It’s about time for the 2009 Major League Baseball season to commence, so I’m going to do a little division by division break down. Today, we’ll look at the best division in baseball, the AL East.
Last year, the Rays dropped the Devil and took home their first Division crown since joining the league in 1998. In fact, they finished above last place for the second time ever. In 2004 they cruised to a 70-91 record, good enough for 4th. I’m not completely sold on the Rays, mostly because of the presence of the Yankees and Red Sox in their division, but they have several positives. For example, last year they had one starter over the age of 30. That was Cliff Floyd and he’s no longer with the team. In his place, they inked Pat Burrell away from the Phillies. On the pitching side, their youngest starter was James Shields at the ripe old age of 26. If they can keep this rotation together, they’ll be looking good for years to come.
I also failed to mention former #1 pick David Price in that rotation. If he’s half as dominant as they expect, he’ll fit right in. Second year man Evan Longoria will look to improve on his rookie season where he posted a line of .272/27/85. He’ll have to if the Rays want to have a chance at a repeat.
The New York Yankees made the biggest splash in free agency this year when they signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira. The Bronx Bombers sport a 2009 rotation of Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. That’s going to be a pretty nasty staff if they can all stay healthy.
Their offense should pound the ball around the New Yankee Stadium with the addition of Teixeira. The Yanks will look for Robinson Cano to bounce back from his mediocre 2008.
They have one other main issue to prepare for. Stop me if you’ve heard it: Alex Rodriguez took steroids. Oh you have heard it? Good, I won’t go into it.
The 2009 Boston Red Sox are old. Six of their opening day starters will be over the age of 30. Their pitching staff will have lots of injury questions, but looks good on paper. They added Brad Penny and John Smoltz this offseason, both of whom are trying to return from major arm troubles. Josh Beckett was a mediocre 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA last year, so they’ll look for him to improve upon that.
On offence, they will depend on David Ortiz regain his form and carry the load. They will return AL MVP Dustin Pedroia at second. JD Drew and Jason Bay will also make major contributions for the Sox. With an aging roster, the Sox need to win now because their window of opportunity is closing.
The Toronto Blue Jays will not be good. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios really have to carry this team offensively if they want to have a prayer at a Wild Card spot. The same goes for Roy Halladay on the pitching side. Only Halladay kept his end of the bargain last year.
The Jays will be able to show off one of the better prospects in baseball, Travis Snider. He was drafted with the 14th pick in the 2006 draft and is expected to start in right field for the Jays. In 305 minor league games, Snider hit .299 with 50 homers and 225 RBIs. He earned a September call up last year and played well.
The Baltimore Orioles have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Top catching prospect Matt Wieters should see action early in the season as should pitchers Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. This team has a whole lot of work to do before they can contend.
Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts both earned fat offseason deals to keep them around for a while, which is good news for O’s fans. Center fielder Adam Jones will be a year older. That’s about all the good stuff I can come up with off the top of my head. Hey, I tried.
Now, after my ramblings, I think I’ve settled on these standings for the end of the season:
1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles
Filed under: MLB | Tagged: AL East, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Baseball Previews, Boston Red Sox, David Price, Meaningless Predictions, MLB, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blues Jays, Travis Snider |