Al East

March 29, 2011

Predicted finish, records

Red Sox Yankees Blue Jays Rays Orioles 94-6892-71*81-8178-8470-92

Pennants, wild cards since 1995: 10, 12.

Average payroll: $111.8 million (First of six divisions).

Managers with World Series rings: Terry Francona ('04, '07), Joe Girardi ('09).

Players with MVP awards: Dustin Pedroia ('08),

Alex Rodriguez ('03, '05, '07), Vladimir Guerrero ('04).

Pitchers with Cy Young awards: CC Sabathia ('07),

Bartolo Colon ('05).

Possible high fantasy picks: Carl Crawford, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Mark Teixeira, Evan Longoria, Pedroia, Mariano Rivera, Sabathia, David Price.

*-win one-game playoff for wild card against Tigers

2011 awards

MVP: Crawford, Red Sox. He scored 110 runs for the Rays last season. He could raise that to 120-plus while also driving in 100 if he hits at the same level he did a year ago. Worth considering: Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Longoria, Bautista.

Cy Young: Price, Rays. Entering his third full season, he is ready to emerge on the national stage. Worth considering: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Sabathia, Rivera.

Rookie of the Year: Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays. The key in the Roy Halladay trade for Toronto, the 23-year-old Texan has pounded the strike zone this spring. Worth considering: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays; J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, Zach Britton, Orioles.  

Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Blue Jays. A former pitching coach and assistant GM, he moves into the dugout with a team that could contend into September.

Nine questions

1

Are the Red Sox the best team in baseball? That's what conventional wisdom says, and it's right. The additions of Crawford and Gonzalez and renewed health of Pedroia give Boston a chance to score 950-plus runs — and the pitching's good too.

2

How much trouble are the Yankees in? A lot. The starting rotation is thin and the lineup is getting older. They can't take a playoff spot for granted.

3

Can Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon carry the Rays? Stranger things have happened. Ramirez, a waste of a uniform for the White Sox last September, seemed reborn this spring, and Damon always gives you everything he has.

4

Who's the most underrated player? It's hard to go unnoticed in New York, but the speedy Brett Gardner somehow does. He could become one of baseball's best leadoff men.

5

Who will rescue the Yankees? There's little question they'll pay heavily to get the best available guy (or two) in a midseason trade. Felix Hernandez? Albert Pujols? No telling what could happen between now and then.

6

Can Buck Showalter cook up some Orioles magic? Down the line, maybe, but in 2011 it's going to be difficult to build off last season's 34-23 finish.

7

Who will be the next player traded by the Rays? Don't be surprised if James Shields beats Damon and Ramirez out of town. He'll have value with a good first half, and Chris Archer is in the wings.

8

Same old

Derek Jeter (left)? Why not? Eyebrows went up when his batting average dropped 64 points, but he's a good bet to jump back over .300.

9

Bautista, man or myth? Check back at season's end. Having given him a five-year, $65million contract, the Jays hope he keeps hitting home runs after an out-of-nowhere 54 last year.

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