American League

Baseball 2007

April 01, 2007|By DAN CONNOLLY

BREAKOUT PLAYER -- YUNIESKY BETANCOURT

Team / / Seattle Mariners

Position / / Shortstop

Comment / / Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said Betancourt could end up being the best defensive player he has ever managed. And, remember, Hargrove wrote Omar Vizquel's name into the lineup. Yes, Betancourt, a 25-year-old Cuban refugee, has that much defensive potential: great hands, great instincts and a strong, accurate arm. He also can hit a little. He batted .289 last year in 157 major league games in what was just his second pro season. This could be the year he wins his first of many Gold Gloves.

SEATTLE MARINERS

LAST SEASON // 78-84 // FOURTH PLACE

LINEUP 2006 STATISTICS

CF Grady Sizemore .290, 134 runs, 22 SBs

RF Trot Nixon .268, 8 HRs, 52 RBIs

DH Travis Hafner .308, 42 HRs, 117 RBIs

C Victor Martinez .316, 16 HRs, 93 RBIs

1B Ryan Garko .292, 7 HRs, 45 RBIs

LF David Dellucci .292, 13 HRs, 39 RBIs

SS Jhonny Peralta .257, 13 HRs, 68 RBIs

2B Josh Barfield .280, 13 HRs, 58 RBIs

3B Andy Marte .226, 5 HRs, 23 RBIs

ROTATION

LHP C.C. Sabathia 12-11, 3.22 ERA, 172 K's

RHP Jake Westbrook 15-10, 4.17 ERA, 109 K's

LHP Cliff Lee-i 14-11, 4.40 ERA, 129 K's

LHP Jeremy Sowers 7-4, 3.57 ERA, 35 K's

RHP Paul Byrd 10-9, 4.88 ERA, 88 K's

BULLPEN

RHP Joe Borowski 3-3, 3.75 ERA, 36 saves

RHP Roberto Hernandez 0-3, 3.11 ERA, 2 saves

RHP Rafael Betancourt 3-4, 3.81 ERA, 3 saves

BREAKOUT PLAYER / / ALEX GORDON

Team / / Kansas City Royals

Position / / Third baseman

Comment / / Gordon, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 amateur draft, is so good that when he came out of the University of Nebraska, pretty much every scout had him rated ahead of Nationals standout Ryan Zimmerman. Gordon, a 23-year-old left-handed hitter with power, speed and a strong arm, will get an opportunity this season and won't disappoint.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

LAST SEASON / / 62-100 / / FIFTH PLACE

LINEUP 2006 STATISTICS

CF David DeJesus .295, 83 runs, 6 SBs

2B Mark Grudzielanek .297, 7 HRs, 52 RBIs

RF Mark Teahen .290, 18 HRs, 69 RBIs

DH Mike Sweeney .258, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs

1B Ryan Shealy .277, 7 HRs, 37 RBIs

3B Alex Gordon 29 HRs in Double-A

LF Emil Brown .287, 15 HRs, 81 RBIs

C John Buck .245, 11 HRs, 50 RBIs

SS Tony Pena Jr. .227 in 44 ABs

ROTATION

RHP Gil Meche 11-8, 4.48 ERA, 156 K's

LHP Odalis Perez 6-8, 6.20 ERA, 81 K's

RHP Zack Greinke 1-0, 4.26 ERA in 6 1 / 3 inn.

RHP Luke Hudson-i 7-6, 5.12 ERA, 64 K's

LHP Jorge de la Rosa 5-6, 6.49 ERA, 67 K's

BULLPEN

RHP Octavio Dotel 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 0 saves

RHP David Riske 1-2, 3.89 ERA, 0 saves

RHP Ken Ray 1-1, 4.52 ERA, 5 saves

Manager / / Buddy Bell, third season with the Royals, ninth overall

Payroll / / $55 million to $60 million

X-factor / / Pitcher Zack Greinke could become a staff leader if he's truly past the personal problems that hindered him a year ago.

Best case / / Alex Gordon, one of the game's top prospects, goes right into the lineup and evokes memories of a young George Brett. ... Ryan Shealy builds on the second-half progress he made after coming over in a trade.

Worst case / / Spending $55 million on Gil Meche proves to be one of the worst ideas since the Dodgers cast the same amount toward Darren Dreifort. ... Octavio Dotel can't reclaim his closer's stuff and the bullpen is an abject failure.

i - injured

CAPSULES FROM THE SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

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