Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Baseball is just around the corner and thus it's time for my brain to be occupied by over analysis. Today I present you with a top to bottom ranking of the rotations of the American League.
14. Baltimore Orioles: Daniel Cabrera (R) Adam Loewen (L) Jeremy Guthrie (R) Garrett Olson (L) Troy Patton (L)
You can't blame the Orioles for shipping Erik Bedard to the Mariners. They got back a premier prospect and some additional pieces to play for a team that needs to build for the future. The deal makes sense for the Orioles. The resulting rotation however is ugly. Cabrera has never commanded the strike zone. Loewen is coming off a broken arm. Guthrie had a great season last year but does that mean he will be reliable? And the other two starters are unproven.
13. Texas Rangers: Kevin Millwood (R) Vicente Padilla (R) Jason Jennings (R) Brandon McCarthy (R) Kason Gabbard (L)
The Rangers 5 man rotation combines 5 mediocre arms. Millwood and Padilla are constantly up and down. Jennings was a bust in Houston last year. McCarthy's first season as a starter was a rough one and Kason Gabbard isn't anything special.
12. Kansas City Royals: Gil Meche (R) Brian Bannister (R) Zack Greinke (R) Brett Tomko (R) Luke Hudson (R)
For as much as I crushed the Royals for signing Gil Meche, he did have a solid 2007 campaign. The rest of the rotation is suspect in either/both talent and success.
11. Oakland A's: Joe Blanton (R) Rich Harden (R) Chad Gaudin (R) Lenny DiNardo (L) Justin Duchscherer (R)
Trading away Dan Haren made sense for the A's. Stockpile young talent before your pitcher hits the free agent market. This rotation once again comes down to the health of Rich Harden. The man has amongst the best stuff in baseball but can't seem to make more than 10 starts in a season. Additionally the insertion of Duchscherer into the rotation will be something to watch.
10. Chicago White Sox: Mark Buehrle (L) Javier Vazquez (R) Jose Contreras (R) John Danks (L) Gavin Floyd (R)
Mark Buehrle and Javier Vazquez are too solid above average pitchers. Both posted solid but unspectacular eras in the 3s. Meanwhile Jose Contreras looked like the Yankee version and youngsters Gavin Floyd and John Danks did not sparkle last year. The White Sox could have a solid rotation if everything goes right, but they easily could wing up amongst the worst staffs in baseball if things start to go wrong.
9. Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano (L) Boof Bonser (R) Livan Hernandez (R) Scott Baker (R) Kevin Slowey (R)
A lot of youngsters and one middle aged fat man. The Twins rotation comes down to Francisco Liriano. He regains his dominance and they have an ace to match up against their divisional rivals. He breaks down and they have 5 middle of the pack starters who won't lead them anywhere.
8. Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields (R) Scott Kazmir (L) Matt Garza (R) Edwin Jackson (R) Andy Sonnanstine (R)
The Rays changed their name and added a little youthful punch to an already young rotation. The trio of Shields, Kazmir and Garza certainly does not have experience on their side but they do have terrific arms and the potential to lift the Rays into relevance for the first time in franchise history.
7. Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay (R) A.J. Burnett (R) Dustin McGowan (R) Shaun Marcum (R) Jesse Litsch (R)
If only the top two starters on the Blue Jays could ever stay healthy for an entire season. Their one two punch could match up against almost any other American-League team on a weekly basis, but typically the Blue Jays can only throw one. And sometimes they can't throw either punch.
6. New York Yankees: Chien-Ming Wang (R) Andy Pettitte (L) Phil Hughes (R), Mike Mussina (R) Ian Kennedy (R)
The Yanks biggest rotational problem is evident every post season. They have depth 1-5 this year, but again they do not have the dominant force at the top of the rotation. Chien-Ming Wang is a very good pitcher. But is not the prototype #1 starter. He is not the man you want to have the ball to halt a losing streak.
5. Seattle Mariners: Erik Bedard (L) Felix Hernandez (R) Jarrod Washburn (L) Miguel Batista (R) Carlos Silva (R)
The Mariners took a risk in shipping premier prospects for Erik Bedard, but they certainly have a top of the line rotation to fight for the AL West crown. With Bedard and King Felix the Mariners will more than likely throw out the better starter for 2 of every 5 games. The back end has some reliable pitchers who should all finish around or slightly above .500.
4. Cleveland Indians: C.C. Sabathia (L) Fausto Carmona (R) Paul Byrd (R) Jake Westbrook (R) Aaron Laffey (L)
The Indians return with 2 of the 3 best starters in the American League during the 2007 season. CC is in a contract year so any decline from 2007 should be minimal. Meanwhile Fausto should continue with his youthful dominance in 2008. The rest of the rotation consists of slow throwing workman-like pitchers.
3. Los Angeles Angels: John Lackey (R) Kelvim Escobar (R) Jered Weaver (R) Jon Garland (R) Ervin Santana (R)
The key for the Angels rotation this season is who amongst Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders emerges as the 5th starter and whether or not they are effective. This will be determined in spring training and April when Kelvim is out with an injury. If either can mold into an effective starter than the Angels will have a tremendously deep rotation 1 through 5.
2. Boston Red Sox: Josh Beckett (R) Daisuke Matsuzaka (R) Clay Buchholz (R) Tim Wakefield (R) Jon Lester (L)
I moved the Red Sox between 1 and 2 several times before I decided to go with experience over youth. I would expect Beckett to have a similar 2008 campaign. I expect some improvement from Dice-K and the typical Timmy Knuckleballer. The key for the Red Sox season and where they can become the best rotation in the AL is Bucholz and Lester. Bucholz is a premium talent who showed his promise with his no hitter. Lester showed his potential when he was lights out in the postseason. If both of these guys live up to the hype the Red Sox will cruise to a playoff spot and more than likely repeat as AL East Champs.
1. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander (R) Jeremy Bonderman (R) Dontrelle Willis (L) Kenny Rogers (L) Nate Robertson (L)
In my humble opinion the Detroit Tigers have the #1 rotation heading into the 2008 season. They have a proven young ace in Justin Verlander. They have a healthy Jeremy Bonderman returning to throw heat. Dontrelle Willis is a former Cy Young winner who should be rejuvenated by a change of scenery. Kenny Rogers is a crafty veteran who while on his last legs will offer some back end rotation stability. The simple reason I gave the slight edge for the Tigers over the Red Sox is the experience advantage of Willis and Robertson over Bucholz and Lester. The other 3 starters for both squads match up evenly.