Most teams have already played 2 games so I suppose I shouldn't really call this a "preview". However, I don't know what else to call it. Here we go:
The AL East is clearly the best division in baseball this year, with 2 juggernauts (Sox and Yanks), a very good team that would probably win the AL West, NL Central, and NL West (Blue Jays), and an up-and-coming D-Rays team that would contend for an NL Wild Card. Unfortunately (for me), I think the strength of the division will make it difficult for two teams to reach the playoffs from the AL East.
Boston Red Sox- (94-68, AL East Champs)- Mike Lowell's slide back toward mediocrity will be offset by J.D. Drew's improvement. The absence of Curt Schilling will be offset by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz's increased role with the team. Other than that I don't expect much to change. They are still favorites to win the division.
NY Yankees- (92-70)- I will devote an entire post to them either today or tomorrow. In short, this will be the fourth consecutive season that I predict they will miss the postseason. I hope that I'm as right as I've been the past three seasons.
Toronto Blue Jays (89-73)- Same story as the past two seasons. If nearly everything breaks right for them, the Jays can win the division. Once again it's a bit of a long shot given the injury-prone nature of many of their key players. Still this is a very good team, with perhaps the deepest pitching staff in baseball.
Tampa Devil Rays (80-82)- Incredibly, the D'Rays are about one season and a free agent ace (they should back up the truck for Sabathia) away from threatening to take this division down. As for this year, I expect them to hover around .500 if Kazmir can give them 30 games and they call up Evan Longoria in short order. What I don't really understand how a team with no fanbase has the balls to keep such an obviously ready blue chip prospect (Longoria) in the minors to save some arbitration money in a couple of years. The D-Rays have yet to top 70 wins in their 10 years of existence. How much longer should the people of Tampa have to wait for an enjoyable product?
Baltimore Orioles (63-99)- There is no team in baseball further from contending for the playoffs than the Baltimore Orioles. Sure there are worse teams (Giants, Pirates, Marlins, Nats), but none of them have to contend with the two greatest powerhouses in the sport in their divisions. Making matters worse is that Peter Angelos does not have the stomach for rebuilding projects. Expect him to continue his cycle of panic splashes in the free agent pool, followed by panic fire sales for many years to come. Only the names change.