2009 AL East Preview
Last year, the American League East, once again, gave us the pennant winner. But this time it wasn't the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees. It was the Tampa Bay Rays. Every baseball season seems to have that feel good story about the little team that could and last season the Rays were the chosen club. By the way, in the past nine years the AL champs have come out of the East.
This year, the East looks to be a three-way battle between the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. There's very little difference between these clubs and if it comes down to cash, then the advantage goes to New York with Boston following close behind.
The Yanks made some big deals during the off-season, which includes the signing of one of the best starters in the league—CC Sabathia. The club has always been able to hit and put runs on the board and their closer Mariano Rivera is still one of the finest around. The pitching rotation is deep and relatively young. Sabathia is a bit worrisome due to the extra weight he carries around. And you can't discount the fact that many of the daily players are starting to show their age. The Yanks are good but they are also a bit rickety.
The Red Sox did not do a lot to upgrade their team this off-season. Then again, they were pretty darn good last season and that was with injuries to key players, including Beckett, Ortiz, Lowell and Drew. Pedroia is simply a massive sparkplug and manager Terry Francona has found his stride. This is one darn good team.
The Tampa Bay Rays are back and they look to be an efficient team. The Rays field a solid team that can hit and field, and their pitching staff is young, talented and aggressive. The club's closing situation is dicey with Troy Percival feeling his age. Although money is tight in Tampa, there are some good people in charge in the front office.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a decent pitching staff but not a whole lot of offense. It was thought a few years ago that this team would once again be a contender as they had been in the early 90s. But many of GM J.P. Ricciardi's moves have gone south. Don't expect miracles from this team.
It's tough to watch the Baltimore Orioles when you think about the great teams they put on the field in the 60s, 70s and 80s. There's simply not enough talent or depth to make this club a contender and the patchwork manner in which they've gone about trying to create a good team has not worked. Presently, GM Andy MacPhail is focusing on building a club that will be able to compete for a long time.
The American League East is a difficult division to predict. The division could come down to a game or two at most. The sure money seems to be on the Yankees. Still, the Red Sox and Rays should not be counted out. Look for New York to suffer some major physical breakdowns and for the Red Sox and Rays to exploit those injuries.
2009 American League East Predictions
Projected Order of Finish:
Click on team name for individual team preview.