So it's been awhile since I last posted, but now that I'm back at Trinity for the spring semester I will start posting regularly again. Tonight I'll look at the AL East and I'll eventually get to each division.
As usual, the main competition for the AL East title will be between the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Rays. However, the dynamics between the three teams have changed drastically since the end of the 2010 season. The Red Sox had the best offseason of any team in baseball, while the Yankees stayed pretty stagnant and the Rays lost a lot of talent. Here is a look at each team...
The Sox are the favorite to win the division after trading for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and signing free agent outfielder Carl Crawford. They also upgraded their bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler to complement Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon (who they should trade before he gets worse, in my opinion). Even with all the new faces, the only way Boston goes from third last season to first this upcoming season is by getting bounce back seasons from Josh Beckett and John Lackey. That was their downfall last season and even with the two-headed monster of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz at the top of the rotation, the season depends on Beckett and Lackey. Expect them to have better seasons and to see the Sox win the AL East
The Rays lost enough talent that people wouldn't be surprised if there is a significant drop off from their 96 win season in 2010. However, they still have plenty left on their roster to make another division title run. Even after trading Matt Garza, the Rays rotation should be good. They still have ace David Price and solid starters behind him in James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and youngster Jeremy Hellickson. In terms of their lineup, they lost Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford, but signed former Red Sox Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. I don't know how effective Damon and Ramirez will be (their signings may have been more about putting fans in the seats than wins in the win column) but they could end up offering good pop in the middle of an order that already included Evan Longoria and BJ Upton. Expect them to be competitive, but to fall short of the playoffs.
The Yankees did add some pieces this offseason, but will remain mostly the same as they were in 2010 (which produced 95 wins). Their most significant loss is starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, who would have been a reliable number three starter. After ace CC Sabathia and budding young starter Phil Hughes, the Yankess have an inconsistent AJ Burnett and young unproven starters Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Unless there are some surprises, their rotation cannot match that of the Sox and the Rays. Their lineup, however, is still one of the best in baseball, as it includes Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Jorge Posada, etc. You get the point: they can mash. Even with a shaky rotation, expect the Yanks to take second in the division and win the wild card (especially if Pettitte comes back to pitch later in the season).
There really isn't any need to talk about the Orioles and the Blue Jays, because, let's face it, they just won't be that competitive. The AL East will again be a three-team race between Boston, New York and Tampa. The Sox revamped lineup and bullpen should be enough to take the division title.
1. Red Sox
4. Blue Jays