New York Yankees
2013 result: 85-77, 3rd place
Until the signing of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankee’s typically blockbuster-laden offseason didn’t seem particularly huge to me. I know that sounds ridiculous considering they signed Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury AND Brian McCann, and maybe it can be chalked up to the distraction of 24/7 A-Rod coverage. Not to mention, the significance of losing Robinson Cano to Seattle and of course Mariano Rivera to retirement (among many others) seemed to grab more attention in my view. But the arrival of the Japanese ace after a protracted bidding period gave the Bronx Bombers the most prized free agent available, and brings new life to a rotation that was simply leaden in 2013. If Tanaka can bring most if not all of his otherworldly talent to the majors, he’ll lead a staff that looks to rebound with the underrated Hiroki Kuroda and a slimmer C.C. Sabathia. Add to all this Derek Jeter’s farewell tour, and the Yanks should be primed for a 2009-style success fueled by blockbuster acquisitions and stalwart position players.
Prediction: 95-67, 1st place
Tampa Bay Rays
2013 result: 92-71, 2nd place, lost ALDS to Red Sox 3-1
With 10 players departing this offseason, it would seem that a small market team like Tampa would be taking a huge step back. But they’ve remained remarkably consistent and youthful with limited resources for years now, and are stewarded by one of the game’s best managers. The Rays would certainly get an unexpected (if financially unwise) boost from retaining David Price, who for months has been billed as the second must-have starter after the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. It seems ridiculous to pick them to make the playoffs over the defending champion Red Sox, but the Rays have made late season surges a routine by now and always maintain a deep squad with a limited payroll. Tampa will likely gun for another wild card spot, but probably won’t go deep into the playoffs.
Prediction: 91-71, 2nd place
Boston Red Sox
2013 result: 97-65, 1st place, World Series Champions
Much like the 1980’s, the first decade and a half of the 2000’s has witnessed a new World Series winner every year, with no repeat champion since the Yankees capped off their dynasty in 2000. After a championship season that witnessed 97 wins and a starting pitching ERA of 3.84, Boston could be reasonably expected to repeat. Indeed, even with Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew all departing, they still have one of the top rotations in the game and a variety of internal replacements for departing position players. The motley mix of young stars and peak veteran performances that prevailed last year isn’t likely to break the back-to-back drought in my view, especially with the Yankees making such dramatic improvements. While I pick the Sox to finish third, I think it’ll be after an elite toss-up race between them, NY and Tampa in which anyone can conceivably prevail.
Prediction: 90-72, 3rd place
2013 result: 85-77, tied for 3rd place
Aside from Pittsburgh, no turnaround within the past couple of years has brought a smile to my face quite like the Orioles. Much like the Pirates, however, the good graces of making a playoff drought will wear off quickly if you’re not actively dealing in a competitive division. Sadly, that’s exactly what the Orioles did this offseason, particularly in their inability to address the starting rotation. While they made a few decent grabs like Delmon Young and Jemile Weeks, they’ve done nothing to put them over the top in the toughest division in MLB. Which is a shame, because if they did it’d give me an excuse to post this.
Prediction: 82-80, 4th place
Toronto Blue Jays
2013 result: 74-88, 5th place
When the second wild card format was adopted in 2012, many celebrated it as a chance for the Blue Jays to finally make the playoffs in a divisional race already crowded annually by Boston, New York, and Tampa Bay. While they didn’t make it, GM Alex Anthopoulous’s ambitious offseason made their expectations for 2013 far loftier. With a crop of top prospects to trade, he swung a blockbuster deal with Miami that brought in Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. Reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey also came via trade, and Melky Cabrera joined through free agency. Vegas oddsmakers and Toronto fans teemed with anticipation, with some even predicting a division title. The result: 74-88 and dead last in the AL East. Save for an 11-game winning streak in June, the Jays never threatened in a season plagued by injuries to Reyes, Johnson, and Cabrera, as well as top hitters Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. But injuries alone don’t explain Toronto’s failure to contend, which can be greatly attributed to the starting rotation’s cumulative 4.81 ERA, second worst in the AL. While they made some upgrades this offseason, chiefly by acquiring Dioner Navarro at catcher, their rotation is still lacking and will hold them back even if their top position players are all healthy.
Prediction: 72-90, 5th place
Who will win the AL East in 2014?
- New York Yankees (75%, 3 Votes)
- Tampa Bay Rays (25%, 1 Votes)
- Toronto Blue Jays (0%, 0 Votes)
- Baltimore Orioles (0%, 0 Votes)
- Boston Red Sox (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 4