Feb 20, 2013

Predicting the 2013 AL East

by Aaron Giddens
So, here we are, just about a week or so before Spring Training games begin. It's time for us to go over my predictions on how the AL East will do for 2013. Let's jump right in.

Boston Red Sox: The BoSox had a decent off season with losses and gains. The most obvious and right up front change is that they fired manager Bobby Valentine after one season, and really, who could blame them as they went 69-73, good bad enough for the AL East cellar in 2012 and their first losing season since 1997. The Sox searched for a while before negotiating a deal with the Blue Jays that sent John Farrell back to Boston, where he was a pitching coach in 2011, to manage the Sox and sent Mike Aviles to Toronto. (The Sox will also receive a player to be named later in the deal.) The Sox also lost players after 2012, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cody Ross, among others (Full free agents list can be found here.) In gains the Sox got Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara and Stephen Drew who rounds out the notable signings. The Sox also retained "Big Papi" David Ortiz. So what does all this mean for the Sox in 2013? I don't think it means much, they still lost a lot in the blockbuster trade towards the end of the 2012 season that sent players like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzales to LA. I see the Sox being in or towards the cellar again in 2013, consider them in rebulding mode. 2013 Prediction: 5th place, 75-87.

New York Yankees: The Bombers had a interesting 2012, going 95-67 good enough for the AL East championship, taking it by 2 games over the O's. They made it to the ALCS before being eliminated in 4 games by the Tigers. They resigned Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to one year contracts each and re-signed Ichiro to a 2 year contract. To free agency they lost notable names like Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin.(Full free agents list seen here.) They signed Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner. These moves in mind, what does this mean for the 2013 Yankees? The Yankees are very similar to the team they've fielded for the past few years, so there won't be much difference. However, the team is getting older and with all the competition now, especially with the Blue Jays who we will talk about in a minute, I don't see the Yankees having enough left in the tank to do anything. Especially with two of their stars - Jeter and Rivera - coming off injuries and A-Rod fresh left hip surgery he's still rehabbing from. They'll manage a winning season, but that's about it. But keep in mind, they are the Yankees and surprises can be waiting just around the corner, especially with that pocketbook the Steinbrenner's have. Then again, Hal and Hank are not their dad, but I guess they don't have to be with Brian Cashman there. 2013 Prediction: 4th place, 89-73.

Baltimore Orioles: The O's had a magical run in 2012 that rivals the Rays' 2008 season. Going from a 69-93, 5th place finish in 2011 to a 93-69 record in 2012, good enough for 2nd in the AL East, missing the division title by 2 games and making the playoffs as the first seed wild card in the AL. They beat the Rangers in the 1-game Wild Card game round before being eliminated by the Yankees in the ALDS in 5 games. The O's lost Mark Reynolds, Jim Thome and others to free agency. (Full list can be seen here.) With no real eye popping signings, the O's flew under the radar this offseason retooling their starting rotation and messing the bullpen. The O's biggest question going in to Spring Training was the rotation with lots of options. So all this noted what does this mean for the O's in 2013? The O's will be looking to continue the success of 2012. I believe they will, but I think they'll fall off ever so slightly. They'll claim one of the two AL Wild Card spots again under the guidance of Buck Showalter. 2013 Prediction: 3rd place, 91-71.

Toronto Blue Jays: Are there any words to accurately describe the Jays' offseason? The team finished 2012 with a 73-89 record, 4th place. They had talent, it just didn't result in success on the field. With them losing Ferrell back to Boston, they brought in John Gibbons to be their new manager. I'm not gonna touch their free agent losses and resignings, if you want to read about it, you can here. Now about their acquisitions. Um, yeah, well. They got a crap load from Marlins in a blockbuster trade I'm sure you heard about. We even posted about it. They acquired Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio in that trade and loss relatively nothing. The trade had Miami fuming, and had Toronto and the rest of baseball going "Did that really just happen?" The Jays definitely got better, how much though? I think they'll find themselves in the playoffs this year. Little doubt in my mind about that. 2013 Prediction: 1st, 99-63.

Tampa Bay Rays: Finally, our Rays. The Rays went 90-72, missing the playoffs by 3 games in the wild card and 5 in the division race. The 2012 season saw Price emerge to his full potential and win his first Cy Young Award, beating out King Felix (who pitched a perfect game against the Rays in 2012) and Justin Verlander (2011's AL Cy Young and MVP). The season was full of ups and downs from Brandon Allen's walk-off HR against the Angels to the aforementioned perfect-o thrown by King Felix. The offseason was dominated by the quest to improve the offense. First thing the Rays did is they brought back Joel Peralta. Declined the option on Luke Scott (who they later resigned) and picked up the options on Rodney and Molina. They signed Longo to a long term extension keeping him in Tampa Bay through 2022. We lost BJ Upton to Atlanta and Carlos Pena to Houston. (Full free agent list here.) They also lost Shields, Davis and Elliot Johnson to KC in a huge trade that saw the Rays acquire top prospect Wil Meyers. He'll likely see play this year but will likely start the season in AAA. They signed Kelly Johnson and James Loney. So, all things considered, what are the Rays gonna do this year? Well, regular season wise, they will succeed in seeing the playoffs again, but as a wild card. It's hard to under estimate the powerful duo of Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon who seem to have this low-budget success thing down to a science. 2013 Prediction: 2nd Place, 97-65

Now you may be asking "What is this? Why do you have the Rays finishing second?!" I'll explain, I think the Rays vastly improved. But they, in my opinion, did not seal that glaring hole in the offense where they lack a second reliable big bat to back up Longo. They likely got more consistent, but with no big bat and the much criticized Derek Shelton still in Tampa Bay, I don't see the improvement needed to overcome the Jays and take the division crown. But I do keep in mind that this is the Rays after all. They've brought so many surprises in the past 5 years, I have no reason to expect 2013 to be any different. So they could take the division with their trademarked Rays magic, but as for "on paper", this is what I see.

And that is my predictions for 2013. What's yours?

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