The big questions in the AL East
The San Francisco Giants have yet to come down off their World Series high, but us baseball fans are working on coming off our low. The good news is that the World Series did not disappoint. The bad news is that the series only went five games which jipped us seamheads of two extra games that would have been certainly labeled as a San Francisco treat.
So while most of you will spend your Sundays watching football and calculating your fantasy points, the rest of us baseball junkies will be counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report while watching the free agent market from now until Opening Day.
In regards to the AL East, here are some of the biggest questions the baseball world is asking themselves (and each other):
- Where will Cliff Lee end up? Will he stay in Texas or will an offer from Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees be enough to lure him to the Bronx? Will Andy Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history (19) retire?
- Will the Orioles have their hands in every free-agent cookie jar and give Baltimore a chance to compete in the AL East? If they don't, in my opinion, the reputation of the franchise is in serious trouble.
- Where will free-agent left fielder Carl Crawford end up and will the Tampa Bay Rays be able to stay atop the East with the loss of Carlos Pena, Crawford and Rafael Soriano?
- Could Adam Dunn's bat end up in the AL East and and would the free-agent slugger be willing to move to the American League and risk being labeled as a permanent DH?
- What is the future of David Ortiz who publicly said he's unhappy with the Red Sox only signing him for one year. Boston has three days after the conclusion of the World Series (Thursday) to pick up Ortiz's $12.5M option but the DH is looking for a multi-year deal. Will the Red Sox, who are notorious for not retaining their fan favorites (i.e. Nomar Garciaparra, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, to name a few), keep Oritz in Beantown past 2011?
- Will Josh Beckett and John Lackey regain their All-Star form and prove their worth to the Boston Red Sox? Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz simply cannot carry Boston's rotation again.
- Will Boston keep closer Jonathan Papelbon or will they hand the ball to the young Daniel Bard who sported a 1.93 ERA out of Boston's bullpen? Sticking with closers - Rafael Soriano's league-leading 51 saves (second best in the Majors behind San Francisco's Brian Wilson) is something maybe the O's should peek at. (Cough cough, could Mike Gonzalez be packaged?)
- Joe Girardi has inked a three-year deal to manage the Yankees, but Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have yet to solidify their futures in New York. Will Rivera, the greatest closer of all time, retire?
- Will the Blue Jays compete in 2011 or sit pretty in the No. 4 spot? GM Alex Anthopoulos refuses to say his team is in the rebuilding phase and their 85-77 record (.525%) was a reflection of that. With one of the younger pitching staffs in baseball, their .422 team ERA was nearly 40 points lower than Baltimore's .459 - and as we saw in the World Series, great pitching will beat great hitting every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
- Who will be the Orioles pitching coach now that Rick Kranitz is out of the picture. I'm not being biased but the O's should definitely take a long and hard look at ex-Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland who did a tremendous job developing Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. He knows the AL East; he works well with young talent; and he is probably one of the best at managing a group of veterans and rookies. Just a thought...
- Should and will the Orioles go after free-agent catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez and/or third baseman Adrian Beltre, whose stellar defense shined in his first year with the Red Sox last season. Martinez, who would solve the 1B problem with the O's, help Matt Wieters behind the plate, and also provide veteran leadership to the O's young rotation, could be just what the Orioles are looking for. But will they pay?
I'll stop there - Your thoughts?
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