2011 AL East Preview: Where Do Red Sox, Yankees Stand After Eventful Winters?

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2011 AL East Preview: Where Do Red Sox, Yankees Stand After Eventful Winters?

Collectively, the AL East was as busy a division as there was in baseball this offseason.

After focusing on pitching and defense the Winter before and then failing to make the playoffs in 2010, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein took a different approach this offseason.

At the Winter Meetings, Epstein seized an opportunity to add a pair of marquee hitters in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The moves have the Red Sox poised to return to the playoffs in 2011.

Whereas Crawford's new team are arguably the biggest winners of the Winter, his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays, are among the biggest losers of the off season.

Aside from Crawford, the team said goodbye to Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Rafael Soriano, among others.

Though they kept Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in the fold, the New York Yankees failed to make the splash their arch rivals from Boston did.

After Cliff Lee spurned them to return to Philadelphia, the Bombers turned around and added Rafael Soriano to their pen and a slew of inexpensive veterans (Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia) to compete for spots in their suddenly thin rotation.

Andy MacPhail supplied Buck Showalter with more than enough power (Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero) to work with in his first full season in Baltimore, while Alex Anthopoulos furthered the Blue Jays' facelift by jettisoning Shaun Marcum and (somehow) Vernon Wells.

The Red Sox and Yankees appear to be in it to win it, and for all their losses this Winter, the Rays still have the most important ingredient of any championship caliber team; a deep, talented rotation. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both making serious progress.

This division race is always among the most interesting in baseball, and I don't expect that to change in 2011.

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