The American League East Division is one of the most difficult divisions in baseball.
It seems as if every year “experts” predict that the Red Sox or Yankees will come first in the division, with the other team finishing second.
When Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers allowed the team to increase their payroll, they became an instant threat.
However, despite all the additions the Jays made, ‘experts” still do not consider them a threat in the AL East.
I must admit in advance that I’m a die hard Jays fan but I would like to set that aside and analyze the top three teams position by position to find out which team may win the AL East.
Edge: New York Yankees, Jorge Posada
2. Boston Red Sox, Jason Varitek
3. Toronto Blue Jays, Gregg Zaun
All three teams starting catchers are above thirty-six years of age and age is usually not kind to catchers. Posada still provides pop and is good for at least 80 RBI’s. In addition he is strong defensively and throws well.
Edge: Boston Red Sox’s, Kevin Youkilis
2. Toronto Blue Jays, Lyle Overbay
3. New York Yankees, Jason Giambi
Youkilis has the edge here as he provides gold glove defense and has a solid bat. Overbay had a season to forget in 2007, but he should bounce back this season; he should hit around .280 with 20 home runs and 75 RBI’s. Giambi will most likely spend more time at DH then playing in the field. Don’t under estimate him as a 30 homerun season is a possibility.
Edge: New York Yankees, Robinson Cano
2. Toronto Blue Jays, Aaron Hill
3. Boston Red Sox’s, Dustin Pedroia
The Yankees have the edge at 2nd as Cano is an exceptional player at the plate and in the field. I had a difficult time determining who had the edge after him. I selected Hill ahead of Pedroia as he provides more pop at the plate.
Edge: New York Yankees, Derek Jeter
2. Toronto Blue Jays, David Eckstein
3. Boston Red Sox, Julio Lugo
The Jays have a slim edge over the Red Sox as Eckstein provides reliable defense and a better batting average then Lugo. Lugo is a temporary solution at shortstop until the Red Sox’s find someone better. Jeter is still one of the best shortstops in the game although his range has decreased somewhat over the past few seasons.
Edge: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez
2. Boston Red Sox, Mike Lowell
3. Toronto Blue Jays, Scott Rolen
As much as everyone hates Alex Rodriguez, he’s a once in a lifetime talent. He had a monster season in 2007 and although he won’t top those numbers this season, he should come close to them. Lowell had a career year in 2007 but don’t expect him to top those numbers again. If Rolen can stay healthy he will be a huge boost to the Blue Jays as he’s a much better defender and club house presence then Glaus was.
Edge: Boston Red Sox, Manny Ramirez
2. New York Yankees, Johnny Damon/ Hideki Matsui
3. Toronto Blue Jays, Shannon Stewart/ Reed Johnson/ Matt Stairs
Manny Ramirez has the edge here, but it’s not because of his defense. His power numbers have been declining since 2005 but he can still hit for contact. The Yankees have an aging Damon in leftfield but he can still steal bases. The Jays have a log jam in left and spring training will determine who wins the starting role.
Edge: Toronto Blue Jays, Vernon Wells
2. New York Yankees, Melky Cabrera
3. Boston Red Sox’s, Coco Crisp
Vernon Wells played hurt in 2007 and his numbers suffered. Watch for a return to form at the plate for Wells along with gold glove defense in center. The Red Sox’s tried to deal Crisp over the off-season to open up room for top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury (with no luck).
Edge: Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Rios
2. New York Yankees, Bobby Abreu
3. Boston Red Sox’s, J.D Drew
Alex Rios is an emerging star and is a lock to hit at least 30 homers this season. Drew struggled last season with personal problems but should bounce back this season and hit 20 homers. Abreu doesn’t hit many homeruns but he’s had at least a 100 RBI’s for the past five seasons.
Edge: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz
2. Toronto Blue Jays, Frank Thomas
3. New York Yankees, Johnny Damon/Jason Giambi
The Yankees lack a true DH and will use Giambi and Damon when they’re not playing in the field. One has to wonder how much Frank Thomas has left in the tank but he should provide decent numbers.
Edge: Toronto Blue Jays, Roy Halladay/Dustin McGowan/A.J Burnett/Shaun Marcum/Jesse Litsch
2. Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett/Daisuke Matsuzaka/Curt Schilling/Tim Wakefield/Jon Lester
3. New York Yankees, Chien-Ming Wang/Andy Pettitte/Phil Hughes/Mike Mussina/Joba Chamberlain
Toronto has the edge here and I’ll explain why, as many people would disagree. Toronto has the best pitcher out of all three teams in Roy Halladay. Curt Schilling is having shoulder problems and his career is in jeopardy. The Red Sox signed Bartolo Colon in hopes he can regain his 2005 form. The Yankees offer an aging starting rotation but Hughes and Chamberlain have the chance to lead the staff if they can take the pressure of pitching in New York. Wang lacks a true strikeout pitch, but his sinker is very effective in getting ground ball outs. McGowan is ready for a break out season and fifteen wins is a major possibility. The Red Sox can regain the edge in this position if they can have a healthy Colon and Schilling in their rotation.
Edge: Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Toronto Blue Jays
The Red Sox feature a very strong bullpen with Jonathan Papelbon closing out games. The Yankees have one of the best closers of all time in Mariano Rivera. At this point in his career he must be used carefully and a 70+ inning season is not an option anymore. The Jays have questions in their bullpen with B.J Ryan returning from surgery but have Jeremy Accardo as option B.
For each position the team with the edge got two points, the second place at the position got one point and third position got no points. With this scoring system, the Yankees had twelve points, Red Sox eleven points and the Blue Jays had ten points. Keep in mind that they’re many other factors that occur during the season such as injuries, trades and the development of the younger players. I still have hope that the Jays will make the playoffs this year. I’m not convinced the Yankees will win the AL East with a questionable starting rotation and an aging team. It'll be exciting to see how the division plays out over the season. Any of the three teams have a shot at first place.