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AL Central

Minnesota Twins

By Times Staff
Published April 3, 2005


2004: 92-70, 1st.

MANAGER: Ron Gardenhire.

PAYROLL: $58-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: C Mike Redmond, INF Juan Castro, LHP C.J. Nitkowski.

KEY LOSSES: 3B Corey Koskie, SS Cristian Guzman, C Henry Blanco, INF Jose Offerman, RHP Joe Roa, LHP Aaron Fultz.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

LF Shannon Stewart

C Joe Mauer

CF Torii Hunter

1B Justin Morneau

DH Lew Ford

RF Jacque Jones

3B Michael Cuddyer

2B Luis Rivas

SS Jason Bartlett

ROTATION: RHP Brad Radke, LHP Johan Santana, RHP Carlos Silva, RHP Kyle Lohse, RHP Joe Mays.

CLOSER: RHP Joe Nathan.

BOTTOM LINE: Can't do much better than Radke and Cy Young winner Santana as your Nos. 1 and 2. ... The team expects Morneau to be the first Twins player to hit 30 home runs since Kent Hrbek's 34 in 1987. ... Mauer (knee) may not be healthy enough to catch every day. ... A fourth consecutive division title.

Cleveland Indians

2004: 80-82, 3rd.

MANAGER: Eric Wedge.

PAYROLL: $45-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: RHP Kevin Millwood, 3B Aaron Boone, OF Juan Gonzalez, INF Alex Cora, INF Jose Hernandez, LHP Arthur Rhodes, RHP Paul Shuey.

KEY LOSSES: SS Omar Vizquel, OF Matt Lawton, INF/OF Lou Merloni, C Tim Laker, OF Alex Escobar, INF John McDonald, RHP Chad Durbin, LHP Scott Stewart, RHP Jose Jimenez, RHP Rick White.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

CF Coco Crisp

2B Ron Belliard

DH Travis Hafner

C Victor Martinez

RF Juan Gonzalez

1B Ben Broussard

LF Casey Blake

3B Aaron Boone

SS Jhonny Peralta

ROTATION: RHP Jake Westbrook, RHP Kevin Millwood, LHP Cliff Lee, RHP Scott Elarton, RHP Jason Davis.

CLOSER: RHP Bob Wickman.

BOTTOM LINE: Starter C.C. Sabathia (oblique) will begin the season on the disabled list. ... Will Gonzalez, in the words of Wedge, be "healthy and motivated"? ... If Peralta can fill Vizquel's shoes, Wickman has anything left in his surgically repaired arm and the lineup that last season produced seven players with at least 70 RBIs can do it again, the Indians will fall just short.

Chicago White Sox

2004: 83-79, 2nd.

MANAGER: Ozzie Guillen.

PAYROLL: $76-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: RF Jermaine Dye, RHP Orlando Hernandez, OF Scott Podsednik, C A.J. Pierzynski, 2B Tadahito Iguchi, RHP Dustin Hermanson, RHP Luis Vizcaino.

KEY LOSSES: RF Magglio Ordonez, LF Carlos Lee, SS Jose Valentin, LHP Scott Schoeneweis, C Sandy Alomar Jr., C Jamie Burke.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

LF Scott Podsednik

2B Tadahito Iguchi

DH Carl Everett

1B Paul Konerko

RF Jermaine Dye

C A.J. Pierzynski

CF Aaron Rowand

3B Joe Crede

SS Juan Uribe

ROTATION: LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Freddy Garcia, RHP Jose Contreras, RHP Orlando Hernandez, RHP Jon Garland.

CLOSER: RHP Shingo Takatsu.

BOTTOM LINE: Guillen emphasizes defense and speed in a long-ball era. ... Can Dye replace the consistency of Ordonez in rightfield? ... Podsednik must duplicate the .314 average he had as a rookie, not the .244 he hit last season. ... What will Frank Thomas be like when he gets back from ankle surgery? ... Ho, hum, inconsequential team should come in around .500.

Detroit Tigers

2004: 72-90, 4th.

MANAGER: Alan Trammell.

PAYROLL: $70-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: RF Magglio Ordonez, RHP Troy Percival, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, INF Ramon Martinez, C Vance Wilson.

KEY LOSSES: CF Alex Sanchez, RHP Esteban Yan, RHP Al Levine, 3B Eric Munson.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

2B Omar Infante

SS Carlos Guillen

C Ivan Rodriguez

RF Magglio Ordonez

DH Dmitri Young

LF Rondell White

1B Carlos Pena

CF Craig Monroe

3B Brandon Inge

ROTATION: RHP Jeremy Bonderman, LHP Mike Maroth, RHP Jason Johnson, LHP Nate Robertson, LHP Wilfredo Ledezma.

CLOSER: RHP Troy Percival.

BOTTOM LINE: No upgrade to starting rotation, which is the same that finished last season. ... Rodriguez is one of three players to have 11 Gold Gloves and 11 All-Star appearances. ... The team should score, but that means nothing if defense is again baseball's worst.

Kansas City Royals

2004: 58-104, 5th.

MANAGER: Tony Pena.

PAYROLL: $40-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: RHP Jose Lima, OF Terrence Long, OF-C Eli Marrero, 3B Chris Truby, RHP Dennis Tankersley, INF Denny Hocking.

KEY LOSSES: 3B Joe Randa, OF Juan Gonzalez, LHP Darrell May, C Benito Santiago, INF Desi Relaford, LHP Dennys Reyes, OF Dee Brown.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

CF David DeJesus

LF Terrence Long

1B Mike Sweeney

DH Matt Stairs

SS Angel Berroa

C John Buck

RF Emil Brown

2B Ruben Gotay

3B Mark Teahen

ROTATION: RHP Jose Lima, RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Brian Anderson, RHP Runelvys Hernandez, RHP Denny Bautista.

CLOSER: LHP Jeremy Affeldt.

BOTTOM LINE: Another league-worst 5.15 team ERA is unacceptable. ... Can Sweeney stay healthy after extended stays on the DL the past three years? ... Berroa, the 2003 rookie of the year, was last season's worst fielding shortstop. ... Another miserable year in Kansas City.