The All star break generally marks the unofficial halfway point of the MLB season with all teams having played more than 81 games. as of right now the standings are thus:
|New York Yankees||52||33||.612||—||25–16||27–17|
|Tampa Bay Rays||45||41||.523||7½||24–19||21–22|
|Boston Red Sox||43||43||.500||9½||22–24||21–19|
|Toronto Blue Jays||43||43||.500||9½||23–19||20–24|
The Yankees are a full 7 games up on the Orioles but the rest of the division is very close to one another and they all suffer from a lot of problems and only the Yankees have been over .500 the last 10 games. I talked about the Yankees necessary moves here.
The Fighting Showalters came out of the gate on top and their pitching had been decent which is a big step up from absolutely horrible which had been the norm. Their bullpen ERA still ranks as the second best in baseball but their starter ERA now ranks 26th with no starter being particularly good with Chen and Hammel having fallen back down to earth. Their offense hasn't fared much better as of late as they have fallen down to 19th. They traded for Jim Thome and have been linked to Zach Greinke, but quite frankly buying big pieces would be a bad idea for Baltimore. The Fighting Showalters have played way above their heads and their -36 run differential shows that. Dan Duquette has the right idea with investing in pitching but the team isnt one pitcher away they are three pitchers away from contending. The crap the Orioles throw out there for 3 out of five games is awful, Brian Matusz was the best of the three before being demoted and his ERA was 5.42! Their pitching is almost as bad as Boston and Toronto's and their offense is worse than Tampa Bays, you cannot win with that and I doubt it will get better. The Orioles should give every opportunity to their young players and maybe try and swing a deal for a starter who is under team control such as Matt Garza or Wandy Rodriguez. I'd love to see the Orioles make the playoffs but I think they finish .500 at best.
Toronto Blue Jays
I did not realize how good the Jays offense was this year until I looked it up which shows just how bad their pitching has been. The Jays are in the top three and Bautista and Encarnacion are both crushing the ball as is the rest of the lineup but that pitching staff has been devastated by injury and they relied too much on their internal pitching. The Jays have a real shot of making the postseason if they can assemble a decent pitching staff but like the Orioles they do not need one pitcher as much as they need three fifths of a rotation. Toronto is really close but I think what they need to try and do is extend Encarnacion and possibly Johnson and if they cannot then trade them. The Blue Jays have some really good pieces in Morrow, Romero and Alvarez but they need some solid inning eaters and should target some team controlled pitchers. Garza is a really good fit for Toronto as he has experience in the AL east and is a solid pitcher who eats innings and is a top of the rotation pitcher. Jason Vargas is another possibility and Alex Anthopoulos loves making trades.
Tampa Bay Rays
Unfortunately for the Rays they came into the year with a lot of expectations and alot has been going wrong for them. Pena has been mediocre, Longoria has been hurt, the signings of Luke Scott and Hideki Matsui have not worked well and to top it all off they are 29th in attendance which is just wrong. Sorry Tampa Bay, I know your stadium is crap and that it is actually in St.Petersburg but you have made the playoffs three of the last four years and if you don't go then you don't deserve an MLB team. The Rays are considering selling but they also have arguably the best rotation in the MLB and are still definitely in contention. Even on a down year the Rays could get a ton for James Shields but that might also kill their chances of winning this year. The Rays need offense and they really can't solve that problem through free agency with their lack of fans. If the Rays want to win this season then they should try getting interesting with some trades, try getting the Cubs to pick up almost everything of Alfonso Soriano's contract for prospects or trade BJ Upton for a shortstop or catcher. Unfortunately for the Rays the team they match up with the best is probably the Toronto Blue Jays as they have both Catcher and Shortstop to spare and desperately need a solid starting pitcher who can eat innings and is under team control, which is James Shields to a T. Even without any moves the Rays should be in the thick of the playoff race.
Boston Red Sox
The thing that people in New York have the biggest trouble understanding is that in Connecticut we have non pink haters here who still think that the Red Sox are this gritty underdogs. The fact is that the Red Sox are a top-5 big market team and have the same pressure from their fan base to always win that the Yankees do. The Red Sox are in a situation right now where they do not have the money to pursue what they need which is a good starting pitcher and do not have the balls to make a big move. They made bad moves in signing Lackey and Crawford and now they are totally handcuffed by these moves. The biggest problem for the Sox is that they have a bunch of mediocre starting pitchers who are getting paid a lot of money and have no real depth behind them, just to point out Felix Doubront is their best starter with an ERA of 4.41. That being said this team is not hopeless but they do rank 27th in terms of starter ERA and have honestly been facing a lot of crappy teams. Fans seem to want to blow the team up and you could definitely get a big haul if you blow it up, but you need to improve that rotation and get some good bullpen pieces as that bullpen is not as good as it appears. I seriously doubt that the Sox have the balls to make any big trades that shake things up, I mean it took them how long to trade their declining, soon to be free agent third baseman despite already having his replacement?
The end result is that every team in the AL East except the Yankees have giant holes that they need to fill with anyone of them being possible buyers or sellers at the deadline.
Check out this article and more on my blog A True Yankee