I'm hoping for an Astros/Red Sox series, mainly because I'd rather not see any of the other six teams in it, but we'll see what happens.
The Twins finished third, sixteen games out of first, with the same record as the Brewers and the Nationals, who finished last in a very tough AL East. Their problems were similar to those of my fantasy team (which finished 5th in a 12-team league): fine pitching, but no hitting, especially none with power. Neither Joe Mauer nor Justin Morneau lived up to all the hype, and Shannon Stewart likewise lived down to the sabermetricians' low expectations by hitting only .274 for the season and was beset by injuries all season. Once Torii Hunter went out for the year, it was pretty much all over for the offense.
The defense was likewise awful. Luis Rivas had a miserable year complete with a demotion to the minors, as did highly touted shortstop prospect Jason Bartlett. The middle infield was never stable enough to give the pitchers a whole lot of security; it's amazing the pitching staff did as well as they did, given the quantity of boners, bloopers, pulled rocks, miscues, bad throws, and boneheaded mistakes made by the fielders, who seemed determined to offset whatever good deeds they'd done at the plate with a bushel of bevues afield. In truth, watching this team (even on the radio) was a sore trial for someone brought up on the Tom Kelly teams of the 1990s. Those teams did all the small things well; errors, especially of the mental variety, were uncommon, and the defense went a long way to shore up even mediocre pitchers. Not so this year. I hope Gardenhire realizes that it'll be a lot easier to improve the crappy defense than to find a quality slugger on the 40-man roster, and acts accordingly. You know things have reached an advanced state of suck when you're putting two former Devil Rays players (Abernathy & Tyner) on the field every day...
Without cable, I wasn't able to follow the Nationals as well as I might have wanted to, but I did see enough to reassure me that they have a legitimate shot at contending in the NL East. They were only two games behind the Mets and Marlins, and seven games behind the Phillies; had they managed to avoid the August steak of losses, they might have been playing the Astros for a shot at the wild card. Maybe next year.
I'll talk about my Senators in a separate post, once I've sorted out the stats and posted them on my Geocities website so's I can link them. Someday, I want to get a copy of PTP so I can play out the season against the other teams, just for the heck of it.
Pitchers and catchers report in 134 days.