Changing of the guard in AL East?

The New York Yankees are known for their lavish offseason spending which in the recent past has lured in big names like C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, but things are changing in the AL East.

While the Yankees have been busy re-signing their own veteran players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, their rivals the Boston Red Sox have been throwing money and prospects around to try and position themselves for a run to the World Series.

The Red Sox have already bolstered their lineup by acquiring the top free agent hitter and the top bat available on the trade market. Adrian Gonzalez was acquired from the San Diego Padres early in the offseason then the team came out of nowhere and signed Carl Crawford to play left field over the next seven years. The Sox weren’t finished after Crawford, as they began working to strengthen a shaky bullpen with their offensive upgrade complete. Boston signed former closer Bobby Jenks and set-up man Dan Wheeler to shorter contracts to pitch in front of Jonathan Papelbon.

While the Yankees have brought in some outside help by obtaining catcher Russell Martin and reliever Pedro Feliciano, it doesn’t compare to the large moves the Red Sox made. Things would have been fine in New York if the Yankees, who were the clear favorites to land Cliff Lee, had gotten their main target as well. Lee, however, decided to return to Philadelphia leaving the Yankees with a huge hole in their pitching rotation.

A.J. Burnett has been terrible, Javier Vazquez (who was also terrible in New York) has moved on to Florida and Andy Pettitte will most likely retire instead of playing in 2011. After C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes, the Yankees rotation is full of question marks.

And if you think things are bad for the Yankees, imagine how the other AL East heavyweight (in recent years at least) must be feeling. The Tampa Bay Rays lost two of their most productive hitters, Crawford and Carlos Pena as well as two (likely three when Rafael Soriano signs elsewhere) key members of their bullpen.

Unlike the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rays don’t have much money to spend and will have to rely on young players like Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson to pick up some of the slack in the coming season.

While anything can happen between now and next October, it seems that a changing of the guard will likely take place in the AL East.

Used with permission of the author.

 Along with contributing to Sports Climax, Brett Kettyle is the Atlanta Braves Community Leader on Bleacher Report and maintains a Braves column for MTR Media. Follow Brett on Twitter.

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