AL East Fans - A Call to Arms (and legs, bats, and anything else we can toss into the fray)

One of the things I love about blogging is the ability to post what I want when I want. While I enjoyed my time writing for other sites and magazines, I felt a bit constricted at times, under the direction of over-eager editors, strict word counts and AP Style-Nazi’s. Here I can be as colloquial as I want, and in the end the only critics whose needs are served are the readers. And after all, you are the ones that matter right?

It also means we get to have some fun over the next few weeks while waiting for spring training games to begin.

Starting next week FanSided has decided to fire up a little fun in the form of pre-season All-Star competition that requires our typically competitive egos and homer hearts to take a back seat as we check out who the best of the best look like in each division and, ultimately, in baseball. It begins with the writers on each blog, who submit their respective choices for the best players in their division. That means that even though he’s moved to Boston, I’ll cast my ballet for Carl Crawford as one of three outfielders to represent the AL Beast.

We’ll start with the position players. Once we’ve made those selections, we’ll move on to pitchers. We’ll use the same process, giving our readers a chance to raise their collective voice and name the AL East division Pre-Season All Star team when things get close.

Once each blog finishes its choices, they head out to the division captain. In the case of the AL East that task falls to Mat Germain who manages the flaming hot Jays Journal. The votes are tallied and each division announces it’s All Star team. If some positions are too close to call, you the readers will chime in by voting in a series of polls to determine the winners.

Then it gets serious.

The idea is for the blogs in each division to put forth the best group of players, who will then go head to head in a divisional vote-off to determine the best “team” in the American and National Leagues. That means that in our case, it won’t matter whether you look through your “Rays Colored Glasses” or have the Red Sox logo tatooed on your behind; for the next few weeks our task, and yours, is to prove to every other division that there is no better set of players to be found than those in the AL East.

That also means that the readers from Jays Journal, BirdsWatcher, Bosox Injection, RayHawk Review and Yanks Go Yard will need to band together to beat back the usurpers from all the other divisions and prove once and for all which division the best baseball in land is played.

Ooh, does that look like a gauntlet tossed at the feet of the other blogs? You betcha baby, so take your best shot, because we will be ready for the challenge.

On to our selections. The RayHawk Review position player votes are:

C: Matt Wieters – There is a massive changing of the guard in the AL East going on and he’s ahead of the pack.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez – In that lineup, in that park, it’s hard to imagine anything less than a career year.
2B: Robinson Cano – He’s become an elite offensive player at a position known for speed and defense.
3B: Evan Longoria – A first rounder in pretty much any fantasy baseball league
SS: Yunel Escobar – It was too hard to take Derek Jeter here. The Captain is a grey beard. Escobar had a tough year but started putting it together once he was traded to Toronto. Hitting in that band box, we figure he’s a big bounce back candidate this year.
OF: Carl Crawford – Our outfield picks are all about terrorizing the base paths, and he’ll lead the charge. Should be a unanimous selection.
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury – If healthy, with that offense…woof! Ellsbury bats around .290 and in two full years stole 120 bases. That’s serious speed. Last year he played in only 18 games. If he gets his 500+ AB this year, Boston is going to set some records for runs scored.
OF: Brent Gardner – Surprise youngster took the job in the big apple and never looked back. His .383 OBA was stellar and swiped almost 50 bases. Imagine these three guys sprinkled into any lineup and you’ve got pitchers and catchers wetting their pants in fear.
DH: Manny Ramirez – He can hit lefties and righties and is a better clutch hitter than the declining Ortiz

Those are our votes. The other blogs are chiming in as we speak and we’ll post the results this coming week.

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