Oct 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Rapada (39) walks to the mound as manager Joe Girardi (28), second baseman Robinson Cano (24) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) wait for him during game four of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees can win the AL East again

For some reason, the perception that the Toronto Blue Jays acquisitions back in November make them automatically the AL East champion is rather absurd. Sure, the additions they got from the Miami Marlins are nice and all, but what was Miami’s record in 2012? 69-93. If the four core players sent in that trade to Toronto couldn’t have jelled together in Miami, what is going to be the difference on a new team? I mean sure, the Blue Jays are going to be in the upper echelon of the division, at least on paper, but realistically folks, the New York Yankees aren’t going anywhere.

Rhetorical question: Is there a better second baseman than Robinson Cano? Image: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

On paper, the Boston Red Sox should have won the World Series in 2011 with their team. What happened in 2011? They missed the playoffs. So tell me, do the big splash trades always make a difference? I’m not saying the Blue Jays are going to be unsuccessful with who they acquired, not to mention also trading for R.A. Dickey, but is it going to be as lethal as what speculation first told us?

Somehow I have a hard time believing that. You can stick a bunch of players on one team and hope it holds, but there’s also the human aspect, the chemistry that’s involved that makes a team function. I mean, basketball-wise, look at the Los Angeles Lakers, ouch.

Whatever preconceived notion people have about these stacked teams is rubbish. So what if the Yankees had a rather quiet off season? It’s not exactly the worst thing in the world mind you, just take a look at our own Hunter Farman’s article. The Yankees haven’t really made any subtle moves because it’s quite obvious they needed A) a third baseman while Alex Rodriguez is out and B) an actual designated hitter.

Let’s take a look at the teams of the AL East besides the Blue Jays:

Boston Red Sox 

So Boston is stuck in the perpetual “where do we go from here” stage. Sure they have a few nice additions, namely a first baseman, but how much do the other players factor into their overall re-hauling of the team? They don’t. I’m not just saying this because I am a Yankees’ fan, but Boston has next to nothing when it comes to starting pitching. Clay Buchholz is perhaps the only positive in this rotation with a struggling Jon Lester, a John Lackey coming off of a missed year, a veteran new to the AL East in Dempster, and perhaps plug in options with Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller. Boston may have a decent offense, but the starting pitching is going to struggle, thus driving the Sox down once again.

Tampa Bay Rays

For Tampa Bay, they still lack the necessary offense to be a huge threat. The re-signing of Luke Scott is a nice touch, but he, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria can’t do all the work alone. Perhaps at some point this year the Rays will see Myers come up from the minors as he was extremely close with the Kansas City Royals last season. The loss of James Shields isn’t as drastic as most people think with pitchers Alex Cobb and Matt Moore stepping up alongside the Rays’ usual Jeremy Hellickson and 2012 Cy Young winner in David Price. Yet again, the Rays have a scary good rotation alongside a decent bullpen (re-signing Kyle Farnsworth and the dominance from Fernando Rodney) so look for them to be near the top even with a suspect offense.

Hiroki Kuroda did extremely well at Yankee Stadium and against the Orioles in 2012. (Image: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)


Baltimore Orioles

The term “Oriole magic” certainly is one that had some punch backing it up. The Orioles definitely surprised the MLB last season as they were neck and neck with the Yankees for the AL East and even faced them in the ALDS. Really for the O’s, nothing in particular stands out except after the 7th inning. The pitching is okay, the offense is somewhat decent but the bullpen was electric. Jim Johnson, who recorded a career-high 51 saves in 2012, became the staple of the Oriole bullpen. The losses of Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino may not exactly play in the favor of the O’s, but if they can find that magic from last season, who knows what really can happen in Baltimore.

Looking at these teams, they all have certain qualities, which yes, do make them a threat. That said, how does that hurt the Yankees, who aside from losing Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez, who have pretty much stayed the same. I was ecstatic when the Yankees signed Travis Hafner, something that for whatever reason, some people are opposed to. Yes, Hafner has had injury problems, but his power makes up for that. Not to mention, the addition of Kevin Youkilis is just genius at this point.

The Rays have always presented a threat to the Yanks, since Joe Maddon took over as manager, so they are definitely a team to watch for. However, this Yankee team really hasn’t changed much from last year aside from Ichiro Suzuki being the right fielder, the catcher spot being wide open and third base being occupied by someone the Bombers couldn’t previously envision. The pitching is great, the bullpen is solid and if the bats awake, then why exactly are the Yankees so looked down upon? That makes no sense to me and I really think they have another legitimate shot at winning the AL East.

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  • Hunter Farman

    Your first paragraph pretty much sums up my thoughts on everything. Well done.

    • Benjamin Orr

      Thanks Hunter. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • Bill B

    This is a well written piece. I know you have many followers on twitter. I don’t know how many people read you here but I know I have irritated you. Not intentionally though. What I would like to say is I read a boat load of negativity during the off season from you and your colleagues. Not all negative but…What you write here is what I have been pointing out for the last couple of months. This is an outstanding organization. I am sticking to my 97 wins. I learned much from you and your staff but gut tells me many things. Gut told me clearly the leyritz home run in 96 against Atlanta. I called it in front of a dozen or so people. My gut tells me this team over achieves this year. I was beginning to question why you write on a Yankee site. Good job.I will eat my hat if they don’t win 97.

    • Benjamin Orr

      It’s just kind of shocking how much I hear “oh well the Yankees won’t win it because of x team”. Just because you add so many players doesn’t instantly mean your team is going to be better. For the Yankees, this is a team that has pretty much played together for awhile, and incredibly well at that. I don’t see a collapse at all with this team.

      • Jimmy Kraft

        I don’t think it’s so much “X team will keep the Yankees from winning the division or making the playoffs” but rather the level of competition from top to bottom has been upgraded. I also think that too many people are making a big deal out of the players who were a part of that Marlins club last year. That team was a mess, their manager was a hot mess, and their ownership is hell bent on “earning” as much money as possible and screwing over its fanbase. I find it difficult to think Reyes, Johnson, and Buerhle, et al. became horrible overnight.

        Toronto has the potential to do some serious damage in the AL East this season. I also think the Red Sox will be sneaky good, the Rays will be good and the O’s will probably regress a tad, but still be a very tough opponent. When you’re playing your division rivals close to 100 times a year, that’s going to wear your team down, I don’t care who you are. Just look at Texas last year, they looked like they were going to run away with the AL West after April, but the A’s and Angels just never went away and injuries to key players occurred.

        I love the optimism and I’m not here to quell it. But, we also need to be realistic and not think this is the ’98 Yankees. They still have major holes and question marks at key positions. That said, I’m excited to potentially see some more small ball-type play from the Yankees this year.

        • Benjamin Orr

          Nah, the Yankees have their problems, but I don’t think they’re as severe from what all these analysts are spewing. I think Toronto has the potential to be extremely good, but can they pull the trigger? A collection of talent is nice, but as history has shown us, it can blow up in someone’s face. I think the Dodgers though are going to be a bigger mess than Toronto though.

    • Jimmy Kraft

      I think you are confusing negativity with concern. I’m not negative when it comes to the Yankees. You can show concern for how your team will end up. Not all of us have rose-colored glasses like you do, Bill. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, some of us choose to look at things a little differently. For instance, how does a team perform when subtracting 40+ HRs from their lineup? How about without a starting caliber catcher? How will injuries to major players last year (Jeter, Gardner, Rivera) affect the club this year? Teams that age aren’t necessarily going to get better. Players at the premium spots in the order are on the wrong side of 30… and in some cases 35.

      Please don’t confuse negativity for concern. The Yankees have the potential to win 97 games, but they also have the potential to win only 80 … it’s all how YOU think they’ll perform. I err on the side of caution, while you rather see them in an optimistic light. Nothing wrong with either point of view. Honestly, I think they’ll be in the thick of it all around 90 wins.

  • bobbybow

    The beauty of Baseball is that we are all optimistic in February that this is the year for our team. The Yanks will be as good as their pitching. If Mo is Mo; if Andy can get 25 starts; if Pineda can make it back; if Joba can regain some semblence of consistancy; if Hughes can gain control of his breaking ball. These things will determine if the Yanks are playing in October.
    Love the addition of You, he brings toughness to the team. Hope that Ichiro can build on his late 2012 performance.