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MLB Preview: AL East

Jose Bautista
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto was tired of losing so they changed things up this offseason. They traded for R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes and then signed controversial outfielder Melky Cabrera. The addition of Dickey, Buehrle and Johnson helps improve one of the worst pitching staffs in the AL last season. The Jays are also hoping that former ace Ricky Romero returns to form after an atrocious 2012. Reyes should really help Toronto's lineup. The past few years Toronto has relied on power led by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion but Reyes adds the dynamic of speed and a great on base percentage, if he can stay healthy. With Bautista healthy and Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus on their roster, the Blue Jays shouldn't suffer too much in the home run department. Cabrera could have an All-Star season or could be average, you never know. He had a great season in San Francisco before being suspended. With the Yankees unhealthy, the Red Sox rebuilding their has never been a better opportunity for the Jays to win the AL East.

PROJECTED LINEUP                                 PITCHING STAFF                

SS Jose Reyes                                            SP R.A. Dickey
LF Melky Cabrera                                     SP Mark Buehrle
RF Jose Bautista                                        SP Josh Johnson
DH Edwin Encarnacion                            SP Brandon Morrow
3B Brett Lawrie                                        SP Ricky Romrero
1B Adam Lind
CF Colby Rasmus
C J.P. Arencibia
2B Emilio Bonifacio

2. Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones
The O's were a pleasant surprise in 2012 winning 93 games and reaching the ALDS. Not much should change this season as they retain a lot of last year's stars. Catcher Matt Wieters has the talent to be dominat in 2013, while they also get major contributions from Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Though the pitching was key to last year's success. The Orioles will be forced to lean heavily on pitchers like Jason Hammel, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. Not much star power but there is enough to get the job done. In order to get into the playoffs though, the O's need a big year from Manny Machado who has the potential to do great things and designated hitter Chris Davis, who may also spend time at first base. Baltimore could fall back to Earth this year but they should still be a power out East.
PROJECTED LINEUP                             PITCHING STAFF             
2B Brian Roberts                                      SP Jason Hammel
RF Nick Markakis                                    SP Chris Tillman
CF Adam Jones                                         SP Wei-Yin Chen
C Matt Wieters                                         SP Miguel Gonzalez
1B Chris Davis                                         SP Brian Matusz
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Manny Machado
LF Nate McLouth 
DH Wilson Betemit

3. New York Yankees
This could be an odd year for the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez is out for much of the season, in fact, maybe the whole year. Derek Jeter is starting to decline and they have no catcher to speak of. Though, there is still talent on the New York's roster. C.C. Sabathia is still a 20 win threat every single year and Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira can still be All-Stars. Other than Sabathia the staff is still loaded with talent. Phil Hughes is continuing to improve and Hiroki Kuroda has proven he can be a beast on the mound. New York doesn't look quite as powerful this year as the past couple, but with their experienced vets they should still be a playoff contender.
PROJECTED LINEUP                          PITCHING STAFF
RF Ichiro                                             SP C.C. Sabathia
SS Derek Jeter                                    SP Hiroki Kuroda
2B Robinson Cano                              SP Phil Hughes
1B Mark Teixeira                               SP Andy Pettitte
3B Kevin Youkillis                              SP Ivan Nova
DH Travis Hafner
LF Brett Gardner
CF Matt Diaz
C Francisco Cervelli 

4. Tampa Bay Rays
It should be another 80 win season for the Rays but the real question is whether or not they can make it over the hump and into the playoffs. Ace David Price returns after winning 20 games and recording a 2.56 ERA. Though, the Rays will be without another one of their star pitchers after shipping James Shields to Kansas City in the Wil Meyers deal. The lineup has star power and some great fielders. Evan Longoria should continue to be a MVP candidate on the hot corner and right fielder Ben Zobrist provides great value. Though catcher and first base should gives Tampa some growing pains through the 2013 season. Without Shields the Rays should lean heavily on improving starter Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb. They may also need some help from the bullpen where they will use Fernando Rodney and Kyle Farnsworth to close out games.
PROJECTED LINEUP                           PITCHING STAFF
CF Desmond Jennings                             SP David Price
SS Yunel Escobar                                   SP Jeremy Hellickson
RF Ben Zobrist                                       SP Alex Cobb
3B Evan Longoria                                  SP Matt Moore
DH Luke Scott                                        SP Jeff Niemann
LF Matt Joyce
2B Kelly Johnson
1B James Loney
C Jose Molina

5. Boston Red Sox
Disaster was a huge understatement for the Red Sox in 2012. After hiring Bobby Valentine as manager and retaining Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford it seemed like Boston could ride their talent all the way to the World Series. Then, the perfect storm of injuries, distractions and poor play led to a 69-93 year. Boston looks different in '13 but not much better. They still have some talent in Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino and aging vet David Ortiz. Ortiz continues to slap home runs occasionally but not at the rate at which he used to. The staff also has some good players but overall doesn't have much depth and can be wildly inconsistent. Jon Lester hopes to recover from a 2012, in which he went 9-14 and had a 4.82 ERA. Boston may improve this season but not enough that they will be in serious playoff contention.
PROJECTED LINEUP                              PITCHING STAFF
CF Jacoby Ellsbury                                     SP Jon Lester
2B Dustin Pedroia                                      SP Ryan Dempster
DH David Ortiz                                           SP Clay Buchholz
1B Mike Napoli                                          SP John Lackey
RF Shane Victorino                                    SP Felix Doubront
3B Will Middlebrooks
SS Stephen Drew
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
LF Jonny Gomes

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