Is the balance of power shifting in the AL East?

An opinion I have heard is that one reason the Orioles were able to make a 24-win improvement during the 2012 season was tied to the fall of the Boston Red Sox, who lost 21 more games in 2012 than the previous year. The Orioles moved forward and the Red Sox fell back. It may be not that simple, but that is a theory that you hear.

Even with Boston having a losing season, the American League East remained a beast last year. Three teams won 90 or more games and once again, two made the playoffs.

Some may argue that the AL West was a tougher division with three teams winning 89 or more and two playoff squads. The West went 92-82 against the East this year.

But if you look closer, the AL East’s top three clubs in New York, the Orioles and Tampa went 60-47 vs. the West while the bottom two in Toronto and Boston were 22-45.

Anyway, the East remains a most difficult division to win and looks like it just got better after the trade that netted Toronto Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle. Has the balanced of power now shifted north in the East?

It seems every year the feeling is that the Yankees have gotten too old. Yet they have made the playoffs 17 of the last 18 seasons. Now they have questions with Derek Jeter’s fractured ankle, they could begin next season without Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, and they face controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez. They also are said to not be spending as they once did.

Boston is a bit of a wild card. After shedding a lot of payroll, will they quickly spend again this winter to try and gear back up or will they be a rebuilding club under new manager John Farrell?

Tampa Bay has me convinced that it is a perennial winner now. Despite a low budget and poor stadium situation, they have one of the game’s best 1-2 punches at GM and manager, and the Rays’ pitching remains the envy of most organizations.

Another theory behind Toronto’s big trade is that the Blue Jays feel, despite recent history, that the AL East can be had. Maybe the Yankees actually will get old, Boston will be at least a year or two away and the Orioles may have problems repeating last year’s success.

An interesting theory, but I don’t see that playing out on the field. The East always seems to have at least three playoff-caliber teams. Toronto feels it just made that number four.

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