A quick peak at the five AL East teams for the upcoming season!
A lot has happened since Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado on a nasty front door slider last October 28. Patrick Corbin is now a National, Andrew Miller is a Cardinal, and Josh Donaldson went south of the border in Atlanta. Yet, Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned at press time. Over the last few months, some teams upgraded their respective roster (Reds, Mets, Yankees) while some clubs did lose some key pieces from the previous year. (Mariners, Dodgers, Indians)
Set aside Machado and Harper, there are still plenty of quality free agents available on the market. Veterans such as Keuchel, Kimbrel, and Pollock will most likely sign once the big dominos fall, (we’re looking at you, Manny & Bryce!) Therefore, it’s fair to wonder what are the new year resolutions for every team in the AL East. Some clubs have a lot of work to be done (Mariners), while some squads only need a few tweaks. (Red Sox)
Try to be more competitive. Let’s not beat around the bush. The Baltimore Orioles were simply horrible in 2018. Only the 2003 Detroit Tigers had a worst record in the 21st century (43-119) than 47-115 Orioles from this past season. The worst club in the MLB also suffered from a fan attendance standpoint. The O’s average only 20 053 fans per game in 2018 down from 25 042 fans the year prior. Baltimore does have some intriguing pieces on their roster, such as Cedric Mulliens, the 24-year-old center fielder who made his big-league debut last season and posted a decent .312/.358/.671 line in 170 at bats.
New York Yankees
Get a huge bounce back season from Gary Sanchez. The Yankees have had pretty productive offseason so far. They traded for James Paxton, resigned lefty J.A Happ and added former Rawlings Gold Glove winner, Troy Tulowitzki to hold down the fort at shortstop until Didi Gregorius and his Mizuno glove return to the lineup. However, if the Yankees want to compete against the Red Sox in 2019, they will need a bounce back season from their backstop, Gary Sanchez. The runner-up from the 2016 rookie of the year voting will need to do better than his .186 batting average as well as his 18 passed balls, both among the league worst in the year prior.
Tampa Bay Rays
Find a way to generate more power. If the Tampa wants to compete with the other AL East powerhouses, Kevin Cash’s team will need his hitters to hit for more power than they did in 2018. In an era where power rules the MLB, the Rays ranked 27th in the league with 150 home runs 19th with 664 RBIs last season. It will be a challenge since Tampa lost both C.J Cron and Jake Bauers in the off season and didn’t really replace their respective production from a year ago.
Toronto Blue Jays
Do everything in their power to make sure that Vlad Guerrero Jr is in a good position to succeed. Mark Shapiro and Co. will most likely wait until April 12th to call up his prized prospect. With so many hype surrounding Vladdy Jr, is fair to wonder if the soon to be 20-year-old will live up to his father's greatness early on in his career. Therefore, it’s extremely important that the Jays give their young third basemen every possible resource in order for him to thrive in The Show.
Boston Red Sox
Find a proven closer to replace Craig Kimbrel. You can say whatever you want about how deep the Red Sox roster is with quality and depth in the rotation in the lineup, but the Red Sox still don’t have a true closer at press time. If the season started today, Matt Barnes, career 4.14 ERA with 2 saves, would be the closer by default. Nathan Eovaldi could also get a look at this spot if he doesn’t crack the starting rotation. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quality arms in the bullpen. Guys like Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier and Hector Velásquez can absolutely get hitters out. But come the bright lights of October, Alex Cora’s boys will need to rely on a proven closer if they want to repeat as World Series champions!
Think the O’s, Rays, Jays, Yanks and BoSox, need other resolutions? Feel free to comment at the end of the article!
Be sure to check out the February 1st edition of the Baseball Town Blog!