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Sinkoff Revisits His AL East Predictions

I have always thought that you can tell a lot about a Major League Baseball team by June 1st.  That’s the big day – as it’s about a third of the way through the season.

Back in late March, I made my predictions for the A.L. East.  Let’s see how I’m doing after 2 months of play.

My initial predictions are in black.  While the actual stats/info is in red.

BOSTON RED SOX

The Good: On paper, the Red Sox are the best team in baseball.

  • They got Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is a legit 40 HR, 120 RBI guy while Crawford could hit .300 with 60 SB’s and great defense!! Gonzalez is currently batting .329 with 10 HR, and leads the American League with 46 RBI. Crawford is currently batting .234 with 7 stolen bases.
  • They are finally healthy again after 19 different Boston players combined to miss over 1,000 games last year.
  • Lester, Buchholz and Lackey (if healthy) make a solid 1, 2, 3 starting rotation. Lester leads the American League with 7 wins, and has a 3.94 ERA. Buchholz is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA. Lackey was 2-5 with an 8.01 ERA before he went on the DL.
  • Deep bullpen if Papelbon doesn’t implode. Papelbon is 10 for 11 in save opps, and has a 2.78 ERA.

The Bad: Injuries could be a concern again.

  • Youkilis, Pedroia, Beckett, Ellsbury and Matsuzaka all spent significant time on the DL last year.  Are all of those injuries healed for 2011?  That’s a big question. Lackey is currently on the DL and Matsuzaka is out for the year and will have Tommy John surgery. Youkilis, Pedroia, Beckett, and Ellsbury have all remained healthy.
Elsa, Getty Images
  • The Ugly:
  • Josh Beckett: he holds the key to the Red Sox success this year.  If he’s healthy, Boston will easily win the AL East.  If not, who knows? Beckett is 4-2 and is among the league leaders in the American League with a 1.80 ERA. He has also only given up 3 HRs on the year.

Prediction: 94-68; Anything less than an AL East Division title would be a huge letdown for Francona’s club. After an 0-6 start, the team is currently 30-26, and are two games back in the division as of June 2nd. If the team keeps the same pace, they will finish with 90 wins.

NEW YORK YANKEES

The Good

  • The Yanks still have the best lineup in baseball.  With a lineup that includes Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Cano, Swisher, Granderson, Gardner & Posada, there really isn’t much downside. As a team currently batting .254 which is 7th in the American League; lead MLB in HR’s with 82; No regular is hitting over .300
  • CC Sabathia is a work-horse that will likely win 20 games again. Sabathia is 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA; Has pitched 84.2 innings which is 5th in the American League.
  • Deep bullpen: Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson are very solid.  If the Yanks have the lead in the 8th, the game is over! Before heading onto the DL, Soriano pitched only 15 innings, and was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA; In 21.1 IP, Robertson has a 1.27 ERA and has not allowed a HR; Joba Chamberlin has a 3.12 ERA, and has given up 19 hits in 26 IP. Rivera is 13 for 16 in save opps, and has a 2.11 ERA
Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

The Bad:

  • All of the starting pitchers after Sabathia.  I’m not sold on Burnett having a bounce-back season.  He’s had just one season above 14 wins his entire career.  Hughes is a dice roll while Nova is unproven and Garcia is a complete wildcard. Burnett 6-3 with a 3.86 ERA; Hughes is most likely out until after the All-Star break, and was not impressive before going on the DL having an 0-1 record with a 13.94 ERA; Nova and Garcia have been solid thus far for the team. Nova is 4-3 with a 4.67 ERA, and Garcia is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA.
  • This team is getting old!  Jeter will be 37 years old this year.  Rodriguez will be 36.  Mariano is 40.  Posada will be 40 in August. Jeter is batting .264 with 57 Hits, and 33 runs scored. He also has 2 HR on the year but both of those came in the same game. Rodriguez leads the team in batting with a .287 ERA with 9 HR and 30 RBI; Posada is having the worst year of his career, batting .169 but does have 6 HR, and 16 RBI.

The Ugly:

  • The fact that the Yanks are relying on Bartolo Colon and Freddie Garcia for anything this season is a real sign that their pitching needs help.  These two guys had zero interest from other MLB teams. So far, Colon and Garcia have been solid for the team; Colon is 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA, and is 3rd on the team in innings pitched with 66.1. Garcia is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA

Prediction: 90-72; The Yankees demise has been greatly exaggerated.  Yes, their pitching has issues but they will have no problem trading away Montero or Romine for some starting pitching help by mid-season. As of June 2nd, the Yankees are leading the AL East by two games, and are 31-23. If the team keeps the same pace, they will finish with 92 wins.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

J. Meric, Getty Images

The Good:

  • From top to bottom, Tampa Bay might have the best starting pitching rotation in the AL East. The Rays have a team ERA of 3.61, which is 5th in the American League; Jeremy Hellickson and David Price are tied for 2nd in the American League with 6 wins, and have a 2.80 ERA and a 3.54 ERA respectively; However, other than Wade Davis who is 4-5 with a 4.52 ERA, and James Shields who is 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA, no other Rays pitcher has more than 2 wins.
  • Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and Ben Zobrist are all very legit All-Star candidates. Longoria spent some time on the DL and is batting .250 with 4 HR and 12 RBI in only 28 games. Upton is batting .238 with 7 HR and 28 RBI, and Zobrist is batting .246 with 9 HR and 30 RBI.
  • Joe Maddon is probably one of the top managers in baseball.

The Bad:

  • The Rays lost their entire bullpen!  Literally.  Their closer, long reliever, lefty specialist are now on other teams. Kyle Farnsworth is 10 for 11 in save opps, and has a 1.50 ERA (one of the best in the American League); No other pitcher for the Rays has recorded a save.
  • The lineup loses serious power and speed with the departure of Carlos Pena (Cubs) and Carl Crawford (Red Sox). The Rays are 4th in the American League with 48 SB, and 5th in the American League with 55 HR.

The Ugly:

  • Former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth is the Rays new closer. See above stat.
  • There’s no way you can replace Crawford and Pena with grizzled veterans like Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Ramirez retired after failing a second drug test, and Damon is batting .275 with 7 HR and 30 RBI; He also leads the team in AB with 200.
  • The mass player exodus out of Tampa will only continue unless this club moves into a real stadium that fans actually aren’t afraid to drive to.

Prediction: 83-81; If this team finishes over 500, consider it a huge bonus. As of June 2nd, the team is 29-26, and only 2 1/2 games out of first place; If the team keeps at the same pace they will finish with 87 wins.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Brad White, Getty Images
The Good:
  • Jose Bautista is the real deal. He’s currently 2nd in the league in batting with a .363 BA and leading the league in HR with 20; also tied for 5th in the league with 38 RBI
  • Toronto has quitely built a pretty decent pitching staff (Romero, Cecil, Litsch, Drabek, Reyes).  The Jays are 8th in the league in ERA with 3.83 ERA; Romero is 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA; Drabek is 3-3 with a 4.16 ERA; Cecil is 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA in 4 GS; Litsch is 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA; and Reyes won his first game in 28 starts on Memorial day, and is 1-4 with a 4.15 ERA on the year.
  • The Jays are loaded with young talent (JP Arencibia, Travis Snider, Aaron Hill, Drabek) Arencibia is batting .258 with 8 HR and 26 RBI; Snider is batting .184 with 1 HR and 12 RBI; Hill is batting .242 with 1 HR and 23 RBI.

The Bad:

  • Other than Jose Bautista (54 HR’s in 2010), there really isn’t much else to be excited about in the lineup.  Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Aaron Hill need to step up in order for this team to compete. The combined trio currently has 9 homers.
  • Who is the closer?  Frank Francisco? Jon Rauch? Jason Frasor? Carlos Villanueva? Rauch is 6 for 8 in save opps and has a 3.92 ERA; Francisco is 5 for 8 in save opps with a 6.14 ERA; Frasor has not recorded a save but has a 1.64 ERA; Villanueva has not recorded a save and has a 2.62 ERA

The Ugly:

  • When you look at their roster, there’s really nothing to get excited about.  They might have some of the pieces in place but just not right now. 4th in the American league with 60 HR (Bautista has 20); 2nd in the league in batting (.264).
  • Prediction: 76-86; The Blue Jays and Orioles could easy flip-flop here. As of June 2nd, the Blue Jays are 28-28 and 4 games back of first place. If the team keeps up the same pace, they will finish with 84 wins

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

The Good:

  • Thanks to a busy off-season, the Orioles are probably the most improved team in baseball.
  • They made upgrades at DH (Vladimir Guerrero), shortstop (JJ Hardy), 3rd base (Mark Reynolds), 1st base (Derrick Lee) and closer (Kevin Gregg). Vlad is batting .289 with 5 HR and 23 RBI and has seemed to fit well in the DH role; Hardy is batting .239 with 2 HR and 12 RBI and has managed just 22 hits in only 26 games played; Reynolds is batting .193 with 7 HR and 24 RBI and has struck out 54 times which is 7th in the American League; Gregg is 8 for 11 in save opps, with a 3.54 ERA.
  • The O’s lineup (if healthy) is very legit. The O’s are batting .249 which is 10th in the American League, and is 8th in the league with 48 HR; They are also 11th in the league in runs scored.
  • Buck Showalter brings a new attitude to Charm City.  The Orioles might not finish above 4th place this year, but they won’t roll over for anyone.

The Bad:

  • Injuries could cripple this team.  If Lee, Roberts or Vlad miss significant time, it could be a long season. Lee and Roberts are both currently on the DL.
  • Bullpen: no one knows for sure who’s going to be the closer by season’s end (Uehara, Gregg or even Mike Gonzalez).  Let’s be honest, none of those guys truly puts a scare into opposing hitters. Gregg has emerged as the closer, but has blown 3 saves; Gonzalez is near the bottom of the league in ERA with a 7.79 ERA.

The Ugly:

  • Youthful pitching staff.  Jeremy Guthrie is a bulldog while Brian Matusz is a legit ace in the making but the rest of the staff is a question mark.  Jake Arrieta could be a future star, Chris Tillman might not be ready for the Bigs yet, Bergeson has injury concerns while Justin Duscherer might not even make 5 starts due to his injury history. Rookie Zach Britton has emerged as the ace of the staff with a 5-3 record and a 2.93 ERA. Guthrie is 2-7 with a 3.24 ERA; Matusz is making his first start of the season on June 1st; Arrieta is 6-3 with a 4.97 ERA; and Tillman is 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA.

Prediction: 78-84; The O’s have made significant improvement from last year’s club but with a questionable starting pitching rotation and serious injury issues, the Birds will have trouble keeping up with the Joneses in the AL East. As of June 2nd, the team is last in the AL East (6 games behind) with a 25-29 record. If the team keeps up the same pace, they will finish with 73 wins.

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