Today, we begin a 6-part baseball preview, one division at a time. First up, the American League East.
The Toronto Blue Jays have to hope someone has a copy of the works of Santayana available for reading. Otherwise, they could grossly underachieve like the Miami Marlins did last year. Miami spent all that money on free agents, and then landed in the basement in the NL East. So what happens? Jose Reyes, one of those free agents, gets shipped, along with Josh Johnson, among others, to Toronto. John Buck, who was part of that trade, was later flipped to the Mets for R. A. Dickey, Josh Thole, & Mike Nickeas. Dickey didn't look sharp in 2 games in the World Baseball Classic, and thus would be a #3 or 4 starter north of the border. Like last year's Marlins, a lot of folks are doing some bandwagon-jumping on the Jays. I'm not one of them.
Toronto welcomes back John Gibbons as manager after trading John Farrell to Boston for shortstop Mike Aviles, who was later flipped to Cleveland.. Meanwhile, the Bosox are undergoing a bit of an overhaul of their own after the debacle of the Bobby Valentine error last year. That's all that need be said.
Baltimore surprised a lot of people by earning a Wild Card last year, and upset 2-time AL Champ Texas to advance to the ALDS, only to fall to the Yankees. Buck Showalter has built winners everywhere he's gone (Yanks, Arizona, & Texas were his other stops), and maybe now he can take the next step with the Orioles and unseat the Yankees, who happen to be ripe for the picking.........
That's because the Bombers are a M*A*S*H unit in development. Alex Rodriguez isn't expected back until July, if at all. Mark Teixiera could be back in June, but faces the prospect of season-ending wrist surgery. Curtis Granderson will be back around May, but for insurance, the Yanks got Kevin Youkilis to cover for A-Roid and Brennan Boesch to sub for Granderson. I don't see why they don't try Travis Hafner at first base, which was his original position in Cleveland, unless his recent spate of injuries leaves him more of a defensive liability. Derek Jeter may not be ready for opening day, either, due to a balky ankle, but that seems to be the least of the Yankees' worries, really. If only they could figure out who follows CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, & Andy Pettite in the rotation.......
That leaves Tampa Bay, which foolishly let two of their best players go in James Shields & Wade Davis (Kansas City). Aside from Evan Longoria, who's left? BJ Upton's in Atlanta. They only brought back Carlos Pena as a rental, and now he's in Houston. This will be ugly and won't end well.
Projected order of finish:
4. Tampa Bay.
The way I see it: Baltimore noses out Toronto for a Wild Card berth, then collects a receipt on the Yankees.
We'll cover the AL Central in part 2.