The MLB odds are usually in the Yankees favor. Not this time, however.
It's not as if the baseball futures are predicting gloom-&-doom for the New York Yankees; after all, they are the second choice in the AL East at 14/1 to win the 2013 World Series according to the latest numbers at Bovada. Still, with 13 division titles in 17 seasons, and 17 playoff appearances in 18 years, it is strange for the Bronx Bombers not to be favored to claim division honors again.
Meanwhile, the team New York is playing second fiddle to hasn't made a trip to the playoffs in 19 seasons. Indeed, 29 teams are behind the Toronto Blue Jays on the World Series futures odds boards.
Toronto has finished fourth in the AL East each of the past five seasons, and started at 35/1 last November to claim the '13 Fall Classic. That was before the Blue Jays began their offseason makeover that lifted them all the way to 7/1 World Series odds presently.
The first big move was a 12 player swap with the Miami Marlins that brought SS Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson and the versatile Emilio Bonifacio north to Canada. Toronto also landed OF Melky Cabrera via free agency before a trade with the New York Mets added 2012 NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey.
It certainly gives manager John Gibbons, back for a second stint on the top step of the dugout, a deep lineup and rotation to work with. The newcomers out in the field join holdovers Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion and JP Arencibia to form an offense that should score well above the 716 runs Toronto plated in 2012 (7th in AL).
Dickey will headline the rotation that includes Buehrle, Johnson, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. The bullpen features one of the few battles this spring as Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos duke it out for the closer's job.
Quiet Offseason For Cashman & Yankees
If you discount recent news regarding Alex Rodriguez's connection to more PEDs, it has been one of the quietest winters in the Bronx for a long, long time. Brian Cashman did sign four free agents, but two of those, Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda, were re-signed after ending the 2012 campaign in a Yankees jersey.
The other two additions were Kevin Youkilis, who turns 34 just before the start of the regular season, and Travis Hafner, who will be 36 in June and hasn't played a full slate since 2007. In other words, manager Joe Girardi is working with an even older roster than he did a year ago when New York was the oldest team in the majors.
The Yankees are also going to be relying on several key players coming off injuries. Shortstop Derek Jeter vows to be ready for Opening day after breaking his ankle in the ALCS last October. A-Rod, if the Yankees aren't successful in voiding his contract in this Miami juice factory mess, is expected to be ready to play until July. Staff ace CC Sabathia had offseason elbow surgery, and closer Mariano Rivera, now 43, is returning following major knee surgery.
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Rays, Red Sox & Orioles Fill Out Deep Division
It definitely says a lot about how deep the American League East is when all five teams are among the top 17 squads on the MLB futures odds board. The Baltimore Orioles, previewed in more detail earlier here at SBR, bring up the rear at 40/1 to win the World Series after a surprising 2012 that saw them finish two games behind the Yanks for the division crown.
The Tampa Bay Rays rank third in the division with 25/1 Series odds. Joe Maddon's club will be without former ace James Shields (traded to KC) and OF BJ Upton (lost to Atlanta in free agency), but remain very much a playoff threat. David Price leads a young and talented rotation, and while we don't expect Fernando Rodney to repeat his 0.60 ERA in the closer's role, Maddon has a solid corps of relievers at his disposal.
Last but certainly not least, the Boston Red Sox are the biggest mystery of this group. Now under the direction of former Blue Jays skipper and one-time Boston pitching coach John Farrell, the Red Sox are going off at 28/1 odds to win the World Series, and it's easy to dismiss this group from ever performing such a miracle.
The mound was a disaster a year ago under Bobby Valentine, just plain ugly numbers for both the starters and relievers, and Boston will only go as far as the pitching improves...or doesn't. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront return to the rotation that is augmented by free agent Ryan Dempster and John Lackey's comeback from Tommy John surgery. There is some promise in the pen where Andrew Bailey is now healthy and likely the primary setup arm in front of new closer Joel Hanrahan.
We'll take a look at the NL East later this week, and you can also check out some of the previous MLB betting updates at the following links:MLB Betting: League Realignment