AL East: Will the Bombers Burn Out?

Good morning Nats and Baseball Fans alike,

Today, we are looking at a division that could very easily could be a five…yes….a five team race. That division is the American League East. The Yankees are down, the Blue Jays are up, and everybody else has gotten better or stood pat, or made a trade, so let’s get to it!

New York Yankees, 2012 Result: 95-67, AL East Champions, lost to DET in NLCS.
Transactions:
10/29/12: Exercised options on 2B Robinson Cano ($15M) and OF Curtis Granderson ($15M)
11/20/12: Signed RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1yr/$15M)
11/28/12: Re-Signed LHP Andy Pettitte (1yr/$12M)
11/30/12: Re-Signed CL Mariano Rivera (1yr/$10M)
12/14/12: Signed 3B Kevin Youkilis (1yr/$12M)
12/19/12: Signed OF Ichiro Suzuki (2yr/$13M)
2/2/13: Signed DH Travis Hafner (1yr/$2M)

There is also word that the Yankees will be acquiring Vernon Wells from the LA Angels to at least stand in for an injured Granderson and help what will be a slightly power hungry lineup. The Yankees age is definitely showing, but they had similar problems last year and still won 95 games. I’m incredibly conflicted, because what i read on paper disagrees with my gut.

Prediction: 87-75, 3rd in AL East

Baltimore Orioles, 2012 Result: 93-69, lost to NYY in NLDS.

Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised option on Luis Ayala. ($1M)
12/5/12: Signed OF Nate McClouth (1yr/$2M)
1/8/13: Re-Signed 1B Chris Davis, C Matt Wieters, P Brian Matusz.

The Orioles stood pat this off-season, opting to keep their pitching as is and continue to wait for Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, both of whom could be up this year, as their pitching reinforcements. Getting Nick Markakis back will be big for them, combined with a repeat year from Chris Davis. Though their 29-9 record in one run games and 16 straight extra innings wins will certainly regress, the Os will still be competitive.

Prediction: 86-76, 4th in AL East

Tampa Bay Rays, 2012 Result: 90-72, 3rd in AL East

Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised Options on Jose Molina ($1.8M), CL Fernando Rodney ($2.5M), RHP James Shields ($10.25M)
11/20/12: Signed RHP Joel Peralta (2yr/$6M)
11/26/12: Extended 3B Evan Longoria (6yr/$100M)
12/1/12: Traded RHP Burke Badenhop to MIL for OF Raul Mondesi Jr.
12/4/12: Acquired SS Yunel Escobar from MIA for Derek Dietrich.
12/6/12: Signed 1B James Loney (1yr/$2M)
12/10/12: Traded RHP James Shields, Wade Davis and IF Elliot Johnson (PTBNL) to KC for Wil Myers, Jake Odrizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.
12/18/13: Signed RHP Roberto Hernandez (Formerly Fausto Carmona, 1yr/$1.5M)
2/5/13: Signed 2B Kelly Johnson (1yr/$2.45M). Signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth (1yr/$1.5M)
2/6/13: Signed 1B/OF/DH Luke Scott (1yr/$2.75M)

The Rays will no doubt miss James Shields alongside David Price in that great rotation, but this is the Tampa Bay Rays we’re talking about; they’re baseball’s pitching factory. Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Matt Moore are just some names of guys who could be the next generation of Rays aces, and don’t forget: they’re set up to make a major killing in a potential David Price trade, if he stays healthy and productive. The acquisition of Wil Myers could really help that offense along with a full year of Evan Longoria. They’re the picture of continuity and consistency, and if they hit, look out American League.

Prediction: 94-68, 1st in AL East.

Toronto Blue Jays. 2012 Result, 73-89, 4th in AL East
Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised option on LHP Darren Oliver (1yr/$3M)
11/18/12: Signed 2B/SS Maicer Izturis (3yr/$9M)
11/19/12: Signed OF Melky Cabrera (2yr/$16M). Traded RHP Henderson Alvarez, P Anthony DeScalafani, P Justin Nicolino, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Jake Marisnick, SS Yunel Escobar and C Jeff Mathis to MIA for SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio.
12/17/12: Acquired RHP R.A. Dickey and Cs Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas from NYM for Cs Travis D’Arnaud, John Buck, P Noah Syndergaard and Wilmer Beccerra.
1/22/13: Signed IF Mark DeRosa (1yr/$750K)

On paper, this team looks stacked. They gutted a very good farm system because they saw an opportunity because the mighty Yankees and Red Sox were down. They brought back probably their most recently successful manager in John Gibbons. I like them, but not for the division. Reyes and Bonifacio aren’t used to the Rogers Centre’s field turf, which could kill their biggest weapon, their legs. I think the Orioles and Rays have more competitive experience, and i don’t consider the Yankees and Red Sox dead.

Prediction: 92-70, 2nd in AL East.

Boston Red Sox. 2012 Result: 69-93, 5th in AL East.
Transactions:
11/2/12: Signed DH David Ortiz (2yr/$26M)
11/10/12: Signed C David Ross (2yr/$6.2M)
11/22/12: Signed OF/DH Jonny Gomes (2yr/$10M)
12/13/12: Signed OF Shane Victorino (3yr/$39M)
12/18/12: Signed LHP Koji Uehara (1yr/$4.25M)
12/19/12: Signed RHP Ryan Dempster (2yr/$26.5M)
12/26/12: Acquired CL Joel Hanrahan & INF Brock Holt from PIT for RHP Mark Melancon, OF Jerry Sands, RHP Stolmy Pimentel. Signed SS Stephen Drew (1yr/$9.5M)
1/22/13: Signed 1B/C/DH Mike Napoli (1yr/$5M)
1/24/13: Signed LHP Craig Breslow (2yr/$6.25M)

The Red Sox dedicated their offseason on signing “clubhouse guys,” players who brighten up a clubhouse that was an absolute joke the past few seasons. Combine that with John Farrell, the manager Ben Cherington wanted last offseason, and this team could be better than expected. Bucholtz and Lester could be a very good 1-2 punch in that rotation, and Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan can be a lethal 8-9 inning combination. Unfortunately, this is easily the best the AL East has been, top to bottom, this year and for years to come. The Red Sox may need a year or two to get back on track.

Prediction: 81-81, 5th in AL East

2013 AL East Prediction
1) Rays 94-68 —
2) Blue Jays 92-70 2.0 GB
3) Yankees 87-75 7.0 GB
4) Orioles 86-76 8.0 GB
5) Red Sox 81-81 13.0 GB

Go Nats and enjoy the season!

-Nick

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