March 31, 2013

On Baseball: An unpredictable division

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell warns to not discount the injury-plagued Yankees in the AL East this season.


Jose Reyes
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Jose Reyes was one of many off-season additions for the Blue Jays, who many regard as the AL East’s top team.

The Associated Press

The Rays always seem to creatively put together a winning group, and Manager Joe Maddon gets everything he can out of his players.

As usual, the offense does not look like much, although third baseman Evan Longoria and center fielder Desmond Jennings are there. Pitching remains the key. As long as Tampa Bay has starters David Price, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson, it will be a threat. Fernando Rodney was one of the best closers in baseball last year.

TORONTO LOST its manager to Boston. But who needs John Farrell when you add players like Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, and pitchers R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle?

"They've garnered the attention," Farrell said. "They've added a lot of very good players. Deep lineup. Lot of speed. They have power. Their rotation is much improved. They're a good team."

The offense has leftovers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion for power. Brandon Morrow is a returning starter.

This is a good group -- on paper. Blending the talent on the field can take time, with no guarantees (see Red Sox, 2011). 

BOSTON DID NOT make a big splash in the offseason. The Red Sox biggest move came last August when they jettisoned the big contracts of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

Boston is counting on improved pitching from its returning starters, a deeper bullpen, a few low-key free agents (Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes) and some help from the minor leagues (maybe you've heard of Jackie Bradley Jr. by now).

So, who will win the AL East?

The answer lies in another question: Which team will have the best pitching for 162 games?

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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