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Sunday, March 2, 2008

'08 RAPs: AL East

2007 was the year that the Boston Red Sox put an end to the Yankees' decade of dominance in the AL East. Not only did the Bosox win the division, they virtually dominated it most of the year:

  • On May 15th, the second place Yanks were 8 games back.
  • On May 20th, the Orioles and Yanks were in a tie for second, ten-and-a-half back of Boston.
  • On May 29th, the Yanks were a whopping 14.5 games behind the Sox. Second place Baltimore was 11.5 back as well.
  • By June 15th, the Yanks had gotten back into second, only eight games back.
  • The Yanks were 9.5 games out, in second, come the All Star Break.
  • By the Middle of August, Boston's lead was down to 5 games as the Yanks surged, and were in a battle with Seattle for the wild card.
  • On September 19th, the Yanks were within a game and a half following a 4 game winning streak, coupled with a 4 game skid for the Sox. Third place Toronto; however, was still 12.5 back.
  • The Sox clinched the division on September 28th, while the Yanks won the wild card.


Here are the final standings for the 2007 AL Eastern Division:

Red Sox: 96-66; 0 GB

Yankees: 94-68; 2 GB

Blue Jays: 83-79; 13GB

Orioles: 69-93; 27 GB

Devil Rays(Rays): 66-96; 30 GB

Stay Tuned: Tommorow will be the Rays' RAP.


Monday, March 3, 2008

'08 RAPs: Tampa Bay Rays

After a dismal 66-93 2007 season, you'd usually expect a team to be pessimistic about the next year. This is not the case with the Rays. They have by far the best farm system in the game, and will be looking for contributions from the likes of Evan Longoria, Jeff Niemann, and quite possibly the first man ever taken in a televised MLB Rule 4 draft, David Price. The Rays have also picked up talent via free agency and the trade market this year:


·  Traded Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett: While I still think the Twins won this deal, it will certainly help out the Rays.

·  Traded Jeff Ridgeway to Atlanta for Willy Aybar.

·  Signed Cliff Floyd to a one-year deal with an option for 2009.

·  Signed Troy Percival to a 2-year deal.

·  Signed pitcher Trever Miller to a one-year contract.

·  Signed utility man Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.

Quick Rundown:

Cather: Dioner Navarro 1B: Carlos Pena 2B: Akinori Iwamura SS: Jason Bartlett 3B: Evan Longoria LF: Carl Crawford CF: B.J. Upton RF: Cliff Floyd DH: Rocco Baldelli


SP1: Scott Kazmir SP2: Matt Garza SP3: James Shield SP4: Andy Sonnanstine/Edwin Jackson SP5: Jeff Niemann/Jason Hammel/David Price

Stay Tuned: Tomorrow I will be covering the Orioles.

Also, the reason this post may seem unorganized is I was having trouble with some of the tools, such as, centering, bullets, etc.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

'08 RAPS: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have been a franchise in a state of flux for many years; however, Peter Angelos was actually willing to let GM Andy MacPhail unload two top names in Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Plus, Angelos is also letting MacPhail shop Brian Roberts as well.

Here are MacPhail's off-season moves:

- Acquired outfielder Luke Scott, pitchers Troy Patton, Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate and third baseman Mike Costanzo from the Houston Astros for shortstop Miguel Tejada - Claimed pitcher Greg Aquino off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers - Signed pitcher Steve Trachsel to a minor league deal - Traded pitcher Erik Bedard to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Adam Jones and pitchers George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler.

SP1: Jeremy Guthrie SP2-5: Fernando Cabrera/Adam Loewen/Steve Trachsel/Garret Olsen/Radhames Liz CL: George Sherrill SUM: Jaime Walker/Dennis Sarfate

DH: Aubrey Huff/Kevin Millar C: Ramon Hernandez 1B: Kevin Millar/Aubrey Huff 2B: Brian Roberts/Freddie Bynum SS: Luis Hernandez 3B: Melvin Mora LF: Luke Scott/Jay Payton CF: Adam Jones RF: Nick Markakis

Predictions: Easiest- The Orioles will finish dead last in the AL East Boldest- The Orioles will lose over 100 games Team MVP/Best Hitter- Nick Markakis (15-20 HRs, 80-90 RBIs, +.333 AVG) Best Pitcher- Jeremy Guthrie (5-9 wins, 150-180 K's) Breakout Player- Adam Jones (10-15 HRs, 20-30 SBs)


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

'08 RAPs: Toronto Blue Jays

Due to an increased comfort level and belief that the Jays will be able to contend this year, GM J.P.Riccardi has remained somewhat silent this off-season. While the notion that the Jays are going to be able to contend at all in the East, without an upgrade, is very premature, I can understand Riccardi's reluctance to venture out into the very shallow free agent pool. However, there is really no reason that the Blue Jays should be considered contenders after such a quiet winter, in which their only two moves involved downgrading their third baseman and signing a pesky, aging shortstop. Here's just how quiet the off-season was for the Jays: -Traded third baseman Troy Glaus to the Cardinals for third baseman Scott Rolen -Signed shortstop David Eckstein to a one-year deal. -Signed outfielder Shannon Stewart to a minor league contract.

Pitching Staff: SP1: Roy Halladay SP2: A.J. Burnett SP3: Dustin McGowan SP4: Shaun Marcum SP5: Jesse Litsch CL: B.J. Ryan SUM: Jeremy Accardo

Field: DH: Frank Thomas C: Gregg Zaun 1B: Lyle Overbay 2B: Aaron Hill SS: David Ecksein 3B: Scott Rolen LF: Reed Johnson CF: Vernon Wells RF: Alex Rios

Predictions: Easiest- Scott Rolen and David Eckstein will combine for less than 250 games. Boldest- A.J. Burnett will post an ERA over 5.00. Team MVP- B.J. Ryan (35-50 sv. sub-2.75 ERA). Best Season- Roy Halladay (12-16 wins, sub 3.75-ERA). Best Hitter- Alex Rios (25-35 HR, 90-110 RBI). Breakout Player- Brandon League (sub-3.00 ERA).


Thursday, March 6, 2008

'08 RAPs: New York Yankees

With the new Steinbrenner regime in New York, the off-season strategy of the Yankess was changed this winter. Instead of going out and acquiring the best guys on the market, the Yanks are willing to allow their whole to hang on the shoulders of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. While I'm not a big fan of this strategy, I must say it takes guts and faith in your prospects to allow your opening day rotation to be two unproven, young pitchers, one pitcher who has spent the whole off-season talking about HGH, a sinker-baller who chokes in every game of any sort of magnitude, and either a 'dying' "Moose" or a "Kei" that hasn't quite work. However, the worst move, by far, for the Yanks was allowing Joe Torre to go. Sure, old Joe had a tendency for burning out every pitcher in his pen, but he is great with the young players. Where as Joe Girardi, who was able to anger and ruin a franchise in one year, single handily destroyed the best young rotation in baseball in Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. Here are the Yankees off-season moves: -Signed infielders Morgan Ensberg and Chris Woodward to minor league contracts. -Signed pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year contract

Pitching Staff: SP1: Andy Pettitte SP2: Chien-Ming Wang SP3: Phil Hughes SP4: Ian Kennedy SP5: Mike Mussina/Kei Igawa CL: Mariano Rivera SUM: Joba Chamberlain/LaTroy Hawkins

Field: DH: Hideki Matsui C: Jorge Posada 1B: Jason Giambi 2B: Robinson Cano SS: Derek Jeter 3B: Alex Rodriguez LF: Johnny Damon CF: Melky Cabrera RF: Bobby Abreu

Predictions: Easiest- The Yankees will not win the division for the second straight year. Boldest- The Yanks will finish in third or fourth, behind the Rays. Team MVP/Best Season- Alex Rodriguez (30-35 HRs, 100-115 RBI) Best Pitcher/Breakout Player- Phil Hughes (10-15 wins, sub-4 ERA, 160-180 K's)


Friday, March 7, 2008

'08 RAPs: Boston Red Sox

While I will never criticize Theo Epstein, I must say that I am not a big fan of his off-season lack of action. Right now, without Curt Schilling, the Sox rotation is looking pretty weak. It will take a tremendous season from Daisuke to get the Sox anywhere near a repeat championship. Unless of course, Ultra-GM Theo Epstein can make a deadline move for a Sabathia, Kazmir, or Gil Meche. Anyway, here's the off-season rundown: -Acquired pitcher David Aardsma from the Chicago White Sox for pitchers Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich. -Signed fist baseman Sean Casey to a one-year contract -Signed pitcher Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal. -Signed infielder Junior Spivey to a minor league deal.

Pitching Staff: SP1: Josh Beckett SP2: Daisuke Matsuzaka SP3: Tim Wakefield SP4: Clay Buchholtz SP5: Jon Lester/Julian Tavarez CL: Johnathan Paplebon SUM: Hideki Okajima/Mike Timlin/Manny Delcarmen

Field: DH: David Ortiz C: Jason Varitek 1B: Kevin Youkilis 2B: Dustin Pedroia SS: Julio Lugo 3B: Mike Lowell LF: Manny Ramirez CF: Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp RF: J.D. Drew

Predictions: Easiest- Boston will repeat as AL East Champions. Boldest- Boston will not win 90 games this season. Team MVP- Theo Epstein (Will acquire a star pitcher; probably Sabathia) Best Season/Best Hitter- Manny Ramirez (40-45 HRs, 120-130 RBIs; contract year) Best Pitcher- Josh Beckett (15-19 wins, sub-4 ERA, 225-250 K's) Breakout Player- Daisuke Matsuzaka (14-18 wins, sub-4 ERA)


Sunday, March 9, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final AL East Rundown and Predictions

After covering the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Rays this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions for the 2008 AL Eastern Division. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense. Pitching: 5. Orioles: After losing Erik Bedard to the Mariners, the Orioles have one of the three worst rotations in the game. The only pitcher who has a chance of having a decent season is Jeremy Gutrie. Guthrie exploded on to the scene last year after being a disappointment to all the scouts that heralded him as a potential future stud. For all the inconsistency in his career, I'm unwilling to say that Guthrie is nearly as good as he was last year. The Orioles bullpen is below average as well. After acquiring George Sherrill in the Bedard trade, it appears to me that he'll assume the closer's role. If that happens, the Orioles will also have the worst closer in the game. It's okay Orioles fans, you still have the 4th pick in the draft in June to look foward to. 4. Yankees: The Yankees fans will probably say that this is a biased choice to rank the Yankees behind the Rays; however, I feel it is completely justifiable. Andy Pettitte had a rough off-season and has a long history of elbow troubles. C.M. Wang is not a good pitcher; in my mind, he is at best a number 3 guy. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are unproven and Mussina struggled greatly last season. The Yankees pen, with the addition of LaTroy Hawkins, has potential to be above average. While, as those of you who saw my "Prospect Perspective" post on him in December would know, I'm not too fond of Joba Chamberlain, I think he could do an adequate job as a 7th inning guy. However, the one concern Yankee fans should have is whether this is the year Mariano Rivera finally goes downhill. 3. Rays: I love how Andy Friedmann has put together this pitching staff. With Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and James Shields at the front of the rotation the Rays have the best rotation in franchise history. Throw in the fact that they have top major league ready pitching prospects in Jeff Niemann and David Price. I also love the acquisition of Troy Percival. Percival and Al Reyes give the Rays a strong back end of the bullpen to close out games. 2. Toronto: The Blue Jays pitching staff depends totally on health this year. If Roy Halladay continues to have injury problems and A.J. Burnett continues to get hurt every other day, the Jays rotation will struggle. If both pitchers remain healthy, Toronto should have a solid rotation. In the pen, it all comes down to whether B.J. Ryan can make a successful return or not. If yes, the Jays will have a way of shortening games to eight innings. If not, the Jays can count on Jeremy Accardo to blow a few games a month. 1. Boston: Although they took a big hit with the loss of Curt Schilling, the Red Sox rotation could be among the top 10 in baseball if Dice-K learns the strike zone a little better and Clay Buccholtz and Jon Lester can become the-top-half-of-the-rotation starters they're supposed to become. The real strength for Boston is their pen. With Johnathan Paplebon quickly becoming the best closer in the game, that shortens most of Boston's games to 8 innings. Throw in the fact that they have three of the best 7th and 8th inning relievers in Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin, and Manny Delcarmen; the only way to beat the Sox is to get to their starters early and often.

Offense: 5. Orioles: The Orioles have a very weak offense this year. With the loss of Miguel Tejada, and possible loss of Brian Roberts, the Orioles best Opening Day hitter could be Nick Markakis (who is the best Greek baseball player in the game). If the Orioles want to finish with anything other than the 30th ranked offense in the game, they'll need contributions from Adam Jones, Ramon Hernandez, and Melvin Mora in a big way. 4. Blue Jays: The Jays offense took a bit of a hit. They traded away Troy Glaus for an inferior offensive third baseman in Scott Rolen. The only way the Blue Jays can have a league average offense is if the two ex-Cardinals can perform like they did at the peeks of their careers. 3. Rays: The Rays offense is young, with a few skilled veterans, like Cliff Floyd, mixed in. However, with Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena as the two major stabilizing forces in the lineup, prone to left handed pitching, the Rays could struggle against southpaws this season. 2. Red Sox: The Red Sox still have one of the most dominant one, two punches in history in Manny and Papi.The only thing that keeps them out of the #1 rank is the fact that I don't know which Mike Lowell will be playing third for them this year; the one Florida couldn't wait to get rid of, or the one that had a tremendous year last year. 1. Yankees: Thanks to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees earn the top rank despite their rosters increased age. However, with Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Johnny Damon on the downside of their careers, the Yankees offense has a chance to struggle this year.

Final Predictions:

Standings: 1. Boston; 89-73 2. Tampa Bay; 85-77, 4 GB 3. New York; 84-78, 5 GB 4. Toronto; 83-79; 6GB 5. Baltimore; 59-103; 30 GB

Awards: Division MVP: Manny Ramirez; How Manny performs this season could have a huge effect on whether or not he is in Boston next season. Everyone knows that Manny is the type of player that plays well when he wants to, and doesn't play as well if he doesn't feel like it. This is why I'm picking Manny to have a monster season; perhaps, the best of his career. Runner Up: A-Rod

Divisional CY-Young: Josh Beckett; Beckett is one of the top five pitchers in the game. While some people try to diminish his regular season abilities by saying he is only one of the best in the postseason, I still believe that Beckett can win 20 games every year. Runner Up: Scott Kazmir

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