Looking Forward to the AL East in 2009 … Let’s be Positive Blue Jays Fans

The quartet in the A.L. East has just gotten a lot more powerful.  The expression, ‘beasts from the east,’ has never been more true than it is right now.  The Rays, Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays look to improve on strong years that saw each of them support very respectable final records.   

So, what do these teams have to look forward to in 2009?  Well, at least these are the guys I will be looking forward to seeing in 2009. 

The Red Sox have these guys.

RedSox.jpg

 

Probably one of the best left-handers in the game, Jon Lester, is only getting better.  Last year he showed what he is capable of.  A ‘big’ 2009 may be in the works for him.  If you were wondering who the guy tucked on the right is?  It is Lars Anderson, Red Sox first base prospect.  Anderson was only drafted in 2006, however, he has been killing the minors and should probably get a look at ‘the show’ this season.  Anderson’s future prospects were definately one of the reasons why the Red Sox did not pursue Mark Teixeria as aggressively as many might have hoped.  Last year’s American League MVP and all-around scrappy ‘little-big man,’ Dustin Pedroia, will be interesting to watch in 2009.  First of all, the guy is always getting dirty, putting his heart on the field and awkwardly swinging to stardom.  I love Pedroia’s game.  If watching the AL MVP follow-up on his amazing season is not enough, then watching him making diving plays at second, steal bases and try to ‘leg out’ a double on every ball he banks off the monster is.  He’s a small guy, but he plays very big and right now he ‘big in Boston.’   

 As if the Rays needed any more players young players.  They have David Price.

 
price.jpg 

The number-one-pick overall in 2007, and it is easy to see why.  He has wicked stuff.  The Rays had enough confidence in him to close out games in the World Series.  This year, he will likely be featured in an already steller pitching rotation that includes Scott Kazmir, Jamie Shields, Andy Sonnanstine and Matt Garza.  Five legitimate starters going into 2009.  Most teams would take any of these guys as their #2, if not at least #3 starter.  The strength of the Tampa’s rotation will be tested against a division that just got a lot stronger in the pitching department.  I’m really looking forward to seeing their young pitchers next year, especially Price (that god for MLBTV and MLB Extra Innings).

Now lets state the obvious shall we. 

Everybody, me among them, is going to want to see what these lunkers will do.

 

fishes copy.jpg 

Yes, the Yankees landed the ‘big fish’ in the free agent market.  Their team does look devastating on paper; however, as the old cliche goes: ‘games aren’t won on paper.’  These guys will compliment Arod, Jeter and Rivera in what the Yankees are hoping is money well spent.  I think everyone is going to be interested watching these three, after the contracts they just signed.  To be fair, the Yankees did have a lot of money coming off the books to facilitate this.

Now for the Blue Jays.  With all this looming above us (just scroll up), it is obvious the Jays will have a big challenge in 2009.  We are no longer big players in the free agent market, with financial constraints the Jays cannot even afford a top 10 free agent without seriously having to budget.  The Canadian dollar dwindling has hurt the club, there have been job losses in the organization (so much for me getting a job there) and we lost two of our top pitchers last season, Shaun Marcum (injury) and A.J. Burnett (free agency).  Most prognosticators will predict the Jays to finish 4th in the division – just like last year no doubt.  Some might even throw the Jays behind the lowly Orioles in the A.L. East.  A team that I didn’t even consider for this entry because I’m not really looking forward to seeing anyone on that team (hmm… maybe Adam Jones).

So, lets be positive, because none in the organization seem to be (i.e. Vernon Wells, Cito Gaston).  The Jays are going to get a very good look at some young and possibly emerging players this year.  Notably Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch, David Purcey and possibly even Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, J.P. Arencibia and Scott Campbell.  Travis Snider might be a ‘stud’ in the making, and if only Vernon Wells and Alex Rios could remain healthy, that would give the Jays a very strong outfield.  McGowan staying healthy might actually lessen the burden of losing Burnett, Aaron Hill looks like he may be healthy and ready to get back to form, Jose Bautista and Rod Barajas are wildcards that may do well and we all hope that Scott Rolen has had enough time to rest his shoulder for a great 2009 campaign.  This all being said, it will probably take all these things for the Jays to be anywhere near competitive in the A.L. East.

                

      

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16 comments

  1. Jane Heller

    Love that pic of the Yankees’ “big fish.” Very cool. I know Cito Gaston made that remark, and I bet he wishes he could take it back. But I would never count the Jays out. Not with Halladay fronting the rotation and the younger pitchers coming up. Alex Rios is a stud and Travis Snider looked good to me from the little I saw of him. All I know is the Jays always give the Yankees trouble.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  2. juliasrants

    Homer – at this time last year would anyone have predicted that the Rays would have done what they did? No one can be counted out. Yes, the other teams in the AL East have “big” players, but sadly it would only take an ill-timed injury or 2 to knock any of them out. And I’ll have to agree with Jane – The Jays always give the Red Sox a hard time too!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  3. rosehof14

    I’m with you with the concern and the conscience optimism. I’m a Reds fan and know all about budget restraints and not being able to pick from the top. I’ll wish you luck if you do the same for us. lol

    COB
    http://cobf.mlblogs.com

  4. Elizabeth D.

    “Homer”,
    I’m sure Jason will “kill” in the World Baseball Classic, it’s truly a gift to have him in baseball! Beasts from the east made me laugh, and I think the Blue Jays will still have something so say in the competitive AL East. They’re always a great matchup with the Red Sox at least. What’s the story with Halladay?
    -Elizabeth
    http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

  5. Joey

    Just remember games aren’t won or lost in December. It may be a nice cliche to use, but practically, games are won or lost in ninth innings all season long. The AL East isn’t clinched yet…as of now, even the Orioles can win it (don’t set yourself up for an upset by not including them in the “Quartet”…).

    Good luck this season.
    http://theconsumptionof.mlblogs.com

  6. welikeroywelikeroy

    Somehow the Jays always give the Red Sox, Angels and Yankees a tough run. Texas, Oakland and Tampa are the ones that slam us. They’ve done it every year it seems. Maybe sometimes the focus is too much on beating Boston and New York that we forget about the 130, or so, games. Just a thought, but I have nothing to back it up.

    Elizabeth,
    Haven’t heard much on the Halladay front, other than Team U.S.A is trying to perseude him into playing in the WBC. There are always going to be those in Toronto that want to trade Halladay now, and rebuild. I’ve heard it for two years. As it stands now, we have him through 2010 for a great price, there is no better captain for the team or Ace for our staff and he is my favorite player, so for personal reasons I really don’t want him to leave. I don’t think we could swing a trade that would automatically propel us on a path for the World Series, for him. We would get one nice prospect, like the Indians got for Sabathia. I would never want to give up a player like him. Even if the payroll is limited, Halladay is money well spent. I’d probably be so devastated with a Halladay trade that I’d begin to resent the team, and I never loathe or get down on the team – no matter how bad they are, or how the GM (e.g. J.P., Ash) has messed things up. That is how much I like Roy Halladay. For all the bad that Gord Ash did, I still love him because he drafted Halladay. I got a Halladay jersey for Christmas, for heavens sake. It hurts me to hear other Jays fans say they want to trade him. I know they want what is best for the team. Some of their intentions are good, but it still hurts. “Anyone but him,” is what you hear from some Halladay diehards. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I should have added Halladay as another positive. Just watching him pitch is worth all the time spent watching the Jays finish 3rd or 4th, out of the playoffs every year.

  7. rockymountainway

    I obviously don’t get a lot of tampa games but that kid Price was awesome to watch and he had nerves of steel. Very impressive. That division on paper looks like an all star team 3 times over! It’s gotta be tough to think the Jays are going to be competing for the division.
    tom
    http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

  8. The Iceman

    I’m with you Homer. With the Yankees recent history of signing pitchers (Carl Pavano, Ken Igawa, Jose Contreras, Jared Wright), I’m still not totally convinced that their rotation is going to be that dominant. The Sox really haven’t done much to improve (yet!), and the Rays will surely suffer some sort of letdown after their great season last year. I can’t wait to see some of the new young faces on the Jays, and I think Halladay is the best overall starter in the majors. Go Jays Go!!
    http://icemansports.mlblogs.com

  9. raysrenegade

    Funny part is that people forget how good the Toronto pitching staff was from top to bottom last year. So what if A J is gone, you have a bevy of young pitchers like David Purcey and Jesse Carlson who might take that next step up the pitching rung and surprise everyone.

    I might have to head up a few miles north this Spring to Knology Park and check out the young guns during the Spring. I think this team might be a dark horse in 2009, but miracles can happen in the A L East.

    The Blue Jays just need to get a DH that can power the ball. Rios is older and wiser, and Vernon Wells has never been a slouch in the batters’ box.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  10. Bradley

    The Rays recent signing of Pat Burrell gives them the power bat they need and makes them a better team from last year (Burrell is, I’d say, an upgrade over Floyd/Gross/Hinske in the DH hole). Getting him for two years at 16 mil. total is also kind of a steal for a hitter like him as well.

    Bradley
    http://44north.mlblogs.com/

  11. peter_linkert@yahoo.ca

    Hi Jeremy, it’s Pete. I have been reading some of your posted blogs and they are very interesting. I have not been the biggest baseball fan but having read some of your articles on your blog I have a renewed interest in watching more B lue Jays baseball. I will be in Florida from Feb 21 until Mar 8 2009 and hope to see some preseason baseball.
    Keep up the good work.
    Talk soon Pete.

  12. welikeroywelikeroy

    Hey Pete,

    Thanks for the nice comments on my blog, and I’m glad you took the time read it. I appreciate it. I hear that there is a BBQ after the Jays game on February 28th with the players. I’m trying to get my parents to go, but it might only be for season ticket holders.

    Anyway, great to see you have an interest in the Jays again. (Warning: they will break your heart).

    Thanks,

    Jeremy

  13. mlbtribefan

    Thanks for your comments about Grady. I look forward to seeing your Jays in Cleveland April 10-12. I really hope you can help A.J. regret leaving Toronto. I hope your team can also help J.P. Riccardi eat his comments by saying 2010 is when the Jays will contend. 2009 is what the Jays need to focus on. You have my support to make the Yankees choke on that green $ bait. Sharks or not, they need to be taught a lesson by the Jays and others in the division that money is not the answer.

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