American League East 2012 Power Rankings
As the 2012 Major League Baseball season approaches, I have decided to make public my opinions on where each team stands organizationally. These are strictly opinions and are open to any interpretation, If you don't agree please leave a comment with an explanation. Conclusions made in this piece are derived from three factors; Depth Chart, Organizational depth, and Division. Without any further ado the rankings.
American League East
1. New York Yankees
"What? Not the mighty Red Sox?" The answer is no, not this year at least. GM Brian Cashman realized every Bronx Bomber fan's dream and made appropriate moves to bring in quality starting pitching to go along with the aging but still powerful offense. "How can we give up Montero and Noesi for a second year pitcher, who played in Safeco?" Easy the Yankees depth at catcher is gross, in a nice way. Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, and Russel Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr. will do fine for the foreseeable future.
* Players to watch;
LHP Manny Banuelos (35) in Baseball America's top 100 prospects. Plus fastball and the best change up I've seen since dominant Johan(Santana) or prime Pedro(Martinez).
ETA: May 2012
RHP Dellin Betances September call up last year, has mid 90's heater and throws an insane curve. Bullpen bound to start year.
ETA: Opening Day
2. Tampa Bay Rays
This was a hard one for me, I took a long look at both the Rays and Red Sox for the number two spot and it came down to the obvious. Pitching. James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Matt Moore, and even Jeff Niemann make up arguably the deepest rotation in baseball, and the offense isn't too shabby either. Luke Scott and Carlos Pena were brought in to bolster a lineup that features Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton, and Ben Zobrist. This is a team that could easily be number one if they can get Sean Rodriguez to turn the corner, and if Matt Joyce can build from a breakout season in 2011.
* Players to watch
SS Tim Beckham The Former number one pick has been forgot by most, but at only 21 years of age he's still has time to prove himself worthy. Sean Rodriguez isn't blocking him, and Reid Brignac is not the answer. I still think he's at least a year away though.
SS Hak-Ju Lee Part of the deal that sent Matt Garza to Chicago, Lee has great plate discipline and outstanding speed. He's still a defensive work in progress so 2013 is more realistic. Could see either Lee or Beckham move to 2nd this year, that would push Zobrist to RF and Joyce to a reserve/utility role in the future.
3. Boston Red Sox
Few things went as planned for the BO Sox last year; Carl Crawford looked like every bit of a 30 year old with 10 years of MLB service. Jon Lester regressed, Clay Buchholz missed significant time, and Youkilis dealt with a number of ailments. Sound like I'm defending the Sox? I'm sure you all know me better than that! 162 games are played in a baseball season, every team goes through highs and lows, no one escapes injuries, and in baseball all injuries are significant. “There was no leadership in the clubhouse!" Give me a break! Terry Francona was praised for his leadership prior to last season. Of course with the new superstars there should be bigger ego's on the team. However Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford weren't the problem and were never questioned about professionalism by past teams/teammates. Colonel Saunders (Josh Beckett) and his beer drinking partner Bojangles (Jon Lester) need to have stellar years for this team to compete.
* Players to watch
RHP Anthony Ranaudo Frontline stater talent, not the picture of health. If he can put the injury bug behind him he could make a quick ascension to the "Show" He has great control and three above average pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) to keep hitters in check.
SS Jose Iglesias (42) on Baseball America's top 100. Iglesias is a future Gold Glover who should hit for average and not much else. Should start out of the gate, we'll see how spring training goes.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Alright I just want to say this up front. I love what GM Alex Anthopoulos has done with this team. The Blue Jays have talent at every single position on the field. Adam Lind, Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, Colby Rasmus, JP Arencibia and Kelly Johnson will all provide power and Eric Thames, Yunel Escobar, and Rajai Davis will all pitch in with speed.
Pitching is a small concern though. Ricky Romero is a true ACE in every sense of the word, and Brandon Morrow is a solid two but then things get a little iffy. Henderson Alvarez pitched well (3.56 ERA) in 10 starts last year but that's a tiny sample size. The key is going to be how Kyle Drabek and Brett Cecil perform, if they can move ahead/bounce back the Jays will look like contenders, and could give the top three teams major problems.
* Players to watch
C Travis d'Arnaud Coming over from Philly with Kyle Drabek, d'Arnaud comes in at (9) on Baseball America's top ten at catcher. He's got a monster arm, and good bat speed, and power should develop. I'm putting him on Players to watch because I think either he or Arencibia will be in new uni's by the deadline.
RHP Deck McGuire Last year’s 11th overall pick isn't going to blossom into a superstar, he's probably never going be mentioned in CY Young or All Star Balloting, but with four average to above average pitches, he very well could be a solid, middle or back of the rotation starter. The Jays need him ASAP and that will probably be sometime this year.
ETA: July 2012
5. Baltimore Orioles
Missing out on Prince Fielder, the O's turn their attention to Yoenis Cespedes, Cuban defector who plays in the outfield. There really is a ton to like about this Charm City squad; young talent, nice park, and a rich team history. This team is built for the future, and has some pieces to win games now, the problem being though is that they call the AL East home, and can't seem to get free agents to come to Camden. Signing Cespedes to join Nick Markakis and Adam Jones in the outfield would give them one of the best in the AL.
Solid veterans include JJ Hardy, Brian Roberts, and Mark Reynolds.
Pitching is terrible though, Jeremy Guthrie anchors this motley crew of Alfredo Simon, Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Jake Arrieta. They have reached out to Edwin Jackson, who could be a great fit. This team is very shallow at SP in the Minors, so they may have to make some sort of move to acquire talent.
*Players to watch
SS Manny Machado He's probably at least two years away, being only 19 years of age but he's a stud, hits for average and power, and is an excellent defender. Look for the O's to potentially deal JJ Hardy by the deadline to bring in young arms.
By: Garrett Frasco
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