This week is an exciting time for all major league baseball fans. For all 30 teams players are making their way to their spring home with optimism for the upcoming season. A tradition for any sport when the season is about to start is the season predictions. Most of the time they are wrong but it’s still fun to do, like last year I doubt many “experts” had the Cincinnati Reds winning the NL Central last season. So what better place to start but in the AL East? For most people’s money not just the best division in baseball but in all of sports.
1. Boston Red Sox— The Red Sox are one of the teams that are being mentioned as an early season favorite to win the World Series and for good reason. First lets look at the bats they added, they acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres in a trade and signed maybe the top free agent in Carl Crawford. Add them to a lineup that already includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis the Red Sox lineup is scary. Their pitching rotation is pretty good too with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. As long as they stay healthy (something they couldn’t do last season) the Red Sox should be playing deep into October.
2. New York Yankees— Putting the Yankees here was a lot harder than you think. This was not the typical Yankees offseason when they usually sign one or two big guys to astronomical numbers. It started off bad for the Yankees when Cliff Lee decided to back to Philadelphia. After that Andy Pettitte called it a career. The only starters that the Yankees can really count on is C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes. AJ Burnett is so up and down and the additions of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon don’t excite me at all. The reason i have them finishing second is their lineup. A-Rod, Cano, Jeter, Teixeira, Granderson, Swisher makes them a competitor. But in the long run the Yankees pitching staff to me will be their downfall.
3. Baltimore Orioles— This may seem like a surprise to some of you but with all the additions that the Orioles made mixed in with the subtractions of Tampa and Toronto give the O’s the boost into third. At least to me you can’t argue that every player the Orioles added just flat-out made them better. Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Gregg and Justin Duchscherer. Will it all be enough to compete for a wild card? probably not, but I seriously doubt another 2-16 start for 2011. Also the success of the Orioles this year will hinge on the growth of their young starters.
4. Toronto Blue Jays— The Jays were 8 games over .500 last season and still finished in fourth place, not much will change in 2011. The Blue Jays were great in hitting home runs last year with Bautista hitting 54 and Vernon Wells 31, however those 31 Wells hit will be in Los Angeles. It’s hard to say Bautista will have the same kind of season, chances are he doesn’t for the simple fact most teams will probably pitch around him. Ricky Romero seems to be a rising star in the Jays rotation, but don’t overlook the losses of Accardo and Gregg in the back of Toronto’s bullpen.
5. Tampa Bay Rays— I just have a feeling the Rays will take a giant step back this season. The Rays lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano. The did add some pieces but none that im impressed with. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are reunited in Tampa, that would be great if we were in 2004, now not so much. They still have some good pieces in their rotation with David Price and youngster Jeremy Hellickson and of course we can’t forget about Evan Longoria in the middle of that lineup, still the losses will be too much for Tampa.
Andy Snakovsky – 105.7 The Fan Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AndySnakovsky