Philip Tor| Reporter
With all the blockbuster deals and free agent acquisitions just about over and the spring training rosters nearly set, the early front runner for baseball’s most competitive division has emerged. The AL east, after a poor finish last year with 3 teams below .500, has shaken up the picture acquiring new exciting players such as David Price and Aroldis Chapman that will hopefully make the 2016 season and exciting one.
The Orioles had a very successful offseason, yet a quiet one to the average baseball fan. The Orioles biggest moves were simply re-signing the core of a team that helped the franchise to an ALCS in 2014 (Chris Davis and Darren O’Day). For the most part of the last decade the Orioles have been at the bottom of the bucket being bullied by the Red Sox and Yankees, but after several years of building and sculpting, the team has finished above .500 the past 4 years. Players like Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado have helped rejuvenate a franchise looking for a spark and an image. The Orioles are still looking for a top of the rotation starting pitcher, and an outfielder, but with players still on the market like Yovani Gallardo, Dexter Fowler and Yoenis Cespedes, Orioles GM Dan Duquette still has time to further distinguish his club as playoff worthy.
2016 PREDICTION: 82-80
TORONTO BLUE JAYS:
The Blue Jays had a rough off season, losing out on the David Price bidding war, and failing to sign any big arms to help their rotation. Still the Blue Jays are ready to make a run at another ALCS berth. The Jays will get Marcus Stroman back after an impressive 2015 playoffs coming off an ACL tear in spring training the same year. Stroman has proved himself to be the real deal and ready to be the ace for this team. The signing of J.A Happ, and the re-signing of Marco Estrada will prove to be critical for depth purposes, as they are competing in a division with sluggers such as Chris Davis and Mark Texeira. With the Jays still housing players like Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, the 6 might have yet another year atop the division.
2016 PREDICTION: 88-74
TAMPA BAY RAYS:
The Rays are in for a long year with the newly bolstered division. The Rays are coming off back-to-back under.500 season with little signs of improvement. This offseason the Rays failed to sign any potential free agents. The only move the Rays made came in November where they traded a handful of prospects to the Seattle Mariners for Shortstop Brad Miller who has posted a .248 average in 343 games since being called up in 2013. That move was also made to replace Asdrubal Cabrera who left Tampa to sign with the New York Mets. Super-star Evan Longoria has taken a nose dive the past few seasons while battling injuries and has left the team without a proven leader. Rays fans better hope a move is made by spring training, but if not I would recommend only watching this team when Chris Archer is pitching.
2016 PREDICTION: 67-95 average attendance of 2,000 fans, and a switch back to Devil Rays and then hopefully a re-location to Memphis, New Orleans, or maybe even Indianapolis.
NEW YORK YANKEES:
The Yankees lived up to their reputation this offseason by once again trying to win the World Series before a pitch has been thrown. The Yankees first big move came when they traded RHP Adam Warren to the Chicago Cubs for fan-favorite Starlin Castro. Castro has been on the decline the past few seasons after a strong start to his career. Castro switched to Second Base last season after prospect Addison Russell proved to be a more consistent option. Nevertheless Castro will obviously add to an already dangerous Yankees lineup. The Yanks biggest move of the off season is when GM Brian Cashman redeemed himself by acquiring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for 4 prospects. This move officially labeled the Yankees as the scariest team in respect to their lights out bullpen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and now Chapman. The Yankees made their moves now its time to put their money where their mouths are and bring home number 28.
2016 PREDICTION: 95-67
BOSTON RED SOX:
The start of the Dave Dombrowski era in Beantwon started off with a bang. Dombrowski first acquired closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres in exchange for 4 minor-league prospects. This should help improve a very inconsistent bullpen that blew save after save in 2014. Next Dombrowski signed former Yankee outfielder Chris Young to an already crowded outfield full of young exciting players. Dombrowski yet again added to the bullpen by trading for Carson Smith, a proven young reliever from Seattle. 2015 wins leader Wade Miley was traded to Seattle to make room for David Price who the Red Sox signed to a record 7 year $217 million deal. This gave the Red Sox the ace they needed to take the pressure off middle of the rotation pitchers like Rick Porcello and Clay Buchholz. Even with a new and improved rotation and bullpen the question that still remains is, what Red Sox will we see in 2016? Will the 2015 acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval finally prove to be worth the money? Will David Ortiz’s power numbers continue despite his age? Will Dustin Pedroia step up and be the leader this clubhouse needs? Will the young talent on this club finally break out? All in all 2016 is a make or break year for Boston that will decide the future for the next 5 or maybe 10 years.
2016 PREDICTION: 84-78
- New York Yankees (95-67)
- Toronto Blue Jays (88-74)
- Boston Red Sox (84-78)
- Baltimore Orioles (82-80)
- Tampa Bay Rays (67-95)
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION:
Chicago Cubs def. New York Yankees in 6 games