Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Not in the Park With No George - An AL Look

It's Sunday, August 22...the baseball season is into the full stretch drive. Football is around the corner. And that really annoys me. Love football, but not this soon. I hate seeing people throw a football when I'm down the shore (that's on the beach to you non-Jersey types).

Today we'll just take a look at American League

The AL East race is going to the finish for sure. And I still stand by my words that it will between the Yankees and Rays for the division title as well as the wild card. Boston has hung in remarkably well despite a plethora of injuries, ineffectiveness from Josh Beckett, and a human Jon Papelbon.

Pitching is the key as always. I talked about the Yankees pitching concerns yesterday, and the Rays have them as well with both Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann expected back from the DL this week. Jeremy Hellickson was sent back to the minors to work out of the bullpen, but could still be placed back in the rotation if Davis or Niemann continue to struggle with their health.

Player to Watch - Derek Jeter. Lots of players I could have chosen here, but the Captain needs to be consistent down the stretch to set the table for the Yankees big guns.

The AL Central race should go to the wire as well with the Twins emerging as the cream of the crop. They were my pick all along and that hasn't changed. Now they have a 4 game lead over the White Sox.

The Twins pitching, outside of Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, has been incredibly inconsistent. Kevin Slowey has been suffering from tendinitis. It caused him to be pulled after 7 no-hit innings two starts ago. Yesterday he lasted only 3 innings. Scott Baker has been better of late and the Twins are recalling Nick Blackburn who has had a miserable year and killed my fantasy team until I kicked him to the curb. But they're still the better all around team.

Player to watch - Jim Thome. The masher has been mashing and that's great news for the Twins, especially since no one knows when and if Justin Morneau will be back.

The AL West is the Texas Rangers division to lose and I don't see that happening. Oakland has crept back to within 6 1/2 games, but this Texas team is too good not to hold on.

Cliff Lee had one of his worst outings yesterday (5.1 IP 8 ER) and has allowed 16 earned runs in his last 19.2 innings pitched. Overall he's 2-4, 4.18 in 9 starts since being acquired from Seattle. Tommy Hunter has crashed back to earth. After an 8-0 start, he's 1-2, 9.40 in his last four starts. He's lasted only three innings in three of those starts.

The Rangers really need Ian Kinsler back in the lineup. He's missed significant time twice this season with ankle and groin injuries and the lineup misses him. But Texas has the guy who is still my front runner for the MVP Award, Josh Hamilton.

The A's have gotten back in the race thanks to young pitchers Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, and a decent bullpen. A pen that is missing closer Andrew Bailey.

Player to watch - Cliff Lee; he needs to get back on track.

Early Awards

MVP- Josh Hamilton; runner up - Robinson Cano; third - Adrian Beltre

CY Young - There are number of players, including the guy I would like to see win - CC Sabathia- but for now I am going to give a slight edge to David Price. Clay Buchholz, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Felix Hernandez are all in the mix.

Manager of the Year - Cito Gaston. The Blue Jays skipper is retiring after this season, just like his mentor Bobby Cox. In baseball's toughest division, Gaston has the Blue Jays playing over .500 and abusing their division rivals. Ozzie Guillen and Ron Washington are also in the mix.

Rookie of the Year - Neftali Feliz. The rookie has stepped right in to close for a first place team and has been outstanding. Others who have shown top form at times - Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Wade Davis, John Jaso, Mitch Talbot, and Reid Brignac.

Biggest surprise - The Chicago White Sox. I really didn't see this coming despite the Chisox rotation. I figured they would have sold off most of their parts by now.

Biggest disappointment - Seattle Mariners, again. Seriously. A team with that much talent that is that bad.

Has his work cut out for him in '11 - Buck Showalter in remaking the Orioles image, ability, and performance.

Worst free agent signing - Nick Johnson; Everyone knew but you Cash.

Best free agent signing - Adrian Beltre; runner up - Carl Pavano

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