So who wants to play in one of the toughest divisions in all of professional baseball? The American League Eastern Division, consisting of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and the Orioles. Now then: weaklings need not apply. Figured not many would, so…. who wants to preview one of the toughest divisions in all of professional baseball?
*random group of people raise hands*
Alrighty then, let’s start off with the Boston Red Sox
Expectations: Sweet Caroline to be proposed as the new National Anthem. Bobby Jenks pahks his cahh in Hahvaard Yahhard ahnd eat soome cahlam chowdah (loosely translated: Jenks will park his car at Harvard Yard and eat some clam chowdah)
Key addition: Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks
Key loss: Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre
Projected record: 101-61
Summary: You know my old high school photography teacher was a BoSox fan. He threatened to flunk me in 12th grade, but the BoSox won the World Series (’07), and all is right. Anyway, the Red Sox are LOADED. They added Carl Crawford from free agency, traded for Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and signed free agent reliever Bobby Jenks. They lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre to free agency. Despite losing out on Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth, the Red Sox led the AL East with a good, young pitching staff led by southpaw Jon Lester and righty Clay Buchholtz. The Red Sox are primed to take back the American League East.
Expectations: Manny will be Manny; welcome to Mannywood. Evan Longoria will be called Eva by opposing fans.
Key addition: Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez
Key loss: Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, others
Projected record: 90-72
Summary: Oh the Rays. Subtract Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and roughly the entire bullpen and you got them. They added free agents Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. But they lost a lot. So… where do I think that the Rays will finish or how they will do? Maybe… wildcard probably not. They did a number on their team over the offseason, the bullpen, the lineup, the rotation all got chopped down. Welcome back to someplace other than first, Tampa Bay.
Expectations: A-Rod gets a new piece of arm candy, Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia make a lot of restaurant owners in New York City very happy and make a half ton of pitching power.
Key addition: Rafael Soriano, Russel Martin
Key loss: can Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee, count? Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood
Projected record: 85-77
Summary: My grandfather who passed away in ’99, loved the Yanks. He got to meet the ’27-’32 Yankees, considered to be the greatest teams in all of baseball. So the Yankees. Hmm… the Yankees. They don’t really impress me. They lost out on free agents Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. They got another year older. They added free agent closer Rafael Soriano as a back-up plan in case Mariano Rivera gets hurt. The also added free agent catcher, Russel Martin to sure up their catcher situation. Eh… I just don’t know how to go about the Yankees. The pitching staff is the same. The hitters are the same. They really did not get any better, sans the bullpen, but even then, that was one pitcher. Maybe the wildcard for the Yanks, maybe not. Oh wow, the Rays overtook the Yankees? Oh my…
Summary: Time for the Blue Jays, eh? The lone Canadian team, eh? Probably going to finish in fourth, eh? Okay, so the Jays got younger. Jose Bautista PROBABLY won’t put up the same numbers as last year. He may, I don’t know. So the Jays really didn’t add anyone big over free agency, but they added bullpen depth. They made no big splashes like the Phillies or Red Sox, but they were quietly active. It will also be interesting to see when former Phillies pitching prospect Kyle Drabek surfaces. I look for them to play spoiler to one of the three above teams. Not over the top yet, .500 yes, overtaking the Yankees? No.
Expectations: Well look at it this way… Buck Showalter may not get fired…
Key addition: Derek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Kevin Gregg, Justin Duchscherer, Mark Reynolds
Key loss: Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton
Projected record: 76-86
Summary: Ah, finally we have the annual basement dwellers, the Baltimore Orioles. They added, Vlad Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, Lee among others. I quietly think they were winners over the offseason. But I don’t think they did enough to the pitching staff, to put them in position to overtake the teams ahead of them. Although Lee, Reynolds, and Guerrero are nice bats, they just don’t impress me all that much.
(Source for Free Agent information: 2010 MLB ESPN Free Agent tracker)