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Top heavy

Yankees, Red Sox look to feast on rest of East

Posted: Monday February 21, 2005 1:18PM; Updated: Tuesday March 1, 2005 1:52PM
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Manny Ramirez
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New York
2004: 101-61
2005 Preview
2005 Schedule
 Better pitching gives NY eighth straight AL East title
2004: 98-64
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2004: 78-84
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 A banging bunch with Sosa, but Ponson as an ace?
2004: 67-94
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 Injuries killed them in '04; better, but not enough
Tampa Bay
2004: 70-91
2005 Preview
2005 Schedule
 71 wins would be franchise-high, and a lot to ask
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AL East | AL Central | AL West
NL East | NL Central | NL West

In the past 10 seasons, the AL East champ has won seven AL pennants and five World Series championships.

Big money and big talent reside in the East. But as any baseball fan knows, those things reside solely in two places: New York and Boston. They are the champions of the division of champs, the top dogs in the Westminster of divisions. And that doesn't figure to change anytime soon.

The Yankees and Red Sox again will have the top two payrolls in the sport in 2005, with the Yankees' bill creeping above $200 million. This offseason, the Yanks rebuilt, through trade and free agency, a rotation that failed them spectacularly in last season's AL Championship Series against the wild-card Red Sox. Randy Johnson, the game's most dominating pitcher, now is wearing pinstripes after a trade from Arizona. He'll join Mike Mussina and free-agent signees Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright on one of the most formidable staffs in the majors.

After their history-making comeback against the Yanks in last year's ALCS -- the first team to rebound from an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series -- and their first World Series win in 86 years, the Red Sox endured a shaky offseason. Free-agent pitchers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, big parts of Boston's success in '04, both left.

But the Sox rebounded by signing free-agent pitchers Matt Clement and Wade Miller. Lefty David Wells, who pitched for the Yanks in the World Series in 1997 and 2003, also signed on. And the Sox, like the Yanks, have most of a potent lineup returning, too.

Yes, there are other teams in the AL East and other stars. Sammy Sosa moves to Baltimore to join Miguel Tejada on a team that will be fun to watch --at the plate, at least.

But nowhere in the game is a division so divided between the top tier and the rest. In the AL East this year -- as has been the case most every year since division play began -- it's the Yankees and Red Sox, then everybody else.