View From the Center: A.L. East Contenders
Welcome to "View From the Center", where our resident pseudo-expert slash Cincinnati Reds fan Jeff Gentil takes a regular rundown of the topics of interest within baseball's divisional landscape. Last week, team aces. This week, contenders/pretenders.
Tampa Bay Rays: When the Rays made the World Series two years ago, it was a shock to just about everyone. This year, off to the best record in baseball from the start, no one is surprised. With David Price making the complete transition into the rotation and Jeff Niemann pitching like the first round pick they expected, the Rays are well armed and ready to make another run at a championship. Unlike the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rays probably won't be able to make a huge splash at the trade deadline, so that could play a big role in who wins the division. Contenders
Baltimore Orioles: When you've already fired your manager in June, you aren't a contender. Dave Trembley probably held onto his job longer than most Orioles fans expected, and it's not all his fault the team is this bad. But, like they say, you don't fire the players - though in this case, they probably should have. Best of luck to Juan Samuel in your interim gig. You'll need it. Pretenders
Boston Red Sox: After getting off to a shaky start, the Red Sox have righted their ship and are in the thick of the division race. Four games back in the middle of June is nothing to panic about, especially with the talent and resources at their disposal. Theo Epstein will certainly have the green light to make a move or two near the trade deadline for yet another run at at World Championship. In the A.L. East, you'd better be able to add players or you'll be left in the dust. Contenders
New York Yankees: When you are the defending World Champions, have the highest payroll in baseball, and have the ownership the Yankees have, you are without a doubt a contender; maybe the biggest. Despite the ridiculous start of the Rays, the Yankees are still just two games behind and, like the Red Sox, are ready to make a big move at the drop of a hat (or a two-game losing streak). Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners are going to have the Yankees as contenders each and every year. Contenders
Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay gone? No problem. The Blue Jays are quietly hanging right there just 5 1/2 games out. Despite the fact most people couldn't name five players on their roster, the Jays continue to play good baseball and give notice that they're not going away soon. What remains to be seen is whether the organization will be able to add a key player later if they are still in the race around the trade deadline. Contenders