Yet another season has begun, and as for today we can all imaging are favorite players having career years. After all everyone has a shot this today. This is the day when our favorite veterans will find their missing potential like Cliff Lee did last year or the fountain of youth that Mike Mussina drank from. This is a day of hope and dreams that will soon be squashed for most, since there is only a few of these a season. In just the next month fans will become desperate as favorites start to struggle while others will be ready to hand out MVP and " this year's Rays." It will all be premature, since the season is so long and the first months usually don't tell the same story as August and September.
But for one area of the country, the East, today and tomorrow will be under the microscope. With all the talent and money spent on the coast this season expectations are high, and the pressure will be too. Both leagues run deepest in the East and most likely some of the best teams in the baseball will not make the playoff due to this depth. These players and teams will have to be ready today, ever game matters now. The talent is stacked so playing catch-up will prove quite difficult, just ask the Yankees. With so much made of their offseason, taken both as they played off last year, not making the playoffs for the first time since pre-Torre, as well as the check signing seminar that occurred over the past months. What I don't get is why the signed so many typical slow starters. Both Tex and CC usually take some time to get going, which usually takes till the weather gets warm. That could lead to an unruly situation in the Bronx this spring. The Red Sox, who have done so well with Atlanta's formula, having a great farm system, went out and spend far less on far older and more questionable talent. They do have depth though and may be able to piece together players throughout the long season. Then there are the Rays. They have more experience and confidence after their Cinderella year, but can they regain that magic. Part of the mystic that got these guys firing on all cylinders was that they were not supposed to be there at the top of the east. All year the media waited for the collapse, which never happened. Now rather than being the glorious underdogs, the pressure of success will weigh on this young team, and Joe Madden will have to find all new techniques to motivate. A slow start may crush these young boys’ hearts. To add to matters a talented Blue Jays crew can now fly under the radar and pick up some wins for Team Canada. They have a good pitching staff lead by the work horse of the majors Halliday. They will get their fair share. So wins will be at a premium in this division.
So what will the NL east have to show for itself. The Phillies are defending champs and are returning most of the core players. The question is can they repeat the success and most of all consistency for the full season. Last year they had clutch hitting and the best bullpen in the sport, both are historically hard to duplicate. The Mets have their own obvious demons to overcome, and can do so by actually showing up in September for once. They think they have found the recipe as previously mentioned with the Phils, and went out and stocked their bullpen. They still have to go out and prove themselves, since Putz will have to have the same mentality in the set-up role, which can be tough and K-Rod will be out of the comfortable AL West and have to get actual saves with 1 and 2 run leads, rather than his typical 3 run leads. O yeah and they just picked up a team killer for the league minimum. I see them paying more in wins than the initial league minimum they will sign over to him. Factor in the Marlins who seem to never go away easy, and the Braves who have been laying in the weeds for the right time to strike. They have retooled and will be ready.
So baseball in the East starts from Day 1, the race is on.