Red Sox: Who is a bigger threat; the Yankees or the Rays?
Coming off winning a World Series championship, the Boston Red Sox now turn their attention to the 2019 season. Who will pose the biggest threat within their division?
The AL East was a very interesting division last year. It had teams that made an impact and others that are far away from contending. The Red Sox had a stranglehold on the division most of the year. This, of course, did not make their rivals the New York Yankees very happy. But the surprise came from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays were supposed to lose 90 plus games but won 90 and nearly made the postseason. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both in a rebuilding period, so I won’t be focusing on them today. So looking forward to 2019 between the Yankees and Rays, which squad poses a threat to win the AL East? I will give you my opinion on both and how I think the Red Sox need to worry about each.
At the beginning of 2018, the Rays were the laughing stock of the league. Their manager Kevin Cash had a crazy idea of starting bullpen pitchers throughout the game. He had a four-man rotation and then left it up to his relievers to do the rest. The Rays used this, and it looked good. In the middle of the season, it took a turn for the worst though. They made some adjustments and towards the end, it helped them win. Most experts had this team winning no more than 76 games. Living near the Tampa/St. Petersburg area most of the radio guys agreed. The Rays shocked everyone.
They relied on the skill of their young talent. The Rays united behind a team motto and used it as motivation for the season. The Rays do not have a huge payroll like the Red Sox and Yankees, they must build within their farm system and make some trades. In their farm system, they brought up Willy Adames and Jake Bauers, these two gentlemen solidified the Rays infield. The Rays also relied on position players like Joey Wendle and Ji-Man Choi just to name a few.
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The threat and asset the Rays have is their youth. If they can keep these guys around it could turn out just like what the Red Sox and Yankees have done to solidify their lineups with strong young guys. The Rays also acquired Mike Zunino from the Mariners which if they had a weakness, it’s now gone. The Rays also had CY Young award winner Blake Snell on the hill, I’d definitely look for him to continue the path that he is on.
No matter what, the Yankees have been in the thorn in the Red Sox side. On the other hand, so have the Red Sox to the Yankees. New York followed what the Red Sox did and went younger and back to their farm system. The Yankees brought up Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, and these two gentlemen have been everything that the Yankees and their fans thought they would be. They’re the building blocks in which all MLB teams want to build around. The Yankees will do everything in their power to win now because they hated seeing the Red Sox win the World Series.
The Yankees biggest problem in 2018 was pitching. Outside of Luis Severino, the rest of the pitching corps struggled. At one-point, C.C. Sabathia got kicked out of a game and gave up a bonus he would have received had he not been thrown out. The Yankees would meet the Red Sox in the ALDS. In their first playoff meeting since the historic 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox would use their starting pitching to overcome the Yankees.
So, what do the Yankees do? They went out on the market and traded for pitchers. The Yankees traded and acquired James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners and AJ Cole from the Washington Nationals. Look for their pitching to only get better and we know they can already hit. The Yankees will be a threat just like the Rays and both will be gunning for the AL East title.
The Orioles and Blue Jays are far from being a threat. These two teams are fully rebuilding for the future. Now it is just a three-team race. The Red Sox, Yankees and Rays all have a good chance to win the division in 2019. The Red Sox will have to bring back some of their workhorses or bring in free agents to try for a repeat. The Yankees and Rays have both gone out to fill the holes in their lineups. If the Red Sox continue on their current path, they should have no problem repeating as AL and World Series Champs.