Joe Dave Mark Chris Tommy
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5th

Dave’s Explanation

New York will ride Chacon, Jeter, A-Rod, Damon, Godzilla, and Sheff to victory. Their injury risk factor is pretty high, so I docked them a little. Torontos pitching looks good. Their position players have competent players at many positions; a big year from Glaus and a resurgent Vernon Wells could catapult them past the aging Yanks. But if Alex Rios gets 450 at-bats, Ill take that back. Boston needs some luck (healthy Beckett and Schilling, Wells continue to defy his age, a healthy Trot Nixon, Varitek not breaking down at 33, an age when catchers show their age, Alex Gonzalez not sucking down the offense) to get back on top. I actually like the addition of Lowell, Loretta, and Crisp, but They just have so many risks that i’m skeptical. The Mazzone Factor is enough to push the Os over .500, and Tampa Bay is improving. All in all, a good division.

Tommy’s Explanation

Young and hungry, Toronto added enough depth and experience to leapfrog the Big Two. Halladay leads the charge. Ed McMahon should introduce New York’s lineup Opening Day. Heeeeere’s Johnny!! But then the President of AARP should throw out the first ball. Yankees getting old fast. The afterglow is dimming in Boston. The two year old miracle is already losing its luster, Good thing for them, they are playing in the AL’s worst division.Tampa needs to put Julio Lugo in the leadoff spot and keep him there. The team actually wins more than they lose when Julio bats first. Tejada should fire his agent for talking him into going to Baltimore. Is it too late to make that Prior/Tejada trade?

Mastrick’s Explanation

Oh well, it’s deja vu all over again. The baseball gene pool has combined it’s financial resources to create the 2006 version of the New York Yankees. This should be one of the better Yankee teams to play in some years. I like the team chemistry with A Rod, Sheff, Jeter, and Matsui – the pitching will be on a par with any team in baseball. This team will combine it all to win a championship in 2006.

Boston gave up a lot but it gained a lot too. I like Coco in center and second base looks like a plus move too. Youklis at first….no movement, perhaps Hee-seop Choi will take over and at least give them a solid defense. The Boston rotation might be the best starting rotation in the league.

Look for Toronto to be the most improved team in baseball, along with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Blue Jays will do it with decent pitching and balanced hitting – despite the currency disadvantage of having to collect receipts in Canadian dollars and pay salaries in American dollars the Blue Jays are back.

Baltimore is always an enigma to me. They play in one of baseball’s palaces and they have good fan support. But their management team is always going for guys like Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, Corey Patterson…the Brian Roberts and Erik Bedards are few and far between. Look for the O’s to do their usual midseason swan dive albeit with better pitching numbers.

You have to respect Devil Rays fans. We think we’ve got it bad – we have an inept management team with Hendry and Baker but those poor folks have us beat bigtime. Lou Piniella was a good leftfielder for the Yanks and he did okay with the Mariners. But he sure didn’t turn the Tampa franchise around….oh well, perhaps he can ‘manage’ but he sure can’t lead.

Now the D-Rays have a ‘newer better improved’ management team – let’s wish ‘em the best of luck. This will not be a bad team but I still expect ‘em to finish dead last in the East. Eventually I see the Tampa franchise contracting or combining with another franchise such as the Marlins.

So sayeth Mastrick.

Chris’s Explanation

New York improved an already good offense with Johnny Damon, which should keep them on top of the division. I think that Toronto may have added enough to get to second place. AJ Burnett was considered their big pick up, but i’m more impressed with how they’ve improved their offense with Molina Glaus and Overbay. Boston added a proven playoff pitcher in Josh Beckett, but the problem is, Beckett cant handle the long haul of the season. I think that Schilling, Wells and Wakefield may have too many miles to pick up the slack. If Tampa was allowed to play 7 outfielders at a time, they might have a decent hitting team. Eventually they’re going to have to trade one of those guys, right? Their pitching staff is mostly rookies and cast-offs.

Joe’s Explanation

When you look over the AL East, it seems to me that George Steinbrenner may have finally been able to buy himself the missing piece. Damon should be the key part that will win the Yankees the division. I’m not really using logical sense when I pick Boston over Toronto with all the money the Jays spent, but something about the Red Sox lineup this year just looks good to me. I think they have enough with Coco Crisp taking over the leadoff spot to get by Toronto. Where I go totally crazy is picking the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to finish 3rd in the division. I’m going out on a limb on this one based on the amount of young talent in that organization. Crawford, Baldelli, Gomes make up a very nice young OF. I think with the if the young pitching can come through, Tampa will make a major move this year. Baltimore and Toronto appear to be the odd teams out and will finish the year a disappointing 5th and 4th respectively.

Upcoming Schedule
Tuesday – AL West
Wednesday – AL Central
Thursday – NL East
Friday – NL Central
Saturday – NL West
Sunday – Awards and Playoffs
Monday – Book Review “The Last Nine Innings” & Guest Stats Column

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail