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Where we stand – American League

19 Jan

by Aaron Rife,

Where We Stand- American League

 

AL EAST

 

Baltimore Orioles

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Brian Roberts (2B)                                         Jeremy Guthrie

JJ Hardy (SS)                                                 Jake Arrieta

Adam Jones (CF)                                            Tommy Hunter

Matt Wieters (C)                                            Zach Britton

Mark Reynolds (1B)                                     Tsuyoshi Wada

Nick Markakis (RF)                                       Brian Matusz

Chris Davis (DH)

Nolan Reimold (LF)                                        Bullpen:

Josh Bell (3B)                                                 Jim Johnson (Closer)

Kevin Gregg (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

They need pitching. What once was regarded as an up-and-coming pitching staff full of top prospects is now a wasteland of mediocrity. Brian Matusz and Chris Tllman have proved to be busts and Zach Britton is heading that way. Maybe one of themwill trn it and but it’s not looking likely. Their bullpen is in no better shape with Jim Johnson moving in to close and the often sub-par Kevin Gregg backing him up. There has been some link to them landing Prince Fielder, and he’d be a good fit. That would slide Reynolds back to 3B and give them the power bat they’ve been lacking. The Showalter honeymoon is over; maybe he’ll leave and in a year they’ll make the World Series. Tat’s probably why he was hired in the first place.

 

Boston Red Sox

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Jacoby Elssbury (CF)                                     Josh Beckett

Dustin Pedroia (2B)                                        Jon Lester

Kevin Youkilis (3B)                                        Clay Buchholz

Adrian Gonzalez (1B)                                                Daisuke Matsuzaka

David Ortiz (DH)                                           Alfredo Aceves/Daniel Bard

Carl Crawford (LF)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C)                                Bullpen:

Ryan Sweeney (RF)                                       Andrew Bailey (Closer)

Marco Scutaro (SS)                                         Mark Melancon/Bard (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

They’ve made sweeping changes in their bullpen but nowhere else. They still need another starter; I don’t think Aceves or Bard is the answer long-term. They signed Aaron Cook to compete for the 5th spot but he’s nothing to write home about. Oswalt is still available but I think they would have signed him already if they were going to. They could also use a better option in RF, or at least another option. Ryan Ludwick would be a good fit or Cody Ross. I have a feeling Ross ends up there.

 

 

New York Yankees

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Derek Jeter (SS)                                              CC Sabathia

Curtis Granderson (CF)                                  Michael Pineda

Alex Rodriguez (3B)                                       Ivan Nova

Mark Teixeira (1B)                                         Hiroki Kuroda

Robinson Cano (2B)                                       AJ Burnett/Freddy Garcia/Phil Hughes

Nick Swisher (RF)

?????????????? (DH)                                       Bullpen:

Russell Martin (C)                                          Mariano Rivera (Closer)

Brett Gardner (LF)                                         David Robertson/Rafael Soriano (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

What a couple moves by the Yankees. They move a player that many feel was only a DH type player with an unproven bat for a solid pitcher that has ace stuff. Sure, Pineda is slightly unproven but he’s at least performed in the major leagues and at a high level. Now they are without a DH. I can see Vlad Guerrerro landing here or maybe even the return of Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. They also signed Hiroki Kuroda to give them 4 solid starting pitchers and a logjam for their 5th with 3 good options. This could mean AJ Burnett is about to be moved to a team willing to let the Yankees pay most of his salary and Phil Hughes will move back to the bullpen where he seemed more comfortable.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Desmond Jennings (LF)                                  David Price

Ben Zobrist (1B/2B)                                       James Shields

Evan Longoria (3B)                                         Wade Davis

Matt Joyce (RF)                                             Jeremy Hellickson

B.J. Upton (CF)                                             Jeff Niemann

???????? (DH)                                                 Matt Moore

Sean Rodriguez (SS)

Elliot Johnson (2B)                                         Bullpen:

Jose Molina (C)                                              Kyle Farnsworth/Moore (Closer)

Joel Peralta/Farnsworth (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

I don’t know how you could keep Matt Moore out of the rotation but that might be the case, at least early on in the season. I keep waiting for them to fall back down to the bottom of the AL East but their pitching is so good it just hasn’t happened yet. They have a big hole at DH right now and they need a first baseman too. The perfect fits would be Derek Lee and Vladimir Guerro. If not them, maybe they can talk Johnny Damon in to coming back on the cheap or go with Cody Ross or Ryan Ludwick and push Matt Joyce back to DH. They could also bring Hideki Matsui back to the AL East. There are plenty of options but there is no doubt they need a couple of these players. Or this will be th year they fall back.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Eric Thames (LF)                                            Ricky Romero

Brett Lawrie (3B)                                           Brandon Morrow

Jose Bautista (RF)                                          Brett Cecil

Adam Lind (1B)                                              Henderson Alvarez

Edwin Encarnacion (DH)                                Dustin McGowan/Kyle Drabek

J.P. Arencibia (C)

Colby Rasmus (CF)                                        Bullpen:

Kelly Johnson (2B)                                        Sergio Santos (Closer)

Yunel Escobar (SS)                                         Casey Janssen (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

They have plenty of offense, so no worries there. They need to now focus on pitching; both starters and relievers. Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroda, and Edwin Jackson all need homes and would be a good fit here. Edwin Jackson wants too much money/years so I think this won’t be his spot. They may even take a chance on an injury comeback player like Rich Harden or Ben Sheets. There are also some old guys who could provide some innings like Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, or Livan Hernandez. There are still numerous free agent relievers available; Kerry Wood, Brad Lidge, Chad Qualls, Francisco Cordero. For some reason I see the Jays being the ones that take a flier on Joel Zumaya.

 

 

AL Central

 

Chicago White Sox

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Alexei Ramirez (SS)                                        John Danks

Alex Rios (CF)                                                Gavin Floyd

Adam Dunn (DH)                                           Jake Peavy

Paul Konerko (1B)                                          Phillip Humber

Dayan Viciedo (RF)                                        Chris Sale/Dylan Axelrod

A.J. Pierzynski (C)

Gordon Beckham (2B)                                    Bullpen:

Brent Morel (3B)                                            Matt Thornton/Sale (Closer)

Alejandro De Aza (LF)                                   Addison Reed (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

Their offense was atrocious last year but there’s no way Adam Dunn will have another season that awful, is there? They have to have the Adam Dunn of ’04-’10 if they’re going to have a chance. They traded Carlos Quentin which means regular at bats for Dayan Viciedo. He has a real chance to be a beast for this team. They could use a left fielder, someone like Ryan Ludwick or Kosuke Fukudome. As currently constructed this team will rely heavily on it’s pitching, and they are a good bunch.

 

Cleveland Indians

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Grady Sizemore (CF)                                     Ubaldo Jimenez

Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)                                    Derek Lowe

Shin-Soo Choo (RF)                                       Justin Masterson

Carlos Santana (C)                                          Josh Tomlin

Travis Hafner (DH)                                        Fausto Carmona

Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)

Matt LaPorta (1B)                                          Bullpen:

Jason Kipnis (2B)                                           Chris Perez (Closer?)

Michael Brantley (LF)                                    Rafael Perez (8th inning?)

 

What They Need:

They went out and got Derek Lowe to “bolster” their pitching staff. I’m not sure how great of an upgrade that will be. They were a surprise team last year thanks a lot to their pitching but they were also their downfall. Their bullpen is fine and they’ll have a whole year of Ubaldo Jimenez but they’ll probably have a similar pitching performance in 2012. Their offense will essentially be the same as well. They plan on having Chisenhall at third base all year and hope for rebounds by Choo and Sizemore. There’s a chance they go after someone like Derek Lee to replace Matt LaPorta who hasn’t been near what they thought he would be. I see them being around a .500 team this year as thy won’t surprise anyone like last year.

 

Detroit Tigers

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Austin Jackson (CF)                                       Justin Verlander

Brennan Boesch (RF)                                     Max Scherzer

Miguel Cabrera (1B)                                       Doug Fister

Victor Martinez (DH)                                                Rick Porcello

Delmon Young (LF)                                        Jacob Turner/Andy Oliver

Alex Avila (C)

Johnny Peralta (SS)                                        Bullpen:

Ryan Raburn (2B)                                          Jose Valverde (Closer)

Brandon Inge (3B)                                          Joaquin Benoit (8th inning)

What They Need:

Can they get a third baseman already?! Brandon Inge wasn’t thee answer 5 years ago and he isn’t today. I thought they’d be in the Aramis Ramirez running but they lost on him so this is what you get. The Tigers made their big moves at the trade deadline last year landing Delmon Young and Doug Fister. Having them for a full year will be a big help on offense.

 

Kansas City Royals

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Lorenzo Cain (CF)                                          Jonathan Sanchez

Alex Gordon (LF)                                           Bruce Chen

Eric Hosmer (1B)                                            Luke Hochevar

Billy Butler (DH)                                           Felipe Paulino

Jeff Francoeur (RF)                                        Danny Duffy/Aaron Crow

Mike Moustakas (3B)

Salvador Perez (C)                                          Bullpen:

Johnny Giavotlla (2B)                                                Joakim Soria (Closer)

Alcides Escobar (SS)                                       Jonathan Broxton (8th inning)

 

 

What They Need:

Their starting pitching is brutal. They traded for Jonathan Sanchez for some help but there are still many holes. If Aaron Crow and Danny Duffy can make a step up, they’ll help bring the rotation to mediocre. Their bullpen is young and good. Signing Jonathan Broxton was a low risk/high reward move that could pay off around the trade deadline. I was surprised they didn’t go ahead and deal Soria for a starter while his value was still decent. He could easily come out and bomb next year and his return would be minimal. Their offense is extremely young. If Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur can stay over that hump that they tried so long to get over, they could make some waves. They’re still a starter and a year or two of seasoning away from actually contending but they’re in the right division and amassing young talent.

 

Minnesota Twins

Lineup:                                                           Rotaton:

Ben Revere (RF)                                             Carl Pavano

Denard Span (CF)                                           Francisco Liriano

Josh Willingham (LF)                                     Brian Duensing

Joe Mauer (C/DH)                                          Jason Marquis

Justin Morneau (1B)                                      Scott Baker

Ryan Doumit (DH/C)                                     Amthony Swarzak

Danny Valencia (3B)

Tsuyoshi Nishioka (SS)                                  Bullpen:

Jamey Carroll/Alexi Casilla (2B)                    Matt Capps (Closer)

Glen Perkins (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

The poor Twins. The minute they signed that Joe Mauer contract it was a bad idea. They signed Ryan Doumit to help ease the catching load as well as DH but he’s injured just as much as Mauer is. They need so much. Their offense has no punch, their pitching is as bad as it’s ever been, and their bullpen is as unreliable as it’s ever been. I was surprised Josh Willingham signed there; if it wasn’t for that, they’d easily be the worse team in the AL. Who am I kidding; they’re the worst team in the AL. They may go after one of the relievers still out there for Capps insurance when he inevitably blows it, but it won’t be enough to keep them from 100 losses.

 

AL West

 

Los Angeles Angels

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Peter Bourjos (CF)                                         Jered Weaver

Erick Aybar (SS)                                             C.J. Wilson

Albert Pujols (1B)                                          Dan Haren

Mark Trumbo/Kendrys Morales (DH)          Ervin Santana

Torii Hunter (RF)                                           Jerome Williams

Vernon Wells (LF)

Howie Kendrick (2B)                                     Bullpen:

Chris Iannetta (C)                                           Jordan Walden (Closer)

Alberto Callaspo (3B)                                                Scott Towns (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

The big winners this offseason signing the best FA pitcher (Wilson) and the best FA hitter (Pujols), they were also able to bolster their bullpen by signing LaTroy Hawkins and not resigning Fernando Rodney. The only thing they need is to clear a logjam at outfield and DH. If Kendrys Morales is OK, they’ll be splitting time with him and Mark Trumbo at DH or Morales and Wells in LF. I don’t think any Angels fan could complain about this offseason. They’re my frontrunner to win the 2012 World Series.

 

Oakland A’s

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Coco Crisp (CF)                                             Brandon McCarthy

Jemile Weeks (2B)                                          Dallas Braden

Chris Carter (DH)                                           Jarrod Parker

Brandon Allen (LF)                                        Guillermo Moscoso

Daric Barton (1B)                                           Tommy Millone

Kurt Suzuki (C)                                              Tyson Ross

Scott Sizemore (3B)

Josh Reddick (RF)                                          Bullpen:                    

Cliff Pennington                                              Brian Fuentes (Closer)

Grant Balfour (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

They made a ton of moves this offseason. They could use a lot of hitters right now but they’ve already quit for 2012. They have a glutton of prospects now stocked and many of them are close to the majors. Their strong-suit is pitching and it will be for awhile. One of these days they need one of their hitting prospects to actually produce. Jemiile Weeks has been very good but he’s the only one. Josh Reddick may prove to be a valuable commodity once he gets regular reps, or he’ll be just like Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue and just be average or worse.

 

Seattle Mariners

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Ichiro Suzuki (RF)                                          Felix Hernandez

Chone Figgins (3B)                                         Hector Noesi

Dustin Ackley (2B)                                        Jason Vargas

Justin Smoak (1B)                                          Hisashi Iwakuma

Jesus Montero (DH)                                      Blake Beavan/Charlie Furbush

Mike Carp (LF)

Franklin Gutierrez (CF)                                              Bullpen:

Miguel Olivo (C)                                            Brandon League (Closer)

Brendan Ryan (SS)                                         Shawn Kelley (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

They have been linked to Prince Fielder but that doesn’t seem to be happening now with the Montero trade. They could have realized they weren’t going to land a big bat in free agency so they tried to get one via trade. I don’t like this deal at all for them; they should be building the team around pitching and defense. Maybe there’s something about Pineda that we all don’t know but I just don’t see it. Now they need starting pitching but they’ve probably made all the moves they’re going to make.

 

Texas Rangers

Lineup:                                                           Rotation:

Ian Kinsler (2B)                                              Colby Lewis

Elvis Andrus (SS)                                           Derek Holland

Michael Young (DH)                                      Neftali Feliz

Josh Hamilton (LF)                                        Matt Harrison

Adrian Beltre (3B)                                          Alexi Ogando

Nelson Cruz (RF)

Mike Napoli (C)                                             Bullpen:

Mitch Moreland (1B)                                     Joe Nathan (Closer)

Julio Borbon/Leonys Martin (LF)                  Mike Adams (8th inning)

 

What They Need:

What they need is a bigger trophy case. You wouldn’t think that a team that was one Nelson Cruz misplay away from winning the World Series would make a lot of changes but they did. Moving Feliz to the rotation is a big risk but it’s where he’s always wanted to be. Sometime in 2012, Cuban defector Leonys Martin will be called up to play CF. It should be a great battle between the Rangers and Angels for the AL West then the AL Pennant.

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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Aaron Rife, Baseball, Sports

 

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