For years, this division was considered the toughest. It still boasts the two best teams this century and now the Tampa Rays (Now, do we call real life devil rays just rays or sting rays? What a bunch of bull. Talk about people with some personal issues and a lot of time on their hands.), are slowly moving their way up on the food chain. The Rays could find themselves finishing third this year. I think they’re still too young, but hey, they’re not the Orioles.
1. New York Yankess
Of course I’m picking the Yankees. The whole lineup is back from last year’s team that nearly scored 1000 runs. I’ll guarantee you this, the Yankees won’t be under .500 at the end of May. They still have an All Star at every position and the only question may be First Base. Right now, you’re looking at Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi platooning at the DH spot. For that to work, Giambi will have to play in the field more often the Yanks would like.
This is the first time in well over a decade the Yankees open the season with a new manager. Joe Girardi will be a players’ manager and will give the team a more loose and laid back feel.
As for the starting rotation, Chien-Ming Wang will go out and quietly win 17-20 games. Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina both have something to prove this year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Moose Man finally gets his 20 wins. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy both showed flashes of brilliance last year, but these young guys will have to shoulder an entire season. The bullpen is set for now with Joba Chamberlain starting in the setup role and of course Mariano Rivera doing his thing.
The Yankees created another heated rival this Spring with Tampa Bay. We all know their history with Boston and last year’s A-Rod/Toronto fiasco, and the Yankees are hated more than ever in the East.
2. Boston Red Sox
They’ll still be near the top with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez being maybe the best 1-2 punch in all of sports. Also, Manny is in a contract year, that could be lethal. Their rotation reminds me a lot like the Yankees last year. You can probably stick a fork in Curt Schilling. Josh Beckett’s been injured this Spring and that may slow him down this year. So far, Dice K has been a .500 pitcher along with Tim Wakefield. Also, the Red Sox cut Doug Mirabelli so who catches for Wake? Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz came into the league strong last year, but how will they hold up for an entire season? The Red Sox have a lot of questions and are relying on too much young talent to repeat this year. Don’t have them as the Wild Card.
3. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays added David Eckstein and Scott Rolen to a lineup that includes Alex Rios, Veron Wells and Frank Thomas. Roy Halladay will always be up for a Cy Young. They’ll need a solid year from both A.J. Burnett and Dustin McGowan. More good news, B.J. Ryan will be back and healthy. (Remember B.J. Ryan?)
4. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are still way too young to even be motioned as contenders. Everyone’s talking about 3B Evan Longoria (Don’t think he’s related to Eva), but he’ll start in the minors and will probably be called up to early. Scott Kazmir (the one the Mets let go) starts the season on the DL. Carl Crawford is one of the best all around players in MLB. Very similar style to Grady Sizemore.
5. Baltimore Orioles
Don’t even think I need to waste my time hear. Red Headed Step Child. The biggest news and question, have they traded Brian Roberts yet?