Tap-In Question: You've seen all five teams, so who wins the AL East? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: You’ve seen all five teams, so who wins the AL East?

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The tap room is open; Molson Ice on us today. Although that’s pretty hard to say. So I’ll swap in a Carling’s Orange and Black Label if you prefer.

After the Orioles were blown to smithereens on Fireworks Night at Camden Yards Friday by the Toronto Blue Jays, it looked like their tenuous grasp on first place was loosening dangerously.

And then the Orioles won the next two, took the series from the division rival and remain in first place heading into Monday night’s bizarre, bad-weather-caused, one-game road trip to Texas.

The Orioles are now 40-28 overall – that’s the second-best winning percentage (.588) in the AL, behind only the Rangers.

Not only are the Orioles leading the Boston Red Sox (39-28) by a game and the Blue Jays (39-33) by three in the standings, but they have the best record within the division at 18-13 (.580). Only the Jays (23-19) have an above-.500 record against fellow AL East clubs.

So that’s definitely a good sign as the season progresses.

What I was curious about today is how you see the division race shaking out based on what you’ve observed so far.

Before the season began, I predicted the Orioles would finish third, ahead of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. I had the Red Sox in first and the Blue Jays in second.

If I’m allowed to tweak that prediction – and I am, because it’s my fake bar — the only thing I’d do is swap the Orioles and Blue Jays. I still see the Red Sox winning the division. I think their offense matches up with the Orioles and I think they have more quality pieces in the minors that can be unloaded to improve their starting pitching, which, like the Orioles’ rotation, needs a boost. I don’t like the Jays’ pitching staff right now, especially the bullpen, and that’ll be really key down the stretch.

In my “Around the Beat” Podcast recently, the Toronto Sun’s Hall of Fame baseball writer Bob Elliott agreed with me, saying the Red Sox just had “more candy in the candy store” than the Orioles and Blue Jays and, consequently, have a much better shot at a quality, late July addition. For that reason, Elliott also picked Boston in April and isn’t wavering.

Interestingly, in this past week’s podcast, the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham told me he picked the Orioles to win the division in April and he also is sticking to his guns (we’re a hard-headed bunch, baseball writers).

Abraham believes that the Red Sox starting pitching is just too suspect to be a division winner.

New York Daily News’ Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand sheepishly admitted that he took the Yankees to win the division in April. He’s distancing himself from that a little, but believes it will be a four-club race with the winner being the team that makes the right July acquisition or acquisitions. He doesn’t see a true favorite at this moment.

We’re now in the last 10 days of June. It seems like an appropriate time to get your feelings on this division. So tell me who wins it, and why.

Tap-in Question: Make the call now: Who wins the AL East and why?

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Creatively_19

    June 20, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Which team wins the AL East?

    Its the team that makes the most aggressive moves to improve their pitching by the trade deadline. I’ll go with Toronto because they were aggressive and went out and got David Price last year. I see them doing something similar this year. They want to win now.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Well, change of regime in Boston and Toronto could change that equation. Boston’s new boss, Dave Dombrowski, is known for going for it if his team is close.

  2. 5brooks5

    June 20, 2016 at 9:05 am

    My guess is Boston. All the teams have flaws, but I feel the Sox have fewer than the O’s and the Jays. They also have the ammo in the minors to make a deal, that we don’t have, but I still like our chances. GO O’S!

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 10:27 am

      That’s my contention. No team is clearly better, so you go with the ammo.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I say it’s the O’s of course.

    While Boston looks like an offensive juggernaut right now, I don’t think they can keep it up. While Bogarts is a bonafide player, I don’t believe in Bradley Jr for the long haul just yet. Papi & Pedroia are both old and will cool, and Handley Ramirez is a pedestrian-at-best 1st baseman. Who catches this team?

    Toronto’s offense is scary, but if I may ask Creatively_19 … exactly WHO exactly, are the Jays going get aggressive with and trade for to bolster their pitching staff? Besides … it’s Canada ‘eh?

    No my friends, it’s the year of the Oriole!!!

    The offense has everything it needs. Manny is a superstar. Jones, Crush, Trumbo can all carry the team on their backs when needed. while Schoop is rounding into one of the best 2nd basemen in the league. Even Wieters seems to have discovered how to hit in the bigs! JJ is the glue … and what can I say … we have the ‘hitting machine’ on our side? Reimold, Rickard and Ryan fill the gaps.

    Lastly, Buck will find a way to nurse the bullpen into making up for the lack of starting pitching somehow/some way.

    O’s walk away with an 8 game lead at the end of the year.

    Wishfully your’s,
    Boog Robinson Robinson

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

      I appreciate your orange-colored glasses. And you make good points. I just don’t see it unless the rotation improves greatly. It could, but I need more than a glimpse to hitch to your wagon.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 20, 2016 at 1:19 pm

        Everybody here is harshing my buzz! I’m going to save a screen shot of this page so that when OUR O’s win going away in September, I’ll have it as proof of my clairvoyance!

  4. Creatively_19

    June 20, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Boog: The Orioles, as they currently are, don’t have the starting pitching to win in the playoffs. I would say none of the AL East teams do. Last year on June 20, nobody imagined the Tigers would be selling David Price, but that’s exactly what happened. I’m not saying there are many aces, or pitchers in general available at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some. With 3 teams in the AL East that can slug, its going to come down to the one that can also pitch that will win.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Right. Some pitcher will wiggle loose. Hamels was another one who wouldn’t be traded in 2015 unless there was a haul given up. And the Rangers of all teams jumped in even though they didn’t appear to be a major trade-deadline player. So surprises do happen.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

        With the competitiveness of the leagues combined with the wild card slots, I just don’t see any top flight pitchers on a team that is out of it. Even last year, everyone thought the Tigers gave up on the season way too early when they dumped Price. Am I “mis-rembering’ the way that all went down? (to borrow a term from Rocket Roger)

  5. BmorePride5

    June 20, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I don’t think there is a clear favorite in this division. Everyone has a flaw that could prove to be costly for them. As a homer I would love to say the Orioles will manage to pull ahead of this tight race, but their rotation is mediocre at best;besides Tillman and Gausman. Hopefully at the trade deadline Dan Duquette will be a little more aggressive and attempt to get a number 1 or 2 starter instead of the middle of the rotation guys we are uses to seeing. I don’t know of it is a good thing or bad thing, but usually this time of the year I see rumors flying everywhere with the Orioles, and none of them ever come to fruition. This year I haven’t seen one rumor, and I don’t know if that is good or bad.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      There just aren’t many or any aces available. And if they become available, the O’s likely don’t have what it takes in terms of prospects to win a bidding war. That’s the problem.

  6. BoandCrabs

    June 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I have 3 words that will determine the AL East Champ:
    Pitching – Pitching – Pitching
    Tillman is our ace.
    Our 2nd best pitcher has 0 wins
    Wilson could turn out to be ok
    Wright is lost
    Ubaddo is just that….bad
    McFarland is Mcterrible
    It is difficult to put together a team that has the perfect blend of pitching, defense and offense.
    The O’s have 2 1/2 of the secret combination. Good bull pen, terrific offense, and strong defense. The obvious weak link is pitching.
    What i don’t want to see is a Duquette pitching patchwork trade that results is us giving up young talent for a rent a pitcher.
    We keep signing second tier free pitching free agents and as my grandfather use to say…..”you get what you pay for”. Just ask the SF Giants how their free agent pitching signings are working out for them.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 20, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      I hear the patchwork trade complaints thing. That’s Steve’s soapbox. And the Orioles have done it a lot in last few years.

    • Steve Cockey

      June 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      This is my soapbox for sure, haha. A bit off topic, but the Parra trade from last year is another perfect example. Didn’t play well here at all offensively or defensively, still isn’t hitting even in Colorado, and what did 2 months of him cost? 6-7 years of Zach Davies, who would be this team’s third starter right now.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        I just look up Zach’s numbers this year. You sir, are correct. Ouch.

        • Steve Cockey

          June 20, 2016 at 2:22 pm

          Yeah, it’s a shame. He’s certainly looking better than 2-3 of the options the O’s have thrown out there so far in 2016.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 20, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Maybe I’m the perpetual 9 year old fan, who thinks that if he can just believe hard enough, good things come of it. But seriously, IF Yovani can pull it together, really, the O’s would have 3 competent starters. Jim Palmer stated that his velocity was back to the low 90 to 95 mph for the first time this year. So I’m going to wear my Orange colored sunglasses to bed every night and continue to “wish” my team to the pennant! (I think they can, I think they can I think they can ….)

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