For years, the AL East has dominated much of Major League Baseball’s offseason headlines. Year in and year out the Yankees and Red Sox always find themselves making splashes in free agency. But with the Bronx Bombers aging, and Boston coming off their worst season in nearly 20 years, a door opened for the team up north.
With only two weeks left before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Toronto Blue Jays are now Vegas’ odds-on favorite to win the 2013 World Series. Yes, the same Blue Jays franchise that has been the doormat of the division for over two decades has put together arguably the most talented lineup in baseball.
General Manager Alex Anthopoulos went into the offseason knowing that the AL East would never be as vulnerable as it is right now. The Yankees have numerous question marks; most notably the health of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, as well as the future of Alex Rodriguez. Baltimore and Tampa Bay each failed to make any impactful moves, and Boston is in an uncharacteristic rebuilding period.
Welcome the Blue Jays as your new AL East king
What started as an attempt to bolster one of the league’s worst pitching staffs, quickly escalated into baseball’s biggest offseason story. Anthopoulos first acquired his coveted starting pitching in a blockbuster trade with Miami that brought Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto. On top of bringing in two formidable starting pitchers, All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and utility man Emilio Bonifacio were also sent over in the deal.
That deal alone was enough for baseball heads to begin turning, but the Jays weren’t done yet. Toronto then sent journeyman catcher John Buck, who was the fifth player that came over in the Miami deal, to New York in return for reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Throw in the signing of Melky Cabrera and the Blue Jays had far and away the best off season of any team in baseball.
On paper, Toronto has assembled a championship caliber team. Now, the question is how all of these big-name guys will co-exist.
Many consider the fate of the Blue Jays season is dependent upon the health of All-Star outfielder Jose Bautista. The slugger injured his left wrist last July effectively ending his, and the team’s season. Bautista claims the wrist is fully healed, and the Jays will need his power production in the lineup.
The talent is there for Toronto, but they lack players with playoff experience. That’s not exactly ideal for a team playing in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays; all teams that have had loads of recent playoff success. The AL East wasn’t determined until the final game of the regular season last year, and the cards are in place for another close race in 2013.
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Matt Lawrence is a sophomore at Penn State University and a writing intern for Whiztix.com. Whiztix.com provides fans with the easiest way of comparing ticket prices on the web. Tickets for sporting events, concerts, and Broadway musicals can all be found Whiztix.com.