AL East

Spring Training '99: The Major Issues

February 21, 1999|By JOE STRAUSS

Orioles

Manager: Ray Miller

1998 record: 79-83, fourth place

No. 1: Albert Belle should make the Camden Yards bleachers a hard hat zone.

No. 2: Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Juan Guzman must finish with a far better record than last year's 39-39.

No. 3: Is Mike Timlin the answer after having the fourth-lowest save percentage in the AL?

No. 4: The Orioles still seek another starting pitcher (Kenny Rogers, Denny Neagle, Brian Anderson).

No. 5: Given healthier pitching and a set lineup, Miller may become a more confident manager.

Boston Red Sox

Manager: Jimy Williams

1998 record: 92-70, second place

No. 1: We dare Bret Saberhagen and Tim Wakefield to win 32 games again.

No. 2: If the team regresses, whom will GM Dan Duquette sacrifice? Boston may eclipse Orioles as league leader in palace intrigue.

No. 3: The Sox must replace Mo Vaughn's 40 homers, 115 RBIs and massive clubhouse presence.

No. 4: How do you pay Jose Offerman $26 million without knowing where he'll play?

No. 5: Nomar Garciaparra is one of five players to hit at least 30 homers his first two seasons.

New York Yankees

Manager: Joe Torre

1998 record: 114-48, first place

No. 1: Will adding five-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens hurt clubhouse chemistry?

No. 2: Chuck Knoblauch must return to being a catalyst, not a wannabe power guy.

No. 3: Having lapped the Orioles in the standings, the Bombers will now challenge them as the game's most expensive clubhouse.

No. 4: Can Mariano Rivera endure after 181 games in three seasons?

No. 5: Orlando Hernandez, Hideki Irabu and Ramiro Mendoza will vie for the final two spokes of the rotation. Such a problem.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Manager: Larry Rothschild

1998 record: 63-99, fifth place

No. 1: Wade Boggs needs 78 hits for 3,000. Will it be painful to watch?

No. 2: The signing of Jose Canseco and hiring of promotional guru Mike Veeck may energize a shuffleboard-loving fan base. Coming soon: Viagra Night.

No. 3: GM Chuck LaMar may make his first trade since Nov. 18, 1997.

No. 4: Tony Saunders (Glen Burnie) could break through if he gets more than 1998's league-low 3.51 runs a start.

No. 5: Fred McGriff (19 homers, 81 RBIs) will try again to impersonate a power presence.

Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: Tim Johnson

1998 record: 88-74, third place

No. 1: President-in-waiting Pat Gillick has as much chance as GM Gord Ash to be with the club at season's end.

No. 2: Does the return of David Wells set up another trade for a team that wants to get younger?

No. 3: Johnson will try to talk about last season's Blue Jays record rather than his overstated Vietnam War record.

No. 4: Can the Jays duplicate last year's 94 quality starts?

No. 5: Will pitcher Roy Halladay be this year's Rookie of the Year?

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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