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March 31, 2010 2:58 AM

American League East Preview

With the start of the season just around the corner I figured it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on the projected standings for the 2010 season.  These are not scientific, at least not based on any of my own work, but I have studied the various projection systems out there.  First up, the American League East.

According to CHONE, the AL East is going to house three of the top five teams in baseball, so unfortunately, one of these excellent teams is going to miss the playoffs.  New York and Boston are the perennial powerhouses, Tampa Bay continues to be a thorn in the side of the two juggernauts, Baltimore has some nice young talent but is not yet ready to compete, and the Jays are in full-blown rebuilding mode.

1. New York Yankees (99-63)

I am a little sceptical of their corner outfielders, and the Javier Vazquez move was baffling, but this team is still the toast of baseball.  In addition to their strong offence, the Yankees have a solid starting five, and Chamberlain and Rivera will shut down the opposition in the eighth and ninth.JonLesterNoHitter.jpg

2. Boston Red Sox (93-69 Wild Card)

Easily the second best team in baseball, the Red Sox have three All-Star calibre starting pitchers, and their back end of Matsuzaka, Buchholz and Wakefield is among the best in baseball.  As always, their bullpen should be strength as well.  They also shored up their defence with the additions of Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron.  Long story short; run prevention is not going to be a problem for the 2010 Red Sox.  Scoring runs, on the other hand, may be.  While no one will mistake them for Pirates, these are no longer your older brothers Papi/Manny Red Sox.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (88-74)

The Rays are the poster boy for the floating divisional alignment that has been discussed in recent weeks, as they are one of the best run teams in baseball stuck behind two superpowers.  They have depth all over the field, but the lack of an ace pitcher like Lester or Sabathia is what will keep them behind the Red Sox and Yankees.  The most interesting point of the season will be at the deadline, when the Rays brass decides what to do with free agent to be Carl Crawford.

4. Baltimore Orioles (73-89)

The Orioles have a strong young nucleus including Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters, but once again starting pitching is holding them back.  Milwood, Guthrie and Bergesen are markedly average pitchers, and will not get the job done at the top of the rotation.

5. Toronto Blue Jays (72-90)

I was a little torn on how to rank the Orioles and Blue Jays.  The Jays did have a +27 run differential last season despite a 75-87 record, and other than the loss of Halladay and Scutaro, do not appear much worse than last year.  The return of Shaun Marcum (and possibly Dustin McGowan) will bolster the rotation, and Kevin Gregg was brought in to shore up the bullpen.  The Jays will not be a good team but are also not the automatic cellar dwellers many expect them to be.    

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