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Muscle Sport Magazine

MuscleSport Mag 2010 Baseball Preview – American League

Okay, so we have the National League all figured out and now turn our attention to the Junior Circuit. While there are many quality teams here, the Yankees are the team to beat – and not just because they are the defending champions. The Steinbrenner family has set the bar for every other organization in sports on what their goal should be each and every year and settle for nothing less.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

1 – New York Yankees – What else is there to say? Just as Derek Jeter said in an interview on ESPN Radio two days before the season opener, this team expects to win a championship every year and nothing else is acceptable. Even Yankee haters have to admit that their formula simply works. They made a few significant changes in the offseason and remain loaded. Number 28 in the works.

2 – Boston Red Sox – Things are changing a bit in Beantown but the Sox still have the horses to make it an interesting race. They had a good rotation and added John Lackey to it over the winter. Big Papi is close to being finished and Adrian Beltre is a question mark but they should have enough offense to contend as long as the staff keeps the games close.

3 – Tampa Bay Rays – The epitome of an underdog succeeding was the Rays two years ago when they made it to the World Series. They still have a pretty good line-up and need their starters to hold the line, which may be too much to ask for. In a tough division, it will be tough to amass 90-plus wins, which is what it will take to take it to the second season.

4 – Baltimore Orioles – The Birds have struggled for what seems like forever but should start to improve, albeit so slightly. By default or not, avoiding the cellar will be a confidence boost to this bunch.

5 – Toronto Blue Jays – In a rebuilding mode, the Jays will struggle and struggle hard. Trading ace Roy Halladay was the final straw for the organization and they will have to start over again after learning some tough lessons.

CENTRAL

1 – Chicago White Sox – The Pale Hose will finish on top of a very winnable division. A full season with Jake Peavy leading the rotation will be a big help in getting a jump on the competition, and the rest of their rotation are no slouches, either. Ozzie Guillen may put his foot in his mouth at times, but is a fan favorite and gets the most out of his players.

2 – Detroit Tigers – Their monumental collapse at the end of last season can go one of two ways: they can suffer a hangover or use it as an incentive to acquire that killer instinct. One big addition will be Johnny Damon, who brings years of success with him to Motown. Will Miguel Cabrera be able to come back from all of his off-the-field troubles? How about Dontrelle Willis, who went from being a possible top pitcher in baseball to…?

3 – Minnesota Twins – Everyone wants to know if Target Field will be as much of a home field advantage as the Homer Dome. If the players are talented enough, it will not make as much of a negative impact as expected, but this group has holes. Losing closer Joe Nathan for the season is a huge blow, and their rotation is a bit on the weak side. Don’t expect magic like last season this time around.

4 – Kansas City Royals – The once-proud franchise has had quite a cold spell since the late 1970s. At least they have Zach Greinke, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, at the top of the rotation.

5 – Cleveland Indians – The Tribe keeps trading their top players because they cannot afford to resign them. This is a weak team trying to rebuild without spending any money. There is not much here in terms of offense or pitching, but they have a nice stadium.

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WEST

1 – Los Angeles Angels – Manager Mike Scoscia has been a steady influence on the bench and even with all the changes this team went through, they should repeat as division champs. Some old favorites have left, but the Halos added Hideki Matsui and Joel Pineiro. Scott Kazmir can be the wild card in this race. If he can get back to his old self, the young lefty can move up and be more than a 10-9 fourth starter.

2 – Seattle Mariners – The M’s have improved some and bringing Cliff Lee on board was a huge addition, even though he is starting the season on the DL. This should be Griffey’s last hurrah, but he won’t taste the postseason.

3 – Texas Rangers – Manager Ron Washington had a rough spring with his drug admissions and how long the front office stands behind him depends on the team’s start. They have some op in the line-up, and will add to that if Vlad Guererro has anything left in the tank, but their pitching is pretty thin.

4 – Oakland Athletics – Once an overachieving small market team, the A’s are now going to be playing at their level. They cut Jack Cust on the eve of the season opener and lost a lot of their power in doing so. They took flyers on Ben Sheets and Coco Crisp and both will not pan out.

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Division Winners: Yankees, White Sox, Angels

Wild Card: Red Sox

American League Champions: Yankees

World Series: Yankees over Cardinals, 6 games

Photo by Bill Menzel

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