Cone: Blue Jays the team to beat

David Cone, who pitched for both the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees and now a broadcaster for the YES Network, took a look at the 12-player blockbuster deal between the Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto and formed a very definite opinion: "I would think they've got to be the favorite (in the AL East) right now."

Cone shared his comments at Yankee Stadium this morning, where he, Joe Girardi and a bunch of Yankees employees took part in an event to assemble "comfort packs" of food and supplies to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan during the holiday season.

"I think the Blue Jays see a golden opportunity," said Cone, who went 13-9 with a 3.14 ERA in two stints as a Blue Jay, in 1992 and 1995. "They see the AL East is ripe for the taking. You've got to admire them for making a move and taking a shot."

Asked if he thought the deal shifted the balance of power in the division, Cone said, "I think it does absolutely. Especially considering Toronto is going to get the roster that they had back healthy again. They'll get Brendan Morrow back. That rotation is going to be something. The pitching is going to be good. Put Jose Reyes in there, and if (Jose) Bautista is healthy again, I would think they've got to be the favorite right now.''

Girardi was less enthusiastic about the Blue Jays' prospects for 2013, but did allow, "Well, they definitely improved their club. They added to their rotation. They added speed to their lineup as well, and an everyday shortstop. This is a club that’s improved."

The manager stopped short, however, of declaring the Blue Jays the favorite to win the division. "Well, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult for us," he said. "They’ve been tough on us over the years anyway. It just becomes a little more difficult. But there’s a long way to the start of spring training and Opening Day and there’s a lot of work to be done."

Yankee fans, who do you agree with, Cone or Girardi? Have the Blue Jays leapfrogged the Yankees as the team to beat in the AL East? Or do you still see the Yankees as the favorites until proven otherwise? Or is there a third choice?