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Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 MLB Previews: AL East

Finally, we've come to the end of our divisional previews, winding up in the AL East. This is by far the toughest division to pick for me this spring. You could make a compelling case for each of the top-3 teams in this division, so basically it'll come down to a coin flip in terms of predicting them. When in doubt though, take the young, exciting talented team!

1st Place: Tampa Bay Rays

Much like the AL West, the East has what is shaping up to be a three team race and whichever team finishes at the top could really be any ones guess. My guess is it goes to the team that stays the healthiest and has young enough core to be playing at a high level come September, and that tells me to pick the Rays. They have some young studs in that lineup led by Longoria and Myers, and the rotation is about as good as any in the AL. Plus, they have the Joe Maddon effect working for them. As long as guys like Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings rebound and provide what they're capable of, and young arms like Alex Cobb and Matt Moore continue their growth, this team has all sorts of potential.

2nd Place: New York Yankees

The Yanks lost a huge piece of their lineup in Robinson Cano, but they also brought in a few guys that I think will help off-set the loss. They're obviously built to win now, and the additions of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury to the outfield help solidy the lineup. Also, you cant underestimate a full year from Alfonso Soriano in the DH spot. Even if Derek Jeter doesn't ride off into the sunset in spectacular fashion, the Yanks have enough fire power offensively to win. Their rotation is exciting as well, where I expect Masahiro Tanaka to rival Yu Darvish, that's how good I think he can be. They need Sabathia to rebound and the bullpen to succeed without Mo if they're going to earn a postseason spot though.

3rd Place: Boston Red Sox

The reigning World Champions lost quite a bit this offseason when Jacoby Ellsbury elected to take his services to the Bronx, and the Red Sox answer was signing Grady Sizemore. As impressive as Sizemore has been in the Cactus League, he's no Ellsbury, and the BoSox will struggle at the top of the order without their offensive catalyst. Their rotation is hit and miss, as they have some talent, led by Jon Lester, but also seem to underachieve far too often. Just don't appear to have the talent, on paper at least, to keep up with the Yanks or Rays, but they did just win it all and have much of the same unit still intact. There going to be in the thick of things come September for sure.

4th Place, Baltimore Orioles

The O's are an interesting team, like most in this division. They have the talent to be able to take off and earn a playoff spot should they get the right momentum going. They have a couple of guys who can garner MVP hype in Adam Jones and Chris Davis. Chris Tillman is one of the brighter young arms in the game and they have some other talented pieces. Problem for them is, so does the rest of this division, and their weakness in the bullpen and back-end of their rotation should keep them for ultimately making a playoff run.

5th Place, Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays were 2013's biggest disappointment as they spent a ton of money and made significant moves in order to position themselves up their with the Yankees and Red Sox. Unfortunately for them though, practically all of their big name additions fizzled out and/or got hurt and never really made much of an impact north of the border. Jose Reyes was about the only one that lived up to expectations, but he had to miss 3 months in the middle of the year. They'd need a lot of things to go right in order to get back on track, like Jose Bautista re-discovering his 40+ HR power, Brett Lawrie living up to at least a fraction of his potential and R.A. Dickey to prove himself as an ace again. They still have a lot of those names that were supposed to help turn them around so maybe the second time around will go better than the first.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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