Major League Baseball 1/3 Review: The AL East

Well we’re 1/3 into the season, more or less. What’s the situation? I’ll start with the AL East:

Boston 31-20
New York 31-21
Toronto 29-23
Baltimore 25-29
Tampa Bay 22-32

Boston has been slightly lucky, by 2-3 games, but remains largely uninjured, a big advantage in this division. Jon Papelbon has been amazingly lights out; the starting pitching has been a bit iffy, with Matt Clement disastrous and no obviousls replacement for David Wells. As long as the lineup stays healthy, the Red Sox should be in the running.

New York has been unlucky by 1-2 games. The Yankees have scored more runs than Boston or Toronto and allowed fewer, so it’s quite flukey that they’re not well ahead. The injuries to Matsui and now, it seems, Gary Sheffield are very concerning, though; that’s a lot fo the offense and the backups aren’t great. Is there anything to trade? Mike Mussina has been a saviour in the rotation, but I’m not sure there’s enough pitching if Matsui and Sheff are out all year, as some reports would have it; I mean, that’s like 80-90 runs out of the offense.

Toronto has been neither lucky nor unlucky. Let’s be honest, the Jays are two teams; the awesome team when Josh Towers doesn’t pitch, and the horrible team when he does. Towers going down improved the team dramatically. Toronto had a very tough schedule so far; the next month is when they must make a move. If Toronto hasn’t caught up to Boston by the All-Star game, they’ll have blown their best chance. Most of the new acquisitions seem to be working out, save Burnett, who really is a head case, apparently.

Baltimore has been lucky by a game or two. The pitching has been a terrible disappointment; Rodrigo Lopez, Eric Bedard, Bruce Chen and Danny Cabrera have all been way less effective than I would have predicted. The offense has been not too bad, considering how weak the outfield is - how many teams get this much offense out of the infield? - but the arms have let them down. Chris Ray is showing some promise as closer, though.

Tampa Bay had a horrible May, even by their standards. Lucky by one game, the Rays’ bad pitching has been a surprise to no one; third worst in the league, and aside from Scott Kazmir (who’s awesome) there’s little hope for improvement over current performance. What IS surprising is how bad the offense has been; second worst in the league. Most thought the Rays would put lots of runs on the board, but they’re just not getting enough guys on base. Especially puzzling is why they keep Travis Lee; maybe Travis is a nice guy and all, but surely to God you can pick up a first baseman from somewhere, somehow, who can hit better than Alfredo Griffin.