Previewing the 2010 American League East
The story for the teams in the American League East during the offseason is that the rich got richer. The Yankees lost aging outfielders Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui in free agency and traded away Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, and Melky Cabrera. They signed Nick Johnson and received Javier Vazquez and Curtis Granderson in trades. Their rotation will consist of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Vazquez, and either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, most likely. They’ll still boast the best lineup in baseball, but it is an old team aging even more. Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter are all on the wrong side of 35, and replacing the last two would be especially difficult. That said, they are going to score a lot of runs and should walk to October, with either the AL East crown or the Wild Card.
The Red Sox also added several pieces, including John Lackey, who would be the best starter on some teams but will easily be number 3 for Boston. They also added Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, and Adrian Beltre, bolstering the defense while not damaging the offense. They did lose Jason Bay to the Mets, and an outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury, Cameron, and J.D. Drew will strike fear into the hearts of very few, which isn’t to say it won’t be effective. The infield will be solid, and a full season of Victor Martinez will certainly help the Red Sox score more runs. The rotation will have Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Lackey, and some combination of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield, and like the Yankees, Boston should have enough to win the AL East or secure the Wild Card.
Tampa Bay will be ready if either of these teams falter. Last year’s Rays were a disaster in the bullpen and had injuries and down seasons to a lot of players. The rotation of James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Davis is young, especially at the back end, but has the resumé to dominate. The Rays will be looking for bounce back seasons from B.J. Upton, Pat Burrell, and Dioner Navarro and will need big seasons again from Ben Zobrist and Jason Bartlett. They traded for Rafael Soriano, so they’ll have a real closer; their main issue is playing in the same division as the two biggest boys around.
Baltimore is an interesting team; a lot of their prospects are ready to hit the major leagues, but probably not ready to win. That said, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Nolan Reimold form a very talented outfield, while the infield, um, leaves something to be desired. Brian Roberts is a good player at second, and Miguel Tejada re-joins the O’s, taking up post at third base. We’ll see Matt Wieters in his first full season of baseball, if he has time away from curing cancer and ending world hunger, and we’ll see at least two of the finer pitching prospects in baseball, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman, and maybe a third, Jake Arrieta. The Orioles won’t be in the mix at the end, but they should be fun to watch and will be a team to watch come 2011.
Toronto will be a disaster for the most part in 2010, and half of me wants to end this paragraph right now. Seriously, there’s nothing interesting to say about these guys. At least J.P. Ricciardi got out from underneath the albatross contract of Alex Rios before he left. The outfield can hit, but Adam Lind and Travis Snider couldn’t catch a cold, and Vernon Wells makes about three times his worth. Aaron Hill will look to build on his outstanding 2009, but he’s a guy Toronto should look to trade – no longer that cheap, no longer that young, probably won’t be around when they’re good again. The rotation will feature five kids from a farm system that churns out 89-mph junk throwers, and Toronto will probably give up a lot of runs. Jays fans can take solace in the beginning of the rebuilding process under new GM Alex Anthopoulos, which will start about two years too late. Anthopoulos made the unpopular to move Roy Halladay and begin to re-stock the farm system, and the Blue Jays will lose 90 games instead of 85 because of it.
Let me know what you think too. Put your predictions in the comments and we’ll check them throughout the season and in October.
2010 Projected Standings
|Boston||93||69||0.574||4* – WC|