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Sunday January 23, 2011 1:25 am

AL East has all new feel




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Vernon WellsThe lesser teams of the American League East were busy on Friday night with the Tampa Bay Rays rumored to have signed and reunited former Red Sox teammates Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, each signed to one-year deals; Ramirez’s worth $2 million and Damon for $5.25 million. Up in Toronto, the Blue Jays ended an era as they traded 12-year veteran center fielder Vernon Wells to the Angels in exchange for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

With the Rays acquiring Ramirez and Damon, it looks like they’re trying to draw some interest back into the organization after losing so many core pieces this offseason. The two players make for a decent left fielder; unfortunately both can’t play the position at the same time. Daily, Joe Maddon will have to decide whether he wants Ramirez’s bat in the lineup or Damon’s glove in the outfield. The DH position is available, but others might be in the mix for that spot too.

North of the border, Wells was thought to be the only untradeable asset the Blue Jays had. Not because of his talent, but instead for his massive contract. He’s through three years of a seven-year, $126 million contract. He’s still owed $86 million for the next four years (of which the Jays will only pay another $5 million), which made many think that he was unmovable, despite a decent 2010. Wells has played through a number of injuries in recent years, yet still remains one of the better center fielders in baseball, but for the first time since he was a teenager, he’ll roam the outfield not wearing a Jays uniform.

As the Blue Jays continue to lower their overall payroll, they still may have a threatening team to field in 2011. How they’ll fare in the AL East is anyone’s guess as things have really been shaken up this year. The Rays also look to have taken a step back after three years of relative success. The biggest question is whether or not Ramirez and Damon can draw any fans in. If those fans haven’t seen either play during their previous tenures in the division, chances are they still won’t care to watch a pair of all-stars playing years past their primes.

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