AL East Report Card: Offseason Review
First published on Beantown Sports Observer
This past offseason was not only big for the Boston Red Sox, but for the teams in their division as well. New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and even Baltimore made some significant moves on their roster and though some more bad than good, the division will be tough this season.
An always dangerous Yankees team, a young and eager team from Baltimore, a team looking for more success after a lost season in Tampa Bay, and the reconstructing Blue Jays will all be forces in the Division—but who made the best moves this offseason?
Key Additions: Kevin Millwood, Garrett Atkins, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada
Key Losses: Dany Baez
Baltimore is always a team in my eyes that doesn’t do much because they just can’t. They are not a financially backed team that can afford big money players and they don’t have many other tactics to acquire big names. However this offseason, Baltimore got some names that have potential to make an impact such as Kevin Millwood to lead the rotation and Mike Gonzalez to stabilize the bullpen.
Due to Baltimore’s limitations when it comes to what they can get in the offseason, I think they did very well and will have a nice mix of young guys and veterans in the clubhouse.
Do I think they can contend to win the East? Not necessarily, but this team reminds me of the Tampa Bay Rays team a few years ago—but the Orioles need to be consistent. They usually have a great start to the season and they will need to follow up if they want to contend. I personally think they have a good shot at at least playing the spoiler role and I think this team is built for the future.
Final Grade: B
Toronto Blue Jays
Key losses- Roy Halladay, Marco Scutaro, Kyle Drabek
Key additions- Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Morrow
What has Toronto accomplished this past offseason? Well they cleared out a lot of money by trading their ace, Roy Halladay over to Philadelphia in a monumental deal that also moved Cliff Lee to the Mariners. In exchange, the Blue Jays picked up some great rookies like Kyle Drabek.
Besides that, Toronto really didn’t do all that much. They lost Marco Scutaro to Boston in a shortstop free agent exchange as they acquired Alex Gonzalez early in the offseason.
They did collect a few picks by letting Scutaro walk as well, so they really are in the rebuilding stages. Don’t expect them to compete, although they are always a thorn in the side to Boston and New York. They have a young team that has all they need to compete in the future, but I really expect them to have a least place finish. They did a decent job, but nothing to compare to what other teams did.
Final Grade: C+
Tampa Bay Rays
Key additions- Rafael Soriano, Kelly Shoppach
Tampa is the hardest team to write about because they really did nothing to help a team that took a turn downwards from their AL Championship season the year before. Their bullpen struggled and they dealt with some offense issues—and nothing was addressed to make Tampa competitors in 2010. They have a young team including Carl Crawford, David Price, and Wade Davis that can all be dangerous.
Unfortunately though, it is just not enough for Tampa to reach the promiseland. They could have traded at least one of their prospects for an arm in the bullpen for it, but I guess there’s always time before the Trading Deadline to improve. I just think they could have done more.
Final Grade: C-
Key losses: Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Phil Coke, Jerry Hairston
Key additions: Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, Javier Vasquez
Well it may not seem like New York didn’t do much after spending almost half a billion dollars last season, they really didn’t need to do much to improve. It was really a case of the best getting better over this past offseason. The Evil Empire will say goodbye to Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui to be replaced by younger and more reliable assets in Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson. New York also added another solid pitcher to their rotation in Javier Vazquez who fills a whole in the rotation.
With a phenomenal mix of veteran and young talent, New York is a force to be reckoned with. Even though they didn’t do as much as Boston, they still have a great chance in finding themselves in the World Series for a second consecutive season. They seem like the odds on favorite to win again.
Final Grade: A-
Key losses: Billy Wagner, Jason Bay, Casey Kotchman
Key additions: Mike Cameron, John Lackey, Adrian Beltre, Jeremy Hermida, Marco Scutaro
In what was predicted as the “bridge year” by many members of Red Sox Nation, Theo Epstein proved the doubters wrong and completely revamped the Local 9 by acquiring the hottest names on the market in John Lackey and Mike Cameron.
The team took a hit in the bullpen and batting order, especially with the loss of Jason Bay, but Boston has found a new philosophy in defense and pitching to lead them to the championship.
I feel as though they can do it and even if they need a bat, Adrian Gonzalez is likely to be dealt away by July 31st. I imagine Boston to become frontrunners. They have all the potential to make it and with a new outlook on things, I expect great things from the Sox as they look towards making it further in the playoffs. They certainly have the credentials.
Final Grade: A
In conclusion the division looks good this season and only time will tell if the Red Sox philosophy is a success and it will also take time to see just who are the real contenders in the division. I expect New York and Boston at the top as usual, but I’m excited to see how the other teams can compete.
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