Today, we are looking at the American League East, which spans two countries and where teams play in a ballpark that is fairly new– the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) which became the Toronto Blue Jays’ home in 1993–and Fenway Park, which has held Boston Red Sox fans for over 100 years. We will be talking about their neighbors along the East Coast in Baltimore, New York, and Tampa Bay.
Last year I predicted Boston in 3rd place and I said that Toronto would top the Division. Wow, you could say I was just a little off in my predictions! Toronto actually ended up in last and Boston ended up winning the World Series. This year I am predicting:
#5. Toronto Blue Jays
The only team based outside of the continental 48 is in Toronto, and even though they look like a good team on paper, they are playing like the 2012 Miami Marlins. So I’ll call the Toronto Blue Jays the Marlins North after the major trade between Miami and Toronto in the 2013 offseason. That trade migrated most of the tropical Fish to a place not so warm. Everyone thinks that Jose Bautista is the best player on the squad, even though he lost the #FaceofMLB contest, and the Blue Jays hope they will get their run support from him. He follows hundreds of thousands of fans on Twitter, but not me, and I actually had to unfollow him because his #FaceofMLB tweeting was so annoying. Still, they have enough good players like R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes that they should be good. It just hasn’t happened yet.
#4. Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore has a beautiful ballpark, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz as highlights. I like the O’s, and they have a good team, but still I do not think at all the O’s will make it all the way this year. I hope they do, because I live close enough to the Charm City that I would love to be able to cheer on a winning O’s team in person.
#3. Tampa Bay Rays
This is a good team led by one of the best managers in the game, Joe Maddon. The team is highlighted by Rookie of the Year Wil Myers, David Price, and Evan Longoria. What is this team missing? A nice ballpark to play in. Watching a baseball game under the non-retractable domed, air conditioned Tropicana Field might be like watching a game in a shopping mall. Even if the ballpark is no good, the team is.
#2. New York Yankees
It seems like the New York Yankees are always expected to be good. They have won more championships than any other team: 27 World Series trophies on display in Monument Park. The biggest stories this offseason have been what the Yankees lost. First, they lost Mariano Rivera to retirement. They lost Robinson Cano to free agency. Curtis Granderson moved from the Bronx to Queens. Alex Rodriguez will be out on a 210-game suspension for the use of PEDs, but at 38 years old, he isn’t even the star he used to be. And at the end of 2014 they will lose Derek Jeter when he retires. Still, the Bronx Bombers have the fan base to spend a ton of money, and that’s what they did this offseason. They spent almost A HALF BILLION DOLLARS on players like Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran. Their roster also include Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Texeira, CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. So will the Yankees be good again in 2014? With a $194 million payroll, I would hope so!
#1. Boston Red Sox
The reigning World Series champs have a lot to show. Why am I picking them for 1st in the AL East? Buchholz, Lackey, Lester, Mujica, Peavy, Uehara, Middlebrooks, Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes, Nava, Sizemore, Victorino, Ortiz. That’s why.
But like I predicted with the NL Central, this is one of the best Divisions in MLB. Could the order flip around? Yes, the Yankees could end up #1 and the Red Sox #2. Could the Orioles or Rays also contend for a Wild Card spot? Yep, that’s possible too. I like the competition in the AL East. It’s going to be a fun season of baseball to watch!