Although many teams are just short of or just past the 81-game mark (halfway through the 162 game season) the Yankees played, and won, their 81st game Sunday afternoon with a 10-8 comeback win against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Since the only team that really matters, the Bronx Bombers, are at the halfway mark, its time to give out grades for the best and worst of the American League East Division.

Boston Red Sox – 49-32 – 1st in A L East, 2nd Best Overall – A- The 2009 Red Sox are in first for one reason and one reason alone – divisional dominance.  They are 8-0 against the rival Yankees, 6-1 against Baltimore and 4-2 against Toronto.  Only Tampa Bay has a winning record against the Sox, taking 6 of 9 games against Boston.  The Yankees and Boston typically split their season series.  If that was the case, the Yankees would hold a a three game lead on them.  Pitching is average, batting is below average.  Somehow though, they are on pace for 98 wins.  Figure that.

New York Yankees – 48-33 – 2nd in AL East, 3rd Best Overall Record – B+ Watching the Yankees this season has been a pleasure, especially lately.  Since getting off to a not-so-hot start to the season, the Yankees have been the best team in the majors since May 15.  They have two glaring weaknesses: starting pitching and head-to-head competition with the hated Red Sox.  The Yankees team ERA is ranked 23rd in the majors – horrible.  And 0-8 vs Boston?  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  With the streak the Yankees are on, I would have ranked them an A- had they not lost 8 in a row to Boston.

Tampa Bay Rays – 44-39 – 3rd in AL East, 10th Best Overall – B The Rays have it a little harder this year – people are expecting them to play hard and well – the Rays can no longer surprise people.  Despite a bad record against the crappy teams of the American League, the Rays did well in Interleague play (13-5) and against Boston (6-3).  They seemed destined to finish third in the toughest division in baseball.

Toronto Blue Jays – 42-41 – 4th in AL East, 18th Overall – C- When this team got off to a hot start, it seemed as if this might be a 4-team divisional race.  Then they started playing good teams and started losing.  The Yankees (6-1), Boston (4-2), Baltimore (3-0) and Tampa Bay (2-1) all seem to have little trouble beating up on the Jays.  Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the AL this season, but he can only go out there every 5 days.  To get to the playoffs in this division you have to beat the other teams in head-to-head.  Period.

Baltimore Orioles 36-46 – 5th in AL East, 4th Worst Overall – D- I just plain feel bad for the fans of this team.  Its been 11 seasons since this team has had a winning record.  Ouch.  They suck at pitching, and are average at batting and fielding.  There are some bright spots to this team that they can build around and they have to in order to be competitive in this tough division.  Someone once told me that a fish stinks from the head down.  Its time to cut off the head.  Get a new owner, GM and manager in there to turn it around.