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The tardiest MLB Primer you will ever see (AL)

April 14, 2012

I’m almost done getting this out of my system. It’s like I have to write it.

AL West
4. Oakland
3. Seattle
2. Texas
1. Los Angeles

There are two distinct tiers in this division. Seattle and Oakland are similar levels of bad, but the Mariners has an ace in King Felix, and that is the difference for me. Neither team will contend for a while. For Oakland the rebuilding process will go on indefinitely until they can secure a deal for another stadium. They want to move to San Jose but the Giants are being dicks about it, citing territorial rights in Santa Clara county based off some deal made in 1992. The A’s are getting preposterously low attendance at the Coliseum; allowing them to die like this is bad for all of baseball, and the Giants need to sack up. So what if some Giants fans live in San Jose? Or if the Giants’ Class-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, has to move? A major league franchise is more important than a minor league one, and however many fans the Giants lose, they will not fall to the current level of the A’s.

Meanwhile in Happytown, the Angels and Rangers both seem capable of winning a World Series. The Rangers have lost their pitching ace two years in a row, and they’d have to be pretty lucky to win the division again after that. Japanese sensation Yu Darvish may be the real deal, but he will have to go through a rough learning period just like everyone else. The two clubs have equally great offenses now that the Angels signed Albert Pujols, so the Angels’ rotation, which might be the best in the majors, will bring them a division title.

AL Central
5. Minnesota
4. Cleveland
3. Kansas City
2. Chicago
1. Detroit

Minnesota was good for many years then WHAM!, suck. Now it looks like that’s gonna be the case for a while. The starting pitching can’t really strike anyone out, the bullpen has been depleted, and the hitters are okay, but Target Field suppresses run-scoring.

Cleveland is well prepared for the future, but the roster is too thin to contend this year. Asdrubal Cabrera will not repeat the outstanding success of last season, Grady Sizemore is injured again and Pronk is too old now. Shin-Soo Choo will probably go back to being awesome. The rest of the lineup and bench is filled with prospects and they can’t all be good, probability would say. Carlos Santana will be the best catcher in the game either this year or next. Dude has it all. Makes me feel good. Like this song by another Carlos Santana.

Pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson both have great stuff. If they can harness it (or in Jimenez’s case, re-harness it), they will keep the Indians in the race. The rest of the rotation is average, but the bullpen was great last year. Vinnie Pestano in particular is a striker-outer extraordinaire.

Kansas City is another young team not quite ready to make the playoffs. Without an ace, their very good bullpen will be overtaxed by the end of the season. The young position players all project to be good hitters for their positions, led by future star first baseman Eric Hosmer. Alex Gordon waited six years to realize his potential, but boy it is grand. DH Billy Butler is my favorite hitter in the majors. He is a round, doubles-hitting machine.

Most everyone on Chicago had a terrible season in 2011, so I expect a bounce-back season. Adam Dunn can’t be the most terrible player who ever lived so suddenly and after being so good, right? Third Brent Morel had a stellar September, which can foreshadow a breakout season. John Danks and Gavin Floyd are both solid starters; if young converted reliever Chris Sale pans out, the rotation will actually be pretty good. Jake Peavy is returning from a one-of-a-kind shoulder injury, so far successfully. If he continues as such, the rotation becomes the best in the division. Alexei Ramirez is one of the best shortstops in the league, especially on defense. There is enough talent to challenge the Tigers, but everything would have to go right.

Everyone has picked Detroit to win the Central, for good reason: they have the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and pitcher (Justin Verlander). Cabrera is now protected by Prince Fielder, a legitimate star in his own right, so he should feast on better pitches to hit. On top of that, the rest of the lineup and bullpen are extremely deep. And recently news broke that catcher/DH Victor Martinez might be able to return late this year, making a scary team even scarier just in time for the playoffs.

AL East
5. Baltimore
4. Toronto
3. Tampa Bay
2. Boston
1. New York

Baltimore for fifth place was the easiest pick to make. The only joy that can conceivably come from being a fan is watching catcher Matt Wieters play.

Toronto is on the rise thanks to GM Alex Anthopoulous, but a lack of depth in the rotation after Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow will doom the Blue Jays to yet another fourth-place finish. The good news is that they went back to these sexy uniforms.

Unh.

Canada’s team now has a Canadian soon-to-be superstar to root for in Brett Lawrie. Some things in the world are pleasant.

Boston collapsed last season, something everyone outside of New England enjoyed. Why is there so much Boston hate, apart from media overexposure? I think it’s because the fanbase is filled with people who think like this.

Second night of a back to back. Atlanta had 3 days off. Ray Allen was out. KG fouled out in overtime. The refs blew more than 10 calls. These are all legit excuses for a Celtics loss tonight. These are all excuses of the same caliber the Red Sox have been making all season and the last. The Celtics won tonight. The Celtics have more heart in one player than the Red Sox have as a team.

–Anonymous

If the person who wrote that reads this, let me say that I don’t mean to say I hate you. This is just an imbecilic thing to say. Firstly, Atlanta isn’t that good. Secondly, the Red Sox season is about a week old. Thirdly, “heart” and “grit” and other sportswriter cliches are tired ways for old newspaper men and the like to make sports about good guys and bad guys.

The Red Sox didn’t miss the playoffs because they lack heart. They missed the playoffs because their starting pitching was depleted, overextending the bullpen. The offense went cold at the worst possible time. Intense media focus combined with the fans’ propensity to panic at the first sign of trouble may have affected the players, but probably not. What the media really did was over-analyze the situation so that fried chicken and beer became an off-season punchline.

For most of the season, the Red Sox were the best team in the league, and that team should reappear this year. They are thin on starting pitching again, so this prediction is made with the caveat that they will sign Roy Oswalt midway through the season.

Finally, New York turned their only weakness, lack of pitching depth (sense a theme?), into a strength by signing Hiroki Kuroda, trading for Michael Pineda and luring Andy Pettitte out of retirement. Now they have too many pitchers. Ah, the dilemmas the Yankees face.

Though old, the offense should still be very effective. The bullpen is led by the greatest closer of all time and his first mate, strikeout machine David Robertson.

AL Wild Card Game

(2) Boston at (1) Texas

The AL East is too strong to have two Wild Card teams. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But while Texas and Los Angeles beat up on Oakland and Seattle, the top four teams in the East will be playing each other. The tougher schedule will deflate all of their records. I have Texas winning. It’s one game six months from now, so does it really matter why?

ALDS

Texas at Detroit
New York at Los Angeles

Detroit plays in the weakest division, so expect them to have the best record. Since the Tigers have an offense that can match the Rangers’, Justin Verlander will be the difference. The Angels’ rotation was tailor-made for the playoffs, so they best the Yankees.

ALCS

Los Angeles over Detroit

What I wrote about the Angels just a moment ago.

World Series

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis

It’s Pujols vs. his former team! The Cardinals go for two straight titles! The media goes crazy! I wet myself! I mean just now, not in this hypothetical! But probably then too! Fuck it, the Angels win!

***

Whew, I’m done. Here’s a baseball song, dedicated reader.

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