Tag:AL East
Posted on: February 16, 2009 7:09 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2009 1:05 pm

2009 AL East Preview

Baltimore Orioles
2008 Record: 68-93, Last Place in the AL East
BP's 2009 Projection: 70-92, Last Place in the AL East

Notable Additions:

Notable Departures:

While most Orioles fans are probably disappointed with the teams offseason movement, I like what GM Andy MacPhail is doing. MacPhail realized long ago that the current makeup of the team could not win him ballgames, let alone the AL East. He decided to firesale the team, starting with Erick Bedard and Miguel Tejada. These two deals brought the Orioles some much needed depth in a farm system that was ravaged dry. MacPhail continued that firesale this offseason by trading away Ramon Hernandez to Reds for Ryan Freel. While Freel won't do much for the team other than be a backup, the move has now cleared an opening for Matt Wieters to eventually take over as the everday catcher. In addition, MacPhail made some under the radar moves with the Cubs acquiring both Felix Pie and Rich Hill for spare parts. Both of these players have struggled at the big league level, but they both are considered to have high upside. This team is slowing progressing forward, and even though they didn't get Mark Teixeira this offseason, the team remains committed to winning longterm. Such is evidenced by MacPhail's moves since he arrived at Baltimore. O's fans can at least enjoy Nick Markakis for another 6 seasons as he signed an extension this offseason.

Projected Lineup:

  1. 2B Brian Roberts (S)
  2. 3B Melvin Mora (R)
  3. RF Nick Markakis (L)
  4. 1B Aubrey Huff (L)
  5. CF Adam Jones (R)
  6. DH Luke Scott (R)
  7. C Greg Zaun (S)
  8. SS Cesar Izturis (S)
  9. LF Felix Pie (L)

The Orioles lineup is just average at best, but they probably have the best outfield defense in the league with Pie, Jones, and Markakis. Roberts is a good place setter to start things off, but there are questions as to whether or not Mora will be as effective as he was a season ago. Nick Markakis is probably the most underrated outfielder in the league and should once again be the focal point for this teams offense. Huff is a decent enough hitter in the four hole, but his defense is a liability if the team plans on playing him at first base. That could change though if Ty Wigginton beats out Luke Scott for a starting job. The bottom half of the Orioles lineup is pretty weak. Jones has the potential to be good, but we're still waiting on him to breakout. The same can be said for Pie. Izturis likely won't be of any value on offense, while Greg Zaun could be replaced in the lineup by Matt Wieters at any time.

Projected Bench:

Aside from Wigginton, the bench is pretty weak. Quiroz doesn't figure to keep his spot on the team for the entire season, while Gomez is a sub-par bench player that has bounced from team to team in the past years. Freel will be the teams 5th outfielder, only because when Luke Scott isn't DHing, the team is likely to put him in the lineup first. However, it's still possible that Freel could backup the infielders at some point as well as he can play multiple positions.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Jeremy Guthrie
  2. RHP Koji Uehara
  3. LHP Rich Hill
  4. LHP Mark Hendrickson
  5. RHP Radhames Liz

The last three spots listed here are still up for competition, but those three seem to inside edge heading into camp. Jeremy Guthrie has been the Orioles workhorse for the past two seasons and will continue to be so as the team enters 2009. There have been mixed scouting reports on Uehara (pictured at the top of this blog). Some say he could be as effective as Hiroki Kuroda was last season for the Dodgers, while others don't think he'll cut it as a starting pitcher in the league. I guess we'll find out who was right during the season. Rich Hill has tremendous upside if he can find his stuff again and Henrickson and Liz should just be stopgaps for the young arms like Tillman and Patton that the Orioles will have waiting to be called up.

Projected Bullpen:

The bullpen is now better than it was a year ago, simply because the Orioles are getting Chris Ray back from Tommy John Surgery. The injury kept Ray out all of last season. Many still speculate that Ray, who closed for Baltimore before Sherrill, will eventually overtake Sherrill as the teams closer, but that still remains to be seen. I personally think Matt Albers would serve the Rays better in the rotation instead of Liz, but apparently the team doesn't share my same feelings. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Jamie Walker can turn his miserable 2008 season around and get back to where he was 2 years ago.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. C Matt Wieters
  2. RHP Chris Tillman
  3. LHP Brian Matusz
  4. RHP Jake Arrieta
  5. OF Nolan Reimold
  6. RHP Brandon Erbe
  7. 3B Billy Rowell
  8. LHP Troy Patton
  9. 1B Brandon Snyder
  10. RHP Kam Mickolio

Spring Position Battles:

Catcher - Matt Wieters vs. Greg Zaun
Rotation - Guthrie and Uehara are the only locks
Designated Hitter - Luke Scott vs. Ty Wigginton

Boston Red Sox
2008 Record: 95-67, 2nd place in the AL East
BP's 2009 Projection: 93-69, 2nd place in the AL East

Notable Additions:

Notable Departures:

It wasn't a big offseason for the Red Sox, but it wasn't really a bad one either. GM Theo Epstein took advantage of a slowing market by signing some undervalued players in Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, John Smoltz, and Rocco Baldelli. Each of the players mentioned had injury problems last season which kept them out of many games, but if they fully recover, they can be very effective. As for the departures, the team really didn't lose anything useful. Sure, Epstein traded Crisp away to the Royals for bullpen depth, but he adequately was able to replace his production. Schilling and Timlin havn't been anything useful in over a year, while Bartolo Colon would have been had he not swung for the fences during interleague play.

Projected Lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
  2. 2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
  3. DH David Ortiz (L)
  4. 1B Kevin Youkilis (R)
  5. LF Jason Bay (R)
  6. RF J.D. Drew (L)
  7. 3B Mike Lowell (R)
  8. SS Jed Lowrie (R)
  9. C Jason Varitek (S)

Solid lineup until you get down to the bottom three in the order. It will be interesting to see how much Jacoby Ellsbury develops this season and whether or not Kevin Youkilis can keep the type of power production that he did a year ago. Looking at the bottom three in the order though, Lowell is coming off of surgery, so there is no telling how well he will be able to perform while Lowrie and Varitek don't really offer the team much at their respected positions. Lowrie was still a below average shortstop last year hitting the ball and his range at the position was downright terrible. Then again, the fact that he's an upgrade over Julio Lugo is pretty sad. Meanwhile, Varitek has had two poor seasons in the past three years and many people, including myself, thought the Red Sox were stupid to bring him back.

Projected Bench:

Bard remains a good backup catcher as long as they don't make him catch Wakefield. Even if he does, there is a strong possibility Wakefield might get thrown in the bullpen if John Smoltz comes back healthy in June. Wilkerson only figures to be on the bench at the start of the season as his spot will likely be taken away by Mark Kotsay, who just underwent surgery and is likely out for the first two months of the year. However, when fully healthy, a bench of Bard, Lugo, Baldelli, and Kotsay may be one of the best in the league.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Josh Beckett
  2. LHP Jon Lester
  3. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
  4. RHP Brad Penny
  5. RHP Tim Wakefield

Beckett remains one of the top starters in the American League, despote having a down year last season. It was good to finally see Jon Lester reach his potential, as he hadn't done it in any season prior. As for Matsuzaka, his numbers are wierd. The walks are alarming, but since no one gets hits off of him, the era has stayed low and he won quite a bit of games last year. If hitters start to figure him out, then Boston has to watch out as Matsuzaka has the potential to get lit up on any given night with his wildness. Penny should be decent coming off of shoulder surgery, but even if he struggles, the Sox can alway turn to either Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden in AAA. John Smoltz should be back to the team by midseason and was looking really good at drills in spring training. Wakefield still remains a reliable starter, though depending on health of others, could get bumped from the rotation once Smoltz returns.

Projected Bullpen:

The bullpen is looking revamped with the additions of Saito and Ramirez. Saito has been one of the most effective pitchers in the league since coming over from Japan, but struggled after coming off the DL at the end of last season forcing the Dodgers to non-tender him. Meanwhile, Ramirez had a good season for the Royals last year, but struggled the year prior. He's just another arm that the Sox can throw out on any given night and expect to be effective.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. 1B Lars Anderson
  2. RHP Michael Bowden
  3. LHP Nick Hagadone
  4. RHP Daniel Bard
  5. OF Josh Reddick
  6. RHP/SS Casey Kelly
  7. OF Ryan Westmoreland
  8. 3B Michael Almanzar
  9. IF Yamaico Navarro
  10. RHP Stolmy Pimentel

Spring Position Battles:

Shortstop - Jed Lowrie vs. Julio Lugo
Bench Spot - Brad Wilkerson vs. Chris Carter, Paul McAnulty , and Jeff Bailey


New York Yankees
2008 Record:
89-73, 3rd Place in AL East
BP's 2009 Projection: 97-65, 1st Place in AL East

Notable Additions:

Notable Departures:

The Yankees took advantage of a poor economy and snagged up the best three players on the free agent market in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. Sabathia takes the ace role, which was vacated when Mike Mussina decided to retire. Meanwhile adding Burnett makes the teams staff a lot better while it takes away a number two pitcher from a rival opponent. By signing Teixeira, the Yankees found their new first basemen of the future after 7 years of Jason Giambi occupying that spot. Nick Swisher, who was acquired for Jeff Marquez and Wilson Betemit in the early stages of the offseason, still could be moved. Otherwise, it's likely that he might spend 2009 as a bench player. As for the departures, the Yankees are losing a little offense by allowing Abreu and Giambi to walk, but they are now a much better defensive team and if injuries don't come in to play as bad as they did a year ago, the team should have a much higher run differential. Carl Pavano was useless in his time in New York, while Rasner wasn't needed. As much as Yankee fans hated Betemit, he is actually looking like a better bench option now as the Yankees only added Angel Berroa in the offseason.

Projected Lineup:

  1. LF Johnny Damon (L)
  2. SS Derek Jeter (R)
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira (S)
  4. 3B Alex Rodriguez (R)
  5. C Jorge Posada (S)
  6. DH Hideki Matsui (L)
  7. RF Xavier Nady (R)
  8. 2B Robinson Cano (L)
  9. CF Melky Cabrera (S)

It's a fresh start for the Yankees....somewhat. They have most of their key players recovered from injury and a new superstar in the lineup. However, they also have a cleanup hitter that doesn't react well to pressure coming off a steroid filled offseason. It remains to be seen just how good Alex Rodriguez will be for the Yankees this year. I think he should eventually be fine as A-rod handled the situatoin the appropriate way, but you just never know. It also remains to be seen what if the health of older players such as Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon will continue to hold up. This team is the best team in the league "on paper," but they need to translate that into a playoff berth. If Joe Girardi doesn't make the playoffs this year, I think he should be gone. He has all the talent and resources he needs to have a winning ballclub. Just keep this locker room in order and get the job done.

Projected Bench:

Ugh. Aside from Nick Swisher, this is probably the worst bench in baseball. I don't know how a team can spend so much money on three players and then ignore going after someone to fill the void on the bench. Berroa, Gardner, and Molina all suck, but at least Gardner and Molina are good defensive players. Perhaps the Yankees should take a flyer on Mark Grudzielanek, Ray Durham, or Adam Kennedy. I'm sure all could be had for minimum contracts.

Projected Rotation:

  1. LHP CC Sabathia
  2. RHP A.J. Burnett
  3. RHP Chien-Ming Wang
  4. LHP Andy Pettitte
  5. RHP Joba Chamblerlain

From the looks of it, it looks as if Sabathia and Burnett are already best friends. These two are going to be counted on to carry the team on its back for most of 2009. Meanwhile, the Yankees should benefit greatly from getting a healthy Chien-Ming Wang and a full season of Joba Chamberlain. Personally, I think the Yankees would have been better off going with Phil Hughes in the 5th spot in the rotation rather than Pettitte, but I guess now Hughes will be the first option when A.J. Burnett a Yankee pitcher goes on the disabled list.

Projected Bullpen:

ESPN analysts John Kruk and Buck Showalter thought the Yankees would have been better off having Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, but I'm not so sure I agree with that. In my opinion, your most effective pitchers should be pitching the most innings possible. The team still has Mariano Rivera closing games out for them, so it's not as if the Yankees don't have anyone in their pen. Bruney should still be effective in the right handed setup role, but I have my doubts about Marte. The rest had pretty good seasons a year ago, while I'm wondering what the Yankees plans are for Ian Kennedy. I put him in the long relief role as it would probably take multiple injuries for the team to even consider using him as a starter. Plus, I figured the Yankees would go with 4 bench players and 7 relievers.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

Position Battles:

Centerfield - Brett Gardner vs. Melky Cabrera
Final Bullpen Spots


Tampa Bay Rays
2008 Record:
97-65, 1st Place in the AL East
BP's 2009 Projection: 87-75, 3rd Place in the AL East

Notable Additions:

Notable Departures:

Burrell is a significant upgrade to Cliff Floyd in the lineup and David Price should fill in fine for the departed Edwin Jackson. I'm not too fond of any of the other moves the Rays made this offseason and I still think the team underrates what Eric Hinske's bat did for them a year ago, but I guess they'll find that out on their own. 2009 should be another learning year for the Rays. They had a bunch of success in 2008, but it remains to be seen whether or not they can repeat that same success. Many other teams in the division have now had a chance to make changes and get scouting reports on this young team and given the competition they face in their division, I think another playoff berth is unlikely, though I do think they will finish well above .500. However, I wouldn't mind if the small market Rays proved me wrong. GM Andrew Friedman has a great base here in Tampa and a team that is likely to stay competitive for a long while.

Projected Lineup:

  1. 2B Akinori Iwamura (L)
  2. LF Carl Crawford (L)
  3. CF BJ Upton (R)
  4. 1B Carlos Pena (L)
  5. DH Pat Burrell (R)
  6. 3B Evan Longoria (R)
  7. C Dioner Navarro (S)
  8. RF Gabe Gross (R)
  9. SS Jason Bartlett (R)

When Evan Longoria is projected to be your 6th hitter in the batting order, you know you have a good young lineup. The addition of Burrell at DH makes this team quite a bit better offensively. It remains to be seen if B.J. Upton can take the power he displayed in the postseason last year and put it into effect in the regular season. Meanwhlie, Carl Crawford is looking to bounce back after one of his worst seasons as a pro.

Projected Bench:

Jaso is a friend of mine from high school, so I'm really hoping he makes the team. Baseball America has him listed as the Rays prospect with the most plate discipline and he's been really good in the minors thus far. He was called up in September of last season as insurance and went 2 for 10 in mostly pinch hit situations. However, he is a better hitter than Shawn Riggans and is also athletic enough to play the outfield or first base if asked to. Meanwhlie, Willy and Ben Zobrist figure to be the key backups once again in the infield for the Rays, whlie Matt Joyce sohuld be battling Gabe Gross for the starting spot in right field. I imagine Kapler will remain a backup, but he's been solid since returning from Japan.

Projected Rotation:

  1. LHP Scott Kazmir
  2. RHP James Shields
  3. RHP Matt Garza
  4. RHP Andy Sonnanstine
  5. LHP David Price

Should be pretty difficult facing the Rays on any given night. The Rays have quality starters all throughout their rotation and are backing them up with quality starters waiting for their chance in the minor leagues. I'm most interested in seeing how the young David Price will develop. The past few years, young pitchers (such as Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey, Ian Kennedy, and Clay Buchholz) have been overhyped because of their minor league success. Will Price be the first one to break the trend? He certainly is the front runner for the American League Rookie of the Year Award and after his brilliant postseason performance, people will be expecting a lot from the young rookie.

Projected Bullpen:

This bullpen scares me. And not in a good way. Percival was inneffective for much of last year while Wheeler and Howell had their best season in years. I'm not confident anyone on the Rays bullpen can keep the same success they had a year ago. It's too bad Chad Bradford got hurt, because he was the one stable part of this bullpen. If the Rays are looking for the same October goal they had a season ago, they will need to upgrade this bullpen quite a bit. I believe Niemann will be forced to be a reliever unless he's traded as I think he's out of options and I imagine David Price will win the 5th starter competition. Perhaps he can bring some stability.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. LHP David Price
  2. SS Tim Beckham
  3. RHP Wade Davis
  4. SS Reid Brignac
  5. OF Desmond Jennings
  6. LHP Matt Moore
  7. LHP Nick Barnese
  8. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
  9. LHP Jake McGee
  10. RHP Jeff Niemann

Spring Position Battles:

Backup Catcher - John Jaso vs. Shawn Riggans
Right Fielder - Gabe Gross vs. Matt Joyce vs. Fernando Perez


Toronto Blue Jays
2008 Record: 86-76, 4th place in AL East
BP's 2009 Projection: 75-87, 4th place in AL East

Notable Additions:

Notable Departures:

Well....There's really not much to say about the Blue Jays offseason. GM J.P. Ricciardi did nothing but sign a bunch of below average players to minor league contracts. The team remained complacent and did not make one significant signing.

Projected Lineup:

  1. SS Marco Scutaro (R)
  2. 2B Aaron Hill (R)
  3. RF Alex Rios (R)
  4. CF Vernon Wells (R)
  5. DH Adam Lind (L)
  6. 3B Scott Rolen (R)
  7. 1B Lyle Overbay (L)
  8. C Rod Barajas (R)
  9. LF Travis Snider (R)

Marco Scutaro leading off? Somehow I think that's going to change. Perhaps Hill will eventually take over the role. The Jays basically feature the same offense as they had a year ago. The only difference is that Travis Snider, the teams top prospect, should see regular at bats at either left field or designated hitter.

Projected Bench:

The bench is weak. Barrett is a good backup, but the others don't offer much more. I really don't know what to say when it comes to the Blue Jays bench, because their offseason offers nothing to talk about.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Roy Halladay
  2. RHP Jesse Litch
  3. LHP David Purcey
  4. RHP Casey Janssen
  5. LHP Ken Takahashi

Looking at the rotation, the Blue Jays still have a Cy Young caliber pitcher in Roy Halladay, but it drops off quite a bit after that. Shaun Marcum is out for the year, while Dustin McGowan will be out for the first few months. The Jays are going to have spring position battles for their final few spots in the rotation and it remains to be seen whether or not Brett Cecil (the teams top pitching prospect) will be allowed to win a spot outright.

Projected Bullpen:

The good news for the Jays is that their bullpen is the exact same as it was a year ago. The Jays had the best bullpen era in 2008 and every single member should be healthy for the start of the year.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. OF Travis Snider
  2. C J.P. Arencibia
  3. LHP Brett Cecil
  4. SS Justin Jackson
  5. 1B David Cooper
  6. 3B Kevin Ahrens
  7. LHP Brad Mills
  8. LHP Ricky Romero
  9. LHP Marc Rzepcynski
  10. 2B Brad Emaus

Spring Position Battles:

Designated Hitter - Kevin Millar vs. Travis Snider
Bench Spots
5th Starter

Sorry Blue Jays fans for not giving you more, but blame your GM.

Posted on: June 30, 2008 1:40 am

American League Midseason Report Cards

The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
41-39, 4th Place in the AL East
Grade: A -

The Orioles made the right moves during the off-season by trading both Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Those two trades brought the team some quality players in return that the team can build upon. While many people wrote the Orioles off this season--some going as far as predicting the team would have 100 losses--the O's have remained competitive all year long. The only step left for GM Andy MacPhail is to continue the firesale and trade off the remaining veterans for prospects. With the team having a top 3 relief pitching staff, there will be quite a bit of demand for veteran relievers like Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, and George Sherrill. Trading them would make the team much better in the long run.

Boston Red Sox
50-34, 2nd Place in the AL East
Grade: A

The Red Sox have played very well this season. Despite the fact that David Ortiz started out slow, Curt Schilling is done for the year, and multiple players have spent time on the DL, they still have one of the best records in baseball. However, because they play in baseball's best division, they are finding themselves in the middle of what should be a three team race for the American League East. With regards to that, I give the team an "A" for overall performance. However, because Schilling is out with injury, I don't trust anyone on their team other than Josh Beckett to start in the playoffs. Despite Tim Wakefield having his best season since 2002, he has never been a good postseason pitcher. The young guys--Lester, Buchholz, & Masterson--have only one playoff start between them and lack longevity in the regular season. Meanwhile, Daisuke's walk totals are increasing and his performance in the postseason last year was terrible. It will be interesting to see if the team pursues a veteran starter at the deadline.

New York Yankees
44-38, 3rd Place in the AL East
Grade: B

The Yankees haven't exactly been playing their best ball, yet they haven't played bad baseball either. The team has consistently remained around .500 and have just recently made a run above it. In my opinion, the Yankees can't get much worse, but they have the potential to be much better than they are playing. With Joba finally making the transition to the rotation, if the Yankees can add one more starter, they'll be right in the thick of it. The teams offense is potent, especially with the return of Jason Giambi to the lineup and the bullpen has been holding its own so far. The Yankees were my prediction to win the division and I still think they will do it.

Tampa Bay Rays
49-32, 1st Place in the AL East
Grade: A

Wow. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have been in first place in the American League East at the halfway point? I certainly didn't. This team has been loaded with talent, but it never fully developed until now. The off-season trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza has payed dividends as well and given the team a formidable front three of Scott Kazmir, Garza, and James Shields. In addition, Evan Longoria is showing that he will be a true superstar in this league for years to come. What the team really needs going forward is one more bat, perhaps in right field or DH, to solidify the lineup. Other than that, the Rays will stay competitive until the very end. You can be assured of that.

Toronto Blue Jays
40-43, Last Place in the AL East
Grade: D

Everyone's favorite preseason pick is in last place in the division right now. The Blue Jays haven't played bad baseball, but they just haven't been given a commitment to winning by their management. The early season release of Frank Thomas (who is hitting .319 with the A's) is a perfect example. The team has the pitching staff to be a good team and they could make a 2nd half run, but it might be too little too late in the toughest division in baseball. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need to make a trade for an impact bat. You can't expect to win too many games with Matt Stairs, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, and Shannon Stewart in your lineup. It just doesn't happen.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox
45-35, 1st Place in the AL Central
Grade: A

Maybe we were a bit too harsh on GM Kenny Williams this offseason as many of his signings have proven to work out great. The additions of Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink have shored up the bullpen problems the team has been having for years. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is among the league leaders in home runs this season, while Alexei Ramirez is batting over .300 and has shored up the the 2nd base spot for the team. Even the decision to keep Joe Crede is looking brilliant now. The only move that isn't looking great is the Nick Swisher deal as Ryan Sweeney is outperforming him in Oakland. However, Swisher is batting .302 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in the month of June so he might be on the verge of turning it around.

Cleveland Indians
37-45, Tied for Last Place in AL the Central
Grade: F

I don't understand how a team this talented could perform so poorly all year long. The Indians aren't even putting themselves anywhere close to contention which is making the decision to trade C.C. Sabathia easier by the day. The more and more I see of Travis Hafner, the uglier that 6 year extension is looking that he signed a year ago as well. The only two Indians ballplayers that are performing are Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake and Blake is as good as gone at the seasons end. The Indians better hope that Sabathia brings them back players that will help them in the immediate future, because the Indians window of opportunity is closing.

Detroit Tigers
41-40, 3rd Place in the AL Central
Grade: C

Well, it isn't what we expected, but to be a game above .500 and only 4.5 back of the division leaders at the halfway sign is good for the Tigers who started the season off poorly. The pitching staff is starting to come around--though Dontrelle Willis may be done as a pro--and the team should get better in the bullpen when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney start to come around. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tigers overtook the White Sox in the American League Central by the end of the year. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me if the team remained mediocre for the rest of the season. Much like the Yankees, the offense will be there for this team. EVERYTHING relies on the pitching staff down the stretch. I would suggest the team making a trade, but after the deals with Florida and Atlanta, they can't have much left in their farm system.

Kansas City Royals
37-45, Tied for Last Place in the AL Central
Grade: D

We knew the Royals were going to be bad to start the year, so the fact that they have a higher grade than the Indians is because the Indians failed to meet anywhere close to their expectations. However, I still don't understand how many of these players on the Royals have jobs. I mean, how long is it going to be until Tony Pena, who has a .142 batting average and an OPS of -2 (yeah...negative two) is sent down? I mean, he can't be in their for his defense either as he has the 2nd worse. Their other alternative, Angel Berroa, was recently traded away to the Dodgers which made no sense at all. At least Berroa could hit the ball out of the infield. This team has some talented players, but they are nowhere near turning into a good ballclub.

Minnesota Twins
45-37, 2nd Place in the AL Central
Grade: B+

The Twins lost both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter this offseason and are still in contention. How you may ask? For one, Hunter has always been overrated and is just an average ballplayer. Secondly, Joe Mauer has been able to stay healthy this season which has given the offense a spark. And third, the bullpen (as usual) has been outstanding. The Twins really don't deserve to be where they are with the performance of the offense (as a whole) and the poor starting pitching they've had. However, they'd remained in the hunt the entire time and had tons of success against the National League this season. I gave them a B+ because of their record, however, I think both the White Sox and Tigers will finish ahead of them by the end of the year.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels
49-33, 1st Place in the AL West
Grade: A -

The Angels got exceptional performances from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana while John Lackey was out, and now that he's back, the team has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the majors. However, the offense of the Halos has been a huge disappointment this season as the team is 2nd to last in the American League in team OPS. Only two players on the team have double digit home run numbers and one of them (Mike Napoli) is just a part time player. The Angels most obvious need for the second half is an impact bat, preferably at shortstop. The Angels should be able to keep pace in the west as the A's and Rangers aren't much of a real threat, but if they want to avoid another October disappointment, they'll have to make some changes.

Oakland Athletics
44-37. 2nd Place in the AL West
Grade: B+

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to doubt Billy Beane. He's the only guy that can make his team better the next season by trading his best pitcher and his best hitter. Many people had the A's predicted as the last place finishers in the west this season, but the A's have continued to succeed with their foundation of strong pitching. The team is on pace to set another record for most people on the disabled list in a season. Much like the division rival Angels, the A's offense has been terrible this season. However, I don't think it can get much worse than it already is. Daric Barton has struggled all year long, but the A's have no other options at the position now that Dan Johnson is gone and it's probably best to let Barton swing his way out of it. Carlos Gonzalez has finally arrived at the major league level and his swing is amazing. He is only 21 and you can tell that he'll be a great ballplayer in the future. The team has a lot of potential and was initially geared up to compete in 2010-2011. Anything they do now is just a bonus.

Texas Rangers
42-41, 3rd Place in the AL West
Grade: B

Nolan Ryan......."Take That!" At least, that's what I'd be saying if I were Rangers manager Ron Washington. After feeling the heat much of the first half, Ron Washington has the Rangers maintaining a respectable winning percentage. He is getting the most out of the players he has and it's turning into wins for the ballclub. Milton Bradley might just be the best offseason signing for the Rangers as he has continued to crush the ball. Now all the team needs to do is to finally get some decent pitchers to the big league level instead of trading their best talent away (i.e. Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, John Danks). If I were GM Jon Daniels, I know my team doesn't stand much of a chance at the postseason this year, so I'd look to see if I could trade Vincente Padilla (and his contract) to a contender.

Seattle Mariners
31-50, Last Place in the AL West
Grade: F

What a joke. I think I was the only person here to question how good the Seattle Mariners would be this season. I KNEW they weren't as good as everyone has been saying and they only proved me right by having the worst record in baseball. It's about time they fired Bill Bavasi as he did nothing good for the team. I don't even know what to say about the Mariners right now other than a firesale should be about to begin (with everyone except for Ichiro). The Mariners have a lot of rebuilding to do and now that Bavasi damaged the teams future, who knows how long it's going to take.

Posted on: June 12, 2008 2:50 am

New England vs. National League in All-Star Game

The fan voting in the all-star game is ridiculous, especially if you're a fan of a team in the American League. Because of the huge markets in Boston and New York for the game of baseball, a deserving all-star player on your team could find himself off the roster. Checking the latest update, if the all-star game started today, the American League would field a starting team consisting of Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Josh Hamilton, and Ichiro Suzuki.

For those playing the home game, that's 5 Red Sox players, 2 Yankees, 1 Texas Ranger, and 1 Seattle Mariner. And we haven't even gotten to the pitching staff yet! (which coincidentally, the Red Sox's manager gets to choose this year) Heck, the American League Central isn't even represented in the starting lineup.

Some people might argue that everyone still has a month to vote and that the current results could change....What they don't realize is that Red Sox and Yankees ballplayers are 1-2 in just about every category. Does anybody realize that Mike Lowell is 2nd in the 3rd basemen voting despite having a batting average just above .260? Many of these players, such as Varitek, Pedroia, Ichiro, and Ortiz don't even deserve to start just based on numbers alone. Others at their position have been outperforming them, but will probably miss out on the game. It's not fair to the fans of teams that aren't based in the New England area. In addition, it's not fair to the players as well as many of them have all-star incentive bonuses in their contracts. Should the fans really decide who deserves a bonus or should the play of the actual player? I think it's the latter.

By supporting fan voting, MLB wants you to ignore the strong season that Milton Bradley is having as the DH of the Texas Rangers. They want you to ignore the fact that Joe Mauer is batting .327 or that Kurt Suzuki has thrown out an AL leading 40% of all baserunners. They want you to look the other way when Michael Young or Justin Moneau step up to the plate. MLB wants you to forget about Carlos Quentin and his 16 homers and 54 RBI. No one wants to hear about Jose Guillen tearing the cover off of balls in Kansas City, Nick Markakis leading an upstart Baltimore team or B.J. Upton's ridiculous first half in Tampa Bay. After all, in the grand scheme of things, Joe Crede's 14 home runs, Jack Cust's league leading 48 walks, and Ian Kinsler's 17 steals (0 CS by the way) never existed.....right?

MLB couldn't be more wrong and it's about time for some change.

As a solution, I've come up with two different ideas. Either....

(1) MLB should have the players and coaches vote (as they do for Gold Glove Awards) or....
(2) MLB should create an all-star panel that makes the selections.

MLB has been looking for a way to make the all-star game more attractive and this might just be it. Because as things stand now, I have absolutely no incentive to watch the game. Will a deserving player on your team get snubbed thanks to fan voting? If you're not a fan of the Red Sox or Yankees, my guess is that they will.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com