Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Signor Baseball's 2015 AL Preview

Get out your needles and your "juice", A-Rod is back! That's right, it's time for our "National Pastime" to resume. Brace yourself for a summer of 4 hour games, endless pitching changes, blown calls even with replay, Tommy John surgeries, phenoms who fail, Cuban defectors, and all the other stuff that still fascinates those of us of a certain age or a certain mind set.

In general, the American League seems to be racing towards something like parity, irrespective of the amount teams can spend. This has nothing to do with the triumph of the free market, by the way. The smart boys in Vegas have a whole bunch of teams bunched around the 84-85 win mark, with none clearly dominant.

Which means Signor Baseball has no idea who is going to win.

But having no idea about what you're talking about is as American as, well, baseball, so here goes:

In the East, the Orioles are the class of the division, unless the dreaded--and inevitable--BSFS, (Buck Showalter Fatigue Syndrome), has started to set in. If it hasn't, Baltimore, which is loaded everywhere, might run away by mid Summer. By the way, Mrs. Franklin, young Ben Jr. and I had tickets to game six of the ALCS at Camden Yard last Fall. But there wasn't a game six because the Orioles got blown out by the Royals. The Royals! After a down year, Boston went out and bought bunches of ball players. A Panda now plays third base and a shortstop now plays left field. Most everybody in the Red Sox lineup can hit, a few of them can actually catch the ball, and if their pitching stays healthy they can hang close to the Orioles. Toronto has Russell Martin at catcher, which means the Blue Jays will probably make the playoffs, because teams with Russell Martin at catcher almost always make the playoffs.You can look it up, as they say. In the big city, the New York Yankees will need an injury free year from their entire team, especially their pitching staff, to contend. The odds of that happening are the same as the odds of Alex Rodriguez ever getting into the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter's replacement, Didi Gregorius, has a major league glove, superior range, and a suspect bat--but if everyone else could hit, it wouldn't matter. Unfortunately, everyone else can't hit...Gardner, Texeira, McCann, Ellsbury, and a couple others can still play a little, but most of them are on the downward slope career wise, and unless everything falls into place the Yanks will battle the Rays to stay out of last place. How Tampa reacts to losing their manager and their best starter is anyone's guess. Their handful of faithful fans will be sad, but the vast majority of Floridians won't care a bit.

The Central should be a free-for-all right until the bitter end. Detroit has gone from having three number 1 starters (for all the good it did them in the playoffs last year) to just one to start the season. But they still have a lot of punch, and if Verlander can return to form the Tigers will be fine. Cleveland has a solid manager, a Cy Young winner and some good young hitters. Chicago added pitching and hitting. And Kansas City is the defending American League champion. So put those four teams in a hat and pick one. I'm going White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals. But it could be the exact inverse of that. Or something in between. Anything is possible in this best of all possible worlds. I mean, the Royals, for God's sake, were in the World Series last year. The Royals! That couldn't happen again this year...Could it? In this harrowing time, full of uncertainty, one thing is certain: The Minnesota Twins will finish last. Sorry least you still have all of those nice lakes to enjoy. 10,000, isn't it? That should keep you busy.

Out West, Texas had a nightmare, injury plagued season last year, and should've been primed to bounce back to close to a .500 record. Unfortunately, they've already lost their best starter for the entire season. A cynic might say this was God's punishment on Texas for giving us the Bush family. I will leave it to the theologians to hash that out. Besides, a .500 record wouldn't get the Rangers to the top of the division. Seattle is better, Oakland is better, California is better, and the Astros are, uh...never mind the Astros. But the A's traded away a big bat for a rent-an-ace only to fall apart late last year, and the Angels have spent a ton of money recently with disappointing results, so let's take the Mariners to win. I mean, why not? After the Super Bowl our hyper caffeinated friends in the Northwest need something to lift the gloom. Let's put the A's second, and the Angels, who seem to be acting like complete pricks in l'affaire Hamilton, third. That leaves the two Texas teams battling to stay out of the cellar. The Good Book tells us that one day the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Or something like that. But not this year. Sorry Houston.

Of course, like a Republican presidential candidate, I could be wrong about everything. No matter; nobody--besides the NSA--is keeping track of this stuff anyway...

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