New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda after injuring his finger on a line drive. Would later leave after hitting his second batter of the inning. (Bruised Finger)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Yesterday the majority of MLB teams kicked off their 2013 season, and there was plenty of story lines to go along with it. The one that caught my eye, Jackie Bradley Jr. He came into spring training a long shot to make the team, and guess what? He made the damn team. This is exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed, they needed a new start. Seconds, minutes, hours before game time, all attention was on Jackie. He probably couldn’t have found himself with a tougher opponent to hit against in his first major league at bat, which was against all star lefty CC Sabathia. He quickly went down in the count 0-2 and remarkably brought the count to 3-2 before earning the walk. The next batter hit a ball in the hole and Jackie hustled so hard that he was able to beat the throw to second which later sparked a 4 run inning for the Sox. The Red Sox ended up handling the Yankees 8-2 for the final score. Their first lost since the 80’s on opening day. But that wasn’t the story. The story was Jackie Bradley Jr. Who ended up drawing 3 walks, 1 RBI, and then scoring 2 of his own. No rookie has ever done that in the history of Major League Baseball on opening day.
Over the next few days I will be doing in depth predictions of every team in every division in the American League. I have already completed my thoughts on the American League East, with the Yankees winning the division. So, if you have read that article and liked it, please give my next few articles and glance and tell me what you think. I’d love some feedback and comments.
The American League East has become one of the best divisions in the MLB the last few seasons, and it is going to be that way for the foreseeable future. With the Orioles and Yankees both winning 90 games last year, as well as making the playoffs, the Rays, Blue Jays and Red Sox were left out looking in on the playoff fun.
Blue Jays: Things are bound to get even more interesting this season after the Blue Jays landed a mega deal this off-season. This is the deal that brought Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and speedy Emilio Bonifacio north of the border. They were not done there, for they later acquired 2012 NL Cy Young winning Knuckle baller R.A Dickey, who is certain to improve this already impressive rotation. But like the 2011 Red Sox know so well, being a great team on paper does not mean anything. They will finish 1st in the division, if they perform like they should.
Orioles: The Orioles turned their franchise around this past season when they won 93 games and made the playoffs as a second wild card team. Although the Orioles did not have the best rotation, their bullpen was excellent with Jim Johnson shutting down games last season, with 51 saves. They may have lost Mark Reynolds’ great power at third base, but they look to replace his production with the emergence of young phenom SS-3B Manny Machado. There is also promise in OF Adam Jones, who is looking like he is due for another great season. I see them finishing 4th, not because of a lack of talent on their roster. My prediction is solely based off of the amount of talent already in the division.
Rays: With the Rays shipping off James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals this offseason, they definitely need some guys to step up for them in their starting rotation with “Big Game James” gone. Luckily, they have one of the best starting pitchers in baseball with David Price. He won 20 games last year and posted an impressive ERA of just 2.56, so the Rays are in good hands with him and youngster Matt Moore being a part of the rotation. Also, do not forget about Will Myers, who they acquired in the Shields trade. Unfortunately, I see the Rays finishing 3th
Yankees: The Yankees of course won the division last year, even without the help of troubled slugger Alex Rodriguez. Injuries seem to be another trend for the 2013 New York Yankees as they have now lost Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and some other key parts of their roster. They signed former beloved Red Sox 3B Kevin Youklis. “YOOOOOOOOUK”. I see the Yankees finishing LAST. (Don’t expect Vernon Wells to help Yankee fans)
Red Sox: Clearly 2012 was a HUGE disappointment for the Red Sox and their fan base. Losing 93 games was not expected out of this talented group of players. Their lineup was thought to be on the best in the league. Adrian Gonzalez did not bring the power we expected to see, and Carl Crawford did not bring the flash and bat we all wanted, though Boston handed him 142 million dollars. We all know how that story ended, with Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford, and Nick Punto being shipped to LA. (Punto obviously being the focal point in that trade). I do not think I need to go into details about Bobby Valentine.. lets leave that train wreck of a personality behind us. Boston, put 2012 behind you. I say that because they have a young superstar in the making at 3B (Will Middlebrooks) and the emergence of star outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., I see the Red Sox picking up an underdog roll this year and finishing at 2nd place in the east. That all depends on if new players Dempster, Napoli, Victorino, and Gomes live up to their reputation as great club house guys. That was Bostons biggest weakness the last two seasons.
Hope you enjoy my first article, please stand by for more- Shawn Palmer
(Photo Credit: Shawn Palmer)
Follow me on twitter @ShawnPalmer93 (https://twitter.com/ShawnPalmer93)