AL East season preview

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Baltimore Orioles

What’s New:

The Orioles had a very quiet offseason and look to reclaim their role as the American League East basement dwellers that competitive teams have come to love. They lost key cogs in their lineup with the departures of Luke Scott and Vladimir Guerrero and made no key offseason acquisitions.

Season Outlook:

Despite a solid lineup with notables Matt Weiters, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, the Orioles should consider themselves fortunate if they win 70 games this season, due to their historically bad pitching staff. Unless young pitchers Brian Matusz and Zack Britton make huge strides, this staff will get slaughtered by the daunting AL East.

 

Boston Red Sox

What’s New:

After losing Jonathon Papelbon to the Phillies in free agency, the Red Sox addressed their need in the bullpen by trading Josh Reddick for former Athletics’ closer Andrew Bailey and Jed Lowrie for former Astros’ closer Mark Melancon. These acquisitions only strengthen the possibility that Daniel Bard moves to the rotation. Other key departures include Marco Scutaro, Erik Bedard and Jason Varitek. The Red Sox also acquired outfielder Cody Ross and utility-man Nick Punto in free agency.

Season Outlook:

The Red Sox certainly are contenders in the AL East with an intimidating lineup, great top-of-the-rotation and a solid bullpen. Look for the Red Sox to address needs in the back of the rotation, right field and possibly shortstop in the tail end of the offseason.

 

New York Yankees

 

What’s New:

The Yankees pulled off the biggest trade this offseason, bringing in second-year pitcher Michael Pineda for prospects Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. Both sides received elite talent in the deal as the Yankees sent one of the best hitting prospects in Montero for one of the most electrifying pitchers in 23-year-old Pineda. If you catch a Yankees game with this kid on the mound, prepare to be impressed. The Yankees also agreed to terms with free agent Hiroki Kuroda.

Season Outlook:

The Yankees’ dangerous lineup now has a rotation to match and should be considered favorites in the AL East this season. Look for the Yankees to shop one of their expendable starting pitchers like AJ Burnett for a solid bat they can plug into their vacant designated hitter spot.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

What’s New:

The Rays were once again active in the offseason as their world-class front office brought in offensive weapons Luke Scott and Carlos Pena to fill the roles of Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman, who left in free agency.

Season Outlook:

With one of the best pitching staffs in the league, the Rays are once again strong contenders in the AL East. Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis will fight for the final spot in the Rays’ rotation featuring James Shields, Davis Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. There will be no shortage of talent on the mound in Tampa. Keep an eye on the newest wave of Rays’ prospects as Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore look to make a name for themselves in the MLB after impressive careers in the minors.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

What’s New:

The Blue Jays traded promising prospect Nestor Molina for former White Sox closer Sergio Santos in an attempt to bring some consistency to the ninth inning. Former closing options Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco both signed with the New York Mets.

Season Outlook:

The Blue Jays put together a very talented, young roster that looks like it could contend in the future. However, they still appear to be a few years away. A young foundation highlighted by Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow should make noise immediately though. The next step for the Blue Jays is to find players who can get on base and cause mayhem on the base-paths to compliment their impressive collection of power hitters.