How Good Will The AL East Be? Or How Bad?

This division is by far the most confusing out of all of them.  That’s why it got it’s own column.

My main theory on the AL East this year has two different outcomes.  The first: Two teams are really good, and the others are just mediocre.  The second: One team blows everyone away and the rest just simply suck.

Or, it’s a combination of that.  Or everyone sucks.  Or, or, or.  If, if, if.  This division has so many different possible outcomes.

I believe Boston is the best team in this division, and that doesn’t change throughout this column.  They have the most talent.  The pitching staff has lots of experience and talent.  The guys are all very good, though the bullpen might become a tad of an issue later in the year (deadline fix).

Their infield is great defensively, but has a couple questions on offense.  Dustin Pedoria is looking for a bounce back year.  Xander Bogaerts needs more work.  Those will be answered at some point, and the Red Sox will hope they’ll be answered soon.

The infield also added Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez in the offseason, giving the lineup more power.  Both guys have the chance to be great or bad on the offensive side though, as they both love to swing at everything.

Boston had a ton of outfielders in the offseason, and they did an okay job cleaning some of them out.  They still have a more than needed, but it gives them depth if an injury were to occur.  The outfield is full of mostly younger guys, who are still developing.  The Sox have a bright future back there.

As a friend pointed out to me, the Red Sox haven’t been great at spending their money in the past couple seasons.  Though they got Panda and Ramirez, they’re still risks.  Both, as said above, are highly active at the plate, swinging at almost everything.  They also are injuries risks, but that’s something every front office knows when signing players like those two.

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that can go wrong with the Red Sox this year.  I believe they’re winning this division, no matter what.  Everything just looks too good.  The rest of the field though, has many questions.

Toronto was very busy during the offseason.  They traded for Josh Donaldson, and signed hometown kid Russell Martin.  I like this team, though the AL Wild Card is very tough this year.  The Blue Jays will have to exceed everyone’s expectations to get into the playoffs.

Toronto’s rotation was dealt a big blow when Marcus Stroman tore his ACL.  It’s an unlikely injury for a pitcher, even though Garrett Richards did darn near the same thing last year.  Stroman was supposed to be heavily involved in the rotation, after having a very nice rookie season last year.

The Blue Jays have other guys, like R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle.  Buehrle was great last year, but at his age, I can’t say how much longer he’ll keep it up.  Dickey has been consistent for awhile now, and with his knuckleball, no wonder.

The bullpen has little depth, which shows that the Jays have lots of confidence their rotation to pitch well and stay healthy.  Again, if it sucks and ain’t working, they have till July 31st to fix it.

Toronto’s infield is very good.  Guys produce on both sides.  Jose Reyes is a great defensive shortstop, and while he won’t put up huge stats offensively, he’s a great gap hitter who’ll get that single or double that’s needed.  He’s fast too, which helps on the bases.

Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders are the highlight names in the outfield.  Both are huge offensive players, and Bautista is one of the better leadership guys in the league.  It’s a great duo, though they don’t have much back there besides their starters.  Again, if it becomes an issue, they could make a trade or two.

In my opinion, I think Toronto could make the playoffs.  However, something will have to go wrong with the Mariners or Indians.  The Blue Jays will most likely see themselves just barely on the outside looking in.

The other three teams in this division are completely unpredictable.  This is where the theories  come in.  The Yankees, Rays, and Orioles are all big question marks.  Some like Baltimore, but they’ve lost too much.

Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, and Andrew Miller are all gone.  Those guys were huge last year.  Markakis is in Atlanta, where they paid him a ton of money.  That’s probably the only reason he went there.  Cruz had a huge year for Baltimore, hitting 40 home runs.  As a DH, that’s what you get paid for.  He left for Seattle, where, again, got paid a ton, and probably too much.

Andrew Miller is one of the best closers in the league, and got a nice contract from the Yankees. With Baltimore’s already weak bullpen, the loss was huge.

With the offseason losses, and the division already filled at the top, I can’t see the Orioles doing great this year.  I mean, they’ll hang around .500.  Baltimore won’t be playing in October though.  That’s for sure.

I don’t really expect Tampa Bay to be relevant this year.  I think that, by mid July, they’ll realize that they have no chance, and will really stop competing for anything.  Losing  Jon Maddon is beyond words.  He’s the best manager in baseball.  I know, most think managers aren’t important.  When it comes to Joe Maddon, that’s a different story.

With him in Chicago with the Cubs, the Rays lose their biggest leader.  Ben Zobrist is gone after being traded.  This team has lost most of what they’e known for.  The Rays still have a good rotation, but it’s always plagued by injuries.  Someone on that staff is on the 60 day DL every year.

It’s a rebuild that the Rays are going through, and it’s gonna take awhile.  They’ll most likely find themselves at the bottom of the division this year, and for the next couple to come.

Though I put the Rays ahead of the Yankees in this column, New York won’t finish last in this division.  They may come close though.

This year’s Yankees team looks quite good on paper actually.  There are quality players in the lineup.  Yeah, they’re mostly old, but the Yankees only got younger during the offseason.  They added Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks, an excellent shortstop.  Though he’s not great on offense, the Yankees might be able to develop him into a Jose Reyes type of player.

The A-Rod situation is just a disaster and I really don’t want to talk about it.  The whole thing sucks.  The outfield has three very good players, but all are on the wrong side of 30.  Jacoby Ellisbury will always produce on the offensive end, though injuries seem to hind him a bit.  Brett Gardner is another great offensive player, who’s pretty consistent.

The Yankees pitching staff has the potential to be good, but another mediocre C.C. Sabathia season won’t help.  They have a good amount of youth in the rotation, which is probably the youngest part of the team.  Masahiro Tanaka is looking for another good year, and I think he’ll deliver it.  He’s the ace of this pitching staff.

New York’s bullpen is also very good, and again, young.  That’s something to be thankful for.  75% of this team is in the declining years.  When the older guys are done, it won’t be as big of a problem as it is for other teams.  Why?  Because the Yankees have money, and people want to play for them.  It’s that simple.

The Yankees’ struggles this coming year will come from their lack of youth and injuries.  The Sox and Jays are much better teams.  Though, as said above, they won’t have to rebuild.

The AL East has two very plausible outcomes this year.  One, two teams are good, and everyone else is mediocre.  Two, one team dominates and everyone else sucks.

For the Yankees, Rays, and Orioles to be competitive, all will have to play very well and beat projections.  Plus, something will have to happen to Toronto or Boston, causing a collapse. It’s likely, I mean, look at what happened to the 2012 Red Sox.  The same thing could happen this year.  It’s why this division is ridiculously hard to predict.

Nothing will surprise me with the AL East this year.  Nothing.  We’ve seen this before, and we’ll most likely see it again.