American League Preview

Ever wonder what a 6,000 word plus preview of the American League would look like? Oh yeah, here it is boys and girls.

If you're rather just jump from each division:
AL East
AL Central
AL West

But here it is in all it's glory.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles
Their Deal: They play in the most underrated city on the East Coast in one of the best ballparks IN ALL THE LAND! They used to be a storied franchise, usually very good year in and year out from the 60s into the mid 90s, but then things totally got out of hand. They haven’t even really been competitive in like ten years (save a decdent first half in 2005). Blame one of the worst owners in sports, Peter Angelos. And if you don’t start thinking about Avon, McNulty, and Bubs when you’re looking for parking or catching a glimpse of downtown, well then you obviously don’t watch the greatest TV show of all time.
Stud Muffin: Miguel Tejada – even though Tejada has almost been traded like five times and those ‘roid rumors won’t go away, Tejada is probably the best O, which isn’t saying much since it’s no longer 2003.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): This is a toss up between Jaret Wright and Steve Trachsel. Trachsel is the one righty and won’t go away, which is amazing when you think about it. Remember when he was an All-Star for the Cubs? Wow... Meanwhile, Wright is only 31, but it seems like he started the whole “I’m a hot prospect but I’m going to get injured every single year and never live up to the hype” trend before Wood and Prior.
Key To Season:
Kris Benson staying healthy and pitching well… oh well, maybe next year. This team has a pretty poor outfield (seriously, it’s probably the worst in the American League) and their pitching, which seemed to be coming around a little bit last year
Silver Lining: Maybe this is the year Anna Benson bangs everyone in the clubhouse. The bullpen should be very good.
Random Thoughts: Let me say this again, Baltimore is a really cool city and underrated big time. Sure, the city has it’s problems, but the city has character, arts, hip, grit and a never say die ‘tude. Gotta love that. Plus, being so close to DC it can’t help but look cool... The O’s meanwhile, are sort of a lost cause. I wish I could figure this team out, but I can’t. They seem to be all over the place, a few good starters (Bedard), a nice infield, and lot of question marks in the outfield (is Markakis for real? Can Corey Patterson have another solid year?)... This team just doesn’t excite me like they did in the past.
Chances/Prediction: With Boston clearly better, the Yankees about as good, and the Jays probably a bit better, a run for third is out of the question. And one of these years the Rays won’t finish in last. This might be that year. Winning 80 games would be a good year for the O’s, but what’s the point? This team is old on the field and has a weird mix of young and old arms… I say direction is needed in the front office. A 95 loss year wouldn’t be that bad considering they’ve been so blah for so long now. Hey at least the good people of Ballmore have the Wire.

Boston Red Sox
Their Deal: After having an entire nation cheer them on for years and years in the early part of this century, they finally won, and within six months we had all turned against them. Looking back, I wish the Yankees had won in 2004 just to spare us of this “Every White Male between the Ages of 20-34 must own a Red Sox hat”… as for the team, they were not that good last year, but it seemed like the front office got their act together this offseason making some nice moves.
Stud Muffin: Matsuzaka, or Dice-K if you prefer lame nicknames, let’s face it, he’s like the next Babe Ruth, Walter Payton, Michael Jordan, and Walter Johnson combined. He’s also beat up Chuck Norris and could end world hunger when it's all said and done.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Curt Schilling… I know, Curt won’t ever allow us to not know what he’s up to, but he’s 41, he’s been around forever, and the end has to be near. He had a nice year last year, but he’s slowing down and he can’t go away soon enough, if for no other reason than he comes off as a total phoney.
Key To Season: After not having enough pitching last year, they have enough pitching this year, even with Timlin banged up. But they are starting to get old and that infield features Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, and a rookie named Dustin Pedroia… in other words, they might be good for 50 home runs combined… that’s not good. Ortiz and Manny have to be Ortiz and Manny and JD Drew cannot in anyway be JD Drew.
Silver Lining: Boston is a cool town, Fenway is still Fenway for all it’s pros and cons, and they do have a good team. Plus who doesn’t love David Ortiz?
Random Thoughts: Schilling + Boston Fans + White Males Claiming to be Red Sox fans = They are like a poor mans New York Yankees… Pampola, I wonder what it was like before the airplane? As cool as Hemingway wrote or not as cool?... “Woe is us,” Boston collectively every day… I’ve got six game winning hits for Ortiz this year… A few good names on this team: Willy Mo, Coco, Julio, even JD can get it done… Can we please stop this “Manny being Manny” madness? It’s “Rickey be Rickey” and this Manny crap is a blaent copyright infringment. Manny an aloof dude, don’t get me wrong, but he’s no Rickey Henderson. Let’s not in anyway infringe on the greatness that is Rickey Henderson. Only three and a half years until his Hall of Fame speech. I'm excited just thinking about it.
Chances/Prediction: In a division with no clear cut team, they should have the best pitching in the division assuming that Matsuzaka is half as good as people make him out to be (in other words 15 wins). Beckett should be better and it seems like things are finally stable in the front office which will only help come June and July.

New York Yankees
Their Deal: They’re the Yankees, I couldn’t possibly sum them up here. We all know it, they always win, they are sort of like the Microsoft or US military of baseball.
Stud Muffin: A-Rod, Jeter, and Bobby Abreu could all claim Yankee Studness.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Lots of options here… but I’ll take Doug Mientkiewicz just because he doesn’t seem to go away, literally, I wonder if JD Snow and Mienkiewicz are brothers, or the same person, I don't know… though Giambi, Mussina, and Rivera have all been around forever.
Key To Season: Not collecting social security… this team, like all Yankee teams, is old. And their fourth and fifth starters? Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano… yuck. They need Roger Clemens and his roid rotting body to join midseason. Oh yeah, Wang has to pitch as well as he did last year. Not likely.
Silver Lining: Maybe A-Rod will get a hit in the playoffs this year! That is, if they make the playoffs. And if they don't, it's the last year of A-Rod in New York, yay!
Random Thoughts: They’ve won the East ten years in a row or something and they’re still a good six years behind the Braves record… I’m not a fan of this team, reminds me too much of the 2005 team which wasn’t that good… This is A-Rod’s last year in New York right? Wouldn’t it be great if he beat the shit out of Jeter this year?... Speaking of those two, they have to be the most awkward set of teammates of all time right? I mean, Denis Rodman and Steve Kerr had more in common than these two… I’ll said it again, but if you ever talk to anyone who knows the newspaper industry in New York, they’ll tell you that Jeter is an absolute jerk and that A-Rod is a nice guy, even if it can be a ninny.
Chances/Prediction: The Yankees have major problems at the back end of their rotation combinibed with the fact that Pettitte and Mussina are old and there is almost no way that Wang can pitch as well as he did last year (though, I’ll eat crow if he does) in other words the Yanks may be in major trouble this year. Maybe they sneak into the playoffs, but even if they do, they’re not going anywhere because the starting pitching just isn’t there.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Their Deal: They have more young talent than anyone else in the majors and now these guys are starting to make it to the show. Of course, the might score 850 runs, but they’ll allow 900 because their pitching stinks.
Stud Muffin: If you want to talk talent and tools, the Rays have Cantu, Delmon Young, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, and the “Most likely to be the Ron Artest of baseball” Elijah Dukes. (btw, I was shocked that the Rays have a fan who actually blogs about them). But I’ll go with Scott Kazmir who the Mets gave away for no reason what so ever a few years ago. That was one of the worst trades in baseball history… if Kazmir was a Met, the Mets go to the World Series last year and probably win (assuming the Tiger pitchers throw 938 come backers down the left field line still).
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Gosh this team is young… but if he makes the team Greg Norton would get the nod. Norton was my arch enemy in the mid to late 90s when he played far too much on the South Side of Chicago. And let me give a shout out to Josh Paul, who is still in baseball even after the drama that was Game Two of the 2005 ALCS (not on youtube!).
Key To Season: Figure out how to get Scott Kazmir to pitch three times a week and then pray for one of these young arms to be pretty good. Then keep everyone healthy while they continue to mature. Also avoiding run in with the law or umps would be a good idea.
Silver Lining: One of these days they have to win 81 games right? Could this be the year? If they get any sort of pitching this year, they just might.
Random Thoughts: Lots of young talent, no pitching… the same old story in Tampa. No one will to the games… I don’t really care any more because I’m sort of convinced that they will never be good… Maybe this is a good time to mention that this whole Cingular is the new AT&T stuff seems completely unnecessary… and did you know that the Oasis song that they use (All Around the World) is like 9 minutes long?... Would the real Jorge Cantu stand up? He was horrible last year after I fell for him in 2005.
Chances/Prediction: Maybe they don’t finish in last, but I sort of doubt it. They aren’t that good… too young and no pitching after Kazmir.

Toronto Blue Jays
Their Deal: They finished in second place (which we totally called) in case you forgot. This is a good team, they signed Vernon Wells for the next seven years (or whatever it is), and brought Frank Thomas aboard. Could they be even better than last year? Sure… why not.
Stud Muffin: Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay, please share this
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Royce Clayton… we’re getting to the point where he’s played for 20 of the 30 teams in the Majors. He’s only 37 too!
Key To Season: They need to get a good year from AJ Burnett. Rolling the dice on John Thomson isn’t a bad move… if Frank Thomas plays as well as he did last year, this team could be really, really good.
Silver Lining: They get to hear “Oh Canada” every night. That’s a plus in my book. Should be a fun team to watch too.
Random Thoughts: Just remembered, this team still doesn’t have a middle infield (that’s why they brought Clayton aboard, ouch)… Isn’t it weird, but most of America will be pulling for a Canadian team to beat the Red Sox and Yankees… then again considering that 40% of white males in America are Red Sox fans maybe most of America won’t be pulling for our fine Canadian friends… remember when SkyDome was considered cool?... why can’t they go back to their old unis from the 1980s when George Bell was winning MVPs?... I still find it amazing that George Bell isn’t American.
Chances/Prediction: They are going to be around, this is a good team. But they’re going to need help, in other words, for the Yankees or Red Sox to fall apart. They got that from the Red Sox last year… maybe the Yankees will fall apart this year?

Final Predictions:
5) Tampa Bay Devil Rays
4) Balitmore Orioles
3) New York Yankees
2) Boston Red Sox
1) Toronto Blue Jays

Moving on to the Best Division in Baseball, the AL Central.

Chicago White Sox - Good Guys Wear Black
Their Deal: They won the World Series in 2005 thanks to great pitching and okay (read timely) hitting, they won 90 games last year thanks to great hitting and bad pitching. Odds are they’ll score fewer runs but get better pitching. This is probably the last run that the 2005 team has together. And I should say that the 2005 group of players first got together in 2005, in other words we aren't talking about the Yankees here.
Stud Muffin: Jermaine Dye was one of the three best players in the major leagues last year, if the Sox had made the playoffs, he might have been the AL MVP.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Darin Erstad, remember him? The Sox are a weird team, Jim Thome is the oldest player on the team and everyone else is about 28 or 30 years old.
Key To Season: The pitching has to be better and the offense needs to get the job done. If the Sox get good starting pitching, and they have the potential to get good starting pitching, they’re probably the best team in the majors. But Buehrle looked washed up in the second half of the year, Contreras battled injuries, and Vazquez is consistently inconsistent. Don’t bet on that 2005 rotation coming back all of a sudden. Plus their fifth starter is John Danks who has no major league experience.
Silver Lining: They hit a lot of home runs, and since the Sox have an exploding scoreboard, everyone has fun. And this might be the greatest ad campaign by any sports team ever.
Random Thoughts: I can’t get a feel for this team, some days I think they could win the World Series, other days just the Central, and still other days they seem like they might finish in 4th place... Like every team, it all comes down to pitching, but with the White Sox, it seems like the pitching for the Sox is even more ‘important’ because they have the potential to be really, really good. And if that happens, they’re the best team in the majors… who’s the fifth starter again?... Since they signed Erstad the Sox are the toughest team in baseball right? If nothing else, they have more grit than anyone else correct?... I can see the Cell from my apartment, HOT!... South Side!... If you walk the streets of Chicago, you’ll see more Sox hats than Cub hats, this town is as close to 50/50 as it’s been in my lifetime.
Chances/Prediction: As I’ve said five times, if they starting pitching is better than last year (i.e. a half run better), they’ll win about 95 games and make the playoffs. If the pitching is the same as last year, they might only win 85 games. They’re the best team in Chicago and in every other division in baseball (well not the AL East) they would be the favorites to win the division. That’s how good the AL Central is right now, the Sox could easily finish in fourth.

Cleveland Indians
Their Deal: After a very good 2005 (in which they choked in the final days losing the Wild Card race in the process), the Indians were everyone’s hot pick in 2006… one problem, they had the worst bullpen of all time (may be an outrageous claim). The Indians can no longer be called a young team and it’s time to put up or shut up. Are guys like Jhonny Peralta, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, and Andy Marte for real? If they’re not, the Indians are in trouble even if they do have Hafner, Sizemore, and Sabathia.
Stud Muffin: C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore… Sabathia’s had a better career thus far, but Sizemore could be a special player when it’s all said and done.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Roberto Hernandez is still around filling gaps in bullpens apparently, so is Joe Borowski…
Key To Season: They need Cliff Lee not to suck this year (I guess he came on as the year went along last year) and they need Westbrook to be as good this year as he was last [Note, Lee may start the season on the DL]. Oh yeah, and their bullpen has to hold some leads. At one point last year, the Tribe bullpen blew something like 6 games in 8 days (including two games to Ortiz alone). That’s amazing.
Silver Lining: There really is no way the bullpen could be any worse this year. And hey, according to their run differential last year, they should have won like 90 games. In fact, the 2006 Tribe has to be one of the biggest statical anomalies of all time. This is why I only buy the whole stathead stuff so much. Yeah, the law of averages comes into play, but a bad bullpen or a 17-2 drubbing of the Royals in July is misleading at the end of the year.
Random Thoughts: This year I sort of assumed that the Tribe would be flying under the radar a bit, but it looks like they aren’t since a lot of publications like them this year. I think there are too many question marks… unlike the Twins or the Tigers, I can’t respect the Tribe, I really do not like these guys… question, in 25 years, what will Cleveland look like? Will anyone still live there? Are they the case in point of the 21st Century Rust Belt city? Or does Buffalo get that title?... When did everyone decided that Cleveland should be the Rock’n’Roll Center of the Universe? Is there a Cleveland sound? Aren’t there like ten cities that have more of a music tradition compared to Cleveland?... Someone please teach Jhonny Peralta how to spell his name. Thanks.
Chances/Prediction: I’m not sold on this team, they have a few question marks in their line up and in the back end of their rotation. And that’s not even considering a bullpen which was horrendous last year. Like everyone but the Royals, they could win the division or finish in fourth.

Detroit Tigers
Their Deal: For five months, everything that could go right, went right for the Tigers. Guys didn’t get hurt, guys played out of their minds, pitchers pitched as if they were Cy Young, they caught every break that they could catch… they were winning games they had no business winning. It was a magical season… and then September came and the law of averages came into play. But thankfully for them, Jermaine Dye started to run out of gas and the White Sox couldn’t catch the Tigers. And even though the Twins did catch the Tigers, the Tigers won the Wild Card. Then they started getting lucky again… some how ending up in the World Series. But then once in the World Series, roughly even single pitcher on the Tiger staff started throwing come backers down the left field line. This cost them two games and a so-so to bad Cardinal team won the World Series. (Thinking about this a few months later, this has to be the most amazing series of events that hasn't been covered ad nauseum by ESPN in the last 20 years. The Tiger pitchers literally threw the World Series down the left field line. We'll never seen anything like that ever again).
Stud Muffin: Even though they picked up Gary Sheffield, I’ll take Joel Zumaya and his 102 mph fastball. Though both Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman look like the real deal.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Jose Mesa… I’m just as shocked as you are.
Key To Season: Pretty much they need a line up that has a history of getting hurt (see Maggilo Ordonez and Carlos Guillen) to stay healthy. Then they need Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson, and Mike Maroth to pitch out of their minds again. Not very likely… and this is assuming that Bonderman continues to get better and that Verlander is the real deal.
Silver Lining: Last year was pretty sweet! On paper, this is probably the best team in the Central. GM has hit rock bottom right?
Random Thoughts: They used up about five years of mojo last year (or they had been saving 13 years of mojo for last year, take your pick). I’m not kidding when I said they caught every single break last year… There is about a 5% chance that Robertson and Rogers pitch as well as they did last year, and you know what, throw Maroth into that group… I can’t see the Baseball Gods being as kind to them this year... I still have yet to decide if I like Detroit or not... They do have sweet unis.
Chances/Prediction: Bringing Sheffield aboard was a nice move since the front office realized that they were lucky to score as many runs as they did last year. Sheffield really rounds out that line up, but can Maggs stay healthy and can Carlos Guillen come close to playing as well as he did last year while staying healthily? This is a nice team, but I just can’t see them doing what they did last year this year.

Kansas City Royals
Their Deal: They were the worst team in the majors last year, but some young kids, lead by Alex Gordon, are starting to finally come though the pipeline. Still a few years away, but at least they won’t be as bad this year. There is hope!
Stud Muffin: Considering they’re paying him an arm and a leg, Gil Meche gets the Muffin award. But Alex Gordon is suppose to be the real deal, the #1 prospect in baseball depending on who you talk to.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): I know he signed a two year deal last year, but Reggie Sanders takes the cake here. Octavio Dotel is still in the majors AND CLOSING for the Royals, you figure that one out.
Key To Season: The Royals finally brought aboard some direction last year when Dayton Moore was hired to be their GM. Basically, the key to the year for the Royals is to develop the young kids, keep their arms healthy, and finding an outfield. If all this happened it would be a good season.
Silver Lining: It can’t be worse than the last two years right?
Random Thoughts: Zach Greinke quit last year, but he’s back this year (an interesting read and I wish him the best in his fight)... On the plus side, Greinke is only 23 but has already been around so long that it feels like he's been around for ever, and he's got a lot of talent… 2003 Rookie of the Year, Angel Berroa, was sent down to the minors; hey Angel, Pat Listach called, he sends his congratulations… Sadly unlike last year, I don’t think they’ll come close to allowing 1,000 runs. That was the most fun subplot to last year, will the Royals allow 1,000 runs (they ended up allowing 971). Sadly, 900 just doesn’t have the same feel and excitement as 1,000… They might not lose 100 games!... Come see Alex Gordon!... BTW, Alex Gordon sounds like a defender who has five caps for Scotland and starts for Rangers… Okay I admit it, I really have nothing on the Royals.
Chances/Prediction: They’re going to finish in fifth. Maybe they can win 70 games, but that’s probably asking too much considering they play in the best division in baseball.

Minnesota Twins
Their Deal: The Twins started a little sluggish, then came on in the second half to win the AL Central, but then meekly bowed out to the A’s in the ALDS. But last years team is a distant memory: rookie sensation Francisco Liriano blew out his arm and Brad Radke retired. The Twins haven’t replaced either one of them, hoping that Matt Garaza, Boof Bonser, and Carlos Silva can get the job done. I should probably mention that they have the AL’s Cy Young, Johan Santana, and AL MVP Justin Morneau. And Joe Mauer not only may be the best catcher in baseball, but he’s also attempting to bring back the sideburn. Somewhere in America, Brady Anderson is smiling.
Stud Muffin: Joe Mauer should have won the MVP last year, of course he didn’t have the power numbers to win the MVP. But Mauer is a special player. And the All American Kid now has an All American Girlfriend... oh to be Joe Mauer. And least I forget that the Twins have the best pitcher in baseball, a guy I like to call Johan "Hugo" Santana.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Take your pick between Jeff Cirillo and Rondell White. [Note: Rondell White didn’t quit after last season!?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me.]
Key To Season: Garaza, Boof, and Silva. Silva was horrible in the first half of last season, so bad that the Twins moved him to the bullpen for a while last year. Garaza is suppose to be a stud, but he looked so-so last year. Boof’s ability is self explanatory. Like all recent Twins teams, they’ll score enough runs and have a solid bullpen… but that starting pitching… how good or bad is it?
Silver Lining: JOHAN SANTANA pitches every fifth day.
Random Thoughts: The Twins are the anti-Yankees and they both make the playoffs every year, hummmm… they still haven’t figured out the left side of that infield have they? Who knew Corey Koskie was that important? I guess Bartlett and Punto are okay, but you can do a lot better than Punto at third… Who’s playing left field for this team? Lew Ford? Seriously?... This Twins team has a lot of question marks, which means this is a retooling year... I saw a sweet Hold Steady t-shirt in Arizona with the old Twins logo. I would totally buy that if I wasn't a Sox fan.
Chances/Prediction: The Twins have more question marks than anyone else in the division, which means they’ll finish around .500 and finish in fourth. Though if things break the right way, first place is a possibility. They do have a lot of really good baseball players, and they have a nasty habit of developing really good baseball players who seem to come out of no where. But I don't see the starting pitching being good enough.

5) Kansas City Royals
4) Minnesota Twins
3) Cleveland Indians
2) Detroit Tigers
1) Chicago White Sox

And everyone’s favorite Redheaded Stepchild… the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County within the state of California, USA
Their Deal: Since getting a new owner and winning the World Series in 2002, God’s Soldiers have been a major player in baseball. This seems sort of weird since they always seemed like a second-class team most of my childhood. But here they are, once again, with a quality team that doesn’t have as many holes as most teams in the AL.
Stud Muffin: Vladimir Guerrero, come on, did you see that home run he hit in the All-Star Game? It’s a shame that Vlad doesn’t get more ups in the media because he’s probably been the most exciting player in baseball over the last ten years. There really isn’t anything he wasn’t able to do at his absolute peek about three or four years ago. (BTW, I’d link video of the home run, but MLB, being MLB, pretty much makes it impossible to see that stuff on youtube. Awesome!)
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Gary Matthews Jr… but seriously, Hector Carrasco is still around. I know he’s had an unassuming career, but he’s been around forever.
Key To Season: Scoring a few runs would be nice. The Angels have struggled to get a lot of production out of their line up the last few years. Let’s put it this way, when you’re counting on Garret Anderson to be one of your major contributors, you’re asking a lot (and I’m a big Anderson fan, but he should be hitting sixth or something). Also, it would help if their starting pitching is healthy, which is a question mark going into the season.
Silver Lining: The AL West is pretty bad.
Random Thoughts: They’ll win this division by default… My Lord, Darren Oliver is on this team too? Totally missed that at first… Cabrera is 32 years old, which frankly shocks me, I thought he was like 28… I saw Howie Kendrick hit a home run about 500 feet in Tucson a few weeks ago. The ball cleared a 40 foot wall in deep center (405 feet) with ease. Longest home run I’ve seen, well either that shot or the one Frank Thomas hit onto the concourse at Comiskey a few years ago… I’m a Casey Kotchman fan just because it’s sort of like Chuck Klosterman… Hey look! Shea Hillenbrand is on the Angels! This is a man that fought his manager and had teammates saying things that make Shea sound like baseball’s Ron Artest… I’ll admit it, the Angels are sort of cool, in a rally monkey, surfer kind of way.
Chances/Prediction: Assuming that Weaver is back in May and Colon at some point around the All-Star Break or before, the Angels should be in good shape. A few young, hot prospects got some playing time last year which should only help this year. There’s talent on this team and if they hit a bit better and have a healthy rotation for most of the year, they should cruise.

Oakland Athletics
Their Deal: And on the seventh day, God created Billy Bean, the best General Manager to never win the World Series. Can you imagine what a team with La Russa and Bean could do? They would rule the world if ever put in the same organization… anyway, the A’s made the playoffs last year, even winning in the ALDS for once, then lost to the Tigers in the ALCS, even after the Tigers celebrated as if they had just ended the hostilities in Iraq after their victory in the ALDS. Now, for the 10th year in a row, the cash strapped A’s are being lead by the Genius Bean, a rag tagged collection of misfits and castoffs… together they will attempt to do the impossible: Win in AL West.
Stud Muffin: Let’s see there’s the overrated Eric Chavez, the always injured Rich Harden and his trusty side kick Bobby Crosby, and then the MoneyBall God that Is Nick Swisher. We’ll take Swisher.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Alan Embree… our first crafty veteran lefty to make the list!
Key To Season: This team is kind of old now that I’m looking at them. Anyway, this team does the opposite of getting me excited… the outfield is solid but a bloop single waiting to happen, the infield is uninspiring, and the starting pitching has potential… but it’s just that potential.
Silver Lining: Mike Piazza has finally made it out to the Bay Area.
Random Thoughts: Their the early leaders in the Worst Defensive Team in the Majors, but hey, and outfield of Shannon Stewart, Swisher (in center no less), and Bradley will do that… Milton Bradley’s only 28 believe or not, my favorite Milton Bradley moment is when he called Jeff Kent a racist and Peter Gammons then wrote an article all but calling Kent a KKK member… I know it happened like eight years ago, but still whenever I think of Jason Kendall, I always think of that play when he amputates his right foot running out a grounder… This team has more outfielders that do the same exact thing than there are outfielders who do the same exact thing: Milton Bradley, Bobby Kielty, Mark Kotsay, Nick Swisher and Shannon Stewart. Wait, why aren’t they playing Swisher at first? Maybe they are and I’m just confused… no matter, they should be playing Swisher at first because Dan Johnson will not get it done.
Chances/Prediction: No Barry Zito, no Frank Thomas, I guess other than that this is the same team as last year. But I don’t think they’re all that good unless Harden is healthy, and we all know that isn’t possible.

Seattle Mariners
Their Deal: Ugh. This team can’t catch a break can they? It’s been all downhill since that ‘magical’ 2001 season which saw them win about 150 games only to be taken out in the ALCS by the Yankees. They spend money on players who then stop using ‘roids which then kills their payroll and ability to do much of anything. In the meantime, they have ICHIRO and a nice ball park in one of Americans best cities… that's cool.
Stud Muffin: Ichiro.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Miguel Batista gets the nod, but let’s also give a shout out to Raul Ibanez who’s been around forever at this point and continues to but up solid season after solid season.
Key To Season: They’re pitching comes together, Adrian Beltre gets back on the juice, and Natinoal castoffs Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen remember how to stay healthy and play baseball. This is a good time to mention that Guillen is 30 years old and on his 8th team (which features two stops with the Reds).
Silver Lining: Seattle is pretty firggin’ awesome… and there’s King Felix to watch once again.
Random Thoughts: Tinking outloud, but are the M's the last teal team in baseball? How will you remember the Teal Era?... Jose Guillen may be insane… ICHIRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!... ICHIRO!!!!!!... ICHIRO!!!!... Seriously, I haven’t had this much fun on youtube in like five hours… Imagine if Japan had Ichiro and Dice-K during the Second World War… If I were to pick an AL team to ‘come out of no where’ this would be my pick. The A’s aren’t as good as last year, same with the Rangers, and the M’s might catch a few breaks with Vidro or Guillen while Richie Sexson does Richie Sexson type things (btw, is Richie the white equilivent of Reggie?)…I have no clue what’s going on here, but it does prove that Ichiro and Dice-K are different people and have faced each other.
Chances/Prediction: If everything breaks their way, they could find themselves in a Wild Card race, or even the division race. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Texas Rangers
Their Deal: Honestly, I don’t know. The Rangers have been the same team my entire life. They can hit the shit out the ball, can’t pitch, and end up playing four hour games every night. I can’t imagine being a Rangers fan, since no matter who the GM is, they become obsessed with home run hitters. It’s honestly the most bizarre baseball ‘trend’ of my life. So expect more the same this year, a lot of 9-7 games.
Stud Muffin: I’ll take Michael Young
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Kenny Lofton, I knew the Lofton was still playing since whoever he plays for seems to make the playoffs (then Kenny leaves for another team and that teams then makes the playoffs). Kenny Lofton is sort of like the Playoff Fairy, who ever he plays for that team makes the playoffs. He’s like the Bagger Vance of Baseball.
Key To Season: Well they do have Kenny Lofton… Brandon McCarthy is their #3 starter, this is a guy that has a problem with the long ball. That usually means bad things in Texas. Oh and paging Hank Blalock.
Silver Lining: Eric Gagne is waiting till May to blow out his arm this year apparently.
Random Thoughts: Seriously, do they just not care about pitching in Texas? Are Texas GMs like a drunk guy in a bar saying to themselves, I’m not calling her, no way man. Then they leave the bar and are walking to catch a cab or train and call the girl and end up leaving a drunken message that they regret the next day? Is that how the off-season works with them and pitching? “Okay, we’re going after some arms this winter… oh fuck it, we’ll deal with that in January.” This is why they feature Kevin Millwood, Eric Gagne, and six or seven guys I’ve never heard of right? I’m done.
Chances/Prediction: None, that just pissed me off. Why do they never have pitching? Someone give me a good reason. Seriously, they could finish in second, but I doubt it. Maybe Ron Washington’s a good manager… who knows.

4) Texas Rangers
3) Seattle
2) Oakland A's

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