MLB American League East Breakdown and Preview
Hello baseball fans, this is Michael Hamby here from Oakland Hardball on WPTS Radio. Tis the season, baseball season that is, and with that comes all of our predictions and previews. In this article specifically I will be breaking down the American League East, but in general you can expect a new division prediction every week until the start of the season. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
The Baltimore Orioles are a team stuck in perpetual limbo. They do not have the talent to win the division currently, but they also do not have the pieces to trade in order to do so. This makes their prediction pretty easy: they will hold on to their assets until the deadline, and then it is a fire sale. Everything must go for Baltimore, they only have one or two pieces worth keeping around, so expect a big fuss around them at the deadline. Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado in the middle are fantastic, and believe it or not Chris Davis is the best first basemen in the division. Adam Jones is getting really old, and he is really starting to decline, so I expect him to fit into that category of ‘guy who deserves a ring’. Otherwise there really is not much to discuss for the O’s, as the rotation is pretty lackluster, and the bullpen will most definitely be traded away.
Predicted Record: 74 – 88
Boston Red Sox
Boston presents an interesting case, as this team is easily the most consistent over the past few seasons, and yet I do not know what to expect from them. While the rotation and bullpen remain strong hallmarks for this team, the lineup leaves several question marks. For example, the addition of JD Martinez is huge for the Red Sox, but what does he provide them realistically? Can he hit another 35+ home runs this season? Does Mookie Betts have a comeback year? How will Andrew Benintendi do now that his hair is short? All of these are valid questions about Boston’s lineup, but the change that I believe will make the most impact is the one in the dugout. Adding new manager Alex Cora after firing John Farrell was a great move by Boston. Not only did Cora just win a World Series as the bench coach for the Astros, he is a former Red Sox, so he knows how to handle Boston. The hope is that between Cora and the revamped lineup, enough hitting will take place to almost guarantee a playoff spot. With David Price and Tyler Thornburg finally healthy, the pitching for Boston couldn’t be better, and it is expected that Rick Porcello will have a somewhat bounce back season after last year. All in all, expect the Sox to be back playing October baseball.
Predicted Record: 93 – 69
New York Yankees
The Yankees present a similar case to the Red Sox, just in the opposite fields. The lineup will be good, I have no doubts about the Bronx Bombers, the pitching staff on the other hand leaves me with several questions. For starters, how will Sonny Gray fair in his first full season in New York? Follow that with the CC age question and how Severino handles being the staff ace and you have plenty to worry about in New York. The Yankees also have a new manager in Aaron Boone, a former player with no coaching experience does leave me with several questions, most notably, how does he handle the bullpen. This Yankees pen is stacked, with several extremely young talented arms just waiting to be unleashed upon the world. If Boone can get Betances back in form, and keep up the success that Chad Greene had last season, I fully expect a successful season in New York. Good luck everybody else.
Predicted Record: 96 – 66
Tampa Bay Rays
What is there really to say about Tampa expect, who knows? The Rays sent off team legend Evan Longoria this offseason, and thus ended an era of success for them. With no clear direction to head in, Tampa is leaving most writers confused about what the franchise should do this year. Personally, I think the answer is simple: Sell. This team has a few very talented players on it, and they deserve an opportunity to be successful somewhere else. Chris Archer has served his time and desperately needs to be dealt to a contender. Wilson Ramos should be sold if he shows his potential after coming back from ACL injury last season. This team in summation, is nothing more than a pile of players waiting to be shipped off for future success, and I am happy the Rays are going to do it. For the last few seasons, Tampa has laid flat, not done anything one way or the other that would suggest either a title shot or a rebuilding phase. Well, there is no time like the present Tampa, just go for it.
Predicted Record: 75 – 87
Toronto Blue Jays
Finally, the Toronto Blue Jays. What this team will do is actually pretty tough to decide, as they have the potential to shoot for that second Wild Card spot if everything falls their way during the season. With the best third baseman in the American League on their team, a solid rotation and absolutely zero bullpen, the Blue Jays are sitting on the fence as far as success and failure go this season. Expect Donaldson (who is in a contract year) to play some phenomenal baseball, as well as a great year from Marcus Strowman to keep Toronto’s hopes alive. I can not decide whether or not they will be selling or buying at the deadline, but I do know that it will be a good decision for the franchise either way. If they go to buy at the deadline it will most likely be in search of some middle relief, as other than Ozuna, the Blue Jays have nothing in the pen save for a few cobwebs. If they decide to sell, well Donaldson will make a great rental, and I expect Tulowitzki can still pull something from the market. For now it is the classic wait and see, so we shall… wait and see.
Predicted Record: 84 – 78