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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Predictions 2006: American League 

Here are my 2006 American League predictions. I'm impressed more by the AL teams than the NL teams this year. I think the AL division races will be tougher and more exciting than their NL counterparts, and I think the teams that emerge will be better too. Check it out:

AL East
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Boston Red Sox
3. New York Yankees
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles

Maybe I’m overly impressed by the moves the Toronto Blue Jays made in the off-season, but I don’t think there is another team in the MLB that improved itself as much as the Blue Jays did. Adding A.J. Burnett was a great move to bolster an already strong starting rotation, and they’ve got some explosiveness in the starting lineup. I think the Jays have the best pitching staff in the AL East and that will be the difference this season … I like the Red Sox, and I think that Coco Crisp will be a big upgrade over Johnny Damon at the plate, but I don’t see a division title in ’06. I don’t think that the Red Sox rotation is quite as good as the Jays. This team plays good defense (and will play better with Edgar Renteria gone), they will score lots of runs, but I think that the pitching isn’t quite there and I’m worried that Manny Ramirez will prove to be a distraction. I see the wildcard, about 91-92 wins, and a first round exit … Yeah, I’m putting the Yankees third. I hate the Yankees pitching staff. Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson are too old and Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano weren’t the aces that Steinbrenner thought he was getting when he signed them. Their bullpen might be a little better, but this is still a team that has to rely on out-slugging its foes. The Yankees teams of the mid-1990’s were dominated by strong pitching and tough defense. I look at the Yankees current lineup and I’m impressed, but this team doesn’t play good defense (in fact they are arguably the worst in the MLB) and it only has the third-best pitching staff in the division. I think they’ll have to fight to get to 90 wins and I think they’ll have to fight with the Red Sox to make the playoffs in the first place. I don’t think either one will happen … I think there is a lot of talent in Tampa, but it is spectacular bad luck that this team is mired in this division. I think that this team will struggle to reach .500 and I just don’t see it in ’06 … I pity Orioles fans. This team doesn’t have a clue what it is doing. Tampa can blame its financial situation for its woes, but the Orioles have everything going for them: great park, great fans, lots of cash, an MVP shortstop, and they look awful. Whose bright idea was it to bring Kris Benson to town? He can’t pitch and his wife is a major pain. And Sammy Sosa? This team looks terrible. I see Miguel Tejada traded before the end of the season.

AL Central
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals

Who would have predicted that the White Sox were going to win the '05 Series? I'm nervous about going against them for 2006. I don't think they'll repeat as world champs, but they'll win the division. Losing Aaron Rowland will hurt, and I'm only 50-50 Thome will be back to pre-'05 form, but this team is pretty strong. Their rotation is better than the Yankees or virtually any other AL team (Blue Jays, Red Sox and A's excepted). I think they'll hit 90+ wins again and make the playoffs. I was sorely tempted to pick the Indians to beat the White Sox, but they've lost Kevin Millwood and Coco Crisp. I like Jason Michaels, but it is difficult to lose your best pitcher and one of your best position players and still compete. (Although Jason Michaels might actually be a defensive upgrade over Coco.) Still, second is a good spot for them. The Twins? You know, if they could clone Johan Santana and pitch him every day they'd be pretty good ... sadly, this team is starting to decay and fall apart. I expect them to fall behind early and deal Torii Hunter in July. They have some great players, but they are too thin. I'd love to love the Tigers. My father was born in Detroit, and the Tiger is my favorite animal. (My cat is named Tigger.) I think Comerica Park is beautiful. But this team needs to work on adding some pitching. With a pitchers park like Comerica they should be adding more pitchers, but they aren't. I'm going to enjoy seeing what Placido Polanco can do for their defense this season. I'm predicting fourth, but I leave open the thought that this team could be a sleeper and make a run at first. Are the Royals the most hopeless team in baseball? Arguably they have the worst situation in the MLB. Sure the D-Rays have to play in the same division as the Yankees, but potential free agents have to be okay with playing in Florida. "Hey, come to the Great Plains and play for a team that's going to lose 100 games this year." Good night and good luck Royals fans.

AL West
1. Oakland A’s
2. Texas Rangers
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Seattle Mariners

I love the A’s. This is, hands down, the best team in baseball. Nobody is deeper, nobody is more powerful. Eric Chavez. Jason Kendall. Bobby Crosby. Milton Bradley. Frank Thomas. Nick Swisher. This team is stacked with great bats and they can play defense. Since the team lost Jason Giambi they’ve been fighting to get back to where they were offensively. Now, I think they’ve done that. This team will score a lot of runs and give a lot of cushion to their pitching staff, who isn’t that bad either. The A’s have replaced the Big Three quite nicely. I like this team. I like this team a lot … I’m wary about saying something nice about the Rangers, but they were better than I thought in 2005 and they’ve made a few nice moves in the off-season, namely signing Kevin Millwood (Phillies fans remember, didn’t I say that the Indians were getting a bargain with him in ’05?). Who knows, maybe they can make a wildcard run … I’ve never really liked the Anaheim Angels. This team is going into a fast decline (they’ll be sub-.500 this year, mark my words) with an aging lineup. The A’s made a lot of moves to upgrade themselves and the Angels seem to be moving backwards … I remember when the Seattle Mariners won 116 games. That was a long, long time ago. This team has a lot of problems, not the least of which is that Adrian Beltre as a big bust in ’05 and may not improve much. Richie Sexson was a nice pickup, and Ichiro is tremendous, but this team has too many holes to fill. Maybe next year.

Playoffs:

ALDS
Oakland over Boston, 3-1
Toronto over Chicago, 3-2

I like the A's over the Red Sox, but this will be a hard-fought series. I give it to the A's based on their depth over the Sox experience. I see the Blue Jays over the White Sox in a duel of deep and dangerous pitching staffs.

ALCS
Oakland over Toronto, 4-1

The clash of the titans. Oakland has been in the ALDS so many times and fallen short, but I see them getting through the playoffs and forcing critics to eat their usual criticism of Moneyball: "Can't win a playoff series."

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