Good evening my loyal subjects. Last night I promised you the beginning of the 2012 MLB predictions and here we go. We start things off tonight with the AL East. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the AL Central preview. Alright, without further delay.....
Baltimore- Last season, the Orioles posted the 4th-worst record in the Majors at 69-93. Unfortunately, they did little to improve on the team in the offseason. Let me rephrase that. The Orioles did little to improve the big club. The organization did make a slew of changes at all levels of the minors.
This team is young with no real veteran presence besides that of manager Buck Showalter. I don’t foresee much of an improvement on that 69 win total from a year ago.
Boston- Red Sox fans and players alike would like to forget what transpired over the final weeks of the 2011 season, that saw Boston not only blow the AL East lead which they had at one point, but also the wild-card lead on the final day of the regular season. The Sox lost 18 of their final 24 games to complete one of the biggest collapses in MLB history.
Afterwards, all hell broke loose. Gone is the skipper Terry Francona, GM Theo Epstein, team captain and longtime catcher Jason Varitek, closer Jonathan Papelbon, SS Marco Scutaro, OF J.D. Drew and LHP Erik Bedard among others.
New skipper Bobby Valentine will have his hands full with this team as they look to replace the veteran leadership of Varitek and try to infuse youthful energy into an aging starting rotation. The bullpen should be the biggest concern this year.
New York- Same old Yankees. The Bronx Bombers reloaded their pitching staff by signing Hiroki Kuroda and trading for Michael Pineda. They also signed Raul Ibanez to be their main DH this season, bringing the total of former Seattle Mariners on the Yankees’ 25-man roster to five (Pineda, Ibanez, Alex Rodriguez, Freddy Garcia and Rafael Soriano).
Derek Jeter is another year older, so is A-Rod, so is Mariano Rivera. And if Andy Pettitte does join the club around May, it will only increase the average age of this team. Like always, this team will be in the hunt for the AL East title. And if Boston or Tampa should surge this year, the Yankees will more than likely land one of the Wild-Card spots.
Fun with promotions: One weekend in May jumped out at me. When the Tampa Bay Rays come to town on May 8-10, the Yankees are really opening up their wallets to the fans. On May 8th, fans receive a hand sanitizer keychain. On the 9th, fans get a Yankee Garden Gnome. On the 10th, fans are treated to a collectible cup. Hey! What can you expect? The team spends all their money on the talent on the field.
Tampa Bay- What a thrilling end to the regular season for Tampa Bay fans. Hanging around with the Red Sox in the Wild-Card chase long enough to wait for the epic collapse. There are no big surprises here. The Rays are who we thought they were.
The young pitching staff is another year older, which is a good thing unlike with the Yankees lineup. I think they will be in the hunt early and often as long as the lineup can come out of the gate swinging (pun intended).
Fun with promotions: Be sure to stop into Tampa Bay on June 29th when they hand out the Zim Bear to fans. It’s exactly what it sounds like; a teddy bear with Don Zimmer’s face on it. They are trying to lure fans TO Tropicana Field, right?
Toronto- This is the scariest team for me to predict in this division. They have a 2008 Tampa Rays feel about them going in. Their pitching is not overwhelming but they could be good enough to keep this team with their underrated offense in the hunt for one of the Wild-Card spots.
Fun with promotions: If any of you happen to be in Toronto on April 29th, be sure to check out Amateur Baseball Day as the Seattle Mariners come to town. I’m not sure why the whole 3-game series isn’t called Amateur baseball weekend. One thing is for sure, Yankees scouts will be in attendance.
Tampa Bay- 95-67
New York- 93-69
Agree? Disagree? Let the debate begin. See you tomorrow night with the AL Central.
Thanks for reading.