2009: 64-98 last place
Nick Markakis- RF .293 18 Hrs 101 RBIs
Brian Roberts- 2B .283 16 Hrs 79 RBIs
Adam Jones- CF .277 19 Hrs 70 RBIs
Brad Bergeson- SP/RH 123.1 IPs 7-5 3.43 ERA 65 Ks 32 BBs
Brian Matusz- SP/LH 44.2 IPs 5-2 4.63 ERA 38 Ks 14 BBs
Kevin Millwood- SP/RH
Will Ohman- RP/LH
Garrett Atkins- 1B
Miguel Tejada- SS
Millwood will give the Orioles a No. 1 starter for the first time since they have Mike Mussina. Will Ohman is signed to a minor league contract, but look for him to make the team out of Spring Training as a left-handed specialist. Garrett Atkins struggled with a .226 average and only 48 RBIs last year, but he has the potential to be a franchise player. He batted .301 with 101 RBIs in 2007, and he batted .296 with 99 RBIs in 2008. Miguel Tejada is still a great threat in the middle of the infield. He batted .313 last year with 86 RBIs.
Danys Baez- RP/RH
Brian Bass- RP/RH
Melvin Mora- SS
The Orioles will miss Baez and Bass in a bullpen that wasn’t very deep, but Atkins and Tejada are definitely improvements over Mora.
The Orioles will be a, at best, a .500 team. They will get better by the end of the year will the young pieces in place, but they need to rebuild the bullpen and score more runs in order to contend. Look for them to play spoiler come August and September.
Boston Red Sox
2009: 95-67 2nd place
Josh Beckett SP/RH 212.1 IPs 17-6 3.86 ERA 199 Ks 55 BBs
Jon Lester SP/LH 203.1 IPs 15-8 3.41 ERA 225 Ks 64 BBs
Victor Martinez C .303 23 HRs 108 RBIs
Jacoby Ellsbury LF .301 8 Hrs 60 RBIs 94 Runs 70 SBs
Kevin Youklis 1B .305 27 Hrs 94 RBIs
John Lackey SP/RH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Mike Cameron CF
Lackey joins an already sound staff. He had 139 strikeouts in 176 innings for the Angels. Beltre is capable of offense if he stays healthy, and the Red Sox will need him to take the palce of Mike Lowell. Cameron will be the replacement for Jason Bay, so he will need to step up.
Jason Bay LF
Takasji Saito RP/RH
Bay will be a huge loss in the outfield, and his 36 homeruns were a huge part of the Red Sox success last season. They will miss his bat and protection he gave in the lineup. Saito was a set-up man in a strong bullpen, and he will need to be replaced for the end of the game to be as well executed as last year.
Pitching and defense wins championships, and the Red Sox have both. They will miss Jason Bay in the middle of the lineup, but John Lackey strengthens the starting pitching, and they will be in the think of the race all season. They only committed 82 errors last season, third fewest in the American League.
New York Yankees
2009: 103-59 1st place
Derek Jeter SS .334 18 HRs 66 RBIs
Mark Teiexera 1B .292 39 HRs 122 RBIs
C.C. Sabathia SP/LH 230 IPs 19-8 3.37 ERA 197 Ks 67 BBs
A.J. Burnett SP/RH 207 IPs 13-9 4.04 ERA 195 Ks 97 BBs
Andy Pettitte SP/LH 194.2 IPs 14-8 4.16 ERA 148 Ks 76 BBs
Curtis Granderson CF
Javier Vazquez SP/RH
The Yankees upgraded at center field and added a solid pitcher to join a championship team with very few weaknesses. Vazquez will be more productive then Wang and help fill the gap at the end of the rotation.
Johnny Damon CF
Chien-Ming Wang SP/RH
Damon and Wang should be under key addition by subtraction, because the Yankees will not miss them at all.
The Yankees will be an early favorite to repeat as champion, because of the upgrades. However, they aren’t much better than the other elite teams in the division. They will need the rotation to be consistent throughout, and they will need Granderson to live up to his hype (and handle the added pressure of playing for the Yankees).
Tampa Bay Rays
2009: 84-78 3rd place
Evan Longoria 3B .281 33 HRs 113 RBIs
BJ Upton CF .241 11 HRs 55 RBIs 42 SBs
Ben Zobrist 2B .297 27 HRs 91 RBIs
Jeff Niemann SP/RH 180.2 IPs 13-6 3.94 ERA 125 Ks 59 BBs
David Price SP/LH 128.1 IPs 10-7 4.42 ERA 102 Ks 54 BBs
Rafael Soriano RP/RH
Soriano adds a big arm in what was a pretty weak bullpen. He had 102 strikeouts and only 27 walks in 72 innings for the Atlanta Braves last year, and he will give stability in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Akinori Iwamura 2B
The only real loss for the Rays was injured most of last season. The lineup suffered, and the Rays top of the order was considerably worse off. The only good thing is the Rays learned to play without him for most of the year.
The Rays have the best lineup in the division when healthy, especially if Upton returns to his original form. Upton will have to play like he did in 2008 or it could hurt the middle of the order. They won the AL pennant in 2008 because of pitching and defense. They are a good team, but the question becomes whether they can reduce the errors and pitch as consistently as they did then.
Toronto Blue Jays
2009: 75-87 4th place
Ricky Romero SP/LH 178 IPs 13-9 4.30 ERA 141 Ks 79 BBs
Vernon Wells CF .260 15 HRs 66 RBIs
Lyle Overbay 1B .265 16 HRs 64 RBIs
Adam Lind RF .305 35 HRs 114 RBIs
Aaron Hill 2B .286 36 HRs 108 RBIs
Kevin Gregg RP/RH
John Buck C
Alex Gonzalez SS
Gregg will be a veteran arm to try and hold the back end of the bullpen in place, and he may give them a little breathing room. Buck is a great addition at catcher. He is loaded with offensive potential, and he could help along the young pitchers. Gonzalez didn’t have a great offensive year in 2009, but he can play defense. He will need to hit better though.
Roy Halladay SP/RH
Marco Scutaro SS
The big departure is Halladay. He was their ace, and it is almost impossible to replace his stats. The young pitching staff will not have a key veteran to help them through, so they have to step it up. Scutaro was replaced by Gonzalez, and the stat lines look to be in favor of Scutaro. They will miss his bat and defense.
The Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode, but they do have a few very young players who can be consistent all-stars. The pitching is the big question, now that Roy Halladay is gone, and the offense needs to make up for the lack of depth in the bullpen. Toronto also has to make the offense better by running the bases well. They only stole 73 bases last year, and they also grounded into 130 double plays.
Final East breakdown
Champion: Boston Red Sox
The New York Yankees are the popular pick, because they are better on paper than they were last year. However, they still don’t have the best pitching staff in the division. Boston looks to be the best team in the East right now; and if they stay healthy, they should finish on top. It won’t be easy, however. The Rays are a very good team, and the Yankees can still win consistently. Look for this race to come down to the final few weeks of the season. Remember, the Orioles and Blue Jays will be the teams the elite must beat. If any one of the top three in the division lose to the bottom dwellers, they won’t be there.