With all the recent injuries and trades, let's take a quick look at the final American League standings this season ...
3. Red Sox
The same as the July 26 standings, as the Red Sox just aren't as good as the Yankees and just aren't healthy enough to make up the five games between them and the Rays. It's hard to figure where the Red Sox did anything wrong. John Lackey's been mildly disappointing, but Marco Scutaro's been fine and Adrian Beltre's been fantastic. The Sox have simply lost too many player-games to the disabled list. It happens.
2. White Sox
They're all bunched up right now, but I don't see this one going to the wire unless the White Sox make a big move for a big hitter (and even that might not be enough). The Twins have outscored their opponents by 54 runs, the Tigers have been outscored ... and that was before Magglio Ordonez busted his ankle. Don't be surprised if the Twins finish with a six- or seven-game lead over whoever manages to avoid collapsing down the stretch.
2. Orange County
My heart says the A's will finish in second place, and so does their run differential; they're plus-20 and the Angels are minus-14. But that difference is essentially negated by the recent replacements of Brandon Wood with Alberto Callaspo -- really, anyone would have done -- and Joe Saunders with Dan Haren. The Angels aren't likely to contend this season, but next year the presence of Haren and the return of Kendry Morales should at least get them back into the conversation. Meanwhile, the Rangers are the biggest favorites in the majors, with a huge seven-game lead, Cliff Lee every fifth day, and the third-best run differential in the Big Boy League.
There will, of course, be surprises. That's why they call them surprises.