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All 25 or under, all will play a crucial roll in how the 2008 season unfolds in the American league East. Some will play spoiler (Rays trio) other’s will be asked to slay goliath (McGowan) and the rest? Well simply shoulder the weight of the two most prominent teams in baseball.
The AL East has long been known as an offensive juggernaut and rightly so. But of late a change has occurred. A surplus of young electric arms has been stockpiled. While all of these players will certainly make an impact for the next decade or so, It is worth noting all the interesting bi-lines that will accompany them in the 08’ season. Take a look at the Ray’s starters for example. For the first in the franchises history they are expected to not just compete but win and make progress out of the East cellar (the basement should be home for the Orioles now.) a lot is riding on the change up of Shields, the promise of Garza and the dominance of Kazmir (2.31 ERA and 124k’s in 97IN in second half). Next up is Dustin McGowan. A true fire baller he sit’s in the mid 90’s with ease. All he is simply being asked to do is help Doc Halladay blast past the Red Sox and Yankees and claim the East as there own. Last but by no means least, is the young guns for the Sox and Yanks. All show tremendous promise and all have a ton of questions. Sure you can argue all day about who will be better long term, but these kids are being asked to shoulder the load this season. And the load looks something like 400 innings for the Sox and about 600 innings for the Yanks. No sweat right? Well if you are in a market with one beat reporter sure. But when you are under the bright lights every night it becomes a lot more complicated. Take Hughes for example. Last year he was considered the best pitching prospect in all of baseball. Yet when he struggled in his initial call up he was somehow considered a failure. I still remember watching baseball tonight on ESPN and John Kruck saying “his fastball is flat and his curve is just a slow roller, he doesn’t impress me all the much” huh? Well for a flat fastball and a slow roller he punched out better then a batter an inning in the minors. Not to mention he was a potential center piece for the Yanks nearly landing Johan Santana. So as you can see public perception can change rather quickly on the big stage because I promise you this. If Hughes had been pitching for the Royals he would not have been getting trashed on after two big league starts.
Hughes story is just one example of the unfair standards that any young player for either the Sox or Yanks has to deal with. Making this season that much more compelling. Imagine if Chamberlin and Buccholz dominate like there stuff indicates or if Lester and Kennedy implode and the Jays swoop in. All very real possibilities, thank god we get to find out soon.