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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | April 10, 2009

How will the American League shake out?

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

This is the first of a two part series. Next week will be the National League predictions.
AL EAST-Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox went with a different offseason approach than their arch-enemy, the New York Yankees. After being outbid by the Bronx Bombers for star free agent Mark Teixeira, the Red Sox went with a more frugal approach to improving the team.

The Red Sox brought in veteran pitchers John Smoltz and Brad Penny with incentive laden deals to bolster their already strong starting rotation. They also acquired reliever Ramon Ramirez in exchange for Coco Crisp to add another solid arm to their bullpen.

While the Red Sox did sign outfielder Rocco Baldelli to be their fourth outfielder, most of their offensive potential rests with players who had off years last year (David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek) having bounce back years.

The Red Sox play in the toughest division in baseball and while the Yankees have made significant improvements and the Rays have boat loads of potential, Boston has the best overall team this year.

AL CENTRAL-Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are very fortunate to play in a fairly weak division, evidenced by the fact they would have finished in fourth in the AL East last season.

Chicago's offense should be among the best in the league with bashers such as Carlos Quentin, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko all healthy.

Manager Ozzie Guillen has to be pleased with where his team's starting pitching stands going into the season. Young pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks enjoyed breakout seasons in 2008 and with Mark Buehrle returning, the White Sox should have the best rotation in their division.

Chicago's main competition for the division title this year looks to be the Minnesota Twins. While the Twins will be more formidable with the return of starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, they have too many question marks on offense and will rely too much on their young pitching staff.

AL WEST-Los Angeles Angels

The Angels lost some serious talent this offseason with the departure of free agents Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez. They also have some issues in their starting rotation with starters John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar starting the season on the disabled list.

However, all is not lost for the team as their lineup appears to have the potential to be even better than last year. Their lineup this year will be solid from top to bottom and although the team will surely miss Teixeira's bat, not one player will have to make up his production.

The Angels brought in free agent outfielder Bobby Abreu and should expect very good seasons out of Vladimir Guerrero, Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter.

To compensate for the loss of "K-Rod", the team signed free agent closer Brian Fuentes and also have promising right hander Jose Arredondo waiting in the wings.

The Angels, like the White Sox, play in a fairly weak division and while they are certainly not as talented as last year, they should have no problem taking the AL West.

AL Wild Card-New York Yankees

There is no question that the AL Wild Card will come out of the East. The debate is which team will make up the final playoff spot.

The Yankees always spend money. Actually, that's an understatement. The Yankees always spend obscene amounts of money sometimes equal to the gross capital of a small nation. So what made this offseason different? This offseason they spent all those millions wisely.

The Yankees signed free agents Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to huge deals this offseason but each of them appears to be a solid long term investment.

The Yankees will also welcome back Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada from their injury shortened seasons last year and hope to have Alex Rodriguez back sometime in May.

The Yankees will be nipping at the Red Sox heels all year but in the end Boston has the young talent to make a couple mid season moves to put them over the top.

American League Champion-Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have an extremely dangerous lineup with at least six players having the potential to hit 20 home runs.

The Red Sox have the best rotation in the American League. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka will all win at least 15 games and their other starters (Tim Wakefield, John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson) are almost better than some teams' actual rotation.

Their bullpen is still anchored by closer Jonathan Papelbon and should be slightly improved with the addition of Ramirez.

The Red Sox are a veteran team who know what it takes to succeed in October. This team will be battle tested come playoff time and in the end, will represent the AL in the World Series.