A few of you have commented either here on the blog or on Facebook. Let me take a second to address a few of these comments.
-Yes I really do think the Tampa Bay Rays, not the Yankees will win the AL East.
-Yes I think that the Kansas City Royals will finish last in the AL Central, but would not be surprised if they won 70+ games and finished 3rd or 4th.
-No I do not believe that the Red Sox will pull another late season choke....they won't even be in the running.
Keep the comments coming. I love the witty banter I get from my readers, old and new. Now onto the only division that already has a game in the books.
Los Angeles- The Angels of Anaheim-West of the 57, enter the 2012 season with two of the biggest prizes in the free agent market this past year. Albert Pujols- the best hitter on the World Champion Cardinals (with the exception of Games 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 & 7 of the Series) and C.J. Wilson- arguably the best pitcher from the two-time World Series loser Texas Rangers.
With all of that money spent, I'm still not sure this team wins the division. Texas is still a really good ballclub, even without Wilson. They will make the playoffs, but Angels fans should hope that Game 3 Albert Pujols shows up (5-for-6, 3 HR, 6 RBI) and not the rest of the WS games' Albert Pujols (1-for-19).
Oakland- The biggest piece of good news for the Athletics this past year was that Moneyball was nominated for Oscars in Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill). The real Athletics - the ones still using the Moneyball system and NOT making the playoffs, let alone winning Championships - will struggle to make it out of the cellar of the AL West. But good news for A's fans is just around the corner. The Houston Astros will join the division in 2013.
Fun with promotions: Join the A's at the ballpark on August 18 when the team celebrates the 10th anniversary of their 20-game winning streak. I know they won't be celebrating by starting another 20-game win streak, but they will be giving away a Scott Hatteberg bobblehead. Being that Scott is from my hometown of Salem, Oregon I may try to get one of those.
Also, be sure to come down every Tuesday during the 2012 season for Free Parking Tuesday, presented by Chevrolet. Yes, the main reason that people don't come to A's games is because parking is expensive. Maybe if they charged for parking at EVERY game, they could afford a few more B-list free agents....or at least one.
Seattle- I may be only a few hours away from Seattle but that doesn't make me a homer. Regardless, I really like what this team is trying to do. And while they will not get there this year, they will take a big step forward. I have been singing the praises of Dustin Offensive Att-Ackley since they drafted him. Add in Jesus Montero - who could win AL Rookie of the Year - and Justin Smoak....this team is definitely moving the right direction.
Fun with promotions: I am usually having a bit of fun with this segment, but in all seriousness this time, for those of you who like bobbleheads be sure to come to Safeco Field on July 28 when the Mariners induct Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson into the Mariners Hall of Fame. Commemorating this occasion is the Randy Johnson/Dan Wilson dual bobblehead. I will be getting one of those.
Texas- C.J. Wilson is gone, but is replaced by Neftali Feliz. Feliz makes the move from the bullpen in part because the team signed Joe Nathan to take over the 9th inning. The Rangers also made a splash signing Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. It's hard to bet against a team that has made it to the World Series in back-to-back seasons.
Fun with promotions: On April 8, the first 30,000 fans receive a replica American League champion trophy. NOTE: These are not the leftovers from last year's promotion....we really did order new ones....after we had to send back the World Series replica trophies we ordered during Game 6 of the World Series.
Los Angeles- 91-71
Agree? Disagree? Let the debate begin again. Be sure to check back tomorrow night for the NL East preview.
Thanks for reading.