tampabay.com

AL East

New York Yankees

By Times Staff
Published April 3, 2005


2004: 101-61, 1st.

MANAGER: Joe Torre.

PAYROLL: $200-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: LHP Randy Johnson, RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Jaret Wright, 2B Tony Womack, 1B Tino Martinez, RHP Felix Rodriguez, LHP Mike Stanton.

KEY LOSSES: RHP Jon Lieber, RHP Javier Vazquez, RHP Orlando Hernandez, 2B Miguel Cairo, OF Kenny Lofton, 1B John Olerud, 1B Tony Clark, RHP Esteban Loaiza, INF Enrique Wilson, LHP Felix Heredia.

PROJECTED 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 Kevin Brown, RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Jaret Wright.

CLOSER: RHP Mariano Rivera.

BOTTOM LINE: It won't be all Giambi all the time, though his return after a year and a half of injuries and steroid allegations will be watched. ... Look for A-Rod to have an MVP-caliber season ... What of Johnson's back and knee, Brown's back and Wright's and Pavano's fortitude? ... Still, Yanks have the best team. If it jells, they can win it all.

Boston Red Sox

2004: 98-64, 2nd.

MANAGER: Terry Francona.

PAYROLL: $135-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: SS Edgar Renteria, LHP David Wells, RHP Matt Clement, RHP Wade Miller, OF Jay Payton, RHP Matt Mantei, INF Ramon Vazquez, LHP John Halama.

KEY LOSSES: RHP Pedro Martinez, RHP Derek Lowe, SS Orlando Cabrera, 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, 2B-SS Pokey Reese, RHP Scott Williamson, OF Dave Roberts, OF Gabe Kapler, RHP Curtis Leskanic, RHP Ramiro Mendoza.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

CF Johnny Damon

RF Trot Nixon

LF Manny Ramirez

DH David Ortiz

SS Edgar Renteria

1B Kevin Millar

C Jason Varitek

3B Bill Mueller

2B Mark Bellhorn

ROTATION: RHP Curt Schilling, LHP David Wells, RHP Matt Clement, RHP Tim Wakefield, RHP Bronson Arroyo.

CLOSER: RHP Keith Foulke.

BOTTOM LINE: Until Schilling is ready in mid April, the Red Sox will go with a four-man rotation. ... Clement and Wells have 30 victories to make up for with the loss of Martinez and Lowe. ... Renteria adds to an already potent lineup. ... Can Boston answer after spending the winter bashing A-Rod? ... Sox meet Yanks in ALCS duh.

Baltimore Orioles

2004: 78-84, 3rd.

MANAGER: Lee Mazzilli.

PAYROLL: $60-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: RF Sammy Sosa, LHP Steve Kline, RHP Steve Reed.

KEY LOSSES: 2B-OF Jerry Hairston, LHP Buddy Groom.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

2B Brian Roberts

3B Melvin Mora

SS Miguel Tejada

RF Sammy Sosa

DH Rafael Palmeiro

C Javy Lopez

1B Jay Gibbons

LF Larry Bigbie

CF Luis Matos

ROTATION: RHP Rodrigo Lopez, LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Daniel Cabrera, RHP Sidney Ponson, LHP Bruce Chen.

CLOSER: LHP B.J. Ryan.

BOTTOM LINE: Sosa should boost last season's .253 average against lefties. ... Lineup is dangerous and bullpen solid, but there was no upgrade to the starting rotation and Ponson's legal troubles are a time bomb. ... Orioles good but not great.

Tampa Bay

Devil Rays

2004: 70-91, 4th.

MANAGER: Lou Piniella.

PAYROLL: $30-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: 3B Alex S. Gonzalez, 1B Travis Lee, RHP Hideo Nomo, LHP Casey Fossum, DH Josh Phelps, OF Alex Sanchez.

KEY LOSSES: OF Jose Cruz Jr., 1B Tino Martinez, LHP John Halama, C Brook Fordyce, 2B-SS Rey Sanchez, INF Geoff Blum.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

LF Carl Crawford

CF Alex Sanchez

RF Aubrey Huff

1B Travis Lee

SS Julio Lugo

DH Josh Phelps/Chris Singleton

2B Jorge Cantu

C Toby Hall

3B Alex Gonzalez

ROTATION: RHP Dewon Brazelton, LHP Scott Kazmir, LHP Mark Hendrickson, RHP Rob Bell, RHP Hideo Nomo.

CLOSER: RHP Danys Baez.

BOTTOM LINE: The young pitchers have looked good in March, but it can be a little different in April. ... Alex Sanchez likely will add offensively but his defense (nine errors last season) is a question mark. ... With unproven starting pitching and a lack of power, topping last season's club-record 70 wins will be a challenge.

Toronto Blue Jays

2004: 67-94, 5th.

MANAGER: John Gibbons.

PAYROLL: $53-million.

KEY ADDITIONS: 3B Corey Koskie, DH-INF Shea Hillenbrand, LHP Scott Schoeneweis, RHP Chad Gaudin, LHP Scott Downs, INF John McDonald.

KEY LOSSES: 1B Carlos Delgado, INF Chris Gomez, SS Chris Woodward, INF-OF Dave Berg, RHP Pat Hentgen, C Kevin Cash.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

LF Frank Catalanotto

2B Orlando Hudson

CF Vernon Wells

3B Corey Koskie

DH Shea Hillenbrand

1B Eric Hinske

C Gregg Zaun

RF Alex Rios

SS Russ Adams

ROTATION: RHP Roy Halladay, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Josh Towers, RHP David Bush, LHP Ted Lilly.

CLOSER: RHP Miguel Batista.

BOTTOM LINE: Shoulder concerns (Halladay says he is no longer sore, and Lilly will start on the DL with tendinitis) are the most obvious problems for a paper-thin rotation. ... No Delgado is a huge hole, but a sharp defense should help keep things close. ... Will battle the Rays to avoid the bottom.#