The weather is getting colder and we in Baltimore are staring down December awaiting snow, the Mayan apocalypse and the approach of Nimburu; although only one of those is likely to happen. And if that opening sentence wasn’t evidence enough the offseason has been rather boring so far for the Orioles. Yes, they picked up Alexi Casilla and traded Robert Andino but the electrons that have been spent on those two moves already total too much.
There just isn’t much to talk about regarding the Orioles right now. There are rumors and rumblings, whispers in the dark of names like “Hamilton” and “Greinke,” but largely for an enterprising blogger to sink their teeth into. SO let’s take a, very early, look at the AL East and what could happen in the coming months.
The New York Yankees
The Yankees are older, streakier and weighed down by massive contracts and commitments to legendary players. But they are also one word that I have used to describe them before: Endless. They simply have no end, they are always there and someone always comes back, has an inexplicable season or a deal is made to propel the Yankees to where they are accustomed. 2013 will see the Yankees dealing with the looming awful of Alex Rodriguez’ horrendous contract, Derek Jeter’s ever diminishing ability to field, a massive hole at catcher and right-field and another hole in the rotation is Andy Pettite decides to re-retire. Still, they won 95 games last year. Still, they won the American League East. Still they went to the ALCS.
The Yankees are in a weird position this offseason. They may have finally reached the bottom of the money pit. With the financial albatrosses of A-Rod, CC and Tex hanging around the team’s neck they don’t look to be much of a player in the high-priced free agent market. BJ Upton has not been linked to the bombers, nor has Josh Hamilton. Still the Yankees will find a way to shore up the team before 2013 and as much I would love to think that the particularly feckless playoff performance the Yankees produced is a sign of things to come there is little reason to think the Yankees won’t win 90 games next year. Sure, the age could finally catch up with this team and the keg of Yankee-majesty could finally tap out bringing them back to the realm of more mortal squads but until it actually happens you can’t simply assume that it will.
The Boston Red Sox
I really shouldn’t take as much pleasure in the collapse of the Red Sox as I have. I mean I really shouldn’t – but I do. It wasn’t always like this. There was a time at the peak of New York Yankee hegemony where I felt a kinship with Red Sox nation. I rooted hard for the Sox every time they played the Yanks. Then something shifted in “the nation,” at some point the fans that began to invade Camden Yards became the most insufferable group of malcontents that I have ever experienced. Then they won the World Series a couple time and became completely unbearable.
That is why 162-2011 was such an amazing moment for Baltimore fans. If you haven’t been here for that long you don’t get it, you can’t get it. So watching last year’s systematic destruction of the Boston Red Sox warmed my soul. That being said the Red Sox are in trouble.
Looking at their roster currently constructed it would resemble the completely over-matched teams they fielded in the last month of the season. The Red Sox are either going to go into complete rebuild or try to overcome last season’s horrors and compete in an AL East that promises to be more open than in past year. As of right now the Red Sox look to be going for the latter after signing Jonny Gomes and the Sox are currently in deep contract talks with Nick Swisher (who apparently is searching for a Jayson Werth style contract). Those moves remind me of early 2000’s Oriole moves. There were many times from 2000-2010 the Orioles should have just blown the whole thing up and gone through a proper rebuild and did not. If the Red Sox sign Swisher rather than trying to get young, cheap and hungry they could be in for another long season.
They have too many holes to fill through free agency; their rotation is in shambles and their bullpen is no great shakes either. This was a team that won 69 games last year, most of them with a team that was dubbed the Greatest Red Sox Team of All TIME just one year prior. They have dumped walking PR disaster Bobby Valentine in favor of Jon Farrell. Farrell is already feeling the heat from the higher-ups as his choice for pitching coach, Orioles’ minor-league pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, was nixed in favor of Juan Nieves.
The Red Sox could easily bounce back and get back to their winning ways, but not with moves like Jonny Gomes and Nick Swisher. Especially if the Red Sox are insane enough to give Swisher anything close to the contract he wants.
Stay tuned for a discussion of the current state of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays, the belle of the Winter Ball so far.