Thursday, March 30, 2006

The 14 Most Relevant Baseball Teams of 2006: Part II - The American League

Well folks… here we go with Part II of the 14 most relevant teams for the upcoming season. The arrival of Opening Day has me as happy as Jonathan Pollard when Caspar Weinberger dropped dead the other day… Okay maybe not that happy! Today’s column is not about Weinberger’s lies.. But if you offer a plea bargain to a criminal… keep up your end of the deal. Granted, Pollard is no saint… but Weinberger showed his true colors when he asked the judge for a life sentence after agreeing to a guilty plea in exchange for a few years in prison. At the same time he also handed over a 46 page document to the judge that he refused to share with Pollard’s lawyers.. And then Weinberger shuffled off to sell arms for his buddy Ronnie Reagan! I just wonder if Weinberger’s funeral will feature a 21 gun salute using the guns he sold to Iran? Of course he ended up getting a pardon by the first incompetent President Bush.

Ok.. Time for the preview:

THE YANKEES - We could be approaching the end of the amazing run that has gone on since the mid 90s… The pitching is very old and creaky.. And even though the lineup is rock solid up and down with ARod, Jeter, Matsui, Giambi, Sheffield, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano… it always comes down to pitching. Nobody seems too excited about this year’s staff… and I am starting to think that unless George coughs up a few new starters in 2007... we are going to see Toronto and the vastly improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays move to the top of that division. Nonetheless the hitters and the Mariano Rivera anchored bullpen will compensate for Randy Johnson’s weak supporting cast.. That is when Johnson is not too confused on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. (In his defense, no matter how rich he is.. If the money was supposed to be for daycare and was allocated elsewhere… he has a valid argument) The Yankees will probably win the division much to Trophy Wife’s Delight and my chagrin.

THE BLUE JAYS - It looks like this could be the first exciting year since the early 90s when Joe Carter blasted that home run off Mitch Williams to win the World Series. However, the AJ Burnett elbow issue could cost them a possible wild card berth. The team improved itself in every which way… Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett (out for 2 starts with a sore elbow) and young Gustavo Chacin are one of the best 1-2-3 pitchers in the American League East… and former Oriole BJ Ryan anchors the pen. (They got AJ and BJ… how about CJ Nitkowski to DJ a party! Anybody know an EJ?)

The Jays also improved their lineup by bringing in Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay to join Vernon Wells. This team is very well rounded and will be breathing down the Yankees neck all season long.

THE RED SOX - Red Sox Nation fans are lucky that the team just barely and I mean barely made this list. It was either the Sox or the Padres.. And the Sox are just a tiny bit better. Originally, I felt they made a bonehead trade by sending away Starting Pitcher Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Willie Mo Pena. However, last Saturday I was at synagogue talking baseball with a Red Sox fan who has oh so carefully gotten rid of his Bahs-ten accent.. Although traces of it are noticeable when you mention anything pertaining to 1986 and/or Bill Buckner (Since I was a little kid.. Synagogue trips always involved God-chat and baseball chat!). The Sox fan feels it was a good trade because Arroyo would have gone to the pen, and Pena is very versatile in the outfield and will eventually be an everyday starter. Since he is deeply ensconced in Red Sox Nation, I will take his word for it! Oddly enough Sunday’s Star Ledger also echoed a very similar sentiment.

Now the staff is Josh Beckett joining the very aged Curt Schilling, David Wells and Tim Wakefield. Keith Foulke is very shaky in the pen and the lineup is basically David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Coco Crisp might do a decent job replacing Johnny Damon. The playoff streak will end during this 20th anniversary of the Bill Buckner team.

THE INDIANS - I get the feeling this is the first of many big years for them. CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee anchor a staff that took a hit with the loss of Kevin Millwood to the Rangers. Bob Wickman also may be near the end of the road as the stopper. However the lineup is probably a notch or 2 below the Yankees when it comes to solid players.. And they are young! They have the best offensive catcher in Victor Martinez and a solid lineup with Grady Sizemore, Casey Blake and Travis Haffner. They made a huge run late last season only to run out of gas at the finish line.. But this year they will probably do a heckuva lot better.

THE WHITE SOX - Coming off the World Series win, the Sox went out and added 35-40 homers by trading for Jim Thome who if healthy will add a major spark to this team. (He had three 2 homer games this week!) He along with Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye will be popping balls out of the ballpark on a regular basis and once Scott Podsednik realizes his playoff home run surge was just a fluke he will go back to being the sparkplug for this team with 50-60 stolen bases. Don’t forget the Sox traded slugger Carlos Lee to get Podsednik and the fans in Chi-town are quite happy with the deal. The pitching looks solid 1-5 with Mark Buehrle, Freddie Garcia, Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. Bobby Jenks will hold things down in the pen, but they are going to have a tough time winning the division again.

THE ANGELS - Are they in LA? Anaheim? Who knows? They lost their catcher Bengie Molina to the Blue Jays, but assuming Garrett Anderson still has something left in the tank.. he and Vladimir Guererro will keep things going for this team which is anchored by the speedy legs of multi position player Chone Figgins. His increasing popularity could lead to a lot of families naming their babies Chone! They also have a dazzling rotation with Jeff Weaver joining Bartolo Colon and John Lackey… possibly the best 1-2 punch in The American League.

THE A’S - Are they the A’s? The Athletics? Are they ready to bounce back after trading Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder? Barry Zito anchors a staff with young studs Rich Harden and Dan Haren along with the puzzling Esteban Loaiza. Huston Street holds down the pen.. Is this guy named after the most famous part of Greenwich Village? Offensively, Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley are coming to Oakland trying to show that they have recuperated from injuries and craziness to join Eric Chavez in a rather soft lineup that will lean heavily on its pitching staff.


Division Winners The Yankees, Indians and Angels
Wild Card: Chicago White Sox
Audrey Raines Award for Surprising Twist of 2006: The vastly improved Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Most Distracted Player - Jason Giambi who will once again be in the spotlight during the upcoming steroids investigation.
Most Focused Player - The newly re-singled Kris Benson
Happiest Team - Possibly the Baltimore Orioles. Last year Anna Benson said she would have sex with the entire Mets staff if she found out Kris cheated on her. Now that they have split.. how much would the players have to bribe Kris to tell his estranged wife that he had been with another woman? Late breaking news in Friday's Daily News: Anna is accusing Kris of having an affair! Break out the cologne Orioles!!

Pennant Winner: The Indians
World Series Winner: St. Louis
Best Baseball Blog: Not This One!


Shmenis Pumpberger said...

I just wonder if Weinberger’s funeral will feature a 21 gun salute using the guns he sold to Iran?

Good one, old man!

Nate said...

Thanks. And here I thought your comment would concern Monday nights Opener where the Yankees demolished the A's. Or I thought you might point out that the A's 2nd and 3rd starters Haren and Harden are now considered to be better than the 2 studs they replaced.. Hudson and Mulder.

Shmenis Pumpberger said...

It had occurred to me, but I didn't want to use up all the space on your blog for my detailed, controversial opinions.

Nate said...

Aha... that explains why neither you nor dangerspouse commented on cc sabathias injury in the first hour of the new baseball season! (Unless of course someone else is posting something about it on his blog later today...)