It is January 30th. The NHL just finished its All-Star weekend festivities reminding us all just how corny things can get when you try to alter the fiber of your game to “showcase” your stars for your fans. The NFL awaits the pinnacle of their year in the upcoming Super Bowl (ignoring the whole Pro Bowl game thing). NBA fans in Brooklyn are actively searching for anything to do but watch their basketball team. So, what is a baseball fan to do?
Opening Day 2017 is nine weeks away and all the blockbuster trades and free agent signings that were going to happen have already happened. All baseball fans can do now is look forward and begin predicting how their teams will perform. That said, here is a way too early prediction for how the American League East will finish.
First Place – – > Boston Red Sox
The addition of Chris Sale gives their starting rotation their third ace, joining Cy Young Award winners David Price and Rick Porcello. The team replaced 41-year-old bullpen star Koji Uehara with 28 year old Tyler Thornburg. Yes, it cost them the versatile Travis Shaw but the signing of free agent Mitch Moreland and a healthy, fit Pablo Sandoval will make the memory of Shaw fade quickly in Beantown.
Pablo Sandoval is skinny again https://t.co/JGJVYcmepv
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) January 12, 2017
Second Place – – > Toronto Blue Jays
The team rushed out to sign Kendrys Morales to safeguard against losing both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Encarnacion would land in Cleveland but “JoeyBats” would stay in Toronto to keep the best seat in the house for watching the Superman-esque fielding of Kevin Pillar. A full season of the Rogers Centre could possibly see Melvin Upton Jr. hit the 20 homer plateau for the first time since the 2012 season. The left side of the Blue Jays in-field is the strongest in the game with Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop and Josh Donaldson at third base. If youngsters Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman continue to progress and veterans J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada do not regress, the Jays rotation will be stronger than you might be led to believe.
— RussellHodson2 (@RussellHodson2) December 29, 2016
Third Place – – > New York Yankees
According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Yankees have the 2nd best farm system in the major leagues. One can only hope the time has come that prospects Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge get to see everyday action on the field for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will once again to look to shorten games for their starting rotation using Dellin Betances and Tyler Clippard in the late innings to get to re-acquired closer Aroldis Chapman. The return from injury of Greg Bird cushions the loss of Mark Teixeira. Come the trade deadline, if the Yankees stand a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, do not be shocked if they sell some of their youth for the chance to win now.
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) January 27, 2017
4th place – – > Baltimore Orioles
Negative Nelly tells you that the prize re-signing of Mark Trumbo is bound to disappoint you this season, as you should not expect him to match his career-best totals from 2016. The previous career high for Trumbo was 34 homers in 2013 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Of course, homers are typically not the issue in Baltimore with Chris Davis, who is virtually a lock to hit 34 homers and Manny Machado who has hit at least 34 homers the past two seasons. Adam Jones‘ batting average might be steadily declining, but his home run total has always hovered around 30. The questions in Baltimore seemingly always revolve around pitching. The O’s had an AL East worst ERA and WHIP. Sure, they were second in the American League in saves but we all saw how he was handled in last year’s wild card game. Assuming Matt Wieters is really gone, how will Welington Castillo handle his new battery mates?
— MLB Memes (@MLBMeme) October 5, 2016
5th place – – > Tampa Bay Rays
Evan Longoria, at age 30, in his ninth season in the MLB, hit a career high 36 homers – a lesson to you youngsters that 30 is not old! The Rays brought in Corey Dickerson‘s bat from Colorado hoping for at least the 24 homers he hit in his 2014 sophomore year and received exactly that. Brad Miller found his power stroke at the plate doubling his career total in homers and finding a place on the field (first base) where his defense is not a glaring liability. Whenever you feel like the Rays are beginning to build a contender, they go out and remind you how small market they are by trading away a needed solid player to acquire potential. Enter the Logan Forsythe trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jose De Leon. Now you have the possibility that Miller gets moved away from first base and that De Leon could be the grease on the wheel to trade staff ace Chris Archer. Across his entire pitching line, Archer had a down year in 2016. Sadly, much more in Tampa than anywhere else in the league, the better your stars play, the more likely they are to be traded away.
#Rays Longoria on Forsythe deal: “I’m surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence and friend like Logan. He’s a rare player”
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 24, 2017