by user Xinoph
With Spring Training beginning, and baseball fans eagerly anticipating the daily box scores with their coffee and donuts, it's a good time to make some AL guesses. Mostly consistent with last year - but new faces begin to emerge...
- Boston Red Sox - While the BoSox made some wonderful offseason additions, watching this young, untested team come together in the battle for first may be a trial for manager Terry Francona and indeed all of New England. Still, the Sox seem well-positioned to improve on last year and perhaps finally beat out NYY for the top spot in the division.
- New York Yankees - Haven't improved much over last year. Does Johnny Damon really count as an improvement? Can their injury-riddled pitching staff hold it together? If you answered "No", they'll be fighting for second. If you answered "Yes", and the BoSox fall apart, they'll be gunning for the division title...again...
- Toronto Blue Jays - The most improved team in the division was much better last year; look for that trend to continue. If the Yankees falter like last year, they won't be battling Boston for first place, but Toronto for second.
- Baltimore Orioles - Certainly haven't improved; if anything they've slid down from 2005. While they should still managed to finish ahead of the D-Rays, they won't hold first for more than a single day this year.
- Tampa Bay Devil Rays - They finally have decent ownership, but there's not much they can do in a single year. Look for them to finish with an improved record and greater respect than last year, though.
- Cleveland Indians – After catching on fire in late 2005, the Tribe set themselves up with a good off-season for a better 2006. This could be the closest division race in baseball all year.
- Chicago White Sox – While the ChiSox won't repeat, they'll almost certainly make it to the playoffs again - whether as the wild-card team or Division Champion may come down to one final game.
- Minnesota Twins - Not enough improvements; the Twins have sunk from perpetually playoff-bound to middling mediocre in just a few years. How they'll rise back up is anybody's guess.
- Detroit Tigers – Some interesting moves - but probably not enough to launch them into contention, though they might be in third instead of fourth.
- Kansas City Royals – Their improvements might mean they're not the absolute worst team in baseball, but they sure weren't enough to rise much in their division. If they're lucky they'll fight the Tigers for fourth.
- Oakland Athletics – They didn't make a lot of improvements, just more than anyone else in their division. Even making the playoffs won't be very satisfactory to Oakland fans, who will probably watch their team get bounced in the first round again.
- Texas Rangers - Their improved pitching should move them up in a generally weak division. Injuries, however, could send them right back to the bottom.
- Los Angeles Angels – While they made some good moves, they didn't do enough to stay a playoff team. Expect them to battle Texas for second place.
- Seattle Mariners – With a plethora of bad, controversial, or overrated players, there won't be many bright spots for Seattle fans. The franchise is without leadership and direction, despite its logo.
Fri 2/24/2006 9:41 PM