MLB By Division:AL East Last Minute Preview

Spring Training is coming to an end.  It’s time to start previewing the teams for the regular season.  Today we’ll be looking at the AL East.

1.New York Yankees

I know you may be surprised to hear this but if all the Yankees contribute at least a little bit, they can prosper.  They have who they need to have a good year.  The issue know is to find where the all star in this group is.  Players like Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury have what they need to do so.

The Keys To A Win: Again, consider those players I listed above, but add in Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texiera, Hiroki Kuroda, Mashahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia and Chris Capuano.  Where do these players have strengths?  What weaknesses do they need to work on.  Enough hard work will make these guys all star material again.

What’s All the Hold Up?:  Who do the Yankees need to replace if they want division winning material?  Chris Young and Mason Williams as backups would be the right choice because they have Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury out there.  If I were them, I would sign a third outfielder to start with Ellsbury and Gardner.  Otherwise, sit Williams out and just start Young.  To be honest, if the Yankees canfind the right starters, then everybody will have a clear role or reason to stay on the team.

Projected Lineup

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. LF Brett Gardner

3. DH Alex Rodriguez

4. RF Carlos Beltran

5. 3B Chase Headley

6. 1B Mark Texiera

7. C Brian McCann

8. SS Didi Gregorious

9. 2B Stephen Drew

Projected Starting Rotation

Mashahiro Tanaka

CC Sabathia

Michael Pineda

Chris Capuano

Ivan Nova

Record projection:91-71

2.Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox had a very active off season, and the new signings are going to possibly lead the team along with old stars like Napoli, Ortiz and Pedroia.  The off season moves were great, keeping all those young stars in the minors for now while signing a ton of big hitters.  There’s no salary cap in baseball, so the Sox could sign whoever the heck they wanted.  Apparently that included Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and a rotation rebuild.

The Keys To A Win:The new additions have really become the keys of this team. Pablo Sandoval had a great ending to the 2014 season and he knew he wanted to leave the Giants.  Hanley Ramirez was another key signing for the Red Sox.  He will be playing left field for the Sox.  Also think about the rotation rebuild after ending last year with a way too young rotation.  Trading Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in for WADE MILEY, that was a priceless move.  Losing Yoenis Cespedes hurt, but they have Ramirez and many other outfielders so it was worth it for a good Tigers pitcher in Rick Porcello.  Justin Masterson’s return will also boost the rotation.  However, the new guys aren’t the only keys to win.  David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia.  When they all have a good day, you can almost guarantee yourself you’ll see a win that day.

What’s All The Hold Up?  Some of these new pitchers are going to fill the roster.  Send some of these pitchers to Pawtucket before the season starts.  You can only fit so many pitchers.  Usually, between 12 and 14 pitchers are on an MLB roster, so the Sox need to cut down on that.  The Sox just have too many players, especially pitchers.  Open up some roster spots for some good free agents or for trade options.

Projected Lineup

1. Rusney Castillo CF

2. Mookie Betts/ Shane Victorino RF

3. Dustin Pedroia 2B

4. David Ortiz DH

5. Mike Napoli 1B

6. Pablo Sandoval 3B

7. Hanley Ramirez LF

8. Xander Bogaerts SS

9. Christian Vazquez C

Starting Rotation

Rick Porcello

Wade Miley

Joe Kelly

Justin Masterson

Clay Buchholz

My Prediction: 89-73

3.Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays had a great off season full of new signings that will help them this year.  Their lineup has just gotten more and more full.  I was wrong about last year, and thinking about last year’s actual record, it makes me think this year they’ll do even better.  Well, I think the Orioles and Rays have gone down as well, giving Toronto third place.  Last year I thought Toronto wouldn’t go anywhere near the playoff picture.  This year, I actually think they could be in the playoff hunt.  So, it looks like the Blue Jays are ready for a rebuilt turnaround year.

The Keys To A Win:First, you have to see Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarncion have good games.  Those are the two original Toronto stars along with Jose Reyes.  Next, you have to a have a key pitcher in the rotation.  I expect Mark Buerhle, R.A. Dickey and after his injury is over, Marcus Stroman.  Also, think about all the new signings to have.  You have Michael Saunders, a fourth outfielder.  Then you have Josh Donaldson, the replacement for Brett Lawrie.  You also have Justin Smoak.  Smoak can join Edwin Encarncion to try and fill in for losing Adam Lind.  Him and Encarncion will cover both designated hitter and first base, just as Adam Lind did.  Finally, you have Russell Martin.  Martin will join Dioner Navarro at catcher.  So, Toronto has plenty of helping hands when it comes to winning.

What’s all The Holdup?  The Blue Jays have too many backups in the infield and not enough in the outfield.  Get rid of all those infielders you’ll never use and trade them for outfielders, hopefully with teams  who have the opposite problem, I’m sure there’s one out there if I researched enough.  Maybe even cut some of them.  You don’t want to end up with the opposite problem.  So everything needs to be in moderation.  I’d say three outfield backups and two infield backups if there’s room.  So, I’d say the best time to get started is now.

Projected Lineup

1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Russell Martin C

3. Jose Bautista RF

4. Edwin Encarncion DH

5. Josh Donaldson 3B

6. Justin Smoak 1B

7. Michael Saunders LF

8. Ryan Goins 2B

9. Kevin Pillar CF

Rotation

R. A. Dickey

Mark Buehrle

Daniel Norris

Marcus Stroman (currently injured)

Marco Estrada

Drew Hutchison (while Stroman’s injured)

4.Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have had their losses, but they still have enough to at least be close to .500.  They still have the great rotation they were known for, just without David Price.  They also still have many guys in the lineup who can hit as well, just lost some.  The Rays have had losses, but in moderation.   They still have several keys to a win that I will write about below.  The Rays are not a total bust.

The Keys To A Win: They don’t have as many, but they still have some.  First, Evan Longoria is still going to be a good hitter for the Rays.  However, he needs to be even more of a factor after the loss of Ben Zobrist.  Desmond Jennings will also continue to be a productive leadoff hitter.  David DeJesus, the new designated hitter will still be good also.  But the rotation has stayed full most of all.  Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorozzi are all still active pitchers.  Four of the five guys in the Rays rotation.  So even though the Rays still have great hitters, but they will still be known for a great rotation.

What’s All The Hold Up?:  Again, too many backup infielders, however, this time, they have enough backup outfielders.  In their situation, I would cut some of them, possibly trade one for an outfielder.  So again, get rid of some of the guys you’ll never use, they’re just filling up roster spots.  So, open up some roster spots.  It can bring in more possible stars.

Projected Lineup

1. Desmond Jennings CF

2. David DeJesus DH

3. Brandon Guyer LF

4. Evan Longoria 3B

5. James Loney 1B

6. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

7. John Jaso C

8. Logan Forsythe 2B

9. Steven Souza RF

Starting Rotation

Alex Cobb

Jake Odorozzi

Chris Archer

Drew Smyly

Matt Moore

My Prediction: 80-82

5.Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have had many losses making them worse.  Losing Nick Markakis and especially Nelson Cruz will hurt badly.  They still have many good hitters though.  Their rotation has stuck around also.  However, the O’s won’t be nearly as good as they were last year.  I mean, playoffs is not happening at this point.  They can’t even settle for a record over .500 after the loss they suffered to Seattle.  The Orioles may still have enough to be decent for last place in the division.  So, The Orioles aren’t a total bust.

The Keys To A Win: The Orioles hitters they still have are still winning keys.  Chris Davis is due for a much better season after a slump in the 2014 season.  Adam Jones will still be good also.  We should also see Matt Wieters back to normal.  Also expect good things out of Jonathan Schoop.  Also, rotation members Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris are still up to par.  So, don’t hope for the best or the worst from this team.

What’s All The Hold Up?: If the Orioles are this bad with so much from a successful 2014, what is weak about them?  Reynaldo Navarro,  Christian Walker and Jimmy Paredes need to go.  Again, too many backup infielders, not enough backup outfielders.  They have Ryan Flaherty, Everth Cabrera and Steve Pearce.  They can get more than ONE backup outfielder.  So trade two, cut one of those three guys I mentioned.

Projected Lineup:

1. Adam Jones CF

2. Jonathan Schoop 2B

3. Manny Machado 3B

4. Chris Davis 1B

5. J.J. Hardy SS

6. Alejandro De Aza LF

7. Matt Wieters C

8. Delmon Young DH

9. Travis Snider RF

Starting Rotation

Kevin Gausman

Chris Tillman

Bud Norris

Wei-Yin Chen

Tim Berry

My Prediction: 77-85

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