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Interesting perspectives on Dave Trembley in yesterday's bar. Most believe he deserves the nod through 2009 -- assuming the club plays hard for him -- no matter the results.

I'm starting to sense that many of you are resigned to a poor 2009, so long as you see bright spots. I think that's the way you have to look at the upcoming season, and any extra is gravy (the good type, not the lumps we serve here on the meatloaf).

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I was intrigued that several of you brought up Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays to illustrate (or argue against) Trembley's case. The Rays demonstrated plenty of patience with Maddon and it paid off.

But, remember, the Orioles aren't yet where the Rays are talent-wise.

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I bring up the Rays because I am in the process of doing my annual AL East previews for The Baltimore Sun and I was immediately hit with a dilemma regarding the Rays. As good as they are, and as wonderful as their season was last year, I am predicting them to finish third in the East and not make the playoffs.

Perhaps it is faulty logic -- especially considering pitching is paramount and the Rays have four starters age 27 or younger that won double-digit games last year. And that doesn't include mega-prospect David Price, who will start the season at Triple-A.

But, right now, I like the rotations of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox more. The Yankees have five guys who could win 15 games and the Red Sox, by June anyway, have six to seven legitimate big-league starters.

I could see the Rays winning 90-plus games this season, and not making the postseason. Because it is tough to repeat a miracle season (Rays igniter B.J. Upton is already out for the first week at least). And because the Red Sox and Yankees, partially because of their payrolls, are just deeper at this time.

So I have the Rays third, behind the division-winning Red Sox and the wild-card-winning Yankees and ahead of the injury-prone Toronto Blue Jays and the last-place Orioles. I'm afraid I have become just another one of those jaded national writers you all abhor so much.

Am I alone here? Do the Rays make the playoffs again?

Daily Think Special: What's your predicted order of finish for the AL East? Why?

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