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2009 Record: 95-67, 2nd in AL East

Key Losses: Jason Bay-LF (free agent)

Key Additions: John Lackey-P (free agent); Adrian Beltre-3B (free agent); Mike Cameron-CF; Marco Scutaro-SS (free agent)

This is one of the fun things about having a blog with two authors-occasionally we write contradicting things.  Usually we agree about baseball related matters and predictions and most of what he has said this preseason, I have agreed with.

But I am going to disagree on one thing.  In his well written prediction of the Tampa Bay Rays season, he forecasts a 92-70, 3rd in the AL East finish.  I pretty much agree that on the record (I predict 94-68) but I actually see that record earning the Rays 2nd place in the AL East and the AL Wild Card.  That obviously leaves the Sox back in third place.

On paper, I love the Boston starting pitchers.  Josh Beckett has been a dominating pitcher year in and year out since 2003 and will serve as the team’s ace again in 2010.  Jon Lester and new addition John Lackey could be aces on 10 American League teams right now.  Tim Wakefield has had another decent spring and Clay Bucholz has proven to be a strong young pitcher.  The team also has Daisuke Matsuzaka starting the season on the disabled list and although he hasn’t been the dominating pitcher recently that he was when he broke into the league, I’d definitely take him as a 6th option for the rotation any day.

The bullpen was top 5 in MLB last season and they bring back most of their guys.  Jonathon Papelbon is the second-best closer in the AL, but he’s obnoxious and thinks a little too highly of himself.  Still, you don’t want to see him coming out of the bullpen when you’re down 1 run in the ninth.

What I don’t like about the team is their lack of offense.  It’s true that no team wins a championship without strong pitching but I think GM Theo Epstein has spent too much money and effort on starting pitching and not enough on bats.  It’s great if your pitchers can hold teams to 4 runs a game or less, but only if your team can score 6 or more a game and I don’t think this team has the bats to create 900 runs this season.  They hit 872 last season, but this is not last season’s lineup.

Most notably missing is Jason Bay, who was essentially ignored by the Boston front office in the off-season and signed with the NY Mets.  I like the first four guys in the lineup, but really no one else. Jacoby Ellsbury is “wicked” fast at the top of the lineup, Dustin Pedroia gets hits and gets on base, Victor Martinez had a .405 OBP in 56 games for the Sox last season and Kevin Youkilis is dangerous at the plate and can easily get 90 RBI.

Everyone else is kind of old and washed up.  David Ortiz is heading into his 14th big league season and probably his 4th or 5th without performance enhancing drugs.  He has degraded to a guy who hits 20 homers, but with a .250 batting average.  Mike Cameron is fast and traditionally has had a strong OBP, but he’s horrible at the plate (.250 BA last season).  I am also skeptical of guys who can’t latch on for more than two years with one team.

Adrian Beltre is still supposed to be in his peak at age 30, but at the end of the day, he’s a career .270 hitter.  JD Drew is inconsistent and possibly washed up.  Marco Scutaro is young and possibly still growing stronger as a hitter, but I think it might be hard to hit without anyone on base in front of you and two outs.

Still, this team is super dangerous.  If one or two of the old guys pull out a surprise season at the plate and Scutaro exceeds expectations, this team will have what it takes to win their 3rd championship in 7 years.  I just don’t think they can do it.

2010 Season Prediction: 89-73, 3rd in AL East

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According to several sources on Twitter and Jayson Stark on ESPN.com, the LA Angels are in serious talks with Hideki Matsui to become their DH, replacing Vlad Guerrero.

Also in news today, John Lackey has apparently agreed to a five year, $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox, and the Sox are also in talks with Mike Cameron.

Also, a three-way deal that would send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Seattle is “close” but “not done,” according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

While I have the utmost respect for Matsui, the Yankees no longer needed him, especially when he expressed interest in being in the outfield more often. If the signing falls into place, I wish him best of luck.

I’m perfectly fine with the Halladay deal, that would keep him out of the AL East and the American League altogether. I’m more surprised at Boston’s activity today. After a ho-hum two weeks where the only two things they did was to sign Boof Bonser and trade for Max Ramirez, they got the top free agent pitcher to give them a formidable 1-2-3 punch, and are in talks for a quality center-fielder.

The Yankees need to step up on their activity for the outfield, and a DH bat, and perhaps an extra arm.

Hopefully the headline says it all, and that it’s for real.

This is from Kat O’Brien at Newsday. She says the Brewers GM Doug Melvin hasn’t talked to Cashman since last week.

Good. That means Cashman is probably busy with Tex or Manny or Pettitte or whoever else he needs to be in touch with.

Cameron for Cabrera was ridiculous in the first place.

There was some quiet rumblings yesterday afternoon.

Tyler Kepner is reporting that the trade of Melky Cabrera for Mike Cameron is on the back burner for now. This will give some hope to Yankee fans like myself and my brother.

We know they do not value Cameron at $10 million, which is why they wanted the Brewers to include some money — or take on Kei Igawa — to make the deal happen. Now that a fair deal seems to be in place, the question is whether it makes baseball sense.

According to some reports, it was Girardi who told Cashman to “hold on, waitamin…” The Yankees honestly do not need Cameron. They have, as Kepner says:

…a spring training competition between two motivated young players -– both with the kind of athleticism the Yankees say they want –- would be fun to see.

Here, Kepner is talking about Cabrera and Brett Gardner. Both are young, not as offensively-productive as Cameron, but they would be cheaper and would be a good defensive force in center field. Cameron is 36 and we already have 4 players over 35. We cannot win a World Series with that many.

On the Andy Pettitte front, there is no news, except Jon Heyman reports that there might be a 3 year, $36 million offer from another team, reportedly Boston. It could be a ploy to get the Yankees to up their offer, which I belive the Yankees won’t bite at. If Andy believes it’s better to sign elsewhere, go ahead.

Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira both are still in the Yankee’s radar. More Ramirez than Texiera, something I’m not thrilled about. Put Teixeira high on their list and you have your first base player for the next 8 years. Someone we haven’t seen since the likes of Mattingly and before him, Gehrig. Teixeira is young (28), and very athletic. Ramirez is one of the most feared hitters, but his attitude and his “me-first” attitude turns off people. I’d go all out on Tex, say, 8 years for $195 million. It’s well worth the investment.

Baseball insiders don’t think Ramirez will be signed until January. Tex could come as early as this week. Pettitte, who knows?  As for the Cameron/Cabrera trade, that’s on hold, hopefully forever.

At the end of last week, talks between the Milwaukee Brewers and Yankees were pushed to the back burner as the Yanks solidified their deal with free agent pitcher AJ Burnett.  Another factor pushing the talks back was the Yankees insistence that the Brewers also pay some of Cameron’s $10 Million contract.

Now, the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel is reporting that talks are set to resume this week – and get this, may include Yankees disa-pitcher (my word for disappointing pitcher) Kei Igawa, who despite success at the Triple-A level, has failed to find success at the Major League level for the Yankees.

The Journal Sentinel makes the point that the Brewers are now thin at pitching, not only on the Brewers staff, but also on their AAA team.  Igawa is set to make $4 Million this year, and by absorbing his contract, the Brewers could refrain from having to send money to the Yanks to make the Cameron deal go through.

Although this seems like a tempting deal, I remain skeptical about adding Cameron.  I just don’t see the point.  The Yankees are strong at pitching now, so it does not hurt to trade away Igawa, who started in an emergency 2 times for the Yankees last season, albeit to mixed results.  I would be content with a rotation of Wang, Sabathia, Burnett, Chamberlain and Pettitte.  By keeping Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees maintain two strong back-up pitchers in case of an emergency – so Igawa is expendable.

That being said, we don’t need any new outfielders.  Brian Cashman: Just Say No.

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