Danny Knobler, CBS Sports:
It's hardly a stretch to say that the Rays are now one of the best two or three teams in the game. ... But it's also no stretch to say the Rays could easily miss out on the playoffs altogether this October. ... [But] let's make clear that what applies to the Rays applies to the Yankees and the Red Sox as well. They all could be among the two or three best teams in the game -- and any one of them could miss the playoffs. [JoS: Yep.]The always-excellent Joe Posnanski (bookmark his blog) has eight predictions for 2009:
... [CC] Sabathia isn't the reason I think the Yankees will miss the playoffs again. And Joba Chamberlain's sudden and shocking decrease in velocity is not the reason. And the aging of Derek Jeter is not the reason. And the fact that sooner or later Mariano Rivera will either age or be forced to return to his home planet is not the reason. And the sad ballad of A-Rod is not the reason either.Tim Marchman, SI.com:
No, the simple reasons are that I think that Tampa Bay will be better than last year. And I think Boston is a more complete team than the Yankees. In my view, those are three of the five best teams in baseball, and one is going to miss the playoffs [JoS: See?]. I think it will be the Yankees.
In the American League East we're in for a fantastic race. Tampa Bay, Boston and New York are the three best clubs in the game, and at least one of them is going to finish out of the money. [JoS: Everyone is saying it.] Along with the punters I think it's going to be Tampa Bay, less because of any failing on their part than because of the competition. Boston has both absurd depth and stars such as Josh Beckett who are capable of playing at a level that Tampa Bay's best haven't quite reached yet; New York's roster is gristly and jury rigged, but not so much so that they won't make best use of the $440 million (!) they spent this winter. ... World Series: Red Sox over Cubs ...Tom Verducci, SI.com:
The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are the three best teams in baseball, and yet at least one of them is guaranteed to miss the playoffs. [JoS: Did you think I was kidding?] "It's going to be a frickin' war in that division," said A's general manager Billy Beane. Seven of the past 12 teams to play for the AL championship (and 12 of the past 22) have come from the AL East ...SI Staff (Bold pennant = World Series champion):
No team has won a pennant in 29 years or a World Series in 54 years with a shortstop as old as Derek Jeter, who turns 35 in June. ... Only poor health should keep the Yankees from winning 95 games.
Boston has two legit aces in Josh Beckett and Lester, and John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz on hand as the best supply of pitching reinforcements in baseball. Tampa Bay, with pitchers Wade Davis, David Price and Jeff Niemann ready to contribute this season, and B.J. Upton and Longoria primed for superstardom, is better on paper this year than when it won 97 games last year.
East Wild Card PennantExtra:
Tom Verducci Yankees Red Sox Angels
Jon Heyman Red Sox Yankees Red Sox
Ted Keith Yankees Red Sox Yankees
Joe Posnanski Rays Red Sox Red Sox
Gennaro Filice Red Sox Yankees Red Sox
Cliff Corcoran Red Sox Yankees Red Sox
Ben Reiter Red Sox Yankees Red Sox
David Sabino Rays Red Sox Rays
Joe Lemire Red Sox Yankees Red Sox
Albert Chen Red Sox Rays Rays
Lee Jenkins Yankees Cleveland Twins
Melissa Segura Yankees Rays Yankees
Jonah Freedman Rays Yankees Cleveland
Verducci MVP: Youkilis - CY: Lester***
Heyman MVP: Teixeira - CY: Lester
Corcoran CY: Sabathia
Sabino CY: Lester
Lemire CY: Beckett
Segura MVP: Teixeira
East WC WSOther Stuff
Scott Miller Red Sox Rays Cubs over Red Sox
Danny Knobler Red Sox Yankees Red Sox over Cubs
Eric Mack Red Sox Yankees Cubs over Red Sox
Adriane Rosen Red Sox Yankees Cubs over Red Sox
Scott Miller MVP: Youkilis; Disappointment: JeterMore from Miller here:
Danny Knobler Disappointment: Chamberlain
Eric Mack CY: Beckett
Adriane Rosen MVP: Teixeira; CY: Lester
AL Most Disappointing Team: New York Yankees. In a $1 billion stadium and with a payroll approaching $200 million, anything short of turning water into wine for those in the $2,000 (per game) seats behind the plate will be disappointing. ...
AL Disappointing Player: Derek Jeter, Yankees. Sadly, but surely, Father Time sneaks up on everyone.