In AL East, two on top and lots of questions

In AL East, two on top and lots of questions
January 27, 2014, 10:00 am
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(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

As currently constructed, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are counting on production in 2014 from opposite ends of the baseball time line. The Red Sox are looking for youngsters to come through, while the Yankees are hoping for renewed vigor by high-mileage veterans.

In Boston’s case, it’s shortstop Xavier Bogaerts (21) and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (23). With New York, it’s shortstop Derek Jeter (39), first baseman Mark Teixeira (33) and pitcher CC Sabathia (33).

Despite their several additions in the offseason — outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka — the Yankees remain a big question mark. In fact, writing at mlb.com, Richard Justice said:

“There's a case to be made for the Rays being the best team in the American League East. There's also a case to be made for the Red Sox. At the moment, there's really not one to be made for any other team.

“The Orioles and Blue Jays are works in progress, both with an assortment of questions. That's also true of the Yankees. After spending more than $450 million to upgrade the roster this offseason, they still have large questions about first base, shortstop, third base and the rotation.”

The key for the Rays is their deep starting rotation. And manager Joe Maddon.

“Maddon is held in such high esteem that we sometimes overlook how short-handed his roster occasionally is. He simply figures out how to do more with less than any manager. … [The Rays’] core beliefs of building around pitching, defense and mixing and matching lineups has worked spectacularly well.”

So for the Rays, it’s smaller payroll, fewer questions. For the Yankees, it’s bigger payroll, more questions.