by Scott Peterson
Once again it looks like the AL East is shaping up to be one of the most tightly contested divisions in major league baseball. The New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays always find a way to hang around the top of the standings. The Boston Red Sox are coming off a disappointing finish (insert chicken and beer joke here) and look to put last year’s historic collapse behind them. The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the nastiest line ups in baseball and are anxious to let their young pitching staff surprise the naysayers. Oh and the Baltimore Orioles are included in the mix for scheduling purposes. Below is my list of the predicted finish in the AL East.
1) New York Yankees – (96-66) – I think the AL East will go down to the wire. The Yankees look to be the strongest team out of the gate and have bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Add in the Favreish unretirement of one Andrew Pettite and the underrated signing of Raul Ibanez and it looks as though the division is the New York Yankees to lose. UGHH!
2) Tampa Bay Rays – (92-70) – The Rays have a pitching staff that will keep them in line for the division title all season. James Shields, David Price and rookie phenom Matt Moore anchor a rotation that is one of the best in baseball. The additions of Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Molina bolster an offense centered around 3B Evan Longoria. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Tampa Bay wins the AL East.
3) Boston Red Sox – (90-72) – After last seasons collapse, my beloved Red Sox have many questions left to be answered. Most importantly, who the hell are the 4th and 5th starters. We know john Lester,Josh Beckett, and Clay Bucholtz are the 1,2,3. After that you mine as well pick a name out of a hat. Daniel Bard? Aaron Cook? Alfredo Aceves? Felix Doubront? Wow. Add in the fact that Carl Crawford will miss time due to wrist surgery and a new manager in Bobby Valentine. What we have here is a recipe for a very long season. To think I predicted this team to win 100 games last year. I hate John Lackey. On the bright side, we have Mike Aviles at shortstop and added future Hall of Famer Cody Ross. The Boston Red Sox better get off to a quick start or hopes of a playoff appearance might vanish in April.
4) Toronto Blue Jays – (88-74) – I absolutely love the potential in Toronto. The Blue Jays offense is going to be downright scary. A line up that features Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, and the future superstar Brett Lawrie is going to score a lot of runs. If the Blue Jays can get something out of future “can’t miss” prospect Colby Rasmus and SP’s Ricky Romero and Brandan Morrow can build on last seasons success, I can see the Blue Jays making a run and putting a scare on the aforementioned frontrunners. That being said, I feel Toronto is a year away from being serious contenders.
5) Baltimore Orioles – (68-94)- Matt Weiters and Adam Jones. That’s about the only positives that stand out when trying to assess the potential of the Baltimore Orioles. Is Brian Roberts going to play at all this season? Will Mark Reynolds break the strike out record held by.. wait for it…Mark Reynolds? If the Orioles can get a bounce back season from Zach Britton and Brian Matusz, they may be able to stay afloat for a month or two. Aside from that, we are just wasting words.