A team-by-team look at the American League

February 23, 1992|By PETER SCHMUCK

Sun baseball writer Peter Schmuck takes a look at the conventional -- and unconventional -- wisdom for each American League team as a way to get you through the first weekend of pickup drills:

EAST

Baltimore Orioles

Conventional wisdom: Healthy Glenn Davis, addition of Rick Sutcliffe and Storm Davis should make for improved possibilities in 1992.

Unconventional wisdom: Great seats still available, if you know the right people.

Prediction: Elizabeth Taylor will marry a construction worker at the new ballpark.

Projected finish: Third.

Boston Red Sox

Conventional wisdom: Addition of left-hander Frank Viola should put Sox in position to challenge well-stocked Blue Jays.

Unconventional wisdom: No one seriously believes Red Sox can rise to a challenge. Look for typical late-season collapse.

Prediction: Paul Tsongas will be able to get Red Sox tickets this year.

Projected finish: Second.

Cleveland Indians

Conventional wisdom: Massive infusion of youth makes Indians unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

Unconventional wisdom: Massive protests by American Indian Movement should double attendance.

Prediction: Mild-mannered manager Mike Hargrove will deck Albert Belle by the All-Star break.

Projected finish: Seventh (eighth if AL expands before end of season).

Detroit Tigers

Conventional wisdom: Tigers still have punch, but pitching too unsteady to sustain a division title bid.

Unconventional wisdom: Loss of Pete Incaviglia leaves Cecil Fielder no one to overeat with.

Prediction: Domino's will continue to deliver. Tigers will not.

Projected finish: Sixth.

Milwaukee Brewers

Conventional wisdom: If the Brewers can stay healthy, late 1991 surge is proof they can compete with Blue Jays and Red Sox.

Unconventional wisdom: If Brewers can stay healthy, half the orthopedic surgeons in Wisconsin will have to find second jobs.

Prediction: Visit from Swedish Bikini Team could boost attendance.

Projected finish: Fourth.

New York Yankees

Conventional wisdom: Newcomer Danny Tartabull almost certain to hit 35 home runs and give Yankees offense instant credibility.

Unconventional wisdom: Newcomer Mike Gallego almost certain to hit five home runs and give Yankees fans instant case of Steve Sax envy.

Prediction: New York will be invaded by extraterrestrials, but no one will notice.

Projected finish: Fifth.

Toronto Blue Jays

Conventional wisdom: Best team in division got better when World Series MVP Jack Morris joined starting rotation. Blue Jays should reach World Series for the first time.

Unconventional wisdom: Fall Classic could turn into classic fall if Dave Winfield, Morris begin to act their age.

Prediction: Morris will lapse into typical depressed state when he finds out $10.85 million contract is worth only $9 million in U.S. currency.

Projected finish: First.

WEST

California Angels

Conventional wisdom: Top three starters will win 20 games each this year, and Angels still might finish last again.

Unconventional wisdom: Arrival of Von Hayes, Alvin Davis and Hubie Brooks, departure of Wally Joyner, Winfield and Kirk McCaskill make Angels the team to feel sorry for in 1992.

Prediction: Executive vice president Whitey Herzog will be singing "Show Me The Way To Go Home" by June.

Projected finish: Seventh.

Chicago White Sox

Conventional wisdom: If Bo Jackson is healthy, the White Sox have to be the team to beat in the AL West.

Unconventional wisdom: If Bo is healthy, why was he walking around on crutches last week?

Prediction: Bo will know what it's like to be unemployed when his contract option comes up for renewal March 15.

Projected finish: Second.

Kansas City Royals

Conventional wisdom: The blockbuster winter trade with the Mets balanced the roster and improved the club's chances of bouncing back from a pair of disappointing seasons.

Unconventional wisdom: Mets deal was an even exchange. Why should the Royals think they will be significantly improved?

Prediction: Right-hander Bret Saberhagen will have a tremendous year in New York and Royals GM Herk Robinson will be on the spot, especially if the Braves have another strong year for former Royals GM John Schuerholz.

Projected finish: Fifth.

Minnesota Twins

Conventional wisdom: The Twins will suffer for the loss of veteran pitcher Morris, who led an otherwise youthful starting rotation to the 1991 World Series and beyond.

Unconventional wisdom: The Twins will suffer more from the loss of manager Tom Kelly, who will finally bore himself to death sometime in July.

Prediction: Twenty-game winner Scott Erickson, who wasn't a major factor down the stretch last year, will not be a major factor at all this year.

Projected finish: Fourth.

Oakland Athletics

Conventional wisdom: The A's are poised to bounce back from a disappointing season and re-establish themselves as the pre-eminent team in the American League.

Unconventional wisdom: The A's will be hard-pressed to replace utility player Gallego, who had 22 more hits (and only 10 fewer home runs) than first baseman Mark McGwire.

Prediction: Jose Canseco will hit more with his car than McGwire will hit with his bat.

Projected finish: First.

Seattle Mariners

Conventional wisdom: The Mariners are ready to build on the first winning season in club history.

Unconventional wisdom: The Mariners are ready to move to St. Petersburg, Fla., just as soon as baseball ownership can think up a legitimate excuse to brush off pesky foreign investors.

Prediction: Baseball officials will drop opposition to foreign ownership and replace it with opposition to Seattle-based ownership.

Projected finish: Sixth.

Texas Rangers

Conventional wisdom: The Rangers will score more runs than anyone else in baseball, so they have to be considered a contender in the AL West.

Unconventional wisdom: The Rangers will have Orioles castoff Jeff Robinson in camp, so 880 runs might not be enough.

Prediction: Nolan Ryan will pitch his eighth no-hitter sometime in May.

Projected finish: Third.

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