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BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016 – PART V
BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016, PART V
By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN) – By the time you read this, exhibition games will have begun for all 30 MLB squads. Over the last few days, we’ve taken a brief peek at all six divisional races heading into camp.
Not really making predictions, but more so taking an educated look at what to watch for during the upcoming season.
For those of you keeping score, we’ve spoke of the NL East and Central as well as the AL West and Central. Today, it’s the AL East. Teams are listed in order of 2015 finish.
1. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Despite bashing their way to the division crown last year, winning came at a high price (pun intended) for Toronto. Allowing P David Price to not only walk, but then see him sign with division foe Boston added even more angst to their playoff-starved fan base. And with some of the other off-season moves done by the rest of the division, could John Gibbons’ squad be just a one-year wonder. We all know they can hit with anybody in the majors. But again, they’ll only go as far as their pitching will take them.
2. NEW YORK YANKEES
For the first time since forever (1976 actually), the Bronx Bombers didn’t make a huge splash in the free agent market. However, it was far from a quiet off-season. Acquiring All-Stars like 2B-SS Starlin Castro and P Aroldis Chapman as well as OF Aaron Hicks in trades were good moves for the Evil Empire. Missing Chapman (30-day suspension) the first month of the season may put them behind the eight ball in regards to getting a good start. The long term question may be how much more production can they get from veterans like ARod, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixiera. The loss of backup 1B Greg Bird adds even more pressure to a team that’s still seeks a consistent and healthy ace to step up in the starting rotation.
3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Okay, here’s the good news from Baltimore. After months of haggling and posturing, the O’s re-signed 1B-DH Chris Davis to a long-term deal, With him along with All-Stars OF Adam Jones, 3B Manny Machado, and a healthy C Matt Wieters, Buck Showalter’s team will score some runs. But like many other teams in this division, pitching is a bit of a problem. Without an established ace and a remaining starting rotation that went just 36-40 last year, the O’s will struggle despite a solid bullpen.
4. TAMPA BAY RAYS
The fact that Tampa just missed finishing above .500 last year (80-82) should be a somewhat of a cause for celebration considering how the roster was depleted. But a look deeper inside the numbers may tell more of the tale. The Rays were 46-48 in games decided by two runs or less, including 26-30 in one run games. Yes, they have a good young pitching staff led by Chris Archer and others. Yes, they may be one of the best fielding teams not only in the AL, but all of baseball. But at some point, this team has to be able to score runs on a consistent enough basis to scare some folks. Right now, they’re light years from that.
5. BOSTON RED SOX
For the third time in the last four seasons, the Boys from Beantown finished last in the division. Not long after getting the boot in Motown, GM Dave Dombrowski hit the ground running when he was hired in Boston. Bringing the aforementioned David Price at the top of the rotation will take some pressure off a starting rotation that never saw someone grab the ace role by the horns. Now for the first time in a long while, the Red Sox must look to their bats to carry the load. With Big Papi’s last season as a backdrop, it will be an interesting story for Red Sox Nation all year.
Next: The NL West (conclusion).