I was just looking at the team stats in the A.L. last year – focusing on the teams in the East:
Once again, the Yankees should have one of the best offensive attacks in the A.L. East. Even if the O’s and D-Rays improve in leaps and bounds, they will still be far behind the Yankees with the sticks.
Can Boston and Toronto match the Yankees at the plate?
Well, as a team, you know that I like the Blue Jays this season. And, I expect to see the Jays hit better this year – but, still not in the Yankees class.
The Sox? Last season, Boston was a two-man attack. Maybe Varitek and Crisp will do better in 2007? Then again, maybe not? J.D. Drew is a factor – if he can stay on the field. But, even if many things go right for Boston, they cannot match the Yankees line-up from top to bottom.
For New York, Toronto, and Boston, the big deal is all about pitching. In 2006, the Jays had pitching – whereas the Yankees and Bosox had pitching issues.
Toronto’s pitching this season should be just as good, if not better, than it was in 2006. Boston is hoping that Josh Beckett can have a better season now (compared to last) and that Daisuke Matsuzaka can be a winner. New York replaced Randy Johnson with Andy Pettitte and is hoping that Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa can be winners.
I’m predicting that Beckett will be better, but not great, meaning an ERA around four and change. I’m also forecasting Matsuzaka to have a nice year – but I do not expect him to win more than 15 games this season.
In New York, I expect Pettitte to give the Yankees the innings and wins that Johnson provided – with a better ERA. I’m also forecasting Pavano to tap out around 100 IP this season. While I’m not 100% sure on what Igawa will provide, the Yankees should get 160 IP and a dozen wins from him.
Therefore, since Matsuzaka will be better than Matt Clement for Boston, and Beckett will be improved, the Red Sox have improved their pitching. The question is: Have the Yankees improved their pitching just as much?
I can see Carl Pavano being this year’s Jaret Wright for New York – and that leaves Igawa to cover for Shawn Chacon/Cory Lidle. Sounds possible to me. But, it’s really not that much of an improvement here.
Since the Yankees have a better bullpen than the Red Sox, and with Boston needing to take Papelbon out of their rotation, on the whole, I guess it’s a close call between the two teams – in terms of pitching. But, again, the Yankees hit better. So, I’m saying here it’s edge New York (overall as a team).
What about Toronto-Boston and Toronto-New York? Boston should out-hit Toronto and New York will out-hit Toronto. The Jays should out-pitch both Boston and New York.
Confused yet? I’m starting to get a tad dizzy myself.
At the end of the day, I suspect that this year’s A.L. East will end up the same as last season:
2. Blue Jays
3. Red Sox
5. Devil Rays
Yeah, I know that’s boring; but, it’s what I’m seeing now.