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2011 American League Preview: Is the East Still the Beast? 1

Posted on March 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

The addition of Adrian Gonzalez should help lift the Sox back to the top of the AL East in 2011.

The question in the American League is whether the usually dominant East Division will regain the form that saw teams from that division make five of seven World Series between appearances by squads from the West.

While the Boston Red Sox, who failed to make the playoffs in 2010, made serious moves to regain playoff form, the other two powerhouses in the division, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, did not make the same player gains.

With the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers all seemingly positioned to make a run at the playoffs, the wild card team in the AL could come from a division other than the AL East for the first time since 2006 and only the second time since 2002.

AL East

The conventional wisdom is that the AL East is a three-team race, but both the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are better than many teams that will be contenders in other divisions.

The Tampa Bay Rays won the division a year ago, but lost a number of important components in Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett. To replace the offensive losses, the Rays have brought in former superstars Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Though both players are on the down sides of their careers, they should at least provide some production to offset the losses. The strength for the Rays will remain their pitching staff, with David Price and James Shields leading a unit that ranked second in the American League with a 3.78 ERA in 2010.

After reaching the AL Championship Series a year ago, the New York Yankees made relatively few changes to their lineup as catcher Russell Martin will likely be the only new addition to the opening day lineup. While in general the Yankees still have one of the most explosive lineups in the game, the age of veterans Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez has to be of concern as the Yankees move into 2011. The biggest question for the Yankees is in the pitching staff where ace C.C. Sabathia is the only reliable starter. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett must improve their consistency while the Yankees are also relying on unproven Ivan Nova and a trio of former major league aces to fill the void left by the retirement of Andy Pettitte. Read the rest of this entry →

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