The two coasts of the United States have effectively hijacked Major League Baseball over the past 12 months and altered the trajectory of the league. As a result, in 2013 and beyond, the World Series will undoubtedly be decided far from the heartland of the U.S.

On the West Coast, the two Los Angeles baseball clubs have splurged in a big way over the past 12 months to acquire talent in hopes of making a run for the World Series. With the Dodgers in the thick of the bidding war for Zack Greinke — who was traded to the Angels just last season — and the Angels returning Albert Pujols and the sensational Mike Trout, the West Coast is gearing up for baseball domination as long as the AL East does not step in the way.

And after a relatively weak 2012 season that saw the Red Sox collapse in stunning fashion, the Rays fall just short of the playoffs and the Yankees implode in the ALCS, the 2012 offseason was very clearly won by the AL East.

The Toronto Blue Jays — often the cellar-dwellers in a division that includes the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and now-resurgent Orioles — took control of their own future when they traded for stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle from the Miami Marlins. The Jays had been an afterthought in baseball since their last division title in 1993; at that point, they had just won back-to-back World Series titles and seemed poised to become the defining team of the 1990s.

Instead, the strike-affected 1994 season saw the end of the Blue Jays’ remarkable run. They led the majors in attendance that year, yet faltered in the summer, finishing 16 games back of first place; they haven’t made the playoffs since.

After their manager was taken by the Red Sox, the Jays entered deal mode and emerged from the fall of 2012 as the most improved team in the league. Their offensive core of Jose Bautista, MelkyCabrera, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion puts them toward the top of the AL East, and their new pitching ace in Josh Johnson added to the competitiveness of a staff that has sorely missed former ace Roy Halladay.

The Marlins proved this past season that offseason trades do not guarantee results in the following season, but the Jays’ 19 years of futility mean that they are now undoubtedly willing to try anything.

With the AL East’s perennial afterthought making drastic improvements, Toronto joins the rest of the division clubs in looking poised for a winning season. The Tampa Bay Rays recently inked star player Evan Longoria to a long-term deal that will keep him in Tampa until the age of 36. In Boston, the Sox have gotten rid of Bobby Valentine — and the distractions that went along with his disastrous tenure as manager — and hired John Farrell to ignite a fresh spark in a sluggish franchise that won a World Series not so long ago.

Elsewhere in the division, the Baltimore Orioles are coming off of a breakout season in which BuckShowalter led the team to 93 wins, a full 24 more than in 2011. Meanwhile, the Yankees are somehow a question mark in this division after their collapse in the AL Championship Series: Despite coming within four wins of the World Series, the Pinstripes are uneasy with their positioning within the AL East, especially after seeing Toronto load up on talent. Based on the last 20 years of history, however, the Yankees will likely find a way to win regardless.

As baseball heads into its winter meetings and 2013 spring training, expect to see the teams on each coast dominating the storylines. With the amount of money spent by the Los Angeles teams and the moves made by the AL East, the MLB is heading straight for an East Coast/West Coast battle in 2013.

 

Corey Blaine is a senior in the McDonough School of Business. THE BLEACHER SEATS appears every Friday.

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