They're not just better than the Red Sox and Rays, they're way better than the Red Sox and Rays and they're going to roll to another division title easily. The only question will be whether they're going to have the opportunity to bounce the Red Sox from the playoffs entirely on the last weekend of the season.


Boston Red Sox:


Pitching and defense?

The Red Sox?

After making the conscious decision to let Jason Bay walk away (and naturally, rip him apart on the way out the door----I wonder if, when Bay retires, they'll invite him back as they did Nomar Garciaparra to retire as a Red Sox in a financially fueled publicity stunt), the Red Sox chose to abandon their standard of finding hitters who have power and going the defense and pitching route.

In signing Adrian Beltre; Marco Scutaro; Mike Cameron; and John Lackey, the Red Sox have gone from one extreme to the other.

And it's not going to work.

This strikes me as another stat-fueled attempt to re-invent the wheel just as they tried to do with the "closer-by-committee" in 2003. We saw how well that worked.

The endgame of all this is baffling. Even with a very good top three in the starting rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Lackey, the Red Sox are still short at the back end with a youngster, Clay Buchholz; the train wreck Daisuke Matsuzaka; and the falling apart Tim Wakefield.

It's easy to say the Red Sox will have the prospects to go out and get a bat as the season moves along, but that was the same opinion in 2006 when they did absolutely nothing and watched helplessly as the season collapsed around them. Will they panic if they're 8 games behind the Yankees in June and make a bold move for the power bat they need in Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder? Will the competition for one of those bats shut them out?

We'll know quickly whether this strategy is going to work; and the Red Sox penchant for desperation as a rightfully concerned fan base explodes may still be too little, too late with rough competition from the rest of the American League.


Tampa Bay Rays:


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A year ago at this time, all we heard was how the Rays were in the stratosphere with the Yankees and Red Sox and were there to stay; that there were three "championship-level teams" in the AL East; that the battle for the playoffs would come down to those three teams and the winner would be a great bet to win the whole thing.

Then they started playing.

It should've been a red flag that everything----everything----went right for the Rays in 2008; such a sequence of events wasn't just unlikely to happen again, it was impossible.

And it didn't happen again.

All the "experts" had the Rays at the top of the division with 90+ wins.

I had them at 82.

They won 84.

Joe Maddon's absent-minded professor routine is wearing thin. The inmates are running the asylum; they're going to lose Carl Crawford at the end of the year; they have giant pitching questions; and aren't only behind the Yankees and Red Sox, but also the White Sox, Twins, Angels and maybe even the Mariners and Rangers.

They're going to have to make some decisive and aggressive maneuvers this year including trading Crawford, Carlos Pena and some of their bullpen components. If they don't get off to a good start, it could happen quickly and it might be the best thing for them.


Baltimore Orioles:


The most amazing thing that Andy MacPhail's been able to accomplish since taking over the organization wasn't a smart trade or signing; nor was it his astute drafting; it was convincing impetuous owner Peter Angelos to let him rebuild the team correctly rather than continuously throw money at the problems and fail again and again.

The Orioles have brought in solid veterans to teach their impressive array of youngsters how to behave and win. Kevin Millwood; Ty Wigginton; Miguel Tejada; and Garrett Atkins are all going to foment the growth of Nick Markakis; Adam Jones; Matt Wieters and the young pitchers.

I think they're going to need a managerial change from Dave Trembley to take the next step, but the Orioles have reason for optimism and don't be surprised at the end of the season to see them tied or even ahead of the Rays.

Things are looking up in Baltimore.


Toronto Blue Jays:


After excising the growing disaster that was J.P. Ricciardi, new GM Alex Anthopolous did quite well in trading Roy Halladay.

Many have said that the Blue Jays are going to lose close to 100 games. With that young pitching, I don't see how that's possible. The acquisition of Brandon Morrow was a bold move that is going to pay dividends once they rebuild his confidence and stick him in the starting rotation where he belongs. Their lineup still has holes; but there's plenty of talent, even with the space cadet-style (Edwin Encarnacion); and dead contracts (Vernon Wells).

They are going to need to bring in a younger manager to steer the ship. In fact, I don't know why they didn't get rid of Cito Gaston after last year when it was clear they were starting over again. Aside from that, the Blue Jays are on the right track; and the first step back into contention was getting rid of Ricciardi.

The Blue Jays aren't going to be as bad as everyone thinks.

  • Viewer Mail 4.3.2010:

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the proposed alliance between me and Curt Schilling:


Okay, Prince, as Street Boss, I have no choice but to STRONGLY persuade you to stay far, far away from Schilling. I don't wanna be digging a ditch in the middle of the night wondering if I should keep part of a bloody sock as a memento for future doting.


Jane Heller (consigliere) at Confessions of a She-Fan also writes RE me and Curt:


I'm with Jeff on Schilling. I don't care if you agree with him about Cliff Lee. You will not be friends with him - ever! Do you hear me? As for the AL Central, I think the Twins are that division's Angels. They always find a way...


And you thought it was easy being a Boss?

Where do I go?

Do I do what's best for my Family, going with my instincts and possibly forging a relationship that could bring my growing empire crashing to the ground even though I know, instinctively, that it would be a mutually advantageous relationship? Or do I take the advice of my most trusted and loyal confidantes?

I'll have to thing long and hard about this before moving forward.

Long and hard...


PairFace writes RE my predictions and my book:


"In-depth" analysis??? OK. Please indulge me here, and give me a reason JOSE REYES is going to win the NL MVP...other than he plays for your favorite team. I don't think even Reyes himself knows how many games he's going to play this year, and he didn't play much last year. Yet he's going to move past Pujols...past Howard...past Fielder...past a lot of people to claim that award.

I'm sorry, but moving the Mets to the top of the division, picking Reyes as NL MVP, and Jerry Manuel as MoY isn't "ruthless"...it's being a Met fanboy.

And if your book is anything like your free samples...I'll pass. Good luck with that.


Because of one injury-plagued season, one of the most talented players in baseball is somehow on a level with a mediocre entry level player who has no upside nor potential to contend for the MVP?

Jose Reyes?

At age 27 and one of the best all-around players in the game from 2005-2008, Reyes is now a laughingstock because he got hurt? It seems a certain declining shortstop that you may be familiar with did exactly what you suggest is utterly impossible as recently as 2007----Jimmy Rollins----in winning the MVP over the players you toss out there.

Whether or not you consider Jerry Manuel a good or bad manager, if the club turns things around, he's on the hook for credit or blame.

There's only one way to determine which of us is right and that's going to be what happens during the season. If attacking me makes you feel better about the drastic and soon-to-be catastrophic errors the Phillies made this winter, feel free to come after me to your heart's content.

You've got it exactly right. You figured it all out. I'm a Mets fanboy. That's why I picked them to miss the playoffs last season; to lose in the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 when they were the consensus World Series favorite from all the "experts".

You don't need to read what I have to say in full. Since you have neither the desire nor the capacity to take everything I say in its proper context, it's just as well if you don't read it.

Your argument is so weak and pockmarked with holes, I'm almost embarrassed for you; it's packed with specious reasoning, senseless, haphazard shots, wildly off the mark; and rife with team-related vitriol. Bask in the Phillies success over the past three years. Your arrogance, pomposity, ignorance and self-justifying twisting of facts is right in line with your current favorite team from the front office on down.


Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE me:


Well, Paul. You rip apart the Red Sox more than you rip apart the Mets. So you are not completely unbiased.


Did you buy my book yet, Joe?


Peter writes RE the AL Central and Curt Schilling:


I think I have the same for the AL Central except I have the Indians over the Royals... as if those two will matter anyway.. as for Schilling, be careful, he is a nice enough guy, but will sell you out and crucify you for a better deal given the chance.... and he has no animosity towards the Phillies so anything he would say against them must be believable.


The Indians are going to be horrific; far worse than the Royals.

I think if there was any alliance between myself and Schilling, we'd both be prepared for a battle to the death at a moment's notice and one would never turn his back on the other.

It's a battle that I'd win.

Schilling says some loony stuff. Thing is, in this case regarding the Phillies, he happens to be right.

  • Taking over the media, step-by-step:

You may have missed it, but I'll remind everyone again and again; and again; and again...


Paul Lebowitz's 2010 Baseball Guide:


My book is available and it's not a "preview"; it's a guide, valuable throughout the whole season. Despite criticism by those who have an agenda (see above), it's aboveboard and evenhanded. Available on Amazon and I-Universe in paperback and E-book.

Check it out; it'll blow your mind.


The Prince on the Podcast:


Yesterday, I was a guest with Sal at SportsFanBuzz previewing the entire season from top-to-bottom. It's a 2-part Podcast in which you can hear my voice which has been repeatedly described as "sexy" or "raspy sexy" or "calmly frightening" and "borderline psychotic".

I bring the party with me.

Here are the links to Part I and Part II.

It's Easter and this is your first class ticket to the Resurrection.

Everything is proceeding just as I have foreseen....

43 comments:

Gabriel said...

My hopes are on the Blue Jays being not that bad.

On the Schilling alliance, I'd advise against it. See how things worked out for the Republic once they gave Palpatine absolute powers. Then again, maybe YOU are Palpatine.

She-Fan said...

All I can say is I sure do like your prediction for the Yankees. I see the Red Sox as more of a threat than you do, but that could just be my normal paranoia.

PairFace said...

Sorry fanboy, I have to call it like I see it. If you noticed, I haven't said one word about the Phils. But since you mentioned them, they are coming off 2 NL pennants, and added the most dominant RH starter in baseball. I don't see how they drop to 82 wins anymore than I see the Mets rising to 91. You cite the bullpen as a problem. But the bullpen was a problem last year (17 blown saves) and they still won 93 games and went to the World Series. Now, barring injury, they have Halladay for a full season (as opposed to the 2+ months they had Lee for), and an AL lineup that was IMPROVED by adding Polanco. Even if the bullpen is as mediocre as last year, where does the dropoff come from??? Your logic about the Phils being arrogant "from the top down" doesn't hold any water. They won the WS in 2008. Wouldn't that have been a reason to be arrogant in 2009???

As for Reyes...you can't win the MVP from the DL. He'll need rehab time. And once he's back in the lineup, it will take some time to get into playing shape. That could run into May. How far will he be behind the other MVP candidates at that point?

Being a Mets fan, I would understand if you wanted to throw your team a bone by picking ONE of those things to happen. But for a team that's coming into the season already banged up, having all kinds of questions with starting pitchers not named Santana, and a front office that is completely inept from the ownership down, there's simply NO WAY a sane person could come to the conclusions you did, even if you turn out to be right.

That's why it sounds more like HOPE from a Mets fan, rather than "ruthless", "in-depth" analysis from an objective observer.

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