2013 MLB Predictions: AL East
On this segment, the first of my 2013 Major League Baseball Preview, I give you my predictions on the American League East.
1)---TORONTO BLUE JAYS---I normally don't jump on the bandwagon of teams that picked up a lot of big-name talent during the offseason, as they always seem to underachieve. That being said, it's hard not to like Toronto.
We know they're going to hit homers, with the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Colby Rasmus hitting in the middle of the order. But now those guys have Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera hitting in front of them, which will mean a lot of RBI's.
Pitching-wise, the Blue Jays had Ricky Romero as their ace last season. This season, after adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle, along with a developing Brandon Morrow, Romero is now their #5 guy.
The Blue Jays have questions, like; Can Johnson stay healthy? Can Bautista stay healthy? Can Encarnacion repeat his 2012 season? Can Dickey adjust to the AL? Who is going to step up in their bullpen?...and...Will the Cabrera signing come back to haunt them?
All of those questions are legit, but the Blue Jays did more than enough in the offseason to improve by 20 games over last year's 73 win total, and make them to team to beat in the AL East in 2013.
2)---TAMPA BAY RAYS---Tampa Bay is certainly one of the best, most well-run franchises in the sport. They don't have the resources that a lot of other teams do, but they just always seem to get it done. It all starts with the pitching. James Shields is gone, but the Rays still boast David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore, with Fernando Rodney in their bullpen.
The question mark for Tampa Bay is their offense though. Evan Longoria is a mainstay, and Desmond Jennings is one of the most exciting young players in the game, but they do lack a little bit of pop.
The Rays won 90 a year ago, and that's pretty much what I envision for them in 2013, along with a wild-card berth.
3)---NEW YORK YANKEES---The Yankees won 95 games a season ago, to capture the division title. If they're going to repeat, they're going to have to survive the first couple of months of the season, as Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez will all miss at least the first month of the season, and Derek Jeter will likely start the year on the disabled list.
New York will also have to do it with pitching, led by C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, along with closer Mariano Rivera, who has announced that 2013 will be his last.
Offensively, the Yankees have holes, especially with their injured stars out, but Robinson Cano can carry a team, at least for a short period of time.
Expect them to slip, but they still are the Yankees, so don't count them out.
4)---BALTIMORE ORIOLES---Manager Buck Showalter did a masterful job last year, as Baltimore surprised everyone, winning 93 games, and a wild-card bid.
I expect the Orioles to take a step back in 2013, however. They won so many close games in 2012, finishing the year with only a +7 run differential. That can't be expected to carry over to this year.
The lineup looks strong, led by star center fielder Adam Jones, young catcher catcher Matt Wieters, and right fielder Nick Markakis, but I have concerns about their pitching, without a true ace to headline their staff. That may change however, with the upcoming arrival of top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy.
5)---BOSTON RED SOX---Last year was a nightmare one for Boston, as they won only 69 games.
This year, John Farrell takes over for Bobby Valentine, and he does have some talent to work with. The Red Sox added Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen and Jonny Gomes, to mix in with Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, but they'll still be lacking some offensive pop.
On the mound, the Red Sox will need Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz to have big years, and Ryan Dempster and John Lackey to have bounce-back years.
I expect the Red Sox to be a little better, possibly improving by 5-8 games, but contending for a playoff berth is still probably a couple of years away.
Next up: The National League East