by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
NEW YORK — When thinking about the AL East, there’s the New York Yankees and basically everybody else.
With their big bats healthy, the Yankees’ lineup is stacked and won’t give opposing pitchers a break. The Bronx Bombers’ lineup led by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, and Gleyber Torres could give new meaning to “Murderers’ Row.”
New York also signed ace Gerrit Cole to a 9-year deal worth $324 million.
“I was so excited,” Cole said after his first win as a Yankee. “I was walking through the clubhouse before, and I saw a bunch of guys in Yankees uniforms; I don’t know, it just hit me that this was for real. I was definitely battling some adrenaline early. I had so much fun being a part of it.”
Cole will lead a staff that includes James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. Their bullpen has quality arms with Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton, and closer Aroldis Chapman. This allows manager Aaron Boone to shorten the games on nights where a starter might not have his best stuff.
The rest of the AL East could challenge the Yankees, but that will depend on how quickly their young talent develops.
The Tampa Bay Rays might be the only viable contender in this division. They have a dynamic rotation with Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton and a strong lineup led by Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi, and recently signed Japanese star Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to lead their analytically-dependent squad.
The Toronto Blue Jays will need a few years to develop the young phenoms like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. They beefed up their pitching staff adding veterans Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson. The Jays won’t win the division but if the young guys get hot, they could compete for a playoff spot.
The Boston Red Sox figure to have a feast-or-famine kind of season. Despite trading Mookie Betts and David Price, they still have many pieces from their 2018 championship team like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and JD Martinez. Their numerous bad contracts keep them from going into a full rebuild mode.
The Baltimore Orioles don’t have that issue; they will focus on developing youngsters like Hanser Alberto, Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays. The O’s are hoping All-Star pitcher John Means can stay healthy and build on his 2019 success.
This is the Yankees’ division to lose, and while the Rays, Jays, and Red Sox could give them fits on some nights, nobody will top the Bombers’ depth and talent in their lineup or pitching staff.
*EDITORS NOTE: Monday’s Yankees verses Phillies game was postponed by MLB due to COVID19 concerns.