American League East

April 03, 2005|By Previews by South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Orioles

Record, finish: 78-84, 3rd.

Manager: Lee Mazzilli, 2nd season with Orioles.

Payroll: $60 million.

Hot seat: Sammy Sosa. It's his walk year, and he desperately wants to prove the Cubs wrong for dumping him.

Best case: Getting Sosa for nothing makes Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan look brilliant. ... Sidney Ponson pitches with purpose after a nightmare offseason back home in Aruba. ... Daniel Cabrera reverses a second-half slide, and several other young arms step into the rotation. ... Angered by the creation of the Washington Nationals, owner Peter Angelos remembers he has lots of money and spends some of it in July.

Worst case: What appears to be a serious lack of starting pitching turns out to be just that. ... B.J. Ryan can't handle the transition to full-time closer, and Jorge Julio's arm woes continue. ... Despite a splashy lineup, they slide to the cellar.

LINEUP

2B Brian Roberts

3B Melvin Mora

SS Miguel Tejada

RF Sammy Sosa

1B Rafael Palmeiro

C Javy Lopez

DH Jay Gibbons

LF Larry Bigbie

CF Luis Matos

ROTATION

RHP Rodrigo Lopez

RHP Daniel Cabrera

LHP Erik Bedard

RHP Sidney Ponson

LHP Bruce Chen

BULLPEN

LHP B.J. Ryan

RHP Jorge Julio

LHP Steve Kline

Boston Red Sox

Record, finish: 98-64, 2nd.

Manager: Terry Francona, 2nd season with Red Sox, 6th overall.

Payroll: $135 million.

Hot seat: Matt Clement. He's sliding into the Pedro Martinez spot despite a lack of bravado.

Best case: Offseason tweaks prove again the genius of a talented front office. ... Johnny Damon, despite pending free agency, keeps Band of Idiots thing going in baseball's craziest clubhouse. ... David Wells fits seamlessly into the rotation and the culture. ... Wade Miller comes back to pre-injury form. ... Sox win it all again!

Worst case: Maybe they should have tried harder to keep Martinez and Derek Lowe around after all. ... Ace Curt Schilling's heel keeps him shelved for more than just the first few weeks of the season. ... Edgar Renteria struggles to adjust to Northeast baseball hysteria. ... That Curse-busting mojo cannot be located under follow-up circumstances.

LINEUP

CF Johnny Damon

2B Mark Bellhorn

LF Manny Ramirez

DH David Ortiz

1B Kevin Millar

RF Trot Nixon

SS Edgar Renteria

C Jason Varitek

3B Bill Mueller

ROTATION

LHP David Wells

RHP Matt Clement

RHP Tim Wakefield

RHP Bronson Arroyo

(Opening season with 4-man rotation)

BULLPEN

RHP Keith Foulke

RHP Mike Timlin

LHP Alan Embree

New York Yankees

Record, finish: 101-61, 1st.

Manager: Joe Torre, 10th season with Yankees, 24th overall.

Payroll: $200 million.

Hot seat: Randy Johnson. At 41, he's signed for three more years at BIG money.

Best case: Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown stay healthy this time and pitch to their career levels. ... Bernie Williams puts together a strong season in his walk year. ... Alex Rodriguez answers the Red Sox baiting by putting up huge numbers in those all-important 19 games with Boston. ... A four-year title drought ends with Boss Steinbrenner reeking of champagne.

Worst case: Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright struggle to make the transition to the big stage, as several other young pitchers have in recent years. ... Jason Giambi can't overcome BALCO distractions, and Tino Martinez doesn't have enough left to take up the slack. ... A fifth straight year comes and goes without a 27th World Series title.

LINEUP

SS Derek Jeter

3B Alex Rodriguez

RF Gary Sheffield

LF Hideki Matsui

CF Bernie Williams

DH Jason Giambi

C Jorge Posada

1B Tino Martinez

2B Tony Womack

ROTATION

LHP Randy Johnson

RHP Mike Mussina

RHP Carl Pavano

RHP Kevin Brown

RHP Jaret Wright

BULLPEN

RHP Mariano Rivera

RHP Tom Gordon

LHP Mike Stanton

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Record, finish: 70-91, 4th.

Manager: Lou Piniella, 3rd season with Rays, 19th overall.

Payroll: $30 million.

Hot seat: Travis Lee. Took just 19 at-bats last year with the Yankees due to injuries.

Best case: Carl Crawford continues to blossom into a star. ... Young power arms such as Dewon Brazelton and Scott Kazmir emerge. ... Super prospects B.J. Upton and Delmon Young arrive by midseason. ... Danys Baez continues to emerge as a productive closer.

Worst case: Young center fielder Rocco Baldelli needs more than the first two months of the season to return from a serious knee injury. ... Alex Gonzalez demonstrates why nobody ever tried him at third before. ... Hideo Nomo shows that 8.25 ERA last year with the Dodgers was no fluke. ... Sweet Lou is looking for an escape clause by Memorial Day.

LINEUP

LF Carl Crawford

SS Julio Lugo

RF Aubrey Huff

1B Travis Lee

DH Josh Phelps

2B Jorge Cantu

3B Alex Gonzalez

C Toby Hall

CF Alex Sanchez

ROTATION

RHP Dewon Brazelton

LHP Scott Kazmir

LHP Mark Hendrickson

RHP Rob Bell

RHP Hideo Nomo

BULLPEN

RHP Danys Baez

RHP Lance Carter

RHP Jesus Colome

Toronto Blue Jays

Record, finish: 67-94, 5th.

Manager: John Gibbons, 2nd season with Jays.

Payroll: $53 million.

Hot seat: Corey Koskie. The wisdom of leaving a winning situation in Minnesota will be tested.

Best case: They experience a group improvement in Year 1, A.D. (After Delgado) similar to the Rangers' play in 2004 after trading Alex Rodriguez. ... New pitching coach Brad Arnsberg energizes a young crop of arms and finds Roy Halladay a running mate. ... They chase a wild-card berth down to the final week of the season and start spending more money as new management has promised.

Worst case: Alex Rios still can't locate his missing power. ... Eric Hinske can't reverse a troubling slide. ... Shea Hillenbrand shows why the Diamondbacks essentially gave him away. ... An unsettled bullpen finishes 11th in the league in holds again and blows more than 16 save opportunities this time.

LINEUP

LF Frank Catalanotto

2B Orlando Hudson

CF Vernon Wells

3B Corey Koskie

DH Shea Hillenbrand

C Gregg Zaun

1B Eric Hinske

RF Alex Rios

SS Russ Adams

ROTATION

RHP Roy Halladay

LHP Gustavo Chacin

RHP Josh Towers

RHP David Bush

(Opening season with 4-man rotation)

BULLPEN

RHP Miguel Batista

RHP Justin Speier

RHP Jason Frasor

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