2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

2. Boston Red Sox (3)
Based on the moves they made this offseason, you either love the Red Sox’s chances this year or you’re willing to write them off like your favorite tax exemption. The club acquired ace John Lackey, outfielder Mike Cameron and infielders Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre last winter. Every player will be counted on to contribute this season, but they all come with question marks as well. When healthy, Lackey is virtually guaranteed to win 15-plus games and pitch over 200 innings. But he has to stay healthy. Cameron is a huge upgrade over Jason Bay in the outfield, but he won’t fill Bay’s shoes offensively. Scutaro is coming off a career year but the law of averages suggest that he’ll take a step back in 2010 and there’s no telling what Boston will get out of Beltre after he only appeared in 111 games last season due to an injury. Plus, will Big Papi carry over his production from June to September last year or will he struggle as he did at the start of 2009? That said, the BoSox are still stacked. Along with Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz give Boston the best pitching staff in the division and their bullpen is solid as well. Ortiz, Beltre, Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez comprise an offense that should help Boston win over 95 games this season and compete for a postseason berth. Their defense has also improved dramatically with the addition of Cameron and Ellsbury’s move from center to left. Do they have unanswered questions? Of course – all clubs do at this time of year. Will they overcome the Yankees? Maybe. Will they compete? Most definitely.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (7)
The Rays stumbled out of the gates last year, although they fought through injuries in order to finish with a respectable 84-78 record. But they didn’t make any moves this offseason, so it’s hard to figure out whether or not they’re going to compete for a postseason berth or finish with roughly the same record as they did in 2009. If BJ Upton stays healthy for an entire season and rebounds, then the Rays have more than enough offense in him, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist to compete. And if a No. 1 emerges out of David Price, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann or James Shields, then the Rays will compete. If, if, if, if. I want to believe that the Rays are the perfect team to unseat the Yankees and Red Sox (two teams that have had more than enough time at the top) in the division. But there’s no question that they’ll have to overachieve again like they did in 2008 in order to make the postseason. They have the talent, but they need an ace to emerge, Upton to be productive again and for Crawford (whose contract is up at the end of the year) to stay happy or else they’re destined for another third place finish.

4. Baltimore Orioles (22)
The O’s have several pieces that will get your heat pumping just like the time you stole that car and led the police on a two-hour joy ride down the interstate. Wait…what? Nick Markakis is already a fine ballplayer, Adam Jones showed his vast potential last year before getting hurt and Matt Wieters is already being described as the next Joe Mauer (only with more power). The club also improved in a couple of areas over the offseason, namely at third base with the acquisition of Miguel Tejada, at first base with Garrett Atkins and in their starting rotation with Kevin Millwood. But it’s hard to measure how good this club will be when they play in the AL East and their pitching still has the potential to be down right hideous again. It says a lot about a team’s starting staff when the team leader in ERA finished with a 5.04 mark (Jeremy Gutherie). Maybe Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta will surprise and overachieve this season, but chances are Baltimore will top out around 75-80 wins in 2010. They should be improved, but again, their division will keep them from competing for a postseason berth again this year.

5. Toronto Blue Jays (27)
Mom always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all. But mom doesn’t have to complete this preview now does she? The Blue Jays traded away ace Roy Halladay in the offseason and while they may benefit from the deal down the road, they don’t have anyone to pick up the slack in 2010. They also lost one of their top offensive pieces from last year in Marco Scutaro and replaced him with Alex Gonzalez. That’s great news if you’re into defensive wizards that can’t hit over .250 on a consistent basis. The club does have a couple of nice/promising/okay/whatever pieces Vernon Wells, Ricky Romero, Brandon Marrow, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider, but the bottom line is that the Jays are in rebuilding mode and will wind up collecting dust all season in the basement of the AL East. They’re going to be horrible and there’s very little to like about their chances to succeed in 2010. Sorry, Mom.

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