A team-by-team preview of the AL East.
1 | Toronto Blue Jays
He’s here: SS Jose Reyes, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, OF Melky Cabrera, INF Maicer Izturis, INF Emilio Bonifacio, INF Mark DeRosa.
He’s outta here: C John Buck, SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Jason Frasor.
Written in Stone: No team was more aggressive this winter than the Jays, and the result should be a long-awaited escape from their rut of mediocrity (six straight finishes in third or fourth place, no playoff berth since winning it all in ’93). Youthful GM Alex Anthopoulos, age 35, deserves credit for seeing, and seizing, an opportunity while longtime powerhouses New York and Boston are potentially vulnerable. Not only did they raid the Marlins for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio, but they capped off their offseason by acquiring NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Jose Bautista has looked healthy this spring (five homers) after undergoing wrist surgery in early September. For worrywarts, there’s closer Casey Janssen, shaky this spring after minor shoulder surgery. And Brett Lawrie will start on the DL with an oblique injury.
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|SS Jose Reyes||.287||11||57|
|LF Melky Cabrera||.346||11||60|
|RF Jose Bautista||.241||27||65|
|1B E. Encarnacion||.280||42||110|
|DH Adam Lind||.255||11||45|
|CF Colby Rasmus||.223||23||75|
|C J.P. Arencibia||.233||18||56|
|3B E. Bonifacio||.260||1||11|
|2B Maicer Izturis||.289||2||20|
|RH R.A. Dickey||20-6||2.73||230|
|RH Josh Johnson||8-14||3.81||165|
|RH B. Morrow||10-7||2.96||108|
|LH M. Buehrle||13-13||3.74||125|
|LH J.A. Happ||10-11||4.73||144|
|RH C. Janssen||2.54||22||3|
2 | Tampa Bay Rays
He’s here: 1B James Loney, SS Yunel Escobar, RHP Roberto Hernandez, 2B Kelly Johnson.
He’s outta here: RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, OF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Pena, INF Jeff Keppinger, LHP J.P. Howell, SS Reid Brignac.
Written in Stone: The Rays keep rolling despite annual defections and a paltry payroll. The latest to leave include front-line pitcher James Shields and talented outfielder B.J. Upton, but as usual the Rays have capable reinforcements. The emergence of Alex Cobb, for instance, makes it easier to absorb the departure of Shields and Wade Davis. They believe Matt Moore, 23, can take the next step to stardom, while Cy Young winner David Price is already there. But he’s also about to hit big money, which means trade speculation looms. The biggest key for the Rays will be a healthy Evan Longoria, who missed 88 games in 2012 with a torn hamstring. The Rays were 43-45 in those games, and 47-27 with him in the lineup. The Rays showed their faith in Longoria’s future by giving him a six-year, $100 million extension. He’s appeared healthy this spring.
|CF D. Jennings||.246||13||47|
|LF Matt Joyce||.241||17||59|
|3B Evan Longoria||.289||17||55|
|RF Ben Zobrist||.270||20||74|
|DH Luke Scott||.229||14||55|
|SS Y. Escobar||.253||9||51|
|1B James Loney||.249||6||41|
|C Jose Molina||.223||8||32|
|2B K. Johnson||.225||16||55|
|LH David Price||20-5||2.56||205|
|RH J. Hellickson||10-11||3.10||124|
|LH Matt Moore||11-11||3.81||145|
|RH Alex Cobb||11-9||4.03||106|
|RH J. Niemann||2-3||3.08||34|
|RH F. Rodney||0.60||48||2|
3 | Baltimore Orioles
He’s here: 2B Alexi Casilla, INF-OF Yamaico Navarro.
He’s outta here: 1B Mark Reynolds, LHP Joe Saunders, 2B Robert Andino, OF Endy Chavez, OF Bill Hall, DH Nick Johnson, C Ronny Paulino.
Written in Stone: The Orioles are banking so much on last year’s amazing turnaround being legit — from 93 losses in 2011 to 93 wins and a playoff berth — that they virtually stood pat. And they have reasons for optimism, starting with the emergence of former Mariner Adam Jones as a star of the first order, and getting better. They are counting on another star in the making in 20-year-old Manny Machado, who gave them everything they hoped for after taking over at third base in August. Catcher Matt Wieters, finally living up to his “Mauer with Power” billing, is another impact player, and Chris Davis merely hit 33 homers last year. But I still have questions about a rotation that put up a 4.42 earned-run average and doesn’t have any visible ace. It’s hard not to root for Brian Roberts in his comeback from concussion syndrome and other maladies.
|2B Brian Roberts||.182||0||5|
|LF Nate McLouth||.241||7||20|
|RF Nick Markakis||.298||13||55|
|CF Adam Jones||.287||32||82|
|C Matt Wieters||.249||23||83|
|1B Chris Davis||.270||33||85|
|DH R. Flaherty||.216||6||19|
|SS J.J. Hardy||.238||22||68|
|3B M. Machado||257||7||26|
|RH J. Hammel||8-6||3.43||113|
|LH Wei-Yin Chen||12-11||4.02||154|
|RH M. Gonzalez||9-4||3.25||77|
|RH Chris Tillman||9-3||2.92||66|
|RH Jake Arrieta||3-9||6.20||109|
|RH Jim Johnson||2.49||51||3|
4 | Boston Red Sox
He’s here: RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Joel Hanrahan, 1B Mike Napoli, SS Stephen Drew, OF Shane Victorino, OF Johnny Gomes, C David Ross.
He’s outta here: OF Cody Ross, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1B James Loney.
Written in Stone: The notorious fried-chicken-and-beer collapse of 2011 was supplanted by the Bobby Valentine debacle of 2012. Those high-flying days of Cowboying Up and The Idiots seem long, long ago, after Boston’s first last-place finish since 1992. But the Red Sox hope another culture change (former pitching coach John Farrell left Toronto to replace Valentine as manager) and a new batch of players will turn things around. A good place to start would be propping up a pitching staff that ranked 27th in the majors in ERA. Joel Hanrahan, an All-Star the past two years with Pittsburgh, takes over as closer, and ex-Cub Ryan Dempster is a welcome addition to the rotation. The biggest boost would come if the newly slimmed-down John Lackey, lit up in 2011 and laid up (from Tommy John surgery) in 2012, makes a strong comeback.
|CF Jacoby Ellsbury||.271||4||26|
|RF S. Victorino||.255||11||55|
|2B Dustin Pedroia||.290||15||65|
|1B Mike Napoli||.227||24||56|
|3B W. Middlebrks||.288||15||54|
|LF Jonny Gomes||.262||18||47|
|DH J. Sltlmacchia||.220||25||59|
|C David Ross||.256||9||23|
|SS Jose Iglesias*||.269||1||23|
|LH Jon Lester||9-14||4.82||166|
|RH C. Buchholz||11-8||4.56||129|
|RH R. Dempster||12-8||3.38||153|
|LH F. Doubront||11-10||4.86||167|
|RH J. Lackey**||12-12||6.41||108|
|RH J. Hanrahan||2.72||36||4|
*Minor-league statistics; **2011 statistics.
5 | New York Yankees
He’s here: 3B Kevin Youkilis, OF Vernon Wells, DH Travis Hafner, OF Brennan Boesch.
He’s outta here: OF Nick Swisher, C Russell Martin, DH-OF Raul Ibanez, 3B Eric Chavez, OF Andruw Jones, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Freddy Garcia.
Written in Stone: The mighty haven’t fallen yet, but it’s time to start yelling “Timber!” That’s amazing to say about a team that won 95 games last year, yet this has all the earmarks of a stunning overnight collapse. For one thing, ownership uncharacteristically sat on their wallets in an attempt to get under the luxury-tax barrier. A lot of talent was allowed to walk, and the only potential impact player brought in was 34-year-old Kevin Youkilis, who hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2008. The two pillars, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, are coming off serious injuries. And stalwarts Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are all hurt. Not a pretty picture. Not all is grim — CC Sabathia is a bona-fide ace (though with increasing wear) and Robinson Cano is at the peak of his game. He’s playing for a contract, too.
|SS Derek Jeter||.316||15||58|
|2B Robinson Cano||.313||33||93|
|3B Kevin Youkilis||.233||19||60|
|1B Juan Rivera||.244||9||47|
|LF Vernon Wells||.230||11||29|
|DH Travis Hafner||.228||12||34|
|C F. Cervelli*||.266||4||22|
|CF Brett Gardner*||.259||7||36|
|LH CC Sabathia||15-6||3.38||197|
|RH H. Kuroda||16-11||3.32||167|
|LH Andy Pettitte||5-4||2.87||69|
|RH Ivan Nova||12-8||5.02||153|
|RH David Phelps||4-4||3.34||96|
|RH M. Rivera||2.16||5||1|