MLB: American League East Preview


We are currently in the midst of Spring Training baseball games in Arizona and Florida. As the days pass by, the real thing only comes closer and closer.

We continue our division previews with the AL East. This division last season was projected to feature some high-end talent, but instead Baltimore ran away with the AL East title and was the lone post season representative.

Look for this division to be feature a returning powerhouse, a revamped lineup, a long rebuild, a roster reinforcement and the road to redemption.

Here’s a team-by-team look, starting with the defending AL East champions.

Jul 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) congratulated by his team in the dugout after he hit a solo home run during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

96-66 in 2014

Key Additions: OF Travis Snider

Key Subtractions: OF Nelson Cruz, OF Nick Markakis, LHP Andrew Miller

This year’s version of the Baltimore Orioles look a lot like the 2014 Baltimore Orioles that went on the American League Championship. If they hope to return there, however, they’re going to need a great bill of health and some players to step up.

A relatively quiet offseason saw Baltimore replace right fielder Nick Markakis with Travis Snider. Elsewhere, Nelson Cruz jetted for Seattle. The Orioles will look to Chris Davis to improve from last season and remedy Nelson’s absence.

Baltimore will hope to keep their youth healthy this season as a returning Manny Machado and Chris Wieters are sure to inject the lineup with some energy.

The pitching rotation for this upcoming season is near identical to last year’s team. Last year’s team was heavily aided and carried by Baltimore’s potent lineup.

If the Orioles are going to fight off all challengers and return to the postseason, Adam Jones will have to lead the way and might have a potential MVP caliber season on his hands.

Mar 9, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) and designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (13) talk during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at a spring training baseball game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees

84-78 in 2014

Key Additions: SS Didi Gregorius, 1B/OF Garrett Jones, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP David Carpenter

Key Subtractions: SS Derek Jeter, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Alfonso Soriano, OF Ichiro Suzuki, Closer David Robertson

Even without the big free agent acquisition that has become so associated with the New York Yankees, we still find a way to be highly interested in their team come Spring Training.

Just in case you weren’t aware, Jeter retired this past season. The Yankees will certainly have to make up for his absence and Gregorius appears to have the first shot at claiming shortstop.

Dellin Betances will look to follow his incredible season by attempting to take over the closer position. The men in pinstripes have a potentially daunting starting rotation with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda leading the charge.

The road to redemption has begun for Alex Rodriguez and he’ll try to play a factor in the New York lineup. The Bronx Bombers need to return to their high-powered offensive ways while their window for opportunity remains open.

Mar 11, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) is congratulated by teammates during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays

83-79 in 2014

Key Additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Russell Martin, OF Michael Saunders, 1B Justin Smoak

Key Subtractions: 3B Juan Francisco, OF Melky Cabrera, OF Colby Rasmus, LHP J.A. Happ

If the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t able to put a dent in the American League East by the time 2015 is over, someone is going to have to answer some questions.

Toronto continued their trend of high profile offseason acquisitions with the arrival of Donaldson. They upgraded their catcher position with Martin. With the devastating season ending injury to Marcus Stroman, starting pitching depth becomes an immediate concern to the Blue Jays.

The Toronto lineup is stacked with Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion with Donaldson and Martin as complements. If Canada’s baseball team has playoff aspirations, they’re going to have a Baltimore-like dependence on their offense.

Sep 28, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throws during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays

77-85 in 2014

Key Additions: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B John Jaso, C Rene Rivera, OF Steven Souza, RHP Kevin Jepsen

Key Subtractions: 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, SS Yunel Escobar, OF Matt Joyce, OF Wil Myers

Credit Tampa Bay with always finding a way in the playoff race. However, with the departure of Joe Maddon and Zobrist, along with a youthful roster, it’s best if Tampa Bay’s faithful look towards the future.

Alex Cobb and Chris Archer are about to enter their prime as starting pitchers. However, thier outfield is vastly inexperienced and they continue to be subpar at the catcher position. The lineup has a couple of steady veterans to keep the play intact.

Tampa Bay will hope that Evan Longoria will return to stardom. Eyes will be on Nick Franklin, the highly valued prospect that was acquired in exchange for David Price. In a competitive division, it’ll be difficult for the Rays to string wins together.

Jul 21, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by team mates after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox

71-91 in 2014

Key Additions: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Hanley Ramirez, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Justin Masterson

Key Subtractions: 3B Will Middlebrooks, OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Rubby De La Rosa

The rebuilding phase in Boston did not last very long, to the dismay of the rest of the division. The 2015 Boston Red Sox are serious worst-to-first candidates.

A mix of youth and outside acquisitions have turned Boston into a contender again. They reinforced their rotation with the addition of Porcello, Miley and Masterson to complement Clay Buchholz. Adding Ramirez and Sandoval to a lineup with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz should provide results.

Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts provide that youthful spark for Boston. With a reloaded arsenal look for the Boston Red Sox to contend for the AL East title in very competitive division.

Next: AL Central Preview