The Commish Online www.thecommishonline.com
March 26, 2003
The eternal struggle. The tug of war where the rope never moves. The traffic jam too crowded to go forward but too far in to turn around. The A.L. East. The standings in this division haven't changed since Theo Epstein was nursing. Ok, it hasn't been that long, but the Marlins won the World Series the last year that any team in the A.L. East changed positions.
Well, Florida will not be going to the World Series this year, and the standings will not be changing in the East. Boston has put together a solid club (one that may even win the World Series), but over the course of an entire season, New York's $150 million has given them unmatched pitching depth. The staff of Clemens, Mussina, etc. may be getting older, but Steinbrenner has Hitchcock and Contreras on the backburner to smooth over any bumps in the road the Yankees may face during the year. If Boston loses Martinez or Lowe for any length of time, it will be too hard to catch up. John Burkett and Casey Fossum are not David Wells and Jeff Weaver.
Toronto has made positive steps over the years and Roy Halladay looks like a legitimate star, but the talent just isn't as heavy as Boston or New York. In Baltimore, they have a decent combination of young and veteran pitchers, but their lineup is filled with castaways and young players with no power. Scoring runs will be a problem and the pitching will be serviceable, but not good enough to bail them out every time.
Rounding out the East are the woeful Devil Rays. Tampa Bay has an average core of hitters, but there are just too many unproven players on the roster to make a dent in the standings. Piniella is not the most patient manager in the league, and he will likely be pulling his hair out when he stares at the name of his starting pitcher on a daily basis. It could get ugly when summer rolls around.
1. New York
hard to argue against all that money, talent, and success
enough hitting but a little shallow in the rotation to keep up with New York
making progress, but stuck in the middle again
young and better than Tampa Bay is all we can say
5. Tampa Bay
Piniella dealing with all the inexperience and losses will make for a long season