Forecast: American League preview

Jim Bowden @JimBowdenESPNxm: After missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2008, the Yankees committed $454 million in the offseason on five free agents -- Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Hiroki Kuroda -- all in an effort to win one final time with longtime captain Derek Jeter on the team. Jeter is set to play the final season of his 20-year career in 2014 before retiring. Despite questions that still need to be answered at second base, at third base and in the bullpen, the Yankees are primed to be right in the thick of the race for the AL East title or at the very least as one of the two AL wild-card teams.

Christina Kahrl @ChristinaKahrl: The last time the Yankees missed the postseason, they made big additions (CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira) and won the World Series. Will doubling down with the quartet of Tanaka, Ellsbury, Beltran and McCann help them repeat that trick? Or will an aging roster, mystery infield and Mo-free bullpen reduce Jeter's final season to also-ran status?

4. Baltimore Orioles

Jayson Stark @jaysonst: Is this the deepest lineup in baseball? Seriously. The Orioles led the sport in homers last year (212) and added a prototype Camden Yards hitter, Nelson Cruz, who is coming off an excellent spring. Another question: Is there a team that catches the ball better than the Orioles? Manny Machado is a Web Gem waiting to happen. They run six Gold Glove finalists out there every night. Luke Appling once committed more errors in a season by himself than the entire Orioles team committed last year (54). So with all that going for them, this can be a playoff team if ... Tommy Hunter (or someone else) turns into a reliable closer ... Ubaldo Jimenez's big second half in Cleveland last season wasn't a mirage ... they hit on the roll-the-dice signings of Johan Santana and Suk-min Yoon ... their brightest young hopes -- Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop -- make an impact ... all their health luck is good, starting with Machado and his famous medial patellofemoral ligament.

Dan Szymborski @DSzymborski: For three months, it appeared as if the Orioles were going to sit on their hands the second straight offseason, doing little to improve their team in arguably baseball's toughest division. The O's finally made their splash, signing Jimenez and then Cruz. Baltimore is still missing that ace who can go against Justin Verlander or Yu Darvish but now has one of the deeper rotations in baseball. The team really needs Chris Davis to repeat his 2013 performance; otherwise Baltimore is still among the second tier of AL wild-card contenders. A 90-win season wouldn't be shocking, but neither would an 80-win year.

5. Toronto Blue Jays

Buster Olney: It's unusual to see a last-place team bet on what will essentially be the same cast for the next season, but that's what the Jays are doing. They have to hope that R.A. Dickey and the rest of the rotation is better and that Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and others stay healthy -- or there could be change in the winter.

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