With Opening Day 16 days away as I write, we begin our annual baseball forecast, and we'll start in the American League East.
Despite a plague of injuries that seemed to never end, the Yankees won the division last year, introducing America to new names like Gio Urshela and, as Chris Berman might christen him, Luke "AMF" Voit. Voit's emergence, in particular, made former top prospect Greg Bird expendable (now with Texas). Shortstop Didi Gregorious is also gone, having gone back to the National League (Philadelphia), so the Yankees, you'd think, would have to replace two offensive weapons.
Outfielders Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton will start the season on the injured list, moving Miguel Andujar into the outfield to fill the void. As Yogi Berra is reputed to have said, "it's deja vu all over again". Outfield prospect Nick Solak is gone (Texas), taking away some needed depth.
The pitching staff has also been ravaged. CC Sabathia retired. Domingo German starts the season suspended (domestic abuse), and won't be back until June. James Paxton is on the IL. Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, & Gerrit Cole, the Bombers suddenly have rotation issues.
But will they repeat? As Berman would say, that's why they play the games.
Boston felt the effects of the Houston sign stealing scandal. Alex Cora was shown the door, replaced by Ron Roenicke. Two key starters, Rick Porcello (Mets) and David Price (Dodgers) are gone, and so is outfielder Mookie Betts (Dodgers), one of their best hitters. Utility player Brock Holt took the money and ran (Milwaukee). Face it, the Sawx are scared stupid. No playoffs this year.
I honestly think Tampa Bay & Toronto will dicker for a Wild Card berth, especially if they get off to a fast start.
Projected order of finish:
2. Tampa Bay.
Of course, I could be wrong.