A Look at the AL East: The Toughest League in MLB May Be Even Tougher

MikeContributor IMarch 25, 2009

BOSTON - OCTOBER 21:  Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after his team defeated the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 21, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Red Sox won the game 11-2 and will meet the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Normally, this would be the time of the year where we predict the winners. In the always tough AL East, it could be a little harder to predict this year.

For the past few years, it was always that the "Yankees will be there and so will the Red Sox" situation, making it tough to call who wins the East and second place.

Although they are most likely the wild card team, after last year the Rays seem just as good if not better this year. I do not see the O's making it this year, but they also have what it takes to compete.

And don't forget about Toronto. They are a tough team, and will most likely finish over .500.

So here is what I see for the AL East.

Being a Sox fan, I would love to see them winning the division, but not without a battlet battle between the Sox and the Rays. The big "ifs" for Boston are Papi, Lowell, and Beckett, who seem to be in good shape. The Red Sox has a ton of talent in the system to pick up the slack if need be.

Tampa is just plain young and talented. They are ready to go, and if the emergence of David Price last year and reigning Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria tell you anything, they have plenty of talent ready if needed.

It is going to be a three-way fight for third and fourth place between New York, Baltimore, and Toronto.

I see them all having decent seasons. New York defiantly has what it takes to go all the way. However, they have setbacks including A-Rod's recent steriod scandal and his hip injury. Then one of their top pitchers, A.J. Burnett, will likely not see 20 starts.

And a few other "little things that make the difference" makes it possible for Toronto or Baltimore to finish ahead of the Yankees

The cellar dwellers of the East will not be the Yankees. It will be Toronto or Baltimore.

I am going with Baltimore, but it should be close with the fifth place team close to playing .500. Baltimore has a good young team with a decent pitching staff, but barely not enough to get out of the cellar this year.

So here are my overall predictions.

First and Second Place, and the Wildcard: Boston and Tampa.

Sorry I cannot pick a winner, maybe at the All-Star break. There is no doubt Boston and Tampa will be in the playoffs though.

Third Place: New York.

They should have what it takes to finish ahead of Toronto and Baltimore, but not quite enough to catch Boston and Tampa. An additional note, New York will have a new manager before the end of the year.

Fourth and Fifth Place: Another toss up between Toronto and Baltimore.

Like I said, no team will finish much under .500. I think Toronto might just get the edge by a few games.

So unless there is any truth to the rumor of the Yankees paying Ruth, Mantle, and Dimaggio whatever the want to come back from the dead to play the outfield in the "New Yankee Stadium", the Stienbrenners are waiting for an answer. They are willing to bid against themselves to make it happen.

So we will see how that goes, but these are my predictions for now.