The 2012 Major League Baseball season begins again this afternoon, marking the third Opening Day of the young season. There will be seven games taking place today. Tomorrow, some more teams will play baseball. The same thing will happen Friday. Eventually, all teams will have played a regular season baseball game.
Yes, Bird Selig has a beautiful mind.
Over the last week or so, we’ve previewed five of the six divisions. Today, we finish with the mothership. The best division in baseball.
Boston Red Sox
2011 Record — 90-72, 3rd place
Notable Additions — Bobby Valentine, who apparently slept in Kramer’s tanning bed for the entire offseason. Even George Hamilton is impressed, and that’s no easy feat. The great Curt Schilling and his flappy neck-fat have already spent some time throwing Bobby V under a speeding hearse. The fact that nearly everyone scurried to the side of a guy like Valentine certainly assists in illustrating just how big of an asshole Curt chilling is.
Tragic Losses — Theo Epstein, Jason Varitek, Jonathan Papelbon, and Marco Scutaro.
Good News — Gone with Theo Epstein’s departure is the strict Dockers pants/Dockers shorts dress code. Even better, the addition of Bobby V’s Kermit voice offers the necessary dose of comic relief for the otherwise stressful experience that is being a Red Sox fan.
Bad News — The second anything goes wrong, the Red Sox will be peppered with questions about last year’s epic meltdown finish, one that was fittingly capped by a hilarious Orioles walkoff win. Terry Francona was so good with the media that I wouldn’t be as worried if he were still in charge. Bobby V is a bit more brash and outwardly arrogant, so the way he handles the suffocating media in a tough spot will be fascinating to watch.
Outlook — This a very good team that played extremely well last year for four months. People seem to be conveniently forgetting that. They still ended up with 90 wins after all the garbage that went on, and most of these guys have been around long enough to be able to put that stuff in the rear-view mirror. So I have them finishing first with 96 wins.
Probable 2012 Anthem — The Muppets theme song to warmly welcome their new manager.
New York Yankees
2011 Record — 97-65, 1st place
Notable Additions — Michael Pineda, who’s already penciled in to be on the DL for the next six years. I know how these stories end. It’ll be a slow drip to some form of surgery and a world of disappointment. They also had the nerve to dig up Raul Ibanez’s casket and place his corpse in the No. 8 spot.
Tragic Losses — A.J. Burnett. That one’s going to sting until the end of time. Here’s A.J. bunting as a proud member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Good News — Lots and lots of starting pitching: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, and living legend Andy Pettitte. It’s always rough when a team is one injury away from being forced to put someone like Jorge DePaula in the rotation, so the pitching depth is comforting.
Bad News — At this point, Derek Jeter and A-Rod are beginning to remind me of when Charles Barkley played for the Rockets alongside a 96-year-old Clyde Drexler and a physically retired Hakeem Olajuwon. It’s wonderful on paper and reliably profitable, but they are far from the players they used to be. I just hope Jeter’s stubbornness doesn’t win out to the point he ends up embarrassing himself.
Outlook — They’ll be right there with Boston. I have them at 94 wins and 2nd place.
Probable 2012 Anthem — The Degeneration X theme song. This is the era of a looser Yankee clubhouse, and they have Nick Swisher to thank for that.
Tampa Bay Rays
2011 Record — 91-71, 2nd place
Notable Additions — The return of Carlos Pena to go along with Luke Scott, Fernando Rodney, Jose Molina, and Jeff Keppinger. Those additions are severely lacking in the sizzle department.
Tragic Losses — Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman, Kelly Shoppach, and Juan Cruz. Aside from Damon (kinda), those are all understandable pink slips.
Good News — Two words: Desmond Jennings. He’s going to have a monster year. I will be watching the Rays as much as I can solely due to his presence.
Bad News — B.J. Upton and Sam Fuld will start the year on the DL, so Matt Joyce will be in center, the awesome Jennings will be in left, and Ben Zobrist will stand in right field. Keppinger will roam the area around 2nd base until Zobrist moves back. Even worse, they still play at Tropicana Field.
Outlook — If they win the division, I won’t be the least bit surprised. However, I have them in 3rd place with 90 wins.
Probable 2012 Anthem — The Golden Girls theme song. As if there was ever any doubt.
Toronto Blue Jays
2011 Record — 81-81, 4th place
Notable Additions — Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor, and Jeff Mathis. Riveting.
Tragic Losses — Frank Frank! Also, Jon Rauch and Jose Molina.
Good News — Hmm. They finished .500 last season? The Blue Jays are colossally screwed until they miraculously find their record residing in a different division. It’s not a fair situation for them, especially since they play in Toronto (not exactly enticing), but I don’t make the rules, I just make fun of them.
Bad News — The Yankees, the Red Sox and those talent scout maestros in Tampa.
Outlook — How about 83 wins and 4th place since the seat’s already warm?
Probable 2012 Anthem — The opening ballad to the DuckTales video game.
2011 Record — 69-93 and last place for the fourth year in a row. Well done, boys. Feverish applause!
Notable Additions — Former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. His out of touch approach is oh so perfect. Wei-Ying Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada were added to the pitching staff, with Wada on the DL to open the season. Also, Jason Hammel, Wilson Betemit, and Luis Ayala, otherwise known as game-changers.
Tragic Losses — Jeremy Guthrie, Vlad Guerrero, Luke Scott, Felix Pie, Jo-Jo Reyes. No real damage there.
Good News — Hmm. Adam Jones is fast? Matt Wieters has a high ceiling? Sadly, right now he’s at about knee level. Also, Brian Roberts is still on the team. Which brings me to…
Bad News — Brian Roberts is on the DL. Also, they are the Baltimore Orioles who are still owned by Peter Angelos. Even the good things are shitty.
Outlook — It obviously goes without saying, but uh, this is a really tough division. It’s going to be last place for the fifth straight year with 68 wins, which is exactly two wins away from improvement. Makes sense to me.
Probable 2012 Anthem — The clubhouse stereo is still broken. Unfortunate.
The masterful Jason Lisk also contributed to this post.
Previously: 2012 MLB Preview — AL Central
Previously: 2012 MLB Preview — AL West
Previously: 2012 MLB Preview — NL East
Previously: 2012 MLB Preview — NL Central
Previously: 2012 MLB Preview — NL West