Thursday, April 12, 2012

Signor Baseball's 2012 AL Preview

Crack open a case of your favorite beverage, and let us debate the social, ethical, and legal ramifications of the designated hitter rule. It's time once again for Signor Baseball's AL preview:

EAST: The home for the elderly, infirm, and incredibly wealthy otherwise known as the New York Yankees creaks into yet another season. Hell, their bat boy is in his 50's. One of these days, this will come crashing to the ground with a thud. But not this year. In what looks to be the great Mariano Rivera's swansong, they'll have at least enough left in the tank to grab one of the wild cards. Tampa will probably take the division. The Rays have a more reliable set of starters than the Yanks and their starting lineup is a decade younger across the board. Now, if they just had some fans...In Boston Bobby Valentine will keep everybody entertained with his patter and disguises as the Red Sox Nation slowly discovers just how much they miss Theo Epstein and Terry Francona. I don't see them falling off the face of the earth, but the Blue Jays will be hot on their heels. Once again, Toronto is good--just not good enough. They are becoming the Glenn Close of MLB. And in Baltimore, those Oriole fans with extremely long memories can fondly recall when they had great teams. For the rest of us, well, there's always the crab cakes.

CENTRAL: Detroit, Detroit and Detroit again. The Tigers have opened up a talent gap and I don't see any of the other teams anywhere close to them. They have pitching, they have power, they have a good, solid manager. Unless the injury bug hits early and often they should have it wrapped up by July. The Indians and Twins need everything to go right to catch them. And really, when has everything ever gone right in Cleveland and Minnesota? Kansas City is much better than they were a couple of years ago. That doesn't necessarily make the Royals good, though. Just better. And the White Sox may win more games than the Cubs--which would make them the champions of Chicago at least.

WEST: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (what a stupid name) have spent like, well, like the New York Yankees of the Bronx. Billionaire owners can do that. Filthy largesse will get the Angels into the playoffs--but it may not be enough to win the division. Down in Rick Perry's Republic of Texas, y'all, the Rangers are still loaded and probably very bitter about the last two World Series. That could go one of two ways: either they channel their rage into another strong run for the pennant, or they start bickering with each other and, despite a ton of talent, fall apart. I'm guessing the former. Whichever team doesn't finish in first should have a lock on one of the wild cards. Look for another long season in both Seattle and Oakland. The Mariners still have Ichiro and a couple of pitchers. Not nearly enough in this division. Moneyball was a great movie. Unfortunately, Billy Beane's methods aren't a secret anymore. Everybody is looking for those kind of "hidden value" players, and as a result, Oakland is once again just another small market team trying to compete--but ultimately merely serving to develop talent for other, richer franchises. Oh well, win or lose Chez Panisse is only a short drive away. Bon appetit!

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