AL East Preview

Buck Showalter’s Orioles surprised the division winning 93 games and battled the Yankees in a playoff series. Can they repeat that trend or come back down to earth?

Baltimore Orioles

In 2012 the Orioles surprised many by being competitive for most of the season and even qualifying for the playoffs.  Although they lost to the Yankees, their performance was enough to merit an extension for manager Buck Showalter.  This season the Orioles hope for a different result, but must deal with a much more competitive AL East.  Matt Wieters leads the offensive attack that must prove last season was no fluke.  The playoffs are not out of the question, but don’t expect Baltimore to surprise anyone. (Glenn Coyle)

Matt Wieters is not only the leader behind the plate, but will be a major piece of the Birds offense.

Boston Red Sox

The Sox will have a new man in charge in John Farrell to try to clean up the mess that was the 2012 season. Many new faces with Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan headlining the busy offseason in Boston. They will need Jon Lester to bounce back from a sub par season and Jacoby Ellsbury will be trying to earn a big payday in his contract year. They are improved, but still a year away from really contending again.

This could be Jacoby Ellsbury’s final season in Boston as he will head to free agency in the off season.

New York Yankees

It’s been about two decades since the Yankees had this many question marks in their lineup. With A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira out for extended periods of time, and Derek Jeter questionable for opening day, the Yankees Opening Day lineup will be the least formidable it’s been since the start of the Jeter Era. Starting pitching is the obvious strength at the moment for the Yanks, and if Mariano Rivera stays healthy you can count on him for an All-Star season. In a division where every team is a contender, the best you can say about the Yankees is that they’ll be in the mix; the worst you can say is they’ll struggle to keep up with the rest of the AL East. (Matt Sherman)

The Yankees will need to fill the void left by Granderson and Teixeira, who will miss the first two months.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have evolved into one of the more consistent and successful franchises in Major League Baseball. The Rays have won 90+ games in four of the previous five seasons while reaching the postseason three times. As per usual Tampa will have an uphill battle again in 2013 as they enter the campaign without long time contributors in BJ Upton and James Shields. Perhaps the Rays are a step behind the rest of the AL East on paper with the large payrolls of Boston & New York, the new look Blue Jays and the uptick Orioles but it wouldn’t be wise to count this franchise out of yet another successful regular season or perhaps a playoff appearance. The starting rotation is young but talented and the bullpen thrived in 2012. The biggest on field question for the Rays will be whether or not they can muster up enough offense. Key’s to success will include a healthy Evan Longoria and the emergence of Desmond Jennings. (Mike Orzechowski)

Now that B.J. Upton is gone, Desmond Jennings will need to take that next step in Tampa.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto went all in by making several big splashes in the off-season.  The Miami  Marlins dumped a ton of salary and traded Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio north of the border. The two time World Series winners  also acquired RA Dickey to bolster an already loaded staff. In another move that flew under the radar because of their trades, the Blue Jays also acquired Melky Cabrera who would have won the batting title last year if he didn’t get suspended and take his name out of the running. Unless this team has a slew of injuries, there’s no reason why they can’t battle for a playoff spot in this brutal division. (Warren Croxton)

The Jays were very busy this off season acquiring two all stars in Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera. Their are huge expectations in Toronto this season.


One thought on “AL East Preview

  1. Pingback: 2013 Sports with Balls MLB Predictions | Sports With Balls Blog

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