Friday, April 15, 2016

Signor Baseball's 2016 AL Preview

My God, it's Tax Day!!! The jack booted thugs are at the door, and...OK, deep breath. Now, let's put this ugliness aside for a moment, try to forget all those corporations that spend countless hours avoiding paying their fair share, and ponder instead the fate of the junior circuit.

The AL East is made up of 5 slightly above average teams. Any one of them could win. Any one of them could crash and burn.

Toronto scores runs like a beer league softball team. But their starting pitching isn't particularly imposing. If it were, they'd run away with the division. Boston was way down last year and they usually bounce back. They've added an ace and if they get their normal offensive output they'll be alright. On the other hand, they've relegated a couple of hundred million bucks to sitting on the bench...Baltimore may have passed its window of opportunity, but with no clearly superior team ahead of them, who knows? They can score a lot of runs, and if their pitching holds up...? Nah. In New York, I wouldn't expect the Yanks' aging stars to get any better. And their ace is always one pitch away from elbow surgery. I guess you could say that about any pitcher these days, though. Again, they don't have to be "great" to compete in this division. However, staying reasonably healthy is a must. Once again Tampa will play pretty solid baseball before mostly empty seats. The more things change...You know, with all those Cubans down there you'd think both Florida teams would have no problem attracting fans. But I guess the younger ones don't care and the older ones are still too busy plotting the overthrow of Castro to bother with baseball.

In the Central it looks like a Kansas City dynasty is taking root. Although it should be noted that if the Mets had been able to make a couple of routine plays, the Royals would be 2 time losers in the World Series. Still, their everyday lineup is the best in the division and that bullpen usually covers the weaknesses of their starters. Cleveland and Detroit should stay close. The Indians have the arms and the Tigers have the bats. Now, if Justin Verlander can overcome what might be Kate Upton Related Fatigue (and really, who can blame him?) and regain his Cy Young form, then the Tigers will give the Royals a good run for the money. Minnesota is a sleeper here. If their young talent lives up to the hype...Which is the biggest kind of "if" in any sport. And the White Sox, with or without a "kids free" clubhouse, will turn a lot of Chicagoans into Cubs' fans this year.

Out West, I'm taking Seattle to surprise everyone. Why? No idea. Call it a hunch. Or too much chardonnay and not enough sleep. Houston is probably the smart pick, but because of my fear of a Cubs/Astros World Series, which is one of the first signs of End Times, I'm eschatologically opposed to choosing the 'stros. The Rangers and Angels, despite having a handful of all stars between them, look like also rans this year. However, if Yu Darvish comes back and Cole Hamels has a big year, Texas has a better chance to compete than the Los Angeles/Anaheim/Inland Empire/OrangeCounty ballchuckers do. Mike Trout may be the best all around player in the sport, but this ain't basketball and one super dooper star doesn't guarantee anything. That leaves the Billy Ballers in Oakland. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, anything and anyone of value will be available by late July. Having no money will do that to you. Besides, the A's just love to rebuild every couple of years. Don't they?

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