2013 MLB Preview: AL East – Big expectations north of the border

It’s been one of the most competitive divisions in Major League Baseball over the past decade – and this year, once again, it could be one of the hardest divisions to predict.

It’s the American League East.

But, despite how hard it may be to pull apart, here’s how this year’s AL East breaks down.

Toronto Blue Jays (2012: 73-89 // 4th in the AL East)Toronto Blue Jays

For the first time in two decades, the only team north of the border is drawing the attention of the baseball world.

The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the busiest organizations during the offseason pulling off the two biggest trades and landing players that nobody expected.

The Jays were able to rid themselves of their troubled shortstop and filled the hole on defence left when Kelly Johnson wasn’t resigned. On top of that, general manager Alex Anthopoulos solidified his pitching rotation by acquiring Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and the reigning National League Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey.

Toronto gave up a lot of young talent in the trade for Dickey but with a wealth of good prospects, and a young major league core, Anthopoulos was able to make the hard decision a little bit easier.

Dickey is older – but  any baseball fan knows, knuckleballers don’t age the same way as your average pitcher.  So if Dickey can put up number similar to last season and the rest of the rotation finds its form, the Blue Jays could have the toughest staff in baseball.

Of course the pitchers – along with the rest of the team – will have to stay healthy throughout the season for the expectations to be met.

Assuming Edwin Encarnacion can match the career season he had in 2012 – 42 homeruns and 110 RBIs – and Jose Bautista can regain his form following a wrist injury last season, the Jays will be off to a good start offensively. However, fans and manager John Gibbons will expect more from others throughout the lineup. If Toronto’s going to be successful Brett Lawrie will have to take another step towards realizing his potential. Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia will also have to see an increase in their numbers – something that both the fans and the organization know they are capable of.Heading into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays are odds on favourites to win the World Series – and that comes with a lot of expectations. So is the team ready for this kind of pressure? Can Ricky Romero return to the pitcher he was a couple of years ago?

One thing is for sure. Fans in Toronto can’t wait to get the 2013 MLB season under way.

Added: C Henry Blanco, 3B Emilio Bonifacio, SP Mark Buehrle, OF Melky Cabrera, 3B Mark DeRosa, SP R.A. Dickey, SP Justin Germano, RP Alex Hinshaw, 3B Maicer Izturis, RP Jeremy Jeffress, SP Josh Johnson, OF Ryan Langerhans, RP Juan Perez, SS Jose Reyes, RP Esmil Rogers, C Josh Thole
Lost: SP Carlos Villanueva, C Jeff Mathis, RP Brandon Lyon, SP Aaron Laffey, 2B Kelly Johnson, RP Shawn Hill, 3B Adeiny Hechavarria, 1B Yan Gomes, RP Jason Frasor

American League East Preview:
New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox

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