American League East Predicted Standings

American League East Predicted Standings:

1. New York Yankees                        94       68         —

2. Toronto Blue Jays                         87       75           7

3. Tampa Bay Rays                            85       77           9

4. Boston Red Sox                             81       81          13

5. Baltimore Orioles                           65       97          29

New York Yankees

The Yankees benefited greatly from the lack of decisively bold movements and drastic improvements of their rivals. While they’re repeating prior mistakes with paranoia and pitcher-babying, they have the offense, abundance of starting pitching and deep bullpen to again rise to the top of the division.

The bench is something that will have to be addressed as the season moves along because Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones aren’t suitable backups regardless of the Yankees’ propaganda machine unequivocally stating that they are.

Expect Alex Rodriguez to have a comeback season and hope that the overwhelming pressure they’re putting on Michael Pineda doesn’t haunt them.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays needed a name arm or a name bat to be a preseason favorite and didn’t get either.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t contend; it means that they’re going to have to get big seasons from young players Brett Lawrie, Yunel Escobar and Henderson Alvarez. Sergio Santos must prove he can close for a full season and throw strikes; Brandon Morrow has to develop into a trustworthy top-tier starter without restrictions.

I picked Jose Bautista as the AL MVP.

Tampa Bay Rays

Again forced to scrounge around the bargain bins, they reunited with Carlos Pena to increase their power at first base. The Rays have been good and lucky in finding bullpen arms who fit into their system and rejuvenate stalled careers—running a club that way is rife with risks that eventually it’s not going to work.

B.J. Upton will play like a maniac all season as he heads for free agency.

With their young starting pitching, they could make it to the World Series or falter and be out of contention to put such stars as Upton, James Shields and David Price in play for a trade at mid-season.

I’ve got them somewhere in the middle.

Boston Red Sox

It’s chaos.

Who’s running things?

Is there any cohesion between John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine?

At least when Theo Epstein was there—like it or not—you knew there was one person mostly in charge; now with Theo gone and Lucchino grasping for power; Henry providing self-protectionist alibis; Cherington marginalized; and Bobby V being…Bobby V, there are going to be voices, whispers, Machiavellian power plays and rampant dysfunction the likes which have not been seen in Boston since 2001.

Are they making the types of moves that laid the foundation of their annual championship contending teams from 2003-2010 or are they desperately trying to patch holes and find “name” people to replace the “name” people who are gone?

I like Valentine, but his polarizing personality can go both ways. The Red Sox starting rotation is short and they have black spots in their lineup at shortstop, right field and possibly catcher.

It’s a time bomb with Valentine and Josh Beckett.

Baltimore Orioles

I don’t hear much about Buck Showalter’s status as a miracle worker after the team came apart last season.

Following a hot start, they reverted to being the Orioles of the past 15 years.

Dan Duquette has received unfair criticism and there’s a lack of context in the good work he did as the Expos’ and Red Sox’ GM, but a lack of talent is a lack of talent; an impossible division is an impossible division; and until they develop their young arms and stick to a strategy for the long term, there’s not much that will change in Baltimore.

Duquette must be allowed to take the marketable players—notably Nick Markakis and Adam Jones—and see what types of offers he can get for them to replenish the system with multiple players. They’re not going to do the Orioles any good as Orioles.

Far more in depth analysis is in my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2012 Baseball Guide, now available.

Click here for a full sample of team predictions/projections. My book can be purchased on KindleSmashwordsBN and Lulu with other outlets on the way.

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  1. #1 by Rusty on March 14, 2012 - 6:04 pm

    I think the media is playing up the Sox turmoil too much and making them seem like a team that is a lot worse than they really are. It’s not like they suddenly became the Mets and are now so messed up and incompetent where they’ll break even this year. There is a lot of decent players on the team still and if they all play normally, the Sox should be in the mid to high 80s and probably a second or third place finish, depending on how good the Rays and Jays truly are. Those two teams are fairly consistent over the years where they can be either good or bad and it’s really hard to place where they’ll end up at the end of the year. It’s almost like flipping a coin with them. The Os, yes, sadly I see them as cellar dwellers yet again.

    I’m still predicting doom and gloom for my own team, the Yankees, but they’ll most likely will end up in first yet again. I swore that they would fail last year and end up in third with a lot of fairly bad averages from their hitters and a really spent pitching staff. They got extremely lucky with production from pitchers which they really did not expect to produce to that level. And of course they hit tons of HRs as usual to cover up for declining defense and lowering averages.

    This year I still fear that the aged hitters will effect the team hard (even though we got rid of Posada) and the defense is going to be even more exploitable this year than last.

    We got a bunch of new pitchers that I have not seen pitch for the Yankees to get any decent feel for them. I’m told that they are good but countless pitchers are said to be good and when they come here they suddenly become awful. I need to see them on Yes for a few weeks to get any good feeling about them.

    I fear that Ivan is surely going to suffer a sophomore slump similar to what had happened to Hughes and he’ll be a big question mark come mid-season and may even get demoted, if an injury does not pop up instead. I’m not counting on Ivan at all this year, much like how I was not counting on Hughes last year. It’s just too much to expect from the second full year of any pitcher. Hughes will probably have a good season to make up for Ivan though.

    Most likely everything will go well again for the Yanks where they’ll fit enough pieces of the puzzle to cover up for their weaknesses and they’ll be a mid 90s win team again. I just keep expecting this to fail someday though mostly because of the HR factor. I enjoy watching the Rays and Rangers play more than I do the Yanks, as their baseball seems smarter and they don’t rely on the HRs as much. If the Yanks has a sharp decline in HRs this year, then I could easily see them as a second or third place team, but all indications say that’s highly unlikely.

    • #2 by admin on March 14, 2012 - 7:46 pm

      The Red Sox have plenty of good players, but the division is an utter nightmare and they still haven’t completely addressed the underlying issues from last season.
      Yes, they banned the beer; yes, they brought in a hard-line manager, but some of the problem players—Beckett especially—are still there and he doesn’t seem willing to take responsibility for what happened.
      If Beckett stood up and said, “look, we screwed up and it won’t happen again”, it would alter the perception of a club that still doesn’t think they did anything wrong. He should say it even if he doesn’t believe it.
      I’m a fan of Nova. I think he’ll be as good or better than he was last season.
      They have enough pitching. I wouldn’t have made the Noesi/Montero for Pineda/Campos deal, but that doesn’t mean Pineda’s not good—he is.
      That bullpen and lineup will be more than enough with the other flawed clubs in the division.
      I’d be more concerned about the Blue Jays than the Rays and Red Sox.

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