AL East At A Glance
New York Yankees: A lot of writers and analysts are picking the Yankees to finish third, and in the most wide open division in baseball, it’s certainly a possibility. The injury to Curtis Granderson will keep him out till May, Mark Teixeira’s injury could possibly require season-ending surgery, and Alex Rodriguez will be out till the All Star break at best. However, the Yankee won 95 games in 2012 without Mariano Rivera, Brett Gardner and a plethora of DL stints for normally dependable starters, including C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. With Kevin Youkilis an upgrade over A-Rod, the steep decline of Mark Teixeira in recent seasons and Granderson’s comparatively short absence, I don’t see the Yankees as short-handed entering 2013 as they were in 2012. The only apparent downgrade was at the catcher spot, and if Ichiro can come close to replicating his 2012 Yankee numbers over an entire season, they won’t miss Nick Swisher too much. A lot of ifs, but who can in good conscience can count the Yankees out?
Tampa Bay Rays: Admittedly an optimistic prediction, the fate of the 2013 season rests on the shoulders of super prospect Wil Myers. Replacing BJ Upton won’t be easy because of the multi-faceted game he brought to the table, and we can put the speed question to bed right away. But Myers has shown some pop, and could fill out to be an eventual 25-home run candidate, and he’s probably already a more disciplined hitter than Upton is and will definitely hit for a higher average immediately. Additionally, scouts think very highly of his defense. He may not replace Upton right away, but he’ll come close and could enjoy a big second half after his first taste of the majors. When you add in a healthy Evan Longoria, a more mature Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, with Chris Archer knocking on the door and one of 2012’s top bullpens, the Rays are going places.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays are probably the consensus pick in this division, and it certainly wouldn’t shock me if they won 95 games, but we’ve seen this movie a million times before. The Jays won the 2012 offseason after raiding the Miami Marlins and acquiring the NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, but those same Marlins who tore down their team won the 2011 offseason. The Angels made a huge splash for 2012 and missed the playoffs also. The Jays also added Melky Cabrera who was in the midst of a career year until he was busted for PEDs. Just two clean years prior, he was statistically one of the worst hitters in baseball. If Dickey can successfully move to a notorious hitter’s park and a tougher offensive division, if the turf in the Rogers Centre doesn’t wreak havoc on Jose Reyes’s already-fragile hamstrings, if Cabrera doesn’t revert back to his pre-PED days, if Josh Johnson can finally stay healthy, if Edwin Encarnacion can come close to replicating his out-of-nowhere MVP-caliber 2012 and if Jose Bautista can avoid an extended DL stint, then the sky’s the limit for the 2013 Blue Jays. Like the Yankees, there are more if’s than you should be comfortable with, but unlike the Yankees, there’s not a lot of proven track record.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox had a roller coaster offseason, inking one of the worst deals of the winter when they signed Shane Victorino to a three year, $39 million contract. They attempted to compound that by offering an identical contract to platoon DH Mike Napoli, but a physical issue halted the deal and it was renegotiated to a far more comfortable $5 million base salary. Ryan Dempster will likely also flop. However, they did add underrated catcher David Ross and overhauled their bullpen. Jacoby Ellsbury has MVP potential if he’s healthy, and at the moment he is. Clay Buchholz returned from injury rusty at the beginning of 2012, but shook it off in the second half and had a very promising series of starts to close the season. Jon Lester is too good to repeat his 2012 faux pas. The Red Sox will win around 85 games and that’s not going to be enough this season.
Baltimore Orioles: Their mirage season in 2012 will fade and reality will set in for the 2013 Orioles. They are an improved team than the group who hadn’t won more than 70 games since 2005 prior to last season, but their unsustainable record in one-run and extra-inning games could conceivably shave ten wins off their total alone. Add how notoriously fickle a bullpen can be, and the league-leading group from 2012 could come back to earth. However, Dylan Bundy is the game’s best pitching prospect and already had a small taste of the majors. Manny Machado is no longer a prospect, but one of the game’s top young players. Nick Markaikis should be healthy in 2013 and it could finally be Brian Matusz’s time. The Orioles won’t win 85 games this year, but they certainly won’t be pushovers.
XtreemIcon: Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles
Jessep: Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox
Joe D: Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox
XtreemIcon: Colby Rasmus, Toronto
Jessep: Chris Davis, Baltimore
Joe D: Will Middlebrooks, Boston
XtreemIcon: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay
Jessep: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay
Joe D: Dylan Bundy, Baltimore
XtreemIcon: David Price, Tampa Bay
Jessep: Brandon Morrow, Toronto
Joe D: David Price, Tampa Bay
XtreemIcon: Robinson Cano, New York
Jessep: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
Joe D: Robinson Cano, New York
Up Next: American League Central