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AL Capsules

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2002

EAST

NEW YORK YANKEES


C -- Jorge Posada
1B -- Jason Giambi
2B -- Alfonso Soriano
SS -- Derek Jeter
3B -- Robin Ventura
LF -- Rondell White
CF -- Bernie Williams
RF -- Shane Spencer
DH -- Nick Johnson
P -- Roger Clemens
2001 RECAP: 95-65, AL champions.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $118-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: First baseman Jason Giambi.
GONNA MISS: First baseman Tino Martinez.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Sure he gave up the game-losing hit in Game 7 of the World Series, but who else would you rather have as your closer than Mariano Rivera? Became the third AL pitcher ever to save 50 games in a season in 2001.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: Short of George Steinbrenner, ditching about $80-million in payroll? Nothing.
BOTTOM LINE: They're the Yankees and they've got the best team money can buy. Count on them to be in the World Series again.



BOSTON RED SOX
C -- Jason Varitek
1B -- Tony Clark
2B -- Rey Sanchez
SS -- Nomar Garciaparra
3B -- Shea Hillenbrand
LF -- Manny Ramirez
CF -- Johnny Damon
RF -- Trot Nixon
DH -- Brian Daubach
P -- Pedro Martinez
2001 RECAP: 82-79, 2nd in AL East.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $112-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Outfielder Johnny Damon.
GONNA MISS: Pitcher Hideo Nomo.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: If he can avoid the shoulder problems that have bothered him the past three season, there's no reason Pedro Martinez cannot reclaim his title as baseball's best pitcher. After all, he's 84-28 with a 2.18 ERA since 1997.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: A happy clubhouse not under the watch of former GM Dan Duquette.
BOTTOM LINE: They've added some players, but will it be enough to challenge the Yankees? Probably not. But Boston will win more than it did last season.



TORONTO BLUE JAYS
C -- Darrin Fletcher
1B -- Carlos Delgado
2B -- Homer Bush
SS -- Felipe Lopez
3B -- Eric Hinske
LF -- Shannon Stewart
CF -- Jose Cruz Jr.
RF -- Raul Mondesi
DH -- Vernon Wells
P -- Chris Carpenter
2001 RECAP: 80-82, 3rd in AL East.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $80-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Pitcher Luke Prokopec.
GONNA MISS: Relief pitcher Billy Koch.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Leftfielder Shannon Stewart has hit no worse than .304 in the past three seasons.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: It's no secret the Blue Jays are trying to slash payroll. But what message might a mid-season salary dump send?
BOTTOM LINE: They're bound to get worse before GM J.P. Ricciardi helps them get better.


TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
C -- Toby Hall
1B -- Steve Cox
2B -- Brent Abernathy
SS -- Chris Gomez
3B -- Russ Johnson
LF -- Jason Tyner
CF -- Randy Winn
RF -- Ben Grieve
DH -- Greg Vaughn
P -- Tanyon Sturtze
2001 RECAP: 62-100, 5th in AL East.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $34-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Rule 5 pitcher Steve Kent.
GONNA MISS: Outfielder Jose Guillen.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Hall's in his first full major-league season, but there's already talk of him being a future All-Star.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: A slow start. The Rays finished the 2001 season strong after the young kids came aboard. They open this season by playing 15 of their first 18 games against Baltimore, Detroit and Toronto.
BOTTOM LINE: Pitching undoutedly is the team's strength. The question is whether the offense, which produced a paltry 672 runs in 2001, can keep up.




BALTIMORE ORIOLES
C -- Geronimo Gil
1B -- Jeff Conine
2B -- Jerry Hairston
SS -- Mike Bordick
3B -- Tony Batista
LF -- Marty Cordova
CF -- Chris Singleton
RF -- Jay Gibbons
DH -- David Segui
P -- Scott Erickson
2001 RECAP: 63-98, 4th in AL East.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $41-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Outfielder Marty Cordova.
GONNA MISS: Third baseman Cal Ripken.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: A year after his stats dropped significantly, Conine raised his average 27 points to .311 while hitting 14 homers and driving in 97 runs.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: Much like the Rays, the Orioles are in the midst of a youth movement. With Ripken now gone, somebody needs to step up and lead this club.
BOTTOM LINE: They'll try desperately to stay out of the AL East cellar.


CENTRAL


MINNESOTA TWINS
C -- A.J. Pierzynski
1B -- Doug Mientkiewicz
2B -- Luis Rivas
SS -- Cristian Guzman
3B -- Corey Koskie
LF -- Jacque Jones
CF -- Torii Hunter
RF -- Brian Buchanan
DH -- David Ortiz
P -- Brad Radke
2001 RECAP: 85-77, 2nd in AL Central.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $42-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Another season in Twin Cities.
GONNA MISS: Manager Tom Kelly.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: When shortstop Cristian Guzman went down with a shoulder injury in the second half last season, so too did the rest of the Twins. In the 33 games Guzman missed, Minnesota lost 25 of those.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: The bullpen was a concern last season when LaTroy Hawkins was its closer. In part because of the contraction threat, the club did nothing to address its need and will keep its fingers crossed with Eddie Guardado and Mike Jackson.
BOTTOM LINE: The starting rotation and defense will put this team in contention in the AL Central again. But the bullpen could blow its playoff hopes.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX
C -- Sandy Alomar Jr.
1B -- Paul Konerko
2B -- Ray Durham
SS -- Royce Clayton
3B -- Jose Valentin
LF -- Carlos Lee
CF -- Kenny Lofton
RF -- Magglio Ordonez
DH -- Frank Thomas
P -- Mark Buehrle
2001 RECAP: 83-79, 3rd in AL Central.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $57-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: A healthy Frank Thomas.
GONNA MISS: Pitcher David Wells.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: The last time the Big Hurt was healthy an entire season, he finished second behind Jason Giambi in MVP voting.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: If the offense can duplicate the performance in 2000 when it led the majors in runs scored (978) and helped Chicago to an AL-best 95 wins.
BOTTOM LINE: The defense is suspect and the pitching staff is filled with a bunch of rehabbed arms. That may be too much for the bats to make up for.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
C -- Einar Diaz
1B -- Jim Thome
2B -- Ricky Gutierrez
SS -- Omar Vizquel
3B -- Travis Fryman
LF -- Russell Branyan
CF -- Milton Bradley
RF -- Matt Lawton
DH -- Ellis Burks
P -- Bartolo Colon
2001 RECAP: 91-71, 1st in AL Central.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $75-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Rightfielder Matt Lawton.
GONNA MISS: Outfielder Juan Gonzalez.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Colon has 61 wins in the past four seasons and emerged as a workhorse in 2001 when he threw 2211/3 innings.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: A reversal of the team's new concept of reducing payroll.
BOTTOM LINE: From the starting five to the bullpen, pitching is the Indians' strength. But how can they possibly replace the 55 homers and 240 RBIs by Gonzalez and Roberto Alomar? A seventh division title in eight years will be hard to come by.


DETROIT TIGERS
C -- Mike Rivera
1B -- Dmitri Young
2B -- Damion Easley
SS -- Shane Halter
3B -- Dean Palmer
LF -- Bobby Higginson
CF -- Jose Macias
RF -- Robert Fick
DH -- Craig Paquette
P -- Jeff Weaver
2001 RECAP: 66-96, 4th in AL Central.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $53-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Outfielder Dmitri Young.
GONNA MISS: Outfielders Roger Cedeno and Juan Encarnacion.
HE'S THE MAN: Dave Dombowski begins his first full season as Tigers president and CEO.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: Injuries were a worry this spring. How will guys like Dean Palmer and Brian Moehler hold up?
BOTTOM LINE: The payoff of building a new ballpark wasn't evident last season, but this team should be better than it was in 2001.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
C -- Brent Mayne
1B -- Mike Sweeney
2B -- Carlos Febles
SS -- Neifi Perez
3B -- Joe Randa
LF -- Chuck Knoblauch
CF -- Carlos Beltran
RF -- Michael Tucker
DH -- Raul Ibanez
P -- Jeff Suppan
2001 RECAP: 65-97, 5th in AL Central.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $48.5-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Outfielder Chuck Knoblauch.
GONNA MISS: Catcher Greg Zaun?
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Mike Sweeney is the heart and soul of the clubhouse. The first baseman, whose contract expires after this season, is capable of a monster season.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: The starting pitching is young and rather unspectacular. A trade or two might help.
BOTTOM LINE: Lock Sweeney up in a long-term contract.

West


SEATTLE MARINERS
C -- Dan Wilson
1B -- John Olerud
2B -- Bret Boone
SS -- Carlos Guillen
3B -- Jeff Cirillo
LF -- Mark McLemore
CF -- Mike Cameron
RF -- Ichiro Suzuki
DH -- Edgar Martinez
P -- Freddy Garcia
2001 RECAP: 116-46, 1st in AL West.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $89-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Third baseman Jeff Cirillo.
GONNA MISS: Pitcher Aaron Sele.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Not only was he the AL rookie of the year in 2001, but Ichiro was the AL MVP with a .350 batting average, 242 hits, 56 stolen bases and 53 strikeouts.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: If Boone and Ichiro can't duplicate or better their stats from last season.
BOTTOM LINE: They led the AL in batting (.288 team average), ERA (3.54) and fielding percentage (.986). And they've got just about everybody back.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
C -- Ramon Hernandez
1B -- Carlos Pena
2B -- Randy Velarde
SS -- Miguel Tejada
3B -- Eric Chavez
LF -- David Justice
CF -- Terrence Long
RF -- Jermaine Dye
DH -- Jeremy Giambi
P -- Mark Mulder
2001 RECAP: 102-60, 2nd in AL West.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $40-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Relief pitcher Bill Koch.
GONNA MISS: That Giambi guy.
WHY THEY'RE THE MEN: Seldom does a team boast a trio so talented as Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito. They were a combined 56-25 last season.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: The loss of three top free agents -- Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen, Johnny Damon -- could have a profound impact.
BOTTOM LINE: This is still a well-balanced team with some solid young position players in Chavez, Pena and Tejada and one of the sweetest pitching staffs in the majors.

TEXAS RANGERS
C -- Ivan Rodriguez
1B -- Rafael Palmeiro
2B -- Michael Young
SS -- Alex Rodriguez
3B -- Hank Blalock
LF -- Rusty Greer
CF -- Carl Everett
RF -- Juan Gonzalez
DH -- Frank Catalanatto
P -- Chan Ho Park
2001 RECAP: 73-89, 4th in AL West.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $92-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Pitcher Chan Ho Park.
GONNA MISS: First baseman Carlos Pena.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Rafael Palmeiro doesn't command the money of A-Rod, but he's about as consistent as they come. The 37-year-old has hit 38 or more homers in seven straight seasons.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: The pitching staff had the worst ERA in the majors (5.67), allowed 596 walks and 222 home runs, both tops in the AL. That's got to improve if the revamped offense, which now includes Gonzalez, is going to have a chance.
BOTTOM LINE: New GM John Hart bought himself a new team. We'll see if all that money was well spent or just wasted.

ANAHEIM ANGELS
C -- Bengie Molina
1B -- Scott Spiezio
2B -- Adam Kennedy
3B -- Troy Glaus
SS -- David Eckstein
LF -- Garret Anderson
CF -- Darin Erstad
RF -- Tim Salmon
DH -- Brad Fullmer
P -- Jarrod Washburn
2001 RECAP: 75-87, 3rd in AL West.
PROJECTED PAYROLL: $58-million.
BIGGEST ADDITION: Pitcher Aaron Sele.
GONNA MISS: First baseman Mo Vaughn.
WHY HE'S THE MAN: Glaus has averaged .267 with 44 homers, 38 doubles and 105 RBIs the past two seasons.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THEIR COURSE: Closer Troy Percival grumbled late last season about wanting out of Anaheim. Without him, and his 39 saves last season, the Angels will be hurting late in the game.
BOTTOM LINE: Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele immediately give this team a respected pitching staff. They'll get lots of run support -- and they'll need it in their division -- if Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon return to form.




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