Thursday, April 23, 2009

Season 12 Preview - AL East

AL East

Boston Freedom (93-69) 1st place
Question: Will the new and improved veteran pitching staff bring the wins?
Answer: Rico Estrada should break the 2000 hit barrier this season, and he is only 30 years old.
Player to watch: Vladimir Segui will be counted on to provide the pop in a lineup without much power.
Outlook: 99-63 - 1st place. Lars likes what the Freedom have done with their pitching staff, and think that their lineup is the most balanced in the AL East. There isn't much power in the offense, but they have just enough home run threats that they should be able to small ball their way to victory behind their veteran rotation and lights out bullpen.

Pittsburgh SSP (90-72) 3rd place
Question: Will Pittsburgh recover from last seasons devastating end of year collapse, where they lost a playoff spot on the last day?
Answer: Roosevelt Ingram leads a balanced lineup, and should produce another .300+ BA 100 RBI season.
Player to watch: The SSP bulked up their rotation with Ugueth Posada, and are counting on him to help them keep pace with Boston.
Outlook: 93-69 - 2nd place. Lars feels for the SSP, who for much of season 11 were in 1st place in the AL East. Then either a black cat crossed their path, a goat was denied entry into their stadium, or pieo put a voodoo hex on the team and they proceeded to not only lose 1st place, but slip to 3rd as Cleveland snuck past them for the final wildcard spot. This season Lars thinks things will work out better for Pittsburgh, as their pitching is improved, and their lineup is solid, and Cleveland is a historically underperforming regular season team.

Cleveland Steamers (91-71) 2rd place
Question: Will the Steamers turn their playoff success into a division championship?
Answer: The Steamers outfield is the heart of the team, with all three having all star potential.
Player to watch: Ruben Gonzalez is the ace of the staff, and Cleveland will try and get him as many starts as possible.
Outlook: 89-73 - 3rd place. The Steamers seem to be establishing a pattern where they just scrape their way into the playoffs, then proceed to destroy every higher seeded AL team, only to be dismantled by Omaha in the World Series. Lars thinks there is a very good possibility of that happening again, if they can survive the regular season with their primary competitors having improved their squads. Ultimately though Lars has seen a costly injury or two in his crystal ball, which will strike at the achilles heel of the Steamers, their depth, ultimately costing them a playoff spot.

Indianapolis Raging Slowheads (85-77) 4th place
Question: Will the new management keep the team competetive, or will there be a trade deadline free for all?
Answer: Bernie Almonte is the star in the rotation, and looks to dominate the regular season.
Player to watch: Roosevelt Lowell is getting old, and needs to justify his big contract.
Outlook: 85-77 - 4th place. Lars thinks that the Raging Slowheads will be competitive, but that the other three teams in the division will be a little better. The impressive core of players that won the World Series in season 4 are starting to get old, and Lars knows that it is hard to fend off father time. Look for this to be the last gasp before major changes are enacted to breathe some youth into the franchise.

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