Cameron- Even though the Texas Rangers are still licking their wounds after a disappointing loss to the underdog San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the American League’s tremendous depth makes them favorites to steal back the championship trophy in 2011 from the National League. Most of the offseason talk centered around the Philadelphia Phillies acquisition of ace Cliff Lee, but the American League saw its fair share of offseason action as well. The team that created the most buzz was definitely the boys from Bean-town. The Boston Red Sox reloaded their lineup by adding speedster Carl Crawford and slugger Adrian Gonzalez to form arguably the best lineup in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays were severely hurt by the departure of Crawford but the addition of veteran slugger Manny Ramirez along with young talents Evan Longoria and BJ Upton should keep them competitive in the division. As always, the AL East will most likely come down to the rivalry between the Sox and the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers had an unusually quiet offseason but with Robinson Cano coming into his prime, A-Rod and Mark “Big Tex” Teixeira manning the middle of the lineup and my boy C.C. Sabathia manning the rotation, they have a very strong team. However, the Red Sox staff is too strong and despite Derek Jeter having the best ladies track record off all time, the Sox will take the division.
Much like the East, I believe the AL Central and AL West will be a two-team race as well. In the Central it will be the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins and the in the West it will be the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Rangers. Manager Ron Gardenhire has helped the Twins dominate the AL Central over the past decade with six division titles over that span. They have the best catcher in the game in the 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer and are a very well coached team that can play small ball with the best of them. However, their stud first basemen Justin Morneau missed most of last season with concussion problems and if the symptoms still persist, it could really affect their chances at the title. The Tigers have had sore luck in the past couple years but this is the year I think they are going to break through and win the Central. They have a top five player in the game in Miguel Cabrera that anchors a deep lineup, a young talented pitching staff headlined by ace Justin Verlander and slinger Max Scherzer, and a newly acquired catcher in Victor Martinez to help take off pressure from Cabrera in the lineup. In the West, the Rangers have the reigning AL MVP in Josh Hamilton but with the departure of Cliff Lee their staff took a huge hit. However, their batting order comprised of other Grade A bros in Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and a resurged Adrian Beltre will allow them to beat out the aging Angels.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
AL CY Young: Felix Hernandez
ALCS: Red Sox over Tigers
Chris: If there was one word that could describe the outlook of the National League in 2011, it would be predictable. Across the board, the NL is not good which is why I expect the Philadelphia Phillies to win the league easily this year. The Phillies are the clear favorite especially after acquiring prized free agent Cliff Lee in the offseason. On paper no other team matches up with the Phillies. Last season they added Roy Oswalt late in the year to compliment their future Cy Young winner in Roy Halladay, and this offseason they brought back Cliff Lee for a reunion tour. In addition, the Phillies have Cole Hamels, who they hope can stay healthy, and Joe Blanton and his 250-pound frame anchoring the staff in more ways than one. This staff reminds me of the Oakland Athletics’ hurlers of the early 2000s in where every pitcher in the rotation had immense talent and they were able to feed off of each other and flourish. One other team in the NL that could possibly compete with the Phillies is the St. Louis Cardinals. However, with the bleak outlook of Adam Wainwright returning this year, the Cardinals will not have enough pitching to win it all. Also, the Cardinals are now forced to pinch pennies to accommodate Albert Pujols’ $300 million demand, so they will not be able to pick up additional players throughout the year. The defending world champion San Francisco Giants will not be repeating because last year was a fluke and the magic that fueled them to a World Series championship has died down. The Giants main problem is hitting and a lack of power (if only the feds didn’t shut down BALCO) and this will severely hurt their chances of repeating as NL champions.
The MVP of the NL will be Albert “The Machine” Pujols simply because there is nobody else in the league that is anywhere near as good as Albert. Also, Pujols will be playing his heart out to prove to the Cardinals that he is worth $300 million and that he won’t become a future Alex Rodriguez (cue the video of Cameron Diaz feeding him during the Super Bowl). It cost $6 million to turn Steve Austin into a machine. But, with Pujols you get 45 home runs, 100 plus RBIs, and a .300 plus average a year, while Austin only got a mediocre 1970s TV show.