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Why the Toronto Blue Jays Will Win the AL East in 2013

Trading Youth for Experience Will Pay Off for the Blue Jays

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Toronto Blue Jays head into the 2013 season with unheralded expectations. Upper management sensed an upcoming down year in the AL East, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos made the moves necessary to help his team take advantage of the circumstances presented.

They acquired a plethora of former All-Stars in various offseason moves (mostly from the blockbuster trade with Miami), and have put the rest of Major League Baseball on notice that the Blue Jays are back and they mean business.

On paper, they became the team to beat in the AL East. But, as we all know, paper doesn't win you games. The moves will mean nothing if the players don't produce on the field at the expected level. Thankfully, the Jays have the type of players on the team who should have no problem living up the expectations of winning the AL East.

The main reason why they will win the East: A strong veteran presence.

The Jays will have no first-time major-league players when they take the field Tuesday, April 2. It's something Blue Jays fans haven't been able to say in a long time. And unlike years past, the Blue Jays don't have young players who would simply like to win. Instead, they have players who expect to go out and win.

When Anthopoulos went out and added R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, Emilio Bonafacio, and Jose Reyes to the roster, he acquired more than 55 combined years of major-league experience. A vast improvement for a team that had nine players make their major-league debuts in 2012.

And with the acquisitions of experienced talent comes a sense of accountability and understanding of what needs to be done for the team to win.

"If everybody keeps their focus on doing whatever it takes for them to be successful, as a group we're going to come together and play well, win more games and everything will take care of itself," Jose Bautista told The Sporting News.

Just having that presence of players like Reyes and Buehrle could benefit young players like Brett Lawrie, J.P Arencibia, Brett Cecil, etc. When things inevitably get tough during the season, the veterans who've dealt with adversity before will be able to guide the young up-and-comers along and keep the ship going in the right direction. It's a benefit that many won't notice they have until it's actually witnessed.

From top to bottom, the Toronto lineup contains players who have tasted success on an individual level, but, aside from Buehrle, have never seen overall team success in terms of winning a World Series. With the determination of the players on the roster, and the fact that the team has a no-nonsense manager in John Gibbons, the Blue Jays should have no issues taking the AL East crown in 2013.

Provided they stay healthy, of course.

Michael Straw is a sportswriter who lives in Buffalo, NY and has been covering baseball, primarily at the Triple-A level, for two years. He began covering the Blue Jays in the fall of 2012, and has been published in multiple Western New York publications.

For Blue Jays and other sports news, follow Michael on Twitter @MikeStrawQCS.

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