The changing AL East?

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December 13, 2012 by ussportsfanuk

Last season in the MLB threw up a few surprises, with two of the biggest being in the AL East.  Not many would have expected the Baltimore Orioles to have been as good as they were, finishing second in the division and making the Playoffs.  Even fewer people would have predicted just how bad the Boston Red Sox were going to be, finishing bottom (even below the Toronto Blue Jays!) with only 69 wins.

So is the AL East changing?  It would definitely appear so.  The Orioles are now a very competitive ball club and should challenge again, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been the nearest competitors in recent seasons to the Red Sox and Yankees, should still be in there battling.  Both those teams, you would expect, will battle Boston (who should improve for no other reason than for getting rid of Bobby Valentine) and New York all the way.

What of the Red Sox and the Yankees though?  Well they seem to be offering more support for the argument of a changing AL East so far this post-season in the way they are going about their business and the players they are signing, or not in the case of the Yankees.

Over the years it has of course not been uncommon to see the two teams throwing money around to sign the top free agents, but not this year.  The Red Sox of course traded away some of their biggest names and high earners last year with Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett all leaving Fenway Park, with little in return.  This has freed up salary space but still they do not appear to be going after the biggest names too aggressively.  Instead they have added, good, solid players in OF Jonny Gomes, C David Ross, C/1B Mike Napoli and OF Shane Victorino at less money than they would have previously spent.  These signings will undoubtedly help their hitting power which took a real knock when trading away the previously mentioned players, apart from Beckett of course!  They have not however made a big move in the pitching staff.  This seems to have been a problem for a few seasons for the Red Sox but they have already missed out on the best available FA’s.  They have good pitching in Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey should be back but they still need another high order pitcher to add to the staff.

As for the Yankees, well they have been very quiet.  They have resigned some players but their only real addition is ex Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis (will be interesting to see the reaction to him from the Red Sox Nation).  He is another older player on what is an aging roster with doubts over the fitness of some of their biggest stars like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera.  There are also now doubts over the ability of A-Rod, especially amongst Yankees fans!  They still have plenty of time to add to their roster before the start of the new season but, considering the issues over their players and the fact that they are likely to lose people like Nick Swisher, they appear to be strangely inactive and leaving themselves lots to do.

So the AL East has undoubtedly changed and appears to be continuing to do so.  It may not be a surprise to see a different winner of the division next season with the Red Sox rebuilding  and the Yankees trying to get the best out of their existing roster.  Having said that, both teams should be in the mix at the end of the season and would anybody be shocked to see them first and second in the AL East at season’s end?  I certainly wouldn’t!

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