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HBT Extra: AL East Preview

Mar 21, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

Kay and I are back and we’re talking about, arguably, the best division in baseball.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox, Yankees, and Rays all grabbed playoff (or play-in) spots. But I can’t really argue much with anything you’re saying here CC.

    The Sox haven’t messed with their chemistry, so as long as the pitching is solid I see no reason why they can’t take the division.

    The big NY pickups were an aging catcher and a glass-blown CF, so if those guys miss a bunch of games and that infield is as underwhelming as it is on paper there could be trouble, but overall they should stay competitive like they always have under Girardi.

    The Rays will be the mind-numbingly frustrating Rays, winning a bunch of games with little discernible offensive talent outside of Longo and probably Myers. If the above worst-case scenario plays out in NY they may very well grab the Wild Card.

    The O’s will put on a good show, but the above three teams as they stand are just better.

    The Jays just plain suck and the trade deadline could be firesale time for them.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      you are right about the jays no question about that but an “aging catcher”? He’s 30 years old, not 50

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        Plenty of guys start to break down around 30, and catcher is not exactly a physically forgiving position.

      • flatsorter - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:49 PM

        Can you name one catcher that started to break down at 30?

      • happytwinsfan - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        flatsorter: joe mauer (sob)

    • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      Without knowing, just reading the so-called “analysis”, I am pretty sure this comment author is a Sox fan. Personally, I cannot decide whether the Yanks or Sox are going to finish last in the AL East.

      This is a division where only one team has the pitching to thrive. And their so-called “little discernible offense” will be plenty good enough to augment their outstanding pitching and defense. They are much better than 2013, a year when they won 92 games. I look for them to near 100 wins this year.

      The O’s have plenty of offense, and some intriguing arms. If their pitching can hang around the middle of the pack in the AL, a pitching challenged league, then look for them to be a wild card team.

      The Jays do not suck. They have plenty of thunder, and a couple of bounce back years from the veterans and break out years by guys like Lawrie, and they should capture the 3rd place spot in the AL East.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        Yup, Sox fan indeed. But I never called it an analysis. It’s just, like, my opinion man.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        Semantics. Of course, it is an opinion. As is my reply. But then that should go without saying.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        Not really, you said “so-called analysis,” which it isn’t. But no matter.

        I agree that the O’s are definitely a sleeper team in the AL, though on paper they don’t stack up to the other three teams. But that’s why they play the games.

        Your point about the Rays was basically the same as mine. They have just enough hitting to complement the pitching. My guess is guys like Loney and DeJesus will probably fall back to earth. I can’t see how they or anyone else would push 100 wins in that division.

        But the notion that the Jays have enough “thunder” to grab third made me laugh. They don’t any depth both pitching- and hitting-wise. They would need fully healthy and fully productive seasons from all of their starters to have a chance, and that’s not happening.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        How do you know the Jays will suffer injuries, and not the Sox?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        I never said that. I don’t think the Jays have the depth to deal with significant injuries. Other than the middle infield I think the Sox do.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Yes, you did. And by the way you were correct to challenge my “so-called” usage. That implies that you suggested that your comment was analysis. I still think it is, but you didn’t make that claim, so my bad there.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        Where exactly did I say the Jays will suffer injuries and the Sox will not? I’ll wait…..

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        You definitely implied the Jays will suffer injuries, and made no mention of the same for the Sox. I was just pointing out the inconsistency.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Hmmm sounds like you’re clutching at straws now.

      • bigharold - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        “This is a division where only one team has the pitching to thrive.”

        Yeah, well I’d put the Yankees SP pitching up against anybody in the division.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        Better than the Rays. Even looking through pin-striped tinted glasses, I can’t believe you actually think the declining CC, unproven Tanaka, inconsistent Nova, recovering Pineda, and late season, and 2014 ST struggling Kuroda match up with “Cy” Price, “Maddux” Cobb, “Sandy” Moore, “Ferguson” Archer, and “Orel” Hellickson.

        I look for Price, Cobb, Moore, and Archer to be All-Stars, Yankee hurlers, maybe Tanaka, who I do think will excel.

      • bigharold - Mar 21, 2014 at 9:08 PM

        “… Cy” Price, “Maddux” Cobb, “Sandy” Moore, “Ferguson” Archer, and “Orel” Hellickson.”

        You most live in Oregon or Colorado, .. or perhaps one of those stares where medical marijuana is legal. Cause, this beer drink has gotta try whatever your toking.

        Cy Price or Bye Price? Are you certain he’ll even be on the roster at the end of the year? Everybody knows the Rays aren’t going to sign him. If they trade him this season they can get a lot more for him since he won’t be a FA till 2016.

        Orel Hellickson?? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t he recently have elbow surgery? Last I heard he isn’t even due back until the end of May and best guess is EriK Bedard is the 5th starter, with about 9-10 starts, until his return. And, aside from he fact that his ST era is north of 7.00 you are assuming that Hellickson will come back and hit the ground running. That Sir is a very big assumption.

        Sandy Moore?? According to ESPN; “Matt Moore has had some struggles this spring. His 6.35 ERA is the worst among Rays’ starting pitchers already on the 40-man roster.”

        “Better than the Rays.”

        I didn’t say that. I said that I’d put the Yankee SP up against any other in the AL East. No doubt the Ray have pitching but I’d still believe the Yankee SP stands up against any other including the Rays.

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 5:13 AM

        Then your drunk.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 22, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        Better than the Rays. Even looking through pin-striped tinted glasses, I can’t believe you actually think the declining CC, unproven Tanaka, inconsistent Nova, recovering Pineda, and late season, and 2014 ST struggling Kuroda match up with “Cy” Price, “Maddux” Cobb, “Sandy” Moore, “Ferguson” Archer, and “Orel” Hellickson.

        2013 era/fip
        Rays – 3.74/3.71
        Yanks – 3.94/3.89

        Also remember that the Yanks replaced 145 IP of 5.15 ERA in Phil Hughes.

        The Jays do not suck. They have plenty of thunder, and a couple of bounce back years from the veterans and break out years by guys like Lawrie, and they should capture the 3rd place spot in the AL East.

        They also got career years out of guys like Rasmus and Lind. Why are you so positive they will keep it up and others will falter?

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        Well for one thing the Jays aren’t old.

        As for the Rays, remember Price wasn’t available early. Cobb took a line drive off his noggin’, Moore was shelved with elbow pain, Archer was just getting his feet wet, and Hellickson needed surgery. And the young staff, will be a year older, wiser, and more developed.

        A full year of Myers and DeJesus, the addition of Hannigan, and an improved bench. Not to mention the rise of Odorizzi if Hellickson cannot recover.

        I think the Rays will run away with the division.

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        It actually wasn’t Lind’s career year. Granted he neared his 2009 season, but his OPS+ was 10 points higher then. Rasmus is still young enough to improve. Bautista is back and healthy, and Lawrie appears to be settled in at third, and is having an excellent Spring.

        Hutchinson has been impressive, and looks to be a pretty good #5 guy. Return to norms by Dickey and Buehrle should give them a solid #1 & #2. Then the difficulty occurs. Who will be the #3, and #4. They have talent, but it is questionable. Morrow, Rogers, Stroman, Romero, Drabek, McGowan and Happ. If two of those guys have terrific years, look for the Jays to challenge for a play-off spot, if they falter they will hover around .500, and stay just above the Yanks and Sox.

      • bigharold - Mar 22, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        “Then your drunk.”

        In the face of a response with such such iron clad logic what can anyone say?

        “I think the Rays will run away with the division.”

        Now who is drinking?

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        They finished second with 92 wins in 2013. Add another 8 wins, they total 100, which will run away with the division.

        And for the reasons stated. Youngsters seldom get worse. Older guys not so much. Looks like the Rays and the Cards in a WS match-up.

      • bigharold - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        “They finished second with 92 wins in 2013. Add another 8 wins, they total 100, which will run away with the division.”

        Or, they could add an additional 8 losses and be fighting to stay ahead of the Jays for last place. How are they adding 8 wins with Bedard getting a third of Hellickson’s starts? And, you’ve some inside information or otherwise clairvoyance that assures you that Hellickson will be back on time and not miss a beat. You are mot only making great big assumptions that the pitching will be great but that the offense has improved too.

        “Youngsters seldom get worse. Older guys not so much.”

        Really? Tell that to BJ Upton. You know what else youngsters seldom do, .. not fulfill their potential. Not have uninterrupted success on the way to getting to whatever potential they do have. You are making great big assumptions as to the success of the Rays and the short comings of the rest of the division. The Rays do have a good rotation but the Yankees’ is equally as good. If you can’t seethat then you will be in for a frustrating season and I will enjoy looking for your excuses as to why the Rays aren’t running away with the division.

        I’m not certain the Yankees will win the division or even make the playoffs but they will be competitive thanks in large part to their rotation. However, I am certain that the Rays aren’t running away with anything.

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        The Rays will win 101. Baltimore 83. Toronto 82. New York 77. Boston 75.

        If Hellickson can’t go it won’t be Bedard but Odorizzi.

        This just in: Seldom does not mean never. Of course you can name one or two youngsters who regress, but overall it is the aging veterans who wilt, and the younger guys get better.

        The point is if the Rays play as well this year as in 2013 with a full season of Myers, Longoria, DeJesus, Moore, Cobb, Price, Archer, Jennings, and Hannigan they can attain the 100 win mark.

        They won’t go through the season injury free, but they will be healthier, than the injury prone, aging, decrepit Bombers.

    • anxovies - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      So by your definition of “aging,” just about every top catcher except Posey and Weiters are over the hill?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Those two and McCann are really the only top-flight offensive catchers….so yeah, pretty much.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        Forgot Yadier, he’d be the exception.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Yadier Molina would tend to differ.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      I might get run over by a bus tomorrow too, nobody knows but I have no issue giving McCann 5 years when he is 30, way I see it is he will catch for another 2-3 years and move to first base for the rest of his deal. I would give this deal any day of the week for a player with his talent.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:21 PM

        Fair enough. That might be one of the most coherent things you’ve ever said. Kudos.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:43 PM

        But his numbers are good for a catcher, not so much for a first base guy. Plus he would be atrocious as a defender. And even as a part time DL, he would be only average. The Yankee 2014 moves are those of a desperate organization, hoping to assuage the fan base and media.

        My guess is he will prove to be adequate for a couple of years, and then be another albatross.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        You make this stuff up as you go? You never seen him play first base and his power numbers are gonna go up playing in Yankee stadium. He will be the starting catcher for the next 4 seasons and be a well above average at the position.

  2. petey1999 - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Pitching wins and the Red Sox have it, including two guys (Capuano & Workman) who would be in the rotation just about anywhere else.

    • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Not buying it. Lester is solid. Buchholtz can be dominating, but can’t stay healthy. After that, Doubront, Peavy, and Lackey are all run of the mill types.

      I agree that Capuano & Workman are rotation quality. The problem is they should both be in Sox rotation, replacing Peavy and Lackey.

  3. tamparey - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    I think the Rays offense is being undersold.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      I disagree – they again look like the AL East team most likely to swing into a no-hitter against.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        Not only undersold, outright disrespected. Loney is solid, and having a great Spring. Zobrist is a sure thing. DeJesus, isn’t fully appreciated, Jennings is a star in the making, and Hannigan is a big upgrade behind the dish.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        You have selected some pretty shaky straws for Floating Carpet fans to grasp.

      • indaburg - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        You hush your mouth. No one asked you.

        I love being undersold though. It makes beating the big boys even sweeter.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:12 PM

        The pitching though – such a good, deep group of starters. Check. Crazy Aussie closer with crazy awesome truck? Double-check.

        /hushes mouth

      • indaburg - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:13 PM

        Smart man.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:49 PM

        I cannot argue with the “crazy” assessment of Balfour. The dude is two clicks from the nut house. However, he has been efficient. For all his peculiarities the Rays must believe he is “somewhat sane”. Not a whole lot different then Rodney.

        The Rays seldom make player procurement mistakes.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Friedman is so good that when one of his pickups go bad, I blame the player.

        /re-hushes mouth

  4. cur'68 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    I think Craig has it backwards: the Rays win the division. They’re peaking while the Sox are on the down side. In fact, the Sox might have some serious trouble with The Orioles, who are yet another team on the way to the top of a peak. The Sox can beat the Yankees, no problem. That Yankee infield is indeed a tire fire and their offence is underpinned by 2 guys who don’t tend to stay on the field a lot. However, the dark horse is (no one should be surprised I’m saying this) The Beaver Men.

    My Boys have indeed gotten better in areas where they were pretty weak last season. They committed a lot of errors in the infield. That will be better with better catching that had way more practice catching knuckle balls thanks to Tomo Ohka. They have a better defensive infield with Reyes (if he can stay uninjured) and Goins. From the looks of things, they also have a chance to shore up their pitching as the season goes on and pitchers collapse like card houses. The other teams in the division are not so lucky. What’s more, the Beaver pitching seems to be on track this season. No SPs are coming injured, there are guys looking like their in mid-season form already, and a couple of the relievers in the pen can start, too.

    Now, chances are my optimism will turn to ashes as the season goes forward: I’m just not that lucky. But, I’m thinking I’m due for something to work out for My Boys at least. If there wasn’t hope, I don’t think I’d get out of bed.

    • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      Right on Cur. I agree totally. The Yanks offense is woeful, and that is if everybody stays healthy, and the chances of that rival perfect NCAA perfect brackets.

      I honestly believe the Jays starter are just as good as anybodies, next to the Rays. I’m not sure the Jays will be a wild-card, but I predict they will finish ahead of the Sox and Yanks.

      • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        One perfect was probably enough.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 22, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        I’m not sure the Jays will be a wild-card, but I predict they will finish ahead of the Sox and Yanks.

        What have the Jays done to make up the 11 game difference from ’13?

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        Gotten healthy.

        The Yanks, according to Pythagoras, also were about 7 games lucky. Older players another year older. Tex, trying to recover from wrist surgery.

        Plus the Jays just didn’t play well. A team can improve, with the same crew, so there are just a few reasons the Jays can make up the difference.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:45 PM

        Hell since you are lying to yourself why not say the Jays are gonna win it all, I mean might as well tell the biggest lies while you are at it. The jays did nothing this offseason and their pitching staff is better suited for the NL which means they are headed for another train wreck of a season, and I don’t care if they stay healthy or not. It will not matter

      • spudchukar - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:58 PM

        The notion that the AL is superior to the NL is a myth.

        You know about myths Harry, like the idea that the New York octogenarians will go the season healthy.

  5. uyf1950 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Craig, I’m curious when you did this same analysis last year how did your predictions turn out then? Only because I’m a Yankees homer you talk about Roberts not be healthy over the past few years. Have you bothered to review Buchholz playing history? He has never started 30 games in a season and in 2 of the last 3 years he has only started more then 16 games once in 2012. Talk about an injury history sure Grady Sizemore has had a great spring but he hasn’t played at all in the last 2 years and in 2011 he only had 295 PA. Yet these and other issues curiously are never mentioned when the Sox chances for 2014 are talked about. Just saying the Yankees are not the only team with question marks.

    • cur'68 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      Season’s nearly upon us, UYF. Best of luck to Your Boys.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:32 PM

        To you as well.

    • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      As I have stated before, the Yanks pick-up of Roberts was a great move. He played a lot of years injury free, so there is a chance he could start 130 games or so. Probably one DL stint, but hopefully only that.

      I am with you on Buchholtz. Brittle so far, but who knows, maybe he can get over that.

      The Sox’s Sizemore acquisition was like, Roberts was wise. Again, here’s hoping he can stay healthy, cause I’m not sold on Bradley.

      And as Cur offered, good luck to the Yanks, I think they have a great chance of overtaking the Sox, unfortunately, I think that will only be good enough for 4th in the Al East. Nobody is touching the Rays.

  6. cocheese000 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    I put 100 on the O’s winning the East. I really need that to turn into 400.

  7. anxovies - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Everything worked for the Sox last year and everything fell apart for the Yankees. It could easily be the opposite this year, or the whole division could fall apart and the Jays could win it. Two things I know: Baseball is unpredictable. Life is perverse.

    • spudchukar - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      I like your thinking.

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      unpredictable is not perverse, it’s life.

      • bigharold - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Life is fair, .. sometimes brutally fair.

  8. uyf1950 - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Interesting thought process here by some of the non Yankees fans today. Basically and I’m para-phasing, all the Yankees starter are either inconsistent, unproven or on the downside. While all of the other teams pitchers in the division with just a few specific pitchers all have upside whether or not they have done well recently. Like I said very interesting thought process.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 22, 2014 at 7:37 AM

      CC is the “ace” and his fastball wouldn’t break a pane of glass anymore. Kuroda is aging rapidly. Both on the downside of good careers.

      Tanaka is totally unproven at this level.

      Nova and Phelps are both inconsistent.

      So, yeah. Those three words.

      The one who looks like he could be interesting is Michael Pineda. 160 high-quality innings from him could make a big difference.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 22, 2014 at 8:36 AM

        And of course the Red Sox starting rotation is the talk of the town. That’s a joke.

        Buchholz hasn’t been healthy and has only pitched more then 16 games in 2 (2010 & 2012) of the last 6 seasons.

        Lackey has had one decent season in 4 with the Red Sox

        Peavy got beat like an old rug in the 2013 postseason

        Doubront prior to Dempster bailing on the 2014 season was probably headed to the bullpen this year. And he’s looks terrible this spring.

        Oh and then there is Lester. Pitched great for much of the 2013 season. Before that in both 2011 and 2012 he was the picture of inconsistency.

        Let’s not forget Workman who is waiting in the wings at some point. He pitched terribly in 2013 when he did pitch and has gotten lit up by the Yankees this spring when he faced them. But for some god unknown reason this is a guy all the Red Sox fans and media tout.

        My friend fans who live in glass houses should be careful about critiquing other teams players without checking out their own house “objectively” first.

        Have a good day.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        Nova…are both inconsistent.

        At a certain point people need to start paying attention to what’s actually happened. Two pitchers, last three years:

        Red Sox – 610.1 IP – 4.03 ERA/104 ERA+ (era by year: 3.47, 4.82, 3.75)
        Yankees – 475.0 IP – 4.00 ERA/105 ERA+ (era by year: 3.70, 5.02, 3.10)

        Why is the Yankee pitcher considered “inconsistent” but not the Sox pitcher? That’s Lester by the way? You’re mentioning Kuroda is aging rapidly, yet he still has thrown 420IP of 3.31 ERA ball.

  9. jacobk621 - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    The O’s will put up a lot of runs this year ,, if their pitching can hold up thru Late July or early Aug then I see them winning the AL
    East title ,, Buck Showalter is the best manager in the division

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