Team Previews

Al East

April 01, 2001

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 74-88, 4th place, 13 1/2 back

Runs scored: 794 (11th in AL)

Runs allowed: 913 (12th in AL)

Manager: Mike Hargrove

Home: Camden Yards

That was then: The Orioles tied a club record by finishing below .500 for a third straight season but ended the year on an optimistic note with a 31-31 mark after shedding veterans with five trades in late July.

This is now: The team has lost its ace (Mike Mussina) to free agency and best hitter (Albert Belle) to career-ending injury. Veterans Pat Hentgen, David Segui and Mike Bordick were brought in to tide the team over until a revitalized farm system is ready to harvest prospects.

Upside: Jose Mercedes led the AL with 11 wins after the All-Star break. ... Ryan Kohlmeier was 13 of 14 on save tries.

Downside: Bordick's the only player in the lineup who hit 20 homers last season. ... Brook Fordyce called a good game but threw out just three of 38 runners trying to steal.

Don't miss ... : ... what could become the Cal Ripken farewell tour, culminating with two games against Mussina's Yankees - the home finale Sept. 23 and season finale Sept. 30 at Yankee Stadium. We're already bummed we missed the Belle tour.

Don't be surprised ... : ... if the Orioles lead the league in stolen bases for a club-record second straight year. Hargrove has never relied much on the sacrifice bunt or hit-and-run, and it isn't as if he'll be waiting for a lot of three-run homers.

Don't expect ... : ... to read the words "Camden" and "claustrophobic" in the same sentence. Home plate was set back 7 feet, giving pitchers a little more breathing room. Even before the changes, Oriole Park yielded fewer runs than the typical AL ballpark.

Book it: "Rebuilding the Nest"

Orioles at a glance

2001 LINEUP CARD AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured)

RF Brady Anderson ... .375 on-base average sets table SS Mike Bordick* ... More HRs, RBIs than Derek Jeter LF Delino DeShields ... Club MVP; career-high 82 RBIs 1B David Segui* ... Career-high 62 extra-base hits DH Chris Richard ... 14 HRs, 37 RBIs in 215 at-bats 3B Cal Ripken ... Hit 15 HRs in 309 at-bats C Brook Fordyce ... Hit career-high .301, 14 HRs CF Melvin Mora ... Won Venezuelan winter HR contest 2B Jerry Hairston ... .353 on-base average, slick in field

2001 ROTATION, CLOSER AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured)

RHP Pat Hentgen* ... 10 or more wins last 8 seasons RHP Sidney Ponson ... Third in AL in complete games RHP Jason Johnson ... 1-10 last season, but big spring RHP Jose Mercedes ... Led AL pitchers in 2nd-half wins LHP Chuck McElroy ... Trade bait?; Willis Roberts in wings RHP Ryan Kohlmeier ... Allowed lots of runners, few runs

Boston Red Sox

Record: 85-77, 2nd place, 2 1/2 back

Runs scored: 792 (12th in AL)

Run allowed: 745 (1st in AL)

Manager: Jimy Williams

Home: Fenway Park

That was then: Boston finished third from last in runs in the AL, squandering one of the best pitching performances in history: Pedro Martinez's 1.74 ERA was 1.96 runs better than AL runner-up Roger Clemens' mark and 3.17 better than the league average.

This is now: After flirting with Mike Mussina, Boston addressed a more pressing need by signing Manny Ramirez, who had a major-league-high 1.154 OPS (slugging average plus on-base average).

Upside: Williams sure knows how to handle a bullpen - Boston relievers were the most overworked in the majors (566 1/3 innings) but amazingly led the AL with a 3.88 ERA. ... Rotation additions Hideo Nomo (17 quality starts) and Frank Castillo (12) should keep the 'pen rested.

Downside: Nomar Garciaparra, the two-time defending AL batting champion, would miss 2-4 months if he has wrist surgery. ... Ramirez hurts an already leaky defense.

Don't miss ... : ... Carl Everett's first fit of anger: Will he lash out at frequent sparring partner Williams or at the first umpire who tells him not to stretch the batter's box? The talented, unpredictable outfielder missed two buses this spring.

Don't be surprised ... : ... if Martinez continues his roll. His mark of 6.64 base runners/nine innings last season was the best in major-league history. His first outing this spring? Four no-hit innings. His spring ERA? 0.47.

Don't expect ... : ... Jose Offerman's base-stealing to slow down any more. It can't. He had 45 steals in 1998, 18 in 1999 and none in eight tries last season.

Book it: "Don Quixote"

Boston at a glance

2001 LINEUP CARD AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured)

2B Jose Offerman ... Extra-base hits fell from 52 to 26 3B John Valentin-i/Chris Stynes* ... Valentin's knee hurt CF Carl Everett ... 34 HRs, 108 RBIs, but attitude a worry RF Manny Ramirez* ... Hammy OK?; slugged AL-best .697 SS Nomar Garciaparra-i ... Lou Merloni, Mike Lansing now DH Dante Bichette/Troy O'Leary ... Both struggled in '00 1B Brian Daubach ... 21 HRs, but just .248 with 130 K's LF Trot Nixon ... 39 of 60 RBIs came before break C Jason Varitek ... Caught just 19 percent of stealers

2001 ROTATION, CLOSER AND SKINNY (*-new; i-injured)

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