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AL Preview: 20 Questions Headed into 2008

March 24, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Will Grady Sizemore take home hardware in 2008?
Can Grady Sizemore snare an MVP award?

With the season officially kicking off Tuesday as the BoSox take on the A’s in Japan, I thought it would be appropriate to examine the key stories to follow this year in the Junior Circuit. I’m leaving this one wide open for some reader input, so feel free to jump in with your opinions. Let’s hear what you think, people.

1. Can Boston withstand Josh Beckett’s back and Curt Schilling’s shoulder?

2. Can the Yankees continue their playoff streak without Joe Torre?

3. Is Toronto’s pitching staff good enough to close the gap on Boston and New York?

4. Will Grady Sizemore win the AL MVP this season?

5. Will dropping the “Devil” from “Devil Rays” allow Tampa Bay to finally top the 70-win mark?

6. Will dealing Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada reap rewards for Baltimore by the end of the decade?

7. Does adding Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria put Detroit and its lineup of seven former All-Stars over the top?

8. Has Seattle improved its rotation enough to compete in the AL West?

9. Does adding Torii Hunter finally give Vladimir Guerrero the protection he needs in the Angels’ lineup?

10. Will the ChiSox have enough starting pitching after Javier Vazquez and Mark Buehrle?

11. Can a healthy Francisco Liriano make up for the loss of Johan Santana in Minnesota?

12. Can Trey Hillman work his NPB magic in Kansas City?

13. Will Texas ever have a pitching staff capable of competing?

14. How long will Joe Blanton remain on the A’s?

15. Can Cleveland break through for its first World Series title since 1948?

16. Can Carlos Pena come even close to matching his 46-homer, 121-RBI breakout season?

17. Will Adam Jones make Orioles’ fans forget they had one of the best lefties in the game?

18. The Yankees led the majors with 968 runs last year, while Detroit was third with 887. Can Detroit score 1,000 runs in 2008?

19. How will the Angels cope without John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar to start the season?

20. How much better will Daisuke Matsuzuka be in his second MLB season?

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9 Responses to “AL Preview: 20 Questions Headed into 2008”

  1. Tim McLeod says:

    Great job as always Rob, and here’s some of my thoughts,
    4. YES
    5. They need the “devil” and then some to get to .500 this year.
    7. They have to find a bullpen and a bit more depth in starting pitching, but that offense is gonna score a ton of runs.
    12. Yes, without a doubt. Trey will have the opportunity in this environment to take those kids and watch them develop over the next several years into a solid team.
    13. It is a possibility and hiring Nolan Ryan was probably the best thing that they could have done.
    19. It is a long season and assuming both Lackey and Escobar are back before June the Angels will survive.
    20. My take here is 17-10, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and those 200 K’S.

    Here’s another question I think is interesting. Is it possible that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum could amass more than 50% of the total wins of the Giants in 2008?

  2. Matt says:

    Does Dustin Pedroia continue his wild success in the majors…and is he cemented as a top tier 2B?

  3. Andy says:

    1. Can Boston withstand Josh Beckett’s back and Curt Schilling’s shoulder?

    The bats are still there, so they are still in the playoffs, and anything can happen from there.

    2. Can the Yankees continue their playoff streak without Joe Torre?

    The payroll is still about 1 billion times what I will make in my life, so the middle aged guy standing in the dugout spitting out seeds onto the ground probably won’t have much to do with the overall success of the team. But that’s just me. I think the other coaches have at least as much overall impact.

    3. Is Toronto’s pitching staff good enough to close the gap on Boston and New York?

    I actually think the pitchers are good enough, but worry the hitting is too inconsistent. They go through worse dry spells than…er…I won’t finish that thought.

    4. Will Grady Sizemore win the AL MVP this season?

    Not if he’s hitting lead-off.

    5. Will dropping the “Devil” from “Devil Rays” allow Tampa Bay to finally top the 70-win mark?

    They should change their names to “Yankee Rays” just to piss Steinbrenner off.

    6. Will dealing Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada reap rewards for Baltimore by the end of the decade?

    Ultimately, I think it’s good for them to just start over.

    7. Does adding Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria put Detroit and its lineup of seven former All-Stars over the top?

    It’s important for them to get off to a quick start. If they build momentum early, I could see the Tigers making noise in the playoffs.

    8. Has Seattle improved its rotation enough to compete in the AL West?

    Sure.

    9. Does adding Torii Hunter finally give Vladimir Guerrero the protection he needs in the Angels’ lineup?

    For some of the season, at least. Hunter is an inconsistent hitter. He’ll be lights out for a couple weeks then ice cold for a couple.

    10. Will the ChiSox have enough starting pitching after Javier Vazquez and Mark Buehrle?

    Not nearly enough with Cleveland and Detroit’s potentially potent offenses.

    11. Can a healthy Francisco Liriano make up for the loss of Johan Santana in Minnesota?

    Well, he can be almost as dominant as Santana was, but the Twins would have needed both to be contenders

    12. Can Trey Hillman work his NPB magic in Kansas City?

    ‘Kansas City’ and ‘magic’ don’t look right in the same sentence together.

    13. Will Texas ever have a pitching staff capable of competing?

    Ever? Sure. In my lifetime? Not sure.

    14. How long will Joe Blanton remain on the A’s?

    I have no idea.

    15. Can Cleveland break through for its first World Series title since 1948?

    Maybe if Travis Hafner goes back on HGH.

    16. Can Carlos Pena come even close to matching his 46-homer, 121-RBI breakout season?

    Maybe if he goes back on…err…no.

    17. Will Adam Jones make Orioles’ fans forget they had one of the best lefties in the game?

    Over time, the Orioles hitting the reset button will be seen as a positive.

    18. The Yankees led the majors with 968 runs last year, while Detroit was third with 887. Can Detroit score 1,000 runs in 2008?

    Not quite.

    19. How will the Angels cope without John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar to start the season?

    They’ll play at or around .500 and then have a good stretch somewhere after the AS break to vault to the top of the division.

    20. How much better will Daisuke Matsuzuka be in his second MLB season?

    Well, if he concentrated on throwing a few of his 15 pitches better, he’d improve mightily. Unfortunately, quantity doesn’t outweigh quality.

  4. Spencer Greenwald says:

    1. Everyone knows the BoSox only go as far as Tim Wakefield takes them. Duh.

    2. In a word, NO, though it will have less to do with Joe Torre and more to do with an aging team with holes.

    3. If “close the gap means” the Blue Jays coming within 7 games of first, definitely. A more pressing question…Seeing what happened in Tamps, will Toronto have to change their name to just Toronto Blue?

    4. I wonder if Grady Sizemore would ever be in the MVP discussion if he was ugly. He’s the new Ryne Sandberg. His numbers certainly don’t warrant the talk. Good, YES. MVP? Give me a break.

    5. The Rays could change their name to “The 1927 New York Yankees” and still find a way to be meaningless.

    6. Question..how good were the O’s WITH Bedard and Miguel TeJuice…thanks. I respect a front office that is willing to overhaul it when it’s not working. The goal of any GM is to be ON A PATH towards winning a ring. Can you actually say they were with those two? Please. I’m not even convinced Tejuice is ever going to be close to all-star caliber again.

    7. There is more to success than all star appearances. We’ve seen teams with better lineups than the Tigers not win rings. Not to say they wont succeed, but nothing is certain and Ill take the Bosox over the Tigers. I do not like the tigers pen AND some of these guys are on borrowed time(see Sheffield, Pudge, Todd Jones, etc.). .

    8. Seattle was “competing” before the changes. They’re legit.

    9. They needed more than Hunter and Vlad to compete with Boston and Detroit. I see anti-depressants in that teams future.

    10. The ChiSox don’t have enough pitching BEFORE Buehrle and Vazquez, let alone after them. 3rd place in the Central never looked so inevitable.

    11. As much and as quickly as Leno replaced Carson. Sure Liriano had sick stuff before the blowout..to go with 2/3rds a year of starting experience. How can he replace the best pitcher in the game overnight after a serious recovery like that? Not fair to expect. Better to hope for merely pitching a full season, regardless of results.

    12. Trey could have a better chance turning around K-Mart.

    13. In a state as big as TX, you would think they could go door to door and find a few arms better than what they call a rotation now.

    14. Whenever Beane come out of winter hibernation. There’s your answer.

    15. A lot of young Tribe talent, but I don’t see it taking down Boston or Detroit. They’re in the second tier.

    16. He may be the first guy to have back to back 40+ years that no one ever heard of. With lesser numbers, more know of Carlos Lee or Carlos Guillen or Carlos Zambrano. He simply picked the wrong first name to have a season like that. He should change his name to Poindexter or something like that..then watch the stardom take launch.

    17. Elvis has not left the building. This is not Jim Palmer. Bedard’s career stats are 40-34/3.83. The only question I have is why it took a decade to complete the trade and why he has been made out to be the next Warren Spahn.

    18. Yes, Detroit could score that much…and STILL not win the pennant. There’s this thing called “Chemistry” and “Health”. You don’t win the ring on paper.

    19. How do they cope? A lot of Bourbon and the stash of anti-depressants on site from the “Vlad/Tori is not enough” diagnosis.

    20. I think Daisuke will be more dominant. To me he is a better pitcher than what he showed last year. Nerves will be reduced by leaps and bounds. The media having K-Fuk to cover also will lessen the burden. Easily should have a better year.

  5. RotoRob says:

    Thanks, Tim. We’ll save that final question for the NL Preview, however. But now that you started it, feel free to jump in there and provide 20 questions to watch for the NL this season.

  6. RotoRob says:

    Dustin Pedroia has been constantly underestimated and has constantly delivered. I expect more of the same, although he probably won’t hit close to .320 again. This kid is the real deal, though.

  7. ESTSN (Adam) says:

    Most of my answers can be gleaned from here:
    http://www.estsn.com/baseball/pre-season-analysis-of-every-team/

    But to recap:

    1. Without a doubt

    2. Nothing to do with Torre – the pitching is all either too old or too young to compete in the AL this year.

    3. The Jays pitching? Definitely. Their hitting? Not unless things go spectacularly right for them this year.

    4. Maybe.

    5. The AL East is going to be mighty crowded soon, and the Orioles could soon be the new Royals.

    6. Not unless they also manage to rid themselves of Angelos…

    7. The Tiger will make the playoffs and go as far as their questionable pitching can take them. The offense will obviously not be a problem.

    8. Seattle looked like all smoke and mirrors last year – I still don’t know how they did it. The Angels will win the division and the WC will come from the Central.

    9. Not a chance.

    10. Not even close. The White Sox will need a miracle to even be in the discussion by the AS break.

    11. In the sense of the Twins being almost, but not quite good enough to compete? Sure – Liriano can give them that.

    12. Heh. Kansas City.

    13. Somebody should’ve clarified for Texas that when people said they needed to focus less on big hitters that meant they should get pitching – not just get rid of the hitters.

    14. Until someone offers Beane an initially questionable looking batch of prospects that will turn out to be surprisingly good players in a couple of years.

    15. I’m inclined to think the Indians could this go all the way this year. They’re a very complete team once they finally move Borowski out of the closer role.

    16. Nope

    17. Would being served a nice steak make passengers on the Titanic forget they used to have a better wine selection? Probably the wrong question since I’d imagine they’d be more focussed on why the people in charge had run the ship into an iceberg.

    18. I’d like to see them do it…

    19. Not that well I suspect. It’s not like they’re going to out-slug teams… hmm – maybe in the AL West they might actually. I still predict they’ll finish atop the West.

    20. It’s hard to say – did Dice-K wear down in the second half (despite all the talk of his amazing durability) or did AL hitters just figure him out?

  8. Jordan Frank says:

    Just a few questions for the NL circuit:

    1) Can the back-end of the Mets rotation get anyone out?

    2) Can the Rockies win a loaded NL West?

    3) How will Ryan Braun follow-up on his monster debut season?

    4) Does becoming a vegetarian reduce home run output?

    5) Can the Cubs turn the page on a 100-year drought?

  9. RotoRob says:

    Thanks for all your great responses, guys.

    As for your NL questions, Jordan:

    1. It’s time for Pelfrey to break out. That will sure help.

    2. Maybe; it’s going to be tough though with a young D-Backs team that now has Haren. The Dodgers will also be better, and even the Giants should improve with all that great young pitching (expect lots of 2-1 losses).

    3. By slugging 100 points less than last year and STILL being a very valuable player.

    4. No way. My best games have always come after eating a spicy beef pattie as a pre-game meal.

    5. Ask the goat.

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