A couple years ago, you could say that the AL East was the best division in baseball. The Yankees and Red Sox were the stacked teams at the top. The Rays and Orioles each had their ups and downs over the past five years, and the Blue Jays have mostly finished in the lower side of the pack. Now, The Rays are in rebuild mode, the Orioles have lost two star players in Markakis and Cruz, and the yankees have lost excitement. Here are my predictions for the AL East.
1. Red Sox
The Sox may have an interesting story in ’15, going worst to first to worst to first. The offseason signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, along with the trade acquisitions of Wade Miley and Rick Porcello have made me take a step back and take another look at the Sox. They don’t have an ace, but they do have 5 solid experienced starters. Their offence has a truckload of pieces but not enough positions to use all of them. Do not be surprised if Ben Cherington moves one or two of his young outfielders for an ace, such as Cole Hamels.
2. Blue Jays
Things now look a little different north of the border, with the departure of Brett Lawrie and the acquisitions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson. The top five of Reyes, Martin, Bautista, Encarnacion and Donaldson my be the best in baseball. The problem is,that is the only recognized strength of the team. The Jays have a starting four, but they need that ace to get over the hump, such as a James Shields or even a Max Scherzer. Names have been thrown around for the Closer job. Rafael Soriano and Fransisco Rodriguez are both names of closers with years of major league success in their past.
Things seem like they are getting worse with the O’s, after the departure of two big contributers in Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. However, the return of All-Stars Matt Weiters and Manny Machado should substitute for them. But the holes don’t fill themselves. If the Orioles can acquire a quality outfielder, like Nori Aoki or Colby Rasmus (ehh) then their offence is taken care of. One reason you see the O’s down at no.3 is because of their starting pitching. This has always been a problem for the Orioles. It kind of worked out last year, but in 2015 it has a chance of completely falling apart. Expect some high scoring games, people.
The Derek Jeter era is over in the bronx. The Yankees are getting older. Brian Cashman has done some work so far this offseason by trading for Nathan Eavoldi and Didi Gregorius and signing Chase Headley and Andrew Miller. If you look up and down the Yankees’ lineup, you see it’s made up of old superstars, such as A-Rod, Beltran, and Teixeira. The starting staff has great potential if it stays healthy. The two big questions are Tanaka and Sabathia. If both are healthy, both can contribute greatly.
After a terrible 2014, The Rays are in rebuild and revamp mode. They have lost their manager, Joe Maddon, to the Cubs, and their GM, The Epstein, to the Dodgers. They also lost Wil Myers in a trade to the Padres, gaining an okay everyday catcher in Rene Rivera, a right fielder in Steven Souzza and a couple of prospects. The one shining light in this lineup right now is their third baseman Evan Longoria. The pitching staff, however, is made up of young talent that could translate to something great in the future.