September 26, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Where do the Yankees rank in the AL East in 2013 after the offseason?


Man, what an offseason it’s been for the AL East. We’ve seen everything from monster blockbuster trades to big free agent signings. All the while, the team who used to be a part of it all, took a backseat to the whole madness and instead opted for less noise. It’s true, the offseason still has plenty of life left in it, but let’s breakdown some of the division rivals offseasons.

Baltimore Orioles

Many are wondering if the Orioles are a one-hit wonder, or if they are here to stay. They have plenty of young talent due to their futility throughout the past decade and a half. Names like Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy will soon be staples who excel alongside Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis. The O’s prospects are looking good, for sure.

As for the offseason signings, they didn’t dip into the free agent market as much as one would think. In fact, they lost corner infielder Mark Reynolds after he was non-tendered by the team (later signed by the Cleveland Indians) in November. Other than that, they’ve been relatively quiet, however, perhaps the biggest news here is that they are going after big-name free agents and actually have a chance at signing them.

Tampa Bay Rays

With such a deep farm system that includes a ridiculous amount of good pitching, and Joe Maddon manning the ship, the Rays will always be in contention. As is always the case with the Rays, once a player gets a little too expensive they pass and call up the next guy. This year, it was BJ Upton, who darted to Atlanta via free agency, and James Shields who was traded to the Royals, after spending their entire careers with the Rays. The Shields trade netted them OF Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery, and 3B Patrick Leonard, but the Rays also gave up RHP Wade Davis in the deal. Both pitchers the Rays received in the deal are top-tier talent. The catch is obviously the talented Myers, who was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the year after hitting 37 home runs with a .313/.387/.600 slash line.

They also lost Carlos Pena after he signed with the Houston Astros, however, they picked up James Loney ,after he wasn’t re-signed by the Boston Red Sox, to take over first base duties. The Rays acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins to help finally shore up the left side of the infield. They also retained the services of reigning Cy Young award winner, David Price, by avoiding arbitration and signing him to a one-year deal.

Jose Reyes: one of the many new additions to a now-powerful Toronto Blue Jays club (Image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays have their hand firmly in the cookie jar this year and are hoping to pull out something very sweet come October. They made the two biggest splashes of the offseason by sending C Jeff Mathis, SS Yunel Escobar, IF Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, and LHP Justin Nicolino to Miami in exchange for C John Buck, SS Jose Reyes, IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, and $4 million.

They didn’t stop there, they also added RHP R.A. Dickey, C Mike Nickeas, and C Josh Thole from the New York Mets for C Travis d’Arnaud, C John Buck, OF Wuilmer Becerra, and RHP Noah Syndergaard. It’s a ridiculous amount of turnover for a team that is aiming to contend for at least the next few years. The pitching staff alone now includes Dickey, Johnson, and Buerhle to be accompanied by Brandon Morrow and former all-star Ricky Romero. Also, the lineup now has a superstar talent in Reyes to set the table for Jose Bautista. Seemingly overnight, the Jays upgraded their entire team at the expense of a few of their farm hands. All told they gave up the #1, #2, #3, #5, and #8 prospects in their system in order to acquire the Major League talent they have this winter. They also added former Yankee, Melky Cabrera to the team via free agency. The Jays, on paper at least, are looking pretty formidable in 2013.

Boston Red Sox

What an absolute mess the Red Sox were in 2012. Between the bad pitching, especially a porous bullpen, they just couldn’t get it together. They traded away Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers last season to help free up money for this offseason. They weren’t world beaters in the market this offseason, but they did pick up some good pieces in positions of need. For instance, Joel Hanrahan, who was acquired from the Pirates, helps solidify the back end of the bullpen and will likely supplant incumbent closer Andrew Bailey. Meanwhile, after losing OF Cody Ross to free agency, the Red Sox added outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino to play on either side of Jacoby Ellsbury. They also added Stephen Drew, to take over the revolving door that is shortstop. Their biggest “get” was catcher Mike Napoli, who will persumably step in to provide power and protection for David Ortiz.

The Red Sox didn’t lose much outside Loney to the Rays, Mark Melacon to the Pirates, and Ross to the Diamondbacks. They also get John Lackey back from injury, after spending the entire 2012 season on the shelf.

Conclusion

While the Yankees didn’t add many pieces this year, and didn’t go for the big splash they’re known for, they are still very well in the hunt for the playoffs. The Blue Jays are the biggest newcomers to the fray. The O’s lost a little power with Reynolds leaving, but they still have a good bullpen and a underrated starting pitching staff. They’re a scrappy team, much like the Yankees were in the mid-to-late 90′s.

The Rays have set out a blueprint as to how to win in the AL East without a ton of money: draft well and get some value out of your top players before losing them to free agency. Meanwhile, the Red Sox still have plenty of question marks surrounding their team. The Sox didn’t add much to their starting staff other than Ryan Dempster, who is aging and didn’t look too good with the Rangers last season.

All in all, you can’t win a title in the offseason, but you can certainly build the best product as possible, and the Jays are the winners so far this offseason. It’ll remain to be seen if they translate that into wins and a playoff berth (See: 2012 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Special thanks to MLBdepthcharts.com for compiling transactions

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  • Bill B

    Despite a disappointing series with the Tigers the Yankees are solid in the realm of team Chemistry. I look for them to win 98 games this year and take the AL East despite all the over analyzing. Do you know why. Because they are the Yankees. period. End of story. Remember 98 wins. Bank on it. This is a high class organization with excellent character.

    • Jimmy Kraft

      So let me get this straight, they’re a better team than last year’s after losing Swisher to FA, ARod to injury, and Jeter and Mo are coming off the biggest injuries of their respective careers and you believe they are a better team? Their competition has gotten better around them too. It’s a legit four-team race this year, when before it was 2-3 teams vying for the division crown and wild card.

      While team chemistry is part of the equation, it’s not the sole reason the Yankees have won year after year. Much has to do with having some of the best players, and getting lucky/made some informed decisions with their one-and-done contracts (Kuroda, Garcia, Colon). It’s all cyclical, so the Yankees will have a good run with these contracts, but at some point they will miss too.

      For all of this over-analyzing you think we do here at YGY, I’d like to know how you come to 98 wins? Your gut? What evidence gives you the absolute answer to how many wins the Yankees will accrue this season? Your gut? This “over-analysis” is meant to facilitate discussion and dialogue. No one has the answers, even if they “think” they do.

      That said, thank you for reading and commenting.

      • Bill B

        I apolgize for offending you. Never the less may I define my gut in a way that you can digest without being hurt. I see Gardner as an excellent lead off man who will be outstanding this year. I also see him protecting Jeter in the 2 spot or any combination with Ichiro number 2 or 3. I see Jeter having an excellent year like last year. No reason to think not. Ichiro will bat over .300 and be protected by Cano who has the sweetest swing in Baseball and may be an all star this year. Tex is due big time and will deliver. Youk will not disappoint he is gritty and never quits. Catchers spot is questionable but tolerable. Outsanding bull pen which is maturing and I think Chamberlain will break out this year and may shock New York. Excellent starting pitching. No reason to doubt the strength and potential. Great defensive outfield. Maybe Rodriguez. A fool could see he was playing hurt for a long time. He will be back strong. I see the glass full. Not to mention Grandee with a possible 40 hr season. Staff has been working with him cutting down on strikeouts. I think he hits many more doubles this year. That is my 98 win gut.

        • Jimmy Kraft

          I wasn’t offended at all, I just questioned how you came to your win totals. That said, Bill, you’re an optimist and the world needs more of your type of thinking. However, the reality of it all is this: all of what you said will not happen exactly how you think it will.

          If I may break down your points:

          1. I’m a big fan of Gardner, and I’d love for him to get another crack at the leadoff spot, but club politics and Joe Girardi get in the way of that. Gardner getting on base and Jeter’s inside-out swing would be a thing of beauty for this offense.

          2. I think Cano will have another huge year. Contract years do that to players ;)

          3. Tex is what he is now, meaning he’ll hit around .250 and launch around 30 HRs a year and play superb defense, there’s definitely a need for that.

          4. With the current crop of catchers, hopefully they can play excellent defense, because their bats will underwhelm, to say the least.

          5. The bullpen is outstanding, but let’s not forget Soriano was a part of that greatness. He’s now gone and Mo is coming off knee surgery at 43 years old. Tough to think it’s still the same great bullpen. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a step back this year.

          6. I would love for Chamberlain to break out, but he’s had a few seasons to do that now and hasn’t. I think what we have seen is what we’ll get.

          7. I have a feeling Youk will surprise people, but in order for him to do that he needs to have a strong start, and not come out of the gates sputtering. He needs the fans on his side, if he can do that, the sky’s the limit.

          8. A-Rod will continue regressing, whether we admit it or not.

          9. Grandy won’t hit more than 40 HRs this season, but he’ll be in the 30′s somewhere with almost 200 Ks.

          Those are my predictions, from the topics you presented. I think there’s a little pessimism, realism, and optimism in there. All told, I think we’re looking at a 89-93 win team.

          • Bill B

            I enjoyed our exchange. You are a very good writer and thinker. We agree that time will tell. I will look forward to your future articles.

          • Jimmy Kraft

            Thank you for the kind words, my friend. We look forward to having you here discussing all things Yankees! Make yourself at home.

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