Four Corners: Which baseball team enters spring training with the most questions?

February 23, 2010

Yankees lost ground
Mandy Housenick

The Morning Call

Of the 2009 playoff teams, the World Series champion Yankees have the most questions, especially considering how well the hated Red Sox did in the offseason (acquiring John Lackey, Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron).

The Yankees lost Johnny Damon and now field an outfield of Curtis Granderson, coming off his worst season; erratic Nick Swisher; and either untested Brett Gardner or aging Randy Winn.

They have a soon-to-be 38-year-old Andy Pettitte, a soon-to-be 34-year-old Javier Vazquez (who flamed out in his previous Bronx stint), no fifth starter and a 39-year-old Jorge Posada at catcher. And if Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain don't make the rotation, neither will be happy playing setup for Mariano Rivera.

With the Rangers and Mariners vastly upgraded, the Yankees could miss the postseason. Or win it all again.

ahousenick@tribune.com

O's iffy (what's new?)
Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Sun

Maybe we're just inside the fishbowl in Baltimore, but the Orioles seem to lead the major leagues in question marks every year, and this one probably won't be an exception.

Can they improve over last year's 64 wins? (It'll be hard not to.) Can they end a club-record string of 12 losing seasons? (Possible but not probable.) Can the young pitchers take another big step forward? (Maybe.) Can Dave Trembley survive the whole season? (Depends.) Is the Orioles' rebuilding plan on track? (Yes.) Does that mean they'll soon be able to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox on a yearly basis? (Probably not.)

I'm sure other teams have a lot of question marks too, but - judging from the previous paragraph - probably not as many parentheses.

pschmuck@tribune.com

Indians in sad shape
Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Is this a trick question?

Somebody will say the Mets because it has become fashionable to dump on them, and the default answers are the Nationals and Pirates. But, sadly, there's a team in worse shape than those. It's the once-proud Indians, who can be safely penciled into last place in the AL Central - below the Royals!

The Tribe's Opening Day starter will be either Jake Westbrook, who hasn't pitched since May 2008, or serial loser Fausto Carmona. Grady Sizemore is the only valuable part remaining from the 2007 ALCS team, and nobody knows if Travis Hafner will be healthy enough to hit third in the order or if rookie catcher Carlos Santana can keep the No. 1 job away from Mike Redmond.

Even manager Manny Acta is a question mark. He was discarded by the Nats. Sad but true.

progers@tribune.com

Mets already hurting
Bill Shaikin

Los Angeles Times

The Mets were one of the few teams flashing money over the winter - and outfielder Jason Bay took $66 million when he could not find a better offer - but a raft of pitchers said no thanks. That leaves the Mets in a precarious position, coming off a season in which only the Pirates and Nationals lost more games in the National League.

If the Mets did not get better, they better get healthier. Their players led the majors in days on the disabled list last season, with the missing pieces including pitcher Johan Santana, third baseman David Wright, shortstop Jose Reyes and center fielder Carlos Beltran.

The Mets might not be good anyway, but they must be healthy to have a chance to be good - and, oops, Beltran will start the season on the DL after knee surgery.

wshaikin@tribune.com

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