In my last season preview, I thought there was only one superior team and that was the Red Sox. Well, this year I think it is more wide open than that, as I believe Boston has fallen off just enough to join the pack of flawed, but potential world champion teams. Below is the way I see it, with predicted wins next to each club.
NY Yankees 89
Tampa Bay 75
It has been awhile since a World Champ has repeated, so expect that the Red Sox will have a tougher time of it this year. Their depth of pitching, especially in the bullpen, will make the difference.
The Yankees starting pitching is a mystery to me and their aging hitters are on the downhill slope. I suspect they will make a move at tte trade deadline that will bring in a key component to ensure the wildcard.
If you could promise me that Roy and A.J. would make all their starts, I would probably pull the trigger on the Blue Jays. These injury concerns and the difference of who closes the games gives the Wild Card to the Yanks.
Too many people are out ahead of the D-Rays, as their bullpen will continue to kill them. (See a theme here?)
Camden Yards is a great place to watch a game, unless you are an Orioles fan.
Kansas City 75
The Indians are the best team in baseball...except that they have decided to stick with Borowski to close out games. Time to move someone up or get someone to take care of that serious flaw.
The Tigers have a bunch of aging hitters coming off big, if not career years, and a pathetic bullpen. Does that scenario remind you of someone? (2007 White Sox). No team has a bigger high/low possibility than Detroit.
Last season the bullpen was as bad as a gets for about a 3 month stretch. Outside of Jenks, the pen was awful. One more starting pitcher and they could climb back into the Wild Card picture.
The Twins and A's seem to both be in a transitional phase, but they have enough pitching to be more competitive than expected.
The Royals have a better chance of making the playoffs in the next 5 years than the D-Rays. They are no longer an easy mark.
Los Angeles 89
No team has an easier walk to the playoffs than the Angels, as the rest of the West wll battle it out for last place. Last year they went into the playoffs with serious injury problems. If they are healthy this year, they can win it all.
The A's are better than they are being given credit for. If they still had Haren and Swisher, they might have had a chance at the Wild Card.
Last season was a fluke year, with the Mariners' bullpen coming out of nowhere to he a force for them. The pen in 2008 will come back to earth some and so will the team's record.
I have no idea what the Rangers gameplan is, as they seem to have no ability to develop young pitchers. Sadly, many of their talented young hitters seem to have atrophied as well.
The Indians are the most talented team in baseball, except for their questionable bullpen. Unless they find someone who can do for them what Rodriguez, Paplebon, and Rivera, I just don't see them winning consistently in the playoffs. It is nearly impossible to repeat, so I won't predict the Red Sox to win it all, like I did during my 2007 preview. The Yankees are really hard to read, counting on so many young starters and past theit prime hitters. I'm going with Angels, as they have the easiest road to post-season and the pitching and defense to thrive in October. I made these pickc before I had heard about Escobar's injury. I'm sticking with them, as it is the fair thing to do. considering I'm 3 days late posting my choices.