Friday, May 20, 2016

Season 34 AL East Preview

Boston Red Sox 
Season 33:  91-71, won Division, advanced to ALCS, lost to Anaheim
GM: Spistol

Offseason:  After re-signing P's Sherry Grey and Skeeter Wilkinson, the only FA defection of note was SP Alex Burks.  They signed FA P's D.J. Mauer and Jimmy Griffin.  Their bigger offseason moves were the promotions of 2B's Peter Magnusson (Sea 31 #11) and Ronnie Burns (Sea 30 #5), and LR Oswaldo Oliva (Sea 27 IFA).

Outlook:  Magnusson and Burns are both natural 2B's (or even CF's), but with 2B and CF well covered in Boston, both are in search of positions.  Burns is taking LF for now, and an injury to 1B Matt Lawrence opened a spot for Magnusson.  Both are power hitters who could have some issues against RHP and offer plus defense just about anywhere.  Either or both could be on the ROY ballot.  Other than those additions, it's about the same profile as last year...a high-scoring, average-pitching team.  But those 2 rookies could be what gets them over the top in the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians
Season 33: 74-88
GM: jgnjr

Offseason:  One again, the tribe was almost completely quiet on the FA and trade front this offseason.  So other than rookie OF Julian Almonte (Sea 30 IFA), it's almost identical to last year's roster.

Outlook:  Starting to be a few signs of aging in the lineup:  C Ralph Dunn is 36 and now out for 70 games with a broken arm, and 1B Rod McNeil is 35 and not the power threat he used to be.  They weren't a very good offense last year (658 runs) and there's no reason to expect them to improve.  There's more talent on the staff, especially in the persons of SP Murray Hudson (3.46 ERA) and LR Jose Serra (career 3.27 ERA) - the pitching has been average-to-above-average the last few seasons.  SP Dan Lewis (Sea 30 #8) probably gets the call shortly, and probably becomes the #2 starter behind Hudson.

Probably a .500 team at best...<EDITORIAL BEGINS>  competent but unexciting.  I'd love to see some kind of big shakeup here.  Trade everything, build the farm for a couple of years (to go along with the 2 nice prospects from last year's draft), or, blow out free agency next year.  Anything but the perpetual around-.500. <END OF EDITORIAL>

New York Yankees
Season 33: 65-97
GM:  fsubwj

Offseason:  The Yanks lost 7 free agents from last year's ML roster (although only 2 - C Rich Daniels and 3B Julio Noesi - signed elsewhere).  They filled all the holes with promotions, giving them one of the youngest and cheapest rosters in Major Leagues.  The question is, "is it just young, or is there young talent there?

Outlook: There's starting to be some talent showing up.  SP Vin Gumbs (Sea 32 #1 overall and promoted last year after 1 MiL season) took his lumps last year but still has a couple of seasons of good ratings growth ahead of him.  Brace Wooster was #10 overall last year and gets the similar fast trip to the majors.  He'll likely get hit hard this year, but will grow into a nice starter.  Closer Mendy Dietz (Sea 30 #12) took a more conventional route to the bigs, and was very good (24 saves, 3.00 ERA) as a rookie last year.  Sure, some of the other youngsters are cheap filler, but they're getting there.  Still building this year, but in a couple of seasons NY will be shaking up the East.

Baltimore Orioles
Season 33:  73-89
GM:  NormanW5

Offseason:  Not much offseason action in Baltimore...but they seem to be much improved.   What happened?

Outlook: For starters, some of their hot prospects who struggled as rookies grew up and improved.  SP Flip Harris (Sea 29 #1) actually had a couple of rough seasons to start his career, but now looks like he's figuring it out (2-1, 3.00 ERA so far).  2B Keith Townsend (Sea 30 #3) is hitting over 100 points above his rookie season OPS.  Team OPS is 33 points ahead of last year, and Team ERA is nearly a full run a game better, so everyone's contributing.  The Birds had almost as bad a defense as Arizona last year (214 errors and bad plays, but at least they came up with 59 good plays).  It's much better so far, but I fear it's smoke and mirrors (SS Woody Brown's range would be no better than OK at 3B).  You never know - if they can maintain their relatively "hot" defensive play, they might stay in it.

Division Outlook:  

Boston wins again.  The Orioles entertain with young stars and a defense that implodes. The Yanks are respectably competitive with a $23MM payroll.  And the Indians, ah the Indians...around .500 again.

No comments: