MLB 2009 - AL East betting preview
The biggest spending, most watched division in all of baseball, the AL East, is shaping up for an unbelievable year.
The Yankees have moved from 'The House Ruth Built' and the New Yorkers are desperate to start off as they mean to go on in their new home.
It won't be easy though. The Red Sox have reloaded, the Rays are coming off a fantastic year and even the Blue Jays can cause an upset - so who will win the AL East title?
The Orioles finished dead last for the first time since 1988 last year and they could be lucky to improve on that this time around.
Their infield looks strong with Melvin Mora, Ty Wigginton and Brian Roberts but after that it's difficult to see how Baltimore can compete with their rich divisional rivals.
Jeremy Guthrie is the one bright spark in a below par rotation.
Key Player: Brian Roberts Prediction: 5th Odds to win AL East: 50/1
Boston Red Sox
So much of the Red Sox success depends on the fitness of David Ortiz. The big slugger suffered from injuries for a large part of last season and another year of the same would be massively damaging to the Red Sox chances of topping baseball's toughest division.
Jason Bay is a more than able replacement for Manny Ramirez but if Ortiz is not at 100% there could be a big hole in the line-up where a power bat is required.
In terms of pitching the Sox look awesome. The acquisition of Brad Penny gives the rotation even more depth and if John Smoltz gets back to his best then Jonathan Papelbon can look forward to even more save opportunities.
Key Player: David Ortiz Prediction: 1st Odds to win AL East: 6/4
New York Yankees
The Steinbrenners have been at it again making all the big money free agency moves. The massive amounts CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira are receiving will be justified if they put a pennant up in the New Yankee Stadium - but they don't ensure it.
I can see Alex Rodriguez putting up MVP numbers and Teixeira is a massive upgrade on Jason Giambi but questions have to be asked of Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui after poor 2008s. Also, Jorge Posada cannot be expected to play every day meaning a big bat is missing when Jose Molina steps in.
Pitching shouldn't really be an issue but that relies on Sabathia and Burnett both slotting in without any problems and Chien-Ming Wang coming back without any niggles. Joba Chamberlain's move back to the bullspen is a massive positive.
Key Player: CC Sabathia Prediction: 2nd Odds to win AL East: 11/10
Tampa Bay Rays
Joe Maddon has a tough task repeating last year's success but it isn't out of the question.
They're a young side with old heads and BJ Upton and Evan Longoria should comeback even better than they were last time. There could be a few issues with run production as the Philadelphia Phillies badly exposed in the Series but just like last year, these boys will never give in.
The pitching is strong if unspectacular with Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and James Shields forming a good rotation and David Price could be a star if the tail end of last season is anything to go on.
Key Player: Evan Longoria Prediction: 3rd Odds to win AL East: 4/1
Toronto Blue Jays
If the Blue Jays could have put runs on the board last year they could easily have been divisional contenders but if anything the franchise was left considerably weaker after the off-season.
Cito Gaston returns for his first full season as Toronto's manager since 1997 and he is charged with bringing similar glory to Canada as he managed in 1992 - it certainly won't be happening this year though.
AJ Burnett's departure is tough to take as their rotation was awesome in 08 but at least fans at the Rogers Centre can look forward to another year of Roy Halladay excellence.
Key Player: Alex Rios Prediction: 4th Odds to win AL East: 16/1