Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Baseball Preview: AL Post-Season

It’s time for the AL Update. Whether you are a casual stopper by or you’ve been here before this series is the place to be for MLB Predictions. As always, please refer to the links on the side of the page for the division by division and NL conference breakdowns, or just wait till you get to the bottom of this page, the links will be there as well. The AL is much different than the NL in the fact that the “cream rises to the top” almost every year and 2008 won’t be any different. So without further adieu the AL Breakdown.

The Red Sox and Yanks are the top teams once again and the Blue Jays might make some noise, but the closest the O’s and the Devil Rays will be to the top of the Division will be opening day. There isn’t going to be a whole lot of infighting and I suppose it’s just a shame to those fans that their ball clubs can’t spend as much as Steinbrenner and Sons, co. The Central shows us the Tribe and the Tigers (after a MONSTER offseason) perched atop the division and the rest falling ever so far behind. That will be, in my opinion, the division to watch (as it seems to be every year). The Tribe comes back with nominal improvement over a division championship ALCS loss season and has every right to win it again. El Tigres went on a spree bringing in serious talent to add to an already strong roster. That one will be close. The West doesn’t look to surprise many. Texas, Oakland, and Seattle were pretty much out of the running by August last year and none of them made any strides to catch up to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Southern California at the Corner of Gene Autry and State Boulevard off the I-5(LAAASCCGASBI5), or whatever their name is this season.

In the ALDS we’re going to be looking at some serious baseball to be played. In my humble opinion this could be one of the better AL playoff runs in recent history and that is including the ’04 Sox and almost all of last year’s AL series. Serious talent is prime to make some noise in the post-season in ’08 and the top ranked Tigers will face off against defending Champ Red Sox. At the exterior with all of the additions the Tigers made coupled with the fact that they were in the World Series 2 years ago they really look like the team to beat. PLUS their additions have playoff experience and have been successful there before. They have all the pieces for another run. BUT they’re facing off with the defending champs who, after going about 90 years without a Series Title, have made Will Hunting and the rest of the delinquent “Southies” deliriously happy with 2 wins in the last 4 years. Also, as sports fans we have been paying attention to all of the glory that is going in the northeast right? BC’s magical run, the *Pats, the C’s taking it to the rest of the NBA, and the aforementioned Red Sawx. I think Karma Kracks down on the Nordeast and their superior attitudes and the Sox get dropped in round 1 starting off the Curse of Eric Gagne and another near century without a Title. Tigers in 5.

Then we see the Tribe taking on the LAAASCCGASBI5. This should be an interesting series. The Tribe has been the odd man out in a tough division many seasons and has been flying mostly under the radar. Then in 07 they were a couple of outs away from the Series but couldn’t close it. This year they will most likely be playing second fiddle all season to a powerful being known as the Tigers. Here’s the thing, they didn’t get worse, they actually improved a little bit and Asdrubal Cabrera will be another year older and more experienced and he was pretty key in the late season Indian run last season. The Angels did a little bit here and there, namely adding Torii Hunter and Jason Bulger in the relief spot to help their cause. But all that really does is further separate them from the rest of the West. They should go into a series against Cleveland as the quintessential not enough team. They did some stuff, just not enough to make it out of the first round. They’ll score runs against the Tribe, just not enough in the late innings to get or keep a lead. They’ll win games in the post-season just not enough to take the series. Tribe takes it 3-1.

So in the league dominated by the AL East of recent memory, this year's top division, will be facing off in the ALCS. Tribe vs. Tigers. This one is almost impossible to predict when everything is on the table. It comes down to Cleveland’s great pitching, with C.C. and Fausto in Cy Young consideration, and Byrd and Westbrook AMAZING in the post season, and their good/above mediocre bats facing off against Detroit. Detroit was already one of the best offenses in the league (Shef, Magglio, Pudge) now they get to pile on with the young Cabrera. That is just scary. Offensively Willis should help out an above average pitching staff. Experience? The Tribe was most recently there and it left a bad taste in their mouths, the Tigers were there and even further (WS loss) 2 years ago. Going out on a limb, because I live my life on the edge. I give it to the pitching. IF Byrd and Westbrook look as good as they did in the post-season and IF C.C. and Fausto look like they did in the regular season 2007, they take the Tigers in 7 really, really, really good games. Remember these two teams will be very familiar with each other. They face off 18 times in the regular season (unless games get snowed out again) and should be very familiar with strengths and weaknesses. Of course this sets off a possible friendship ending series with 4Real’s precious Tribe against my Cubbies. At which point I root for the Tribe, because I did last season during the ALCS and we saw how that turned out. From that point who knows we’ll get to that later. I think the world explodes after a Cubs/Tribe series but I don’t really know. As for a fun fact. Both the Cubs and Tribe have won the World Series in the last 20 years, unfortunately both teams did it in movies. Can Henry Rowengardner and Chet Steadmen lace them up again and face off against Jake Taylor and Rick Vaughn? Who knows.

Divisional Breakdowns:
NL West
NL Central
NL East
AL West
AL Central
AL East
NL Conference Wrap-up