2014 AL East Preview
2013 Record: 85-77
Key losses: CL Jim Johnson, LF Nate McLouth, 2B Brian Roberts, RHP Scott Feldman, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, IF Danny Valencia, OF Mike Morse
Key additions: OF Nelson Cruz, SP Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Bud Norris
Sportsbook Projected Win Total: 80.5
2014 Projection: The 2013 was full of promise for a team that made the playoffs for the first time in over 15 years previously. But injuries and some inconsistency caught up with them to derail their season. I look at the losses of McLouth and Johnson as their most important loses (the later to a trade), but late additions of Jimenez and Cruz should be big boosts. They stole Cruz from anyone that was interested, as most teams thought he was looking for big money and a longer contract. This team was already deep with talent with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and power hitter Chris Davis. But the key is the return of Manny Machado from a gruesome injury, if he can contribute they have a shot. They can take the division if they add one more starter.
Final Record: 85-77
Boston Red Sox
2013 Record: 97-65
Key Losses: OF Jacoby Ellisbury
Key Additions: None
Sportsbook Projected Win Total: 87.5
2014 Projection: The Defending World Champion Red Sox had a great bounce back year after they dumped a lot of dead weight to the Dodgers. David Ortiz had a bounce back year, Dustin Pedroia was solid as usual, the pitching came together late and they rode that wave to the ring. This offseason was quiet; they brought back Mike Napoli and watched Ellisbury head to New York. They seem content bringing in new talent for their deep farm system to replace him. I think a step back is in the cards for this team, but not enough to wrestle the division away from them. They return a solid core and only will be looking at how to replace Ortiz in the next few years.
Final Record: 93-69
New York Yankees
2013 Record: 85-77
Key Losses: 2B Robinson Cano, SP Andy Petitte, RP Mariano Rivera, 3B Alex Rodriguez (for 2014 season)
Key Additions: OF Jacoby Ellisbury, OF Carlos Beltran, C Brian McCann, and SP Masahiro Tanaka
Sportsbook Projected Win Total: 83.5
2014 Projection: The New York Yankees missed the playoffs for only the second time in the last 19 years. The last time this happened the Yankees responded is spending close to half a billion in contracts. This time around, they spent more and $182M salary cap be damned! The Yankees offseason can’t be an A+ when you lose one of the top 5 players in the league in Cano. But adding Ellisbury, Beltran and McCain is a huge upgrade in the weak 2013 offense. McCain is the big sign to me; he will help the rotation and be a leader for years to come once the Captain leaves. The re-signing of Kuroda is a nice piece and the import of Tanaka is going to be a nice plus. It pushes Ivan Nova to the 4 spot and a potential sleeper in Michael Pineda as number 5. CC Sabathia has a big year ahead of him, the fastball is down and he is in great shape but not a familiar one. The question marks are in the infield, can Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeria and Brian Roberts stay healthy all year? This being Jeter’s last year can be a big distractin for most, but the Captain won’t let it be. They will be ready to play and try to win for him. Third base is a loss with no A-Rod, but I think the offense will help push them into the playoffs.
Final Record: 90-72
Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Record: 92-71
Key Losses: RP Fernando Rodney, UT Kelly Johnson, DH Luke Scott
Key Additions: RP Heath Bell, RP Grant Balfour, SP Erik Bedard, C Ryan Hanigan
Sportsbook Projected Win Total: 88.5
2014 Projection: The Rays away do more with less and the offseason isn’t their time to win. They had a playoff year last year but came up short when it counted. The Rays decided to bring back David Price to everyone’s surprise, maybe even Price’s. However the Rays were quietly active this offseason, making small moves to add depth. They let Rodney walk in the off season, but plug in Bell and Balfour. Erik Bedard is a nice addition but might be insurance in case the Ray change their mind midseason on Price. Re-signed 1B James Loney is a $21M gamble, but if he produces then it could be a steal. This team has the fire power to get back to playoffs, and their starting pitching is strong as always with Price, Cobb, and Moore. I think they should at least play their way into the playoffs.
Final Record: 89-73
Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Record: 74-88
Key loss: RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Brad Lincoln, LHP Darren Oliver
Key additions: C Dioner Navarro
Sportsbook Projected Win Total: 77.5
2014 Projection: After a huge offseason last year, nobody will accuse them of “winning the winter” this year. GM Alex Anthopoulos has kept the Jays out of the headlines this time around and not really added much talent. I was waiting for them to add Ervin Santana but that has yet to happen, so the offseason has been quieter than expected. They still have Reyes primed for a bounce back year, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista. They quietly added a catcher to replace Travis d’Arnaud in Navarro and are banking on bounce back years in general. They still have one of the better third basemen in Brett Lawrie, but he now needs to have a big year. Are they still the best team on paper after one bad year, I doubt it but they can’t be worst. Playing in the East will lower their record in general.
Final Record: 76-86
*denotes Wild Card Team