With opening day just 12 short days away
(but who's counting?), the Yankees Chick will follow the baseball blogging trend and preview each division. Not being the type to simply provide you with cold stats, I'll break this down in my usual fashion: 3 parts entertainment, 2 parts information, and 6 parts jabs at Carl Pavano and the Red Sox.
Let's do it!NL West:
This perennially weak division could show a marked improvement in performance this year! Only 2 of the 5 teams (LA and SD) has a .500+ record in 2006, but Arizona, San Francisco, LA and Colorado have all had relatively successful springs (let's not discuss the Padres' spring, which has brought nothing but pain to me thus far). Of the 5, San Francisco made the boldest moves this off-season, paying big bucks for Zito, resigning Balco Barry, and bringing a San Diego contingent of Ryan Klesko (have fun, Giants!), Dave Roberts, and skipper Bruce Bochy up north. With San Diego's pitching
(Maddux, Peavy, Young, Hensley, and Gout-meister Boomer) and the Dodgers' added offense, I anticipate another SD-LA close call
at the end of the season.NL Central:
Despite their World Series win, I don't see the Cardinals as a sure-thing
for this division. They were wise to lock up Chris Carpenter, and of course they still have Pujols, but is that enough to ensure that Cinncy, Houston, Milwaukee, or the remodeled Cubs can't sneak up on them (Sorry, I'm leaving Pittsburgh off the list for obvious reasons)? I don't think so. The Cubs in particular will be exciting to watch this year - the additions of Soriano and the crazy man himself Lou Piniella
have changed their dynamic drastically. A few bucks on the Cubs to win the NLC could be a very good bet.NL East:
Once again, this is going to be all Mets all the time
. Phillies are looking good, but they don't have a chance against Reyes, Wright, Beltran, et al.AL West:
I call this division the "who? Oh yeah, those teams"
division. Not a one of these 4 teams did anything thrilling this winter, but since the A's lost Zito I'm looking to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of USA of Earth of Milky Way
to win it.AL Central:
With the exception of the Royals, this division is really shaping up to be a hot competition.
The White Sox got edged out by the Twins and Tigers last season, but any one of those 3 could feasibly win. The Twins and Tigers have amazing pitchers, but the White Sox have the offense in Dye, Konerko and Thome. The dark horse here is Cleveland,
who, while not particularly impressive last year, has cultivated a very capable team for 2007. Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore have the potential to be dominating, and if Cliff Lee makes it back from his injury soon, their pitching is solid. It's entirely possible that the wild card team will come from the central again, but even picking 2 teams to advance from this division is tough right now.AL East:
Obviously I have a Yankees bias
here (I know, you're shocked), but bias or not the Yankees are the team to beat. Their offense is unrivaled, and as long as the pitching doesn't completely
implode (I accept that there will be the usual 82389274 injuries this year, I'm just hoping it doesn't go beyond that) they should have no trouble getting to the post season again (we'll worry about winning those games when they get there...). Boston has the edge on the pitching right now
, but they have a big hole in closer-ville and if Clemens comes to NY that edge will shift mighty quickly. If the wildcard doesn't come from the AL Central and the Yanks do take the East as I assume/hope they will, Toronto could give Boston a run for their money for that spot. Orioles and Devil Rays...Please accept my condolences.
Now that I've humored non-Yankees fans by offering some non-Yankees content, let me give you a quick reminder of where the Yanks are at at this point in the Spring:
After beating the Phillies today their record improved to 12-7 (there is a tie as well, but I refuse to report it as I am not a soccer fan), and Abreu played for the first time since straining his oblique. Igawa is looking stable, and while we all prefer domination, stability is a dandy alternative to Shawn Chacon, so we'll take what we can get. They will be resting tomorrow but play Cinncy on Thursday!