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AL East Preview

The Yankees roared back to the top of the AL East last season and they’ll be the team to beat again as they try to repeat as World Series champions. New York did its regular offseason retooling and is easily the crown jewel of the East this season. That’s why they’re the -190 favorite to take the division again on the latest futures odds. The Yankees rotation was already stacked with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte, and they added Javier Vazquez, coming off the best season of his career. With Mariano Rivera still closing most leads after the eighth inning will be safe.

If the Yankees’ rotation scares opponents, their powerful lineup must leave them quaking. Newly acquired Curtis Granderson joins Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, and Nick Swisher. If the Yankees’ pitching doesn’t beat you there’s a good chance their bats will.

The Red Sox may have won two World Series in the last six years, but they’ve only won one division title. They made their own offseason moves to try and catch the Yankees, but they may be a few hitters short.  The BoSox rotation has enough quality arms to match New York. They picked up former Angels ace John Lackey to join Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz. They’ve also got Daisuke Matsuzaka to fit in there as well. Boston’s biggest loss in the offseason was outfield Jason Bay. His 36 home runs and 119 RBI will be hard to replace. The Sox will try to do it by committee after bringing in Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro. What Boston could really use is a bounce-back season from David Ortiz, who had only 28 homers last season.

The East is no longer a two-team race, with  Tampa Bay still in the running for a division title. Remember, the Rays won their first division crown in franchise history just two years ago. To contend again this season the Rays will need a few of their young arms to grow up fast. James Shields and Matt Garza should put up solid totals again, but the difference-makers will likely be Jeff Niemann and David Price. A breakout season by either of them would give the Rays the pitching they need to compete with New York and Boston. The Rays should have no problem putting runs on the board with Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, and Carlos Pena in the lineup. You could also add Ben Zobrist to that list if he proves last season’s breakout wasn’t a fluke. AL East futures: NY Yankees -190 Boston +210 Tampa Bay +500 Baltimore +7500 Toronto +10000