Less then 36 hours until the opening pitch of the 2014 MLB season, so it is time for the guys at Sports Talk All Day for their predictions on each conference. I hope you loved Dom’s post on the AL Central. The AL East is one of the most talented divisions in all of baseball as every team has a chance to make the playoffs. Here is my prediction of what the standings will look like in October.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are definitely favorites to win the talented AL East division. During the off season they new they had to work on their relief pitching so they got ace Grant Balfour and Heath Bell. Although they lost last year to the eventual champs, the Boston Red Sox, this team has a lot of depth. As I said earlier, their pitching game has gotten to another level, led by all-star David Price. Price had a 2.53 ERA after he came back from his triceps injury last year. Evan Longoria and Wil Myers form a dynamic duo in the middle of the line up, which helps spread out the talent of the Rays. Their defense is the best in the MLB in my opinion, and their huge bullpen upgrade, make them a true contender for the World Series. Also, they have a stud for a manager in Joe Maddon.
2. New York Yankees
It might just be the fact that I live in New York, and I know most people say, “money can’t buy happiness”, but look at the Yankees history. It’s not true. The Bronx Bomber made a splash in the offseason. They lost some huge guys, but they got some huge guys. They lost all-star Robinson Cano (Mariners), Phil Hughes (Twins), and future hall of famers Mariano Rivera (retired), and Andy Pettitte (retired). But, the Yanks also got Japanese ace, Masahiro Tanaka, catcher, Brian McCann, outfielder, Carlos Beltran, and former Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury. Plus the Yanks have a lot of momentum knowing that this is the last year captain Derek Jeter will be on the team. Their infield isn’t as strong as usual with an aging Jeter and a not healthy, Mark Teixeira. But getting Brian McCann was huge because last year their weakest position was with out a doubt the catcher’s position.
3. Boston Red Sox
The defending World Series champions definitely lost some key players, but shouldn’t be set too far back after signing Grady Sizemore, Edward Mujica, and A.J. Pierzynski. But losing Jacoby Ellsbury was huge because he was the Red Sox best fielder, base runner and a dynamic leadoff hitter. Hopefully their pitching will be surprising again this year lead by Jon Lester, Koji Uehara and John Lackey. Also it is very unlikely that Jake Peavy will provide a Cy Young year again. So as winning the division looks unlikely, expect them to make a serious wild card push.
4. Baltimore Orioles
After an awesome run in 2012, 2013 was not as fulfilling as Orioles fans would of liked it to be. Their line up is filled with power hitter led by last year’s home-run leader, Chris Davis. Also, the Orioles will get help from Adam Jones and the newest addition, Nelson Cruz. However, their pitching is subpar at best. With no spunk in their pitching lineup, Chris Tillman will HAVE to step up. Unless the Orioles acquire a true starter by the trade deadline, their playoff chances are slim, especially after losing Jim Johnson to the A’s.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
After their disappointing season last year, the Blue Jays look to rebound. They had a huge spending spree in 2012-2013 offseason but injuries ruined this team. Their first three hitters in their lineup are solid (Reyes, Bautista, Encarnacion), as they will provide a lot of hits. Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie will only improve and hopefully it will come sooner then later. The true question mark, like with most teams, is their pitching. R.A. Dickey was a bust last year, but maybe he can rebound. We might just see the magic he had with the New York Mets in 2012. Brandon Morrow could be great but then again he is very inconsistent. There is no doubt this is the strongest last place team in the MLB, but playoffs are not in the cards for them this year.
Let me know what you think of my predictions in the comment section below.