AL East Predictions

They may have to take a back seat to the AL West as far as quality of teams after the Red Sox trade of Mookie Betts turns the Red Sox into average.

Tampa Bay Rays

Good - They always seem to have depth in their starting rotation. A free agent leaves or a pitcher gets traded another fills in behind him. Blake Snell is the ace, but there is some health concern with his elbow this year. Tyler Glasnow put up some ace like numbers in his 12 starts so he could fill in behind Snell. Charlie Morton is the veteran that will most likely roll as the ace if Snell goes down. The back end of the rotation could be filled by Brendan McKay, Brent Honeywell and/or Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough was often the second pitcher to pitch the bulk of the innings in an opener situation, but the Rays could have enough starters not to need the opener. Honeywell may not be available until mid-season. The corner outfielders could generate some power with Hunter Renfroe and Austin Meadows. Each hit over 30 homeruns last year. Randy Arozarena could be up by mid-season to provide some power in center. Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is a third power source, but he could see most of his at bats at third base or DH.

Bad - Infield is a bit vanilla, especially the corners with Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz. Diaz did show some power last year, but they may be better offensively at the corners with Tsutsugo and Jose Martinez, though the defense may suffer. Nate Lowe could provide some interesting pop at first base. Willy Adames needs to make more contact but is solid at short and the second base job belongs to Brandon Lowe, if he can stay healthy. The catching position will not generate much offense. Mike Zunino can hit for power but he struggles to stay above the Mendoza line. The bullpen lacks a closer. The man with the best stuff maybe Colin Poche, but he seems susceptible to the long ball.

Ugly - They are the definition of small market. The budget is tight so going out to get needs is not possible unless you are seeking a bargain. So while the Dodgers trade for Mookie Betts the best the Rays can hope for is Jose Martinez. This could become critical as they battle down to the wire with the Yankees.

Rookies - If Brandan McKay has a good spring he could be in the rotation right out of the gate. Brent Honeywell will have to wait until mid-season since he hasn’t really pitched in two years and needs to get starts in the minors. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is technically a rookie, though he has had 40 homerun campaigns in Japan. Randy Arozarena should be the centerfielder by mid-season. Don’t expect to see number one prospect Wander Franco until 2021.

Predicted Finish - They will battle it out with the Yankees for the top spot.

New York Yankees

Good - There is a lot of power in the bats of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez if they can stay healthy. Except for Torres and Sanchez that has been an issue. Signing Gerritt Cole gives them a true ace. D.J. LeMahieu and Gio Urshela may not have the power of the other bats in the lineup, but they are just solid ballplayers who play good defense and provide critical offense. Aroldis Chapman can still hit triple digits with his fastball and if he falters Zack Britton can step in to be the closer. The bullpen should hold a lot of leads after the seventh inning. Lots of depth on this team to cover the different positions. Finding at bats for them will be a challenge unless injuries create the opportunities.

Bad - The outfield will be a little thin without Judge and Stanton. Because of their fragility the manager may have to find them a lot of rest if they are healthy. Brett Gardner is not really a centerfielder so that will be a defensive liability until Aaron Hicks returns, but that is not certain. The starting pitching depth has been dealt a blow with the early injuries to Luis Severino and James Paxton. Paxton should be back by mid-season and Domingo German will be a shot in the arm when he returns from the restricted list.

Ugly - The injuries. The Yankees won last year despite all their injuries. Those injuries are taking their toll again. Perhaps it is the large contracts and the sense of comfort with these large contracts that don’t make the players work as hard as they need to in order to stay in shape. They have depth in their starting lineup to deal with some of these injuries, but it will be hard for the pitching staff to replace the loss of veteran starters.

Rookies - Despite being a veteran team, the injuries have created a depth problem in the starting rotation. This could provide an opportunity for Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Michael King or Albert Abreu to fit in the rotation. Thairo Estrada could play a role as a utility player, though he may not see many games with infielders Urshela, Torres and LeMahieu all expected to play more than 150 games.

Expected Finish - Second Place, but qualifying for a wild card.

Boston Red Sox

Good - J.D. Martinez may be one of the better hitters in the league. If he was not such a liability on defense he could fill in at left field to make the outfield whole again. Rafael Devers is a hitting machine. His defense is a little iffy, but he will produce more runs with his bat than he will let in with his glove. That is all I have for the good.

Bad - Starting rotation is a little shallow. A lot depends on the results of Chris Sale. He has got to have a better year than last year. Even if he does bounce back the back end of the rotation appears horrid. Eduardo Rodriguez always seems so up and down and Nathan Eovaldi has not started 30 games since 2014. Martin Perez keeps getting second chances and failing to fulfill the promise. Second base will be a battle between Jose Peraza and Michael Chavis. Jose provides little offense and Chavis little defense at the position. Choose your poison. The bullpen lacks a proven closer though Brandon Workman provided 16 saves last year.

Ugly - The right field position. Trading an MVP candidate creates a giant hole in right field. Expecting Alex Verdugo to fill it, or even Kevin Pillar is asking a lot. It puts a lot of pressure on the other players to make up for the lost production. Myworld does not see a lot more increased production in this lineup. The trade of Betts was needed to stay under the salary cap. The Red Sox could have kept Betts and chosen to go over the salary cap, but they went the less costly route, which won’t result in victories in 2020.

Rookies - The farm system is slim but they have a power bat in Bobby Dalbec for third base if they want to move Devers to first to generate more offense. A lot will depend on the production of either Mitch Moreland or Chavis at first. Jarren Duran could be a mid-season callup if the outfield continues to seek help. He is a speed guy that will provide little power. Darwinzon Hernandez has the stuff to be a closer but he could also be asked to provide starts if the need should arise. He would make a perfect opener for a lineup loaded with lefties up front.

Expected Finish - Third Place and battling to stay over .500.

Toronto Blue Jays

Good - A lot will depend on the second year performances of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel. If they produce this could be an exciting offense. Randall Grichuk hit over 30 homeruns. He could be the veteran to lead this team. Prior to this year his claim to fame was being drafted ahead of Mike Trout by the Angels when they made back to back first round picks.

Bad - There is a lot of uncertainty at a number of positions. Danny Jansen was supposed to be an offensive catcher but last year he hit only .207. If he can meet his hype that would help the position. Teoscar Hernandez provided some power in centerfield, but there was a lot of swing and miss at the position and his .230 average ended a lot of rallies. They are relying on Travis Shaw to fill the first base job, but he had a horrendous year last year hitting just .157. If he fails they could turn to the unproven Rowdy Tellez.

Ugly - The pitching, both starting and relieving looks like trouble. Ken Giles had success last year as the closer after they traded Robert Osuna, but the previous year he was a disaster. They don’t appear to have any arms that can build a bridge to get to him. The ace of their rotation is Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has had trouble staying healthy. He did start 29 games last year but he has yet to pitch 200 innings in his major league career. There is not a lot to like behind him unless Shun Yamaguchi resurrects the best of his NPB days. Expect to see Nate Pearson in this rotation if not at the start of the season no later than mid-season, if he can stay healthy.

Rookies - Nate Pearson should make this rotation with a good spring. The problem would be monitoring his innings. In his three minor league seasons he has thrown 123 innings, with 102 of those innings coming last year. Anthony Kay is another arm that can slide into this rotation by mid-season. Santiago Espinal could fill a utility role in the infield. The Blue Jays have waited a long time for the promise of Anthony Alford. He has yet to hit over .200 in his three brief major league callup, his career average sitting at .145 with a .218 slugging. The 2020 season could be his last opportunity to fulfill the promise in a Jays uniform.

Expected Finish - A decent offense will not overcome a porous pitching staff. Their best hope is to surpass the Red Sox for third place.

Baltimore Orioles

Good - They will perform so bad that they could again get the number one pick in the 2021 draft. They fell short last year and lost to the Detroti Tigers for the number one pick in 2020. Trey Mancini is their only All Star. He is a first baseman forced to play right field because of the contract of Chris Davis. Don’t really see John Means replicating his 2019 season. He seemed to come out of nowhere last season but if he does it will be a pleasant surprise. The Orioles will have plenty of youth to serve. They just hope some of it will be good. Hanser Alberto hit .305 last year, but only .238 versus righthanders. In a full season he will hit more righthanders or play only against lefthanders in a platoon.

Bad - Youth is not bad but it is unproven. Finding a position for Ryan Mountcastle will be a challenge. They need his offense but his glove and arm are a liability. The outfield has unproven commodities in Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Dwight Smith Jr. Chance Sisco once provided a lot of promise for behind the plate but his defense is not strong and he is more of a backup, as is starter Pedro Severino.

Ugly - Chris Davis has had two seasons hitting below .200. He wouldn’t even be on the roster if not for his hefty contract. He has hit three homeruns in spring training, but if he fails to hit it will be time to turn over the position to Mancini or Ryan Mountcastle. The starting pitching will be ugly and may be the worst in baseball. With a number of promising arms in the minor leagues the Orioles are turning to journeyman pitchers to fill out the rotation. John Means needs to repeat his 2019 season in order to prevent this from becoming a disaster.

Rookies - Ryan Mountcastle has the bat but lacks the glove. They need to find room for him in the lineup either at DH or first base. He was the MVP in AAA last year in the International League. Hunter Harvey could end up the closer before the season ends. That is a big if to stay healthy. If the Orioles had their wish they would trade current closer Mychal Givens for prospects before the trading deadline. Austin Hays is penciled in to be the centerfielder. His bat has been hot and cold the last three years. Yusniel Diaz may make an appearance. The Orioles have to show something for the Manny Machado trade. The Orioles will probably run through a lot of starting pitchers. That means Keegan Akin will get an opportunity along with Dillon Tate, Dean Kremer, Mike Baumann and Zac Louther. Service time issues could prevent the latter three from being called up.

Expected Finish - Last place and fighting the Tigers and Royals for that first round pick.

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