Brian Cashman likes Rangers

Updated: April 3, 2012, 2:53 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

PORT St. LUCIE -- A year ago, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was quite open about which team he thought was the favorite to win the AL East.

The fact that his pick was not his own team made headlines all over the country.

This year, Cashman isn't so quick to anoint the Boston Red Sox, but he once again stopped short of picking his own team to win the division.

"I think our division's a toss-up," Cashman said on the field before Tuesday's game between the Yankees and Mets at Digital Domain Park. "I think Tampa Bay is obviously the real deal and I think Boston is better than they finished up last year. So it's a toss-up."

But Cashman had no problem handicapping the class of the American League.

"I think Texas is clearly the favorite in our league," he said. "They've won it two straight years. But Anaheim and Detroit have made significant improvements. Detroit knocked us out in the first round and they added Prince Fielder this winter, and you saw what Anaheim did with C.J. (Wilson) and Albert (Pujols)."

Asked if he thought this year's Yankees team was better than the one that won the AL East in 2011, Cashman said: "Well, last year's team won 97 games. I think we have more talent on this year's team, but I think the league is better, so that's the great equalizer. So who knows? We'll see."

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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