I guess the appropriate title for this post should have been Spaceballs: The Blog. You know, to go along with Spaceballs: the breakfast cereal, Spaceballs: the lunch box, and Spaceballs: the flame-thrower…
Anyway, I can assure you, there is absolutely no need to call 1-800-Druida for the scoop on the American League East. I’m about to drop all the knowledge you need to know right now. I’m literally going to comb the desert (East) for division and possible wild card winners. Just beware, last year I played it safe with my predictions, this year is a different story. So read up, and May The Schwartz Be With You!
AL East Division Winners – Tampa Bay Rays
In a year where both the Yankees and Red Sox are widely expected NOT to push for the playoffs, the Rays are sitting prettier than ever. Yeah they had few familiar faces depart via trade or free agency (James Shields and B.J. Upton), but like seemingly every other year since 2006, the Rays have a fresh face ready to step right into action. Tampa Bay avoids dishing out millions of space bucks for top notch free agents, but with a great scouting and player developing front office and Joe Maddon’s influence in the clubhouse, the Rays have created a team chemistry that is second to none in Major League Baseball. And Tampa Bay has thrived with this model. With David Price headlining their starting rotation and Evan Longoria “healthy”, manning 3B again, it’ll be business as usual for the Rays. Last season Tampa Bay just missed the playoffs boasting a 90 win season, this year I think they win 90+ and put a stranglehold on this division.
2nd Place – Wild Card Berth – Boston Red Sox
Yes, you read that correctly. Even though I’m a known Sox-nation hater, I believe the Boston Red Sox will have a surprise bounce back season, finishing 2nd in the AL East. Boston ordered the “Space Special” by hiring Bobby Valentine to manage the team before last season and look what it got them… Getting rid of Bobby V and starting fresh for 2013 and was a must. Losing a bat like Adrian Gonzalez is never a good thing, but purging the clubhouse of all the toxic personalities and egos is the best thing that happened to Boston since Pedro’s magical season in 1999 (or maybe those championships in ’04 and ’07). I have to give big props to the front office in Boston for realizing they needed to start fresh. Taking another page out of the Rays playbook (trying to create team chemistry being the first), the Sox made a bunch of player signing that weren’t the highest of profile. With new manger John Farrell in place and a scrappy bunch that Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz can show how to win, I think that the Red Sox will surprise and surpass expectations. Roster depth is the only roadblock I see – injuries could devastate Boston. Jacoby Ellsbury NEEDS to play a full season.
3rd Place – Baltimore Orioles
The fighting Showalter’s had a season for the ages last year, grabbing a wild card playoff spot for the first time in a long time. They had many-a-tight game bounce in their favor in 2012, and it’s unrealistic to think it’ll go down like that again. What I need to know is, “Have you found them yet?” In regards to Baltimore’s starting staff. With no real bank-able pitchers, I don’t see Baltimore making another playoff run this year. Though, I do like the line-up, which is returning intact for the most part, featuring breakout center-fielder Adam Jones. For the the Orioles to exceed my prediction, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will absolutely need have career years. If they don’t at least match last years production, I could see the Jays grabbing third from Baltimore.
4th Place – Toronto Blue Jays
Like Dark Helmet, the Blue Jays decided that light speed was too slow and jumped right to ludicrous speed: Importing any and all of the impact players from the Miami Marlins, except Giancarlo Stanton. If anyone paid attention to the Marlins season a year ago, which most people did not, you’d know that calling it horrible is putting it lightly. With that knowledge, and also the knowledge that money doesn’t always buy championships and it definitely doesn’t buy team chemistry. I don’t understand why everyone and their mother are thinking that the Blue Jays have a smooth ride to an AL pennant? Just because I don’t see this team winning the pennant, doesn’t mean I don’t respect what Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes are capable of at the plate, or that the Blue Jays bolstered their starting rotation with the additions of R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson. I just believe that too many variables have to aline for this team to meet the sudden expectations hoisted upon this Toronto team.
(I thought about using the Planet of the Apes scene from Spaceballs… something about Blue Jays players asking “What’s those things coming off of that plane?” “Marlins?.. oh shit.. there goes the team.”)
Last Place – New York Yankees
During spring training 2013 the “Evil Empire” appeared to get… “jammed”. I can only image the Yanks don’t like being jammed, especially with Raspberry. The New York Yankees have a ton of impact players who will be missing a significant amount of time with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. The injuries will take a huge toll, but picking the Yankees to finish 5th also reflects the depth the AL East in 2013. The Yankees still have core centerpiece players ready for Opening Day like CC Sabathia and Robinson Cano, who are capable of putting the team on their backs. Unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees actually have the some depth to fight off the injury bug, even when the bug bites as bad as it did in New York. I could see the Yankees finishing as high as 3rd in the division, but with the massive injuries early, they could fall into a hole they can’t crawl out of… and I do have to pick someone to finish in last.
Predictions for the other divisions are on the way, so stay tuned!