2008 AL East Preview: All Signs Point to Red Sox Repeat
Boston Red Sox: ’07 Record: 96-66, Won Division. World Series Champs
Key Additions: 1B Sean Casey (Tigers), RP David Aardsma (White Sox)
Casey adds a steady defensive first basemen and Aardsma beefs up there bullpen.
Key Losses: RP Eric Gagne (signed with Brewers)
Losing Gagne does hurt because it takes away from their bullpen flexibility. However they should be ok without him.
Key Factors: Will standing pat work? Can they be just as good as last season? Will Casey be a liability at first and with the bat? Will they have a solid setup man to get to Papelbon?
Best Case Scenario: What could be better than a repeat in Bean town?
Worst Case Scenario: What could be worse than the opposite? Worst case however for this team is the Wild Card thanks to a suspect middle relief corps.
Most Likely: The Red Sox should win the AL East by making another trade for a middle reliever at midseason.
New York Yankees: ’07 Record: 94-68, 2nd in AL East. Lost in ALDS to Indians
Key Additions: RP LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawkins adds to a troubled bullpen that hurt the Yankees all season.
Key Losses: P Roger Clemens (free agent), 1B Doug Mientkiewicz.
Clemens had a rough season but still added a good, experienced pitcher. Mientkiewicz was a good defensive player at first base, which the Yankees will miss.
Key Factors: Do they have enough pitching to contend with the Red Sox? Can Alex Rodriguez have the same kind of season and finally perform in the postseason? Who is going to play first base?
Best Case Scenario: The kids led by Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte hold down the pitching staff. The bullpen works itself out and someone proves they can play first base.
Worst Case Scenario: No one can stay healthy or produce in the rotation. The bullpen is rough, Joe Girardi can’t handle the managerial pressure in New York and no one can play first base enough to hit or field.
Most Likely Scenario: Their offense should carry them all season. They will be in the race all season, but their pitching might hold them back the last few weeks and they cannot respond.
Toronto Blue Jays: ’07 Record: 83-79, 3rd in AL East
Key Additions: C Rod Barajas (signed from Texas), 3B Scott Rolen (trade with St. Louis), IF Marco Scutaro (trade with Oakland).
Adding Barajas gives the Jays a good hitting catcher. Rolen is a good veteran but has had injury problems. Scutaro is a scrappy player that gives Toronto some good versatility.
Key Losses: 3B Troy Glaus (trade with St. Louis)
Losing Glaus is tough but he was also injury prone.
Key Factors: Can B.J. Ryan and Rolen stay healthy? Can A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay stay healthy? Vernon Wells and Alex Rios will have to anchor the lineup from the right side all season lone.
Best Case Scenario: Everyone is healthy and the trio of Wells, Rios, and Overbay lead the lineup. Pitching carries the team into the Wild Card spot.
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries plague them all season long. Young kids take over and the clubhouse goes into disarray. Manager John Gibbons is fired after not meeting expectations.
Most Likely Scenario: Everyone except Rolen stays healthy and the team competes in the East. They could likely finish second in the division and contend for the Wild Card.
Baltimore Orioles: ’07 Record: 69-93, 4th in the AL East
Key Additions: OF Adam Jones (trade with Seattle), RP George Sherill (trade with Seattle), SP Troy Patton (trade with Houston), OF Luke Scott (trade with Houston).
Baltimore acquired mostly young players in an effort to rebuild. Jones is rated a top OF prospect. Sherill is a quality left handed reliever. Patton and Scott are both young and highly regarded players.
Key Losses: SP Erik Bedard (trade with Seattle), SS Miguel Tejada (trade with Houston).
The Orioles traded away their two biggest stars to hurry up the rebuilding process.
Key Factors: How good will these kids be? Can they rebuild quickly? Will anyone come watch this team?
Best Case Scenario: All the kids get a lot of playing time to develop. They show flashes of talent and give Baltimore hope for the future.
Worst Case Scenario: The kids play like kids and they lose 100 games. They draw very poor attendance and some of kids do not look like they are part of the future.
Most Likely Scenario: The young players look OK and show flashes. They may not lose 100 games, but have the potential to finish last in the AL East.
Tampa Bay Rays: ’07 Record: 66-96 5th in AL East
Key Additions: 3B Willie Abayar (trade with Atlanta), SS Jason Bartlett (trade with Minnesota), SP Matt Garza (trade with Minnesota), OF Cliff Floyd (signed from Chicago Cubs), RP Troy Percival (signed out of retirement).
Abayar and Bartlett will make up a nice left side of a young infield with some serious speed. Garza gives the Rays a good third starter behind their already younger ones. Floyd gives the team some veteran experience as does Percival.
Key Losses: OF Delmon Young (trade with Minnesota), OF Elijah Dukes (trade with Washington).
Losing their two best OF prospects is tough but the Rays have enough young talent to go around.
Key Factors: How good can Kazmir, Shields, and Garza be? Can Percival stay healthy? Will Rocco Baldelli stay healthy? Will a new name mean a new era that might mean winning?
Best Case Scenario: The pitching realizes its potential and does great. The Rays generate some runs and crawl out of the cellar.
Worst Case Scenario: Kazmir’s spring training elbow injury is serious and Percival cannot stay healthy. Baldelli comes up with another injury and the team cannot keep it together.
Most Likely Scenario: The pitching staff could carry this team most of the season. Carlos Pena has another monster season and the other kids step up. This team should finish miles ahead of Baltimore.
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