American League East

February 14, 2010

AL EAST
Yankees
Starting point: 103-59, 1st (beat Twins in first round, Angels in ALCS and Phillies in World Series).

Project manager: Brian Cashman.

General contractor: Joe Girardi.

Bones: The free agent spending binge of 2009 contributed to the Yankees winning their first championship since 2000, but the team wasn't as deep as its record suggests. Girardi used only three starting pitchers in the playoffs.

New materials: CF/leadoff Curtis Granderson, RHP Javier Vazquez, DH-1B Nick Johnson, OF Randy Winn, OF Marcus Thames, LHP Boone Logan.

In the dumpster: LF/leadoff Johnny Damon, DH Hideki Matsui, CF Melky Cabrera, RHP Chien-Ming Wang, RHP Brian Bruney, OF Xavier Nady.

Job description: Picking up where they left off.

Unknowns: The top question in camp is whether young right-handers such as Joba Chamberlain fit better as starters or relievers.

Final inspection: Damon and Matsui could be missed, but the addition of a strong fourth starter (Vazquez) more than offsets any questions about the lineup.

Red Sox
Starting point: 95-67, 2nd, wild card (lost to Angels in first round).

Project manager: Theo Epstein.

General contractor: Terry Francona.

Bones: Core players remain from teams that have gone to the playoffs in eight of the last 12 seasons, winning championships in 2004 and '07.

New materials: Potential ace John Lackey, SS Marco Scutaro, 3B Adrian Beltre, CF Mike Cameron, OF Jeremy Hermida, OF-3B Bill Hall, RHP Joe Nelson.

In the dumpster: LF Jason Bay, LHP Billy Wagner, OF Rocco Baldelli, 1B Casey Kotchman, RHP Paul Byrd.

Job description: Even though the Red Sox allowed only 41 unearned runs last year, fewer than every AL team except the Twins, Epstein focused his off-season moves on run prevention rather than adding a thumper like Matt Holliday.

Unknowns: Will Epstein find a way to keep free agent-to-be Josh Beckett beyond 2010? Will Jonathan Papelbon be scarred by the Angels' Game 3 rally or alarmed by the rise of potential replacement Daniel Bard?

Final inspection: With Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa fighting for the fifth starter's job, this is baseball's best rotation. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have 100-win potential.

Rays
Starting point: 84-78, 3rd.

Project manager: Andrew Friedman.

General contractor: Joe Maddon.

Bones: One year removed from a trip to the World Series, the Rays have seen a more than 50 percent increase in payroll in two years, but the total remains around $70 million. This is a very good team, but more resources would have allowed Friedman to improve his team's chances.

New materials: Closer Rafael Soriano, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Dan Johnson, RHP Jesse Chavez.

In the dumpster: C Gregg Zaun, relievers Jason Isringhausen, Chad Bradford, Troy Percival, Brian Shouse and Russ Springer.

Job description: Building a bullpen behind Soriano is the priority. The secondary question is how the outfield fits for the long term - is Desmond Jennings ready to move B.J. Upton to right field, and is Carl Crawford becoming a serious trade candidate?

Unknowns: Who will serve as the primary catcher - holdover Dioner Navarro or Shoppach? Will DH Pat Burrell bounce back after hitting .221 with only 14 homers?

Final inspection: No one is going to want to play the Rays, but a return to the playoffs appears unlikely for the time being.

Blue Jays
Starting point: 75-87, 4th.

Project manager: Alex Anthopoulos .

General contractor: Cito Gaston.

Bones: Despite a down year from Vernon Wells and the trade of Alex Rios, the Jays scored plenty of runs in 2009. The problem was allowing too many.

New materials: SS Alex Gonzalez, 1B-DH Brett Wallace, C John Buck, RHP Kevin Gregg.

In the dumpster: RHP Roy Halladay, SS Marco Scutaro, C Rod Barajas, 1B Kevin Millar.

Job description: Assembling a pitching staff. Gaston brought credibility back to the organization in 2008 but ended 2009 dealing with an unhappy clubhouse. He has to make the job fun as the Blue Jays move on without Halladay, their main man since 2002.

Unknowns: How much will Gonzalez and Buck help the pitching staff? Is Jason Frasor set to close or will Scott Downs get a chance? How far away is Kyle Drabek, acquired in the Halladay trade?

Final inspection: Anthopoulos did what had to be done in trading Halladay. But the Jays figure to take a step backward without him.

Orioles
Starting point: 64-98, 5th.

Project manager: Andy MacPhail.

General contractor: Dave Trembley.

Bones: No team in the majors allowed more runs last season. The Orioles are excited about their pipeline for young pitching, however. New materials: RHP Kevin Millwood, closer Mike Gonzalez, 3B Miguel Tejada, 3B-1B Garrett Atkins, LHP Will Ohman.

In the dumpster: 3B-OF Melvin Mora, RHP Danys Baez, RHP Chris Ray, LHP Rich Hill.

Job description: Nothing's more important than continuing to lay the foundation for young starters Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta, along with catcher Matt Wieters.

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