Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Season 38 Preview: AL East

Season 37 Recap
The Red Sox won handily again behind Ronnie Burns' .298/48/138 MVP season, but the Yankees improved by 14 wins (to 84) and seem to have momentum.  The Orioles and Indians didn't contend, but both started to make some noise with young, promising power hitters (SS Chip Caminiti and 2B Keith Townsend for the Birds and 1B Desmond Farmer for the Tribe.

Season 38 Preview
It wasn't a super-active off-season for the East...a few smaller trades and free agent moves.  I get the sense it may be time for a changing of the guard; check this preview from Boston GM Spistol:

"This may be the season the competition catches up to the Red Sox and ends its run of division titles.  Offseason moves have mostly replaced lost production from departing free agents, at best -- though the pickup of Javier Brogna (P) does bolster the bullpen. The offense, Boston's specialty during this run, may not be as potent, with Daniel Harper (3B) and Henry Young (DH) replaced by Laynce Taubensee (SS) and Junior Pierce (RF) , respectively. Joan Sprague (2B) will add speed and maybe a little batting eye to the bench after a less-than-stellar minor-league career. The pitching remains aggressively average as always. The only question seems to be how far off last season's 96-win campaign this squad will fall."

Spistol may be trying to emulate z0601's ultra-successful double backflip reverse jinx mojo from last season, or he may be looking over his shoulder at the Yankees.  Led by ace Vin Gumbs and a horde of young infielders, they're going to be really good this year.  One caveat - they're not the Bronx Bombers; they only scored 621 runs last year (16th in the AL).  They need to address that (by trade at this point) if they're going to challenge the Bosox.

Baltimore and Cleveland are far from afterthoughts, but both have had glitches in their rebuilding plans.  The Orioles' last three first-rounders haven't worked out, so even though they have some nice young stars in the Majors, their pipeline is thin.  It's a similar story for the Indians, who didn't have a #1 last year, haven't seen much development from #1 overall (Season 36) Garland Daley, and clearly whiffed on Season 35 #15 overall Ken Quinn.  Both clubs stayed conservative with payrolls this year (presumably to hit the IFA market), but will likely have to resort to free agency to contend next year.

Forecast:  I'm picking the Bosox to win it again...to much offense from 2B/CF with Magnusson and Burns.  Even if the Yanks resorted to wholesale trades at this point, I just don't think they could generate enough runs to overtake Boston.

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