Even while the Red Sox are busy buying anyone they can, all things have been pretty quiet on the American League West front, where the current AL champion Texas Rangers reside.
After losing mid-season acquisition Cliff Lee, many people have already written off the Rangers, despite going 50-35 before his arrival. Now, their young pitching staff centered on soon-to-be-ace C.J. Wilson has some serious post-season experience and is ready to prove its worth.
Now add the best young closer in Neftali Feliz to the mix and you’ve got yourself a pitching staff that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the AL.
Then there is the offense of the Rangers, who boasted the highest team batting average in the MLB. Their outfield alone, with AL MVP Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, has more power than some MLB teams have all together.
While Adrian Beltre and Michael Young may not be the youngest infielders in the league, the presence of 22-year-old Elvis Andrus at shortstop added some serious speed to go along with their serious power.
So basically, if they aren’t hitting monster homeruns over your head, you have Andrus running circles around you.
While they didn’t outspend anyone this offseason, the Rangers have stepped out of the spotlight of last year’s World Series and into the shade of their young talent that will lead them back to the Fall Classic.
New York Yankees
For the first time in several years, the New York Yankees are not the favorites among baseball pundits to represent the American League in the World Series.
With the retirement of Andy Pettitte, the Yankees starting pitching is thin, entering the season, but I learned long ago not to bet against the Bronx Bombers.
Despite a rotation that really only has CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, the Yankees offense is still one of the best in the MLB.
A middle of the order that features Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixiera will keep opposing pitchers up at night.
The key to New York’s season will be starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. If Burnett can stay healthy and be an effective third starter the Yankees will again be AL East champions.
Besides boasting a great offense the Yankees will have one of the best bullpens in baseball in 2011.
Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball and Joba Chamberlin, as well as Rafael Soriano, will close the door on would-be comebacks in the seventh and eighth innings.
Most of all, New York has a great manager in Joe Girardi.
So despite what the experts believe, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in the American League, so don’t be surprised if you see them in the Fall Classic in October.