2002 American League Preview: Yankees in the East and Mariners in the West will repeat as division champions while the White Sox return as the top team in the Central.
Turns out that contraction was just a bluff by noted jokester/commissioner Bud Selig. At least for one more year.
As for that illegal $3 million loan between Selig and Twins owner Carl Pohlad, just mention the possibility of Montreal relocating to Washington, D.C. next year and all those politicians, threatening to take away baseball's anti-trust exemption and wondering how an industry can be crying poverty while the Boston Red Sox are sold for over $600 million, become very quiet.
What's needed is the predictability of the season. All the twists and turns awaiting teams have been taken by others before them. Still, in the American League this year, teams have the potential to go where few have gone.
In the A.L. West, new Texas GM John Hart has gathered every malcontent except Osama bin Laden. We're talking about a man who has put John Rocker and Carl Everett in the same locker room.
The Rangers finished 43 games out of first place last year, but that did not stop Hart from spending $107.5 million on free agents Juan Gonzalez, Chan Ho Park, Dave Burba, Jay Powell and Todd Van Poppel. Rocker and Everett were acquired through trades.
What Hart did was make the A.L. West the best division in the league. What he didn't do was guarantee the Rangers a spot in the postseason. Seattle, winners of 116 games last year, will repeat as division champion. Oakland, despite the loss of Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen and Johnny Damon, will return to the postseason as the wild card.
In New York, the Yankees have shed a good patch of the skin they wore in reaching the World Series five times in the last six years. Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez. Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius and David Justice are gone.
Owner George Steinbrenner spent millions to fill the holes, but chemistry cannot be purchased. The Yankees will win their fifth straight A.L. East championship, but they won't make it back to the World Series.
Pohlad is probably one unhappy old millionaire right now. He stood to make more if the Twins were vaporized than if he sold the club. Now it appears that he not only will have to endure another season of ownership--he's negotiating to sell the club--but that he could win the A.L. Central. Some guys just can't catch a break.
The Twins have one of the best young lineups in the league and three tested starters in Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Joe Mays. But Pohlad shouldn't worry too much, Chicago is going to win its second A.L Central title in the last three years.
The Indians, winners of six of the seven Central titles, have been taken out of contention by owner Larry Dolan. He cut the payroll, traded Robbie Alomar and let Gonzalez, Kenny Lofton, Marty Cordova and Dave Burba go through free agency.
1. NEW YORK YANKEES--Not only did the Yankees get a new identity this winter, they obtained the one link that kept them from winning their fourth straight World Series--set-up man Steve Karsay.
Manager Joe Torre squeezed closer Mariano Rivera so hard last postseason that he was running on fumes in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series against Arizona. Torre used Rivera for one too many two-inning outings and everyone knows what happened. Karsay, who signed a four-year 821 million deal, is expected to take over the seventh and eighth innings and leave the ninth to Rivera.
General manager Brian Cashman signed Giambi and outfielders Rondell White and John Vander Wal as free agents and traded Justice for Robin Ventura to replace the departing Knoblauch, Martinez, O'Neill and Brosius. Giambi (.342, 38, 120) will revitalize an offense that finished fifth in the league in runs. White, who has played more than 138 games in a season just once, will play left, while Vander Wal and Shane Spencer will replace O'Neill in right.
Whether Ventura (.237, 21, 61) is an upgrade over Brosius remains to be seen.
Even more important is how they meld with Glory Day holdovers Bernie Williams (.307, 26, 94) and Derek Jeter (.311, 21, 74) and youngster Alfonso Soriano (.268, 18, 73).
The rotation of Roger Clemens (20-3), Andy Pettitte (15-10), Mike Mussina (17-11) and Sterling Hitchcock (6-5) is deep. It could go deeper if David Wells, following back surgery, is successful in his second coming to New York. Orlando Hernandez is gone if Wells is sound.
The age of Clemens and Wells is a concern as is the defense. The Yankees made 16 errors in the postseason and catcher Jorge Posada, 11 errors and 18 passed balls, is coming off shoulder surgery.
2. BOSTON RED SOX--The detoxification of the Red Sox is almost complete. Manager Jimy Williams is gone. So is Carl Everett. The last hurdle to a clean bill of health is GM Dan Duquette.
Since he flushed Williams and Everett, he'll be hard to reach. But new owner John Henry may have something to say about that.
After Williams was fired last season, Boston stunk. They went 17-26 under manager Joe Kerrigan. Pedro Martinez went home with a sore right shoulder, Everett was ordered home because of a bad attitude and Manny Ramirez all but quit. This winter Kerrigan talked about making the Boston clubhouse a more comfortable place for the sensitive Ramirez, who disappeared in the second half despite hitting 41 homers and driving in 125 runs.
If Martinez, who threw only 116.2 innings last year, is healthy and Derek Lowe can make the transition from closer to starter, Boston may have a solid rotation. Dustin Hermanson (12-14), John Burkett (12-12) and Darren Oliver (11-11) were added to counter the loss of Hideo Nomo, who led the club last year with 13 victories.
The bullpen slipped last year and may continue. Ugueth Urbina, 24-for-28 in save situations with Boston and Montreal, is expected to replace Lowe as closer.
What the Red Sox need is a healthy Nomar Garciaparra and catcher Jason Varitek. Last year there was much talk about what Everett, Ramirez and Garciaparra could do in the middle of the lineup, but they appeared in only 14 games together because of injuries. Garciaparra played only 21 games following wrist surgery.
Leadoff hitter Johnny Damon (.256, 108 runs, 27 steals) should give the offense life. Boston finished last in the league in steals. Tony Clark, signed on waivers from Detroit, and emerging Trot Nixon (.280, 27, 88) will replace some of the power Everett took with him to Texas.
3. TORONTO BLUE JAYS--Manager Buck Martinez has one of the best outfields in the game, but little else. He might not even have that if new GM J.P. Ricciardi has his way.
Riccardi, under orders to cut payroll, has already traded closer Billy Koch, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, DH Brad Fullmer and reliever Paul Quantrill. He was trying to move right fielder Raul Mondesi, who has $24 million left on his contract, all winter.
If Mondesi (.252, 27, 84) is traded, the outfield could still be dangerous with Jose Cruz (.274, 34, 88), Shannon Stewart (.316, 12, 60) and prospect Vernon Wells. It wouldn't be as deep, but depth does not seem to be high on the Blue Jays' agenda.
On the left side of the infield, Martinez could open the season with rookies Felipe Lopez at shortstop and Eric Hinske at third base. Their combined big league experience is two months. Homer Bush is decent at second, but first baseman Carlos Delgado (.279, 39, 102) needs to start playing like an MVP again.
There have been changes in the pitching staff as well. Kelvin Escobar started last year in the bullpen and finished the year in the rotation. When Koch was traded to Oakland, he became the closer in a bullpen that's going to miss the stability Quantrill supplied.
The rotation has possibilities with Chris Carpenter (11-11), Esteban Loaiza (11-11), Roy Halladay (5-3), Luke Prokopec (8-7) and Brandon Lyon (5-4). It will be even better if Mike Sirotka's left shoulder is healthy by the All-Star break.
4. TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS--The youngest team in the big leagues spent the winter counting the bolts in the catwalks above Tropicana Field. GM Chuck LaMar re-signed shortstop Chris Gomez and then laid down for a long winter's nap.
Two years ago, the Devil Rays' payroll was over 860 million. Now it's at 830 million and they are supposedly on the commissioner's hit list for contraction. But there is hope.
The Rays lost 100 games last year, but they were a respectable 35-39 after the All-Star break. Manager Hal McRae used 16 rookies. Youngsters Toby Hall (.298, 4, 30), Brent Abernathy (.270, 5, 33), Jason Tyner (.280, 31 steals) and Randy Winn (.273, 6, 50) are some of the reasons why Tampa Bay will overtake Baltimore and move out of last place for the first time in their history.
Most of the veterans have been purged from this club, but Greg Vaughn (.233, 24, 82) will provide power if he isn't traded. Ben Grieve (.264, 11, 72) looked like he gave up last year.
Tanyon Sturtze (11-12) leads an undistinquished rotation of Joe Kennedy (7-8), Ryan Rupe (5-12), Paul Wilson (8-9) and Nick Bierbrodt (34). Wilson Alvarez, who hasn't pitched two years because of arm problems, may resurface in the final year of his $35 million contract
Hard-throwing Esteban Yan is the closer preceded by promising Victor Zambrano (6-2), Jesus Colome (2-3), Travis Phelps (2-2) and Doug Creek (2-5). Look for former Brave Kevin McGlinchy, a Rule 5 pick, to make the club.
Big problems still exist. Tampa was last in the league in runs, homers, RBI and defense. Their starters threw one complete game. But no one said this would be easy.
5. BALTIMORE ORIOLES--There will be more home runs in Camden Yards this year, but not more joy. Owner Peter Angelos said 2002 will be used as yet another rebuilding plank for his planned 2003 breakout.
The Orioles hit only 38 homers at home last year after the park was reconfigured to make it bigger. It will return to its original bandbox dimensions, but it probably won't help the Orioles much. Jay Gibbons and Chris Richard led them with 15 homers each last year, and Richard will miss much of the year because of shoulder surgery.
GM Syd Thrift went into the off-season looking for a leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter and closer. He came away with Marry Cordova, who hit 20 homers for the Indians last year, but doesn't fill any of the above needs. Juan Gonzalez or Scott Rolen would have ended the search for a cleanup hitter, but Gonzalez said no and Angelos killed a deal for the Philadelphia third baseman.
If David Segui can stay healthy and Jeff Conine and Cordova can repeat
their 2001 seasons, the Orioles would at least have a threat in the middle of the lineup. They were last in batting average and 13th in runs and homers last year.
The Orioles had the 10th highest ERA in the league in 2001. One of the reasons is that rookies made 49 starts. Veteran Scott Erickson is scheduled to return this year after missing last season because of elbow surgery. Josh Towers (8-10), Jason Johnson (10-12) and Sidney Ponson (5-10) will follow him.
Manager Mike Hargrove has some good arms in the bullpen starting with closer Willis Roberts. He made 18 starts last year, while going 6-for-10 in save situations. Lefties Buddy Groom and B.J. Ryan combined for 131 appearances. Luis Rivera and Matt Riley will help if they're recovered from arm surgery.
The Orioles have lost 83, 84, 88 and 98 games in the last four seasons. The downward spiral will continue.
1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX--Manager Jerry Manuel appears to have it all. The best balanced offense in the division, solid pitching and prospects in the pipeline ready to perform.
But the White Sox chances of winning the division depend on their health.
Offensively, Frank Thomas is the key. The Big Hurt played 20 games last season because of a torn biceps muscle. Thomas was expected to be close to 100 percent by spring training, which means the White Sox could have four 30-home runs hitters in the lineup--Thomas, Paul Konerko, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee.
Chicago has a seemingly endless stream of pitchers, but several are coming off operations. Starter Jim Parque missed most of last season with left shoulder surgery. In the pen, Lorenzo Barcelo (shoulder), Antonio Osuna (shoulder) and Kelly Wunsch (shoulder) all needed operations. Bob Howry, closer Keith Foulke's top set-up man, made 69 appearances last year, but wasn't at full strength because of shoulder surgery after the 2000 season.
That explains why the White Sox acquired Todd Ritchie (11-15) from Pittsburgh at the winter meetings. What it doesn't explain is why GM Kenny Williams gave up three decent pitchers in Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe for a middle-of-the-road starter.
The rotation is built around left-hander Mark Buehrle (16-8). In the pen, Manuel will depend on Howry, Matt Gintner, Gary Glover, former Oriole Ryan Kohlmeier and Rocky Biddle to get the ball to Foulke. He converted 42 of 45 save chances last year.
Offensively, the White Sox need right fielder Magglio Ordonez (.305, 31, 113, 25 steals), Konerko (.282, 32, 99), Jose Valentine (.258, 28, 68) and Ray Durham (.267, 20, 65, 23 steals) to keep producing. They also need Lee (.269, 24, 84) to avoid last year's second-haft slump.
2. MINNESOTA TWINS--Spending a winter living under the threat of contraction will do one of two things to the Twins. It will make them spit in the eye of Big Brother and go out in a blaze of glory in what could be their final season.
Or it will leave them broken and uninterested.
The Twins were handcuffed this off-season because they didn't know if they'd play this year. After manager Tom Kelly resigned following his first winning season since 1992--no one can say Kelly is a dummy--GM Terry Ryan didn't hire Ron Gardenhire to replace him until January.
Ryan added right-hander Brian Meadows and infielder Kurt Abbott in minor league moves, but it's not like this team needed a major overhaul.
Brad Radke (15-11), Eric Milton (15-7) and Joe Mays (17-13) had the Twins in first place by five games at the All-Star break. It will be interesting to see how Mays (233.2 innings) reacts to the workload. While Radke and Milton have pitched over 200 innings several times, it was a first for Mays.
Rick Reed, scared by contraction, demanded a trade after the season. If he rescinds it by March 15, it would give the Twins four solid starters.
Steady Eddie Guardado (8-for-9) will open at closer because LaTroy Hawkins blew a fuse in the second half. Hawkins (28-for-37) will pitch in middle relief.
Position-wise the Twins are strong. Doug Mientkewicz (.306, 15, 74), Corey Koskie (.276, 26, 103) and Torii Hunter (.261, 27, 92) are maturing run producers. Shortstop Cristian Guzman (.302, 10, 51, 25 steals) and second baseman Luis Rivas provide speed at the top of the order. Defensively, they're one of the best double-play. combinations in the league.
The Twins crashed after the break, going 3045 and getting passed by the Indians. It was their first taste of pressure, and they should be ready for it this year.
3. CLEVELAND INDIANS--New GM Mark Shapiro is trying to rebuild and compete at the same time because ownership wants the payroll reduced from $90 million to $75 million.
That's why Gonzalez, Alomar, Cordova and Lofton are no longer in Cleveland. They were the core of a tradtionally strong offense last year, combining for 375 RBI. Jim Thome (291, 49, 124) and Ellis Burks (.280, 28, 74) are still in the middle of the lineup, but the top and bottom of the order are unsettled.
Baltimore castoff Brady Anderson will get a chance to lead off. So will Matt Lawton and Omar Vizquel. If Anderson doesn't win a job in left field, he'll compete with Milton Bradley and Alex Escobar to replace Lofton in center.
Shapiro's new philosophy centers around pitching and defense. Bartolo Colon (14-12) and C.C. Sabathia (17-5) fill the first two spots in the rotation, but there are questions. Can Danys Baez make the move to the rotation after a successful year in the bullpen? Will injured veterans Chuck Finley, Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright contribute? Is too much being asked of young starters Sabathia, 21, and Baez, 24?
If they can't, prospects Ryan Drese and Jake Westbrook will get a look.
Bob Wickman (32-for-35) won the closer's competition with John Rocker. Wickman received a three-year $16 million contract, while Rocker was shipped to Texas. Paul Shuey, newcomers Mark Wohlers and Jerrod Riggan, Ricardo Rincon and David Riske will be the primary set-up men.
In trading Alomar (.336, 20, 100, 30 steals) to the New York Mets, the Indians not only lost offense and speed, but a Gold Glove second baseman. Shortstop Ricky Gutierrez was signed to move to second base and pair with Vizquel.
4. KANSAS CITY ROYALS--Cleveland's withdrawal from the top echelon of the payroll race has given the whole division an opening to sprint through. But the Royals have been a step slow for several years because of their pitching.
That's why manager Tony Muser is in the final year of his contract and on a short leash. Muser, a taskmaster, said he's going to ease up on his club this year and let them enjoy themselves more. But unless Jose Rosado, who hasn't pitched in two years because of shoulder problems, can rescue a rotation that had a 5.01 ERA last year, this thing could end badly.
Starters Jeff Suppan (10-14), Paul Byrd (6-7), Chad Durbin (9-16) and Blake Stein (7-8) had their moments last year. There is depth in Chris George, Dan Reichert and Mike MacDougal, while GM Allard Baird is excited about the acquisition of Darrell May, who spent the last four years in Japan.
In the bullpen, closer Roberto Hernandez (28-for-34) and set-up man Jason Grimsley (3.02 ERA, 73 appearances) give Muser two good quality arms. He needs to sort through Corey Bailey, Jeff Austin, Mac Suzuki, Doug Henry, Bryan Rekar and Brad Voyles to fill it out.
If Chuck Knoblauch (.250, 9, 44, 38 steals) can rediscover his swing, he could make things interesting from the leadoff spot. Center fielder Carlos Beltran (.306, 24, 101, 31 steals) is coming off an excellent season, while Michael Tucker--acquired in a trade with the Cubs--will platoon with Mark Quinn in right field.
With Knoblauch, Neifi Perez, Beltran, Mike Sweeney (.304, 29, 99) and Quinn or Tucker, the top of the order will pressure opponents. A comeback season from third baseman Joe Randa (.253, 13, 83) is a necessity.
Perez, who had his left thumb surgically repaired, and Carlos Febles are a good double play combination. If the Royals decide to trade Perez, a possibility, prospect Angel Berroa is waiting.
5. DETROIT TIGERS--Make manager Phil Garner unhappy and you're not going to be around long. Deivi Cruz, Roger Cedeno, Juan Encarnacion and Tony Clark, once thought to be building blocks of a Tiger revival, found that out last year.
Now, with new president Dave Dombrowski in charge, it just maybe Garner who's in for a change of address. Dombrowski earned a reputation as a team builder in Montreal and Florida, and the Tigers definitely need rebuilding.
They haven't had a winning season since 1993. Last year they didn't have one player hit more than 20 homers or win more than 14 games on the way to a 66-96 finish.
Owner Mike Illitch didn't exactly go overboard this winter to improve his team. Newcomers Dmitri Young and Craig Paquette should help the offense, but more needs to be done. Detroit hit .260 and had the second most strikeouts and the third fewest walks in the league. That's not a good performance.
Speed is a necessity in spacious Comerica Park, but Cedeno took his 55 steals to the Mets. The best the Tigers can hope for is that Dean Palmer's surgically repaired shoulder is sound, Robert Fick (.272, 19, 61), moving to right field, continues to improve and Jose Macias can handle center field and the leadoff spot.
It would be nice if someone reminded left fielder Bobby Higginson (.277, 17, 71) that he was once an emerging run producer.
Jeff Weaver (13-16) has the talent to be a No.1 starter, but he's gone through three years of on-the-job training and he looks frazzled. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks (14-9) removed some of the heat last year. If Brian Moehler can return from shoulder surgery, Weaver may finally feel like he doesn't have to save the franchise every time he pitches.
Erratic Jose Lima (6-12) is the veteran of the staff. Lefty Mark Redman could be a sleeper if his arm is sound.
Closer Matt Anderson's maturity may finally be catching up to his 100 mph arm. After Todd Jones was traded last year, Anderson converted 22 straight saves. Danny Patterson is a solid set-up man, but the Tiger pen blew 22 saves last year.
1. SEATTLE MARINERS--Manager Lou Piniella's team probably won't win 116 games this year, but talent-wise it could be better. Third baseman Jeff Cirillo (.313, 17, 83) is an upgrade over David Bell at third base and underrated Shigetoshi Hasegawa will keep the best bullpen in the league running smoothly.
Losing Aaron Sele (15-5) to free agency hurts, but John Halama (10-7) and Joel Piniero (6-2) should be ready. Gil Meche is a possibility once he gets healthy.
The club is showing some age. Jamie Moyer (20-6), DH Edgar Martinez (.306, 23, 116) and set-up man Norm Charlton (4-2) are 39. Super utilityman Mark McLemore (.286, 5, 57, 39 steals) is 37 and newcomer Ruben Sierra (.291, 23, 67) is 36.
It probably can't get much better for Ichiro Suzuki, who won the A.L's MVP and Rookie of the Year award last season. What will be interesting is how pitchers adjust to Suzuki (.350, 242 hits, 127 runs and 56 steals) after getting blitzed by him last year.
Until they do, the league's best leadoff hitter will continue to ignite an offense that led the league in batting average, runs, hits, RBI, sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts, steals and on-base percentage. Second baseman Bret Boone (.331, 37, 141) might not match his career season of 2001, but the Mariners wouldn't be the division favorite if they didn't re-sign him to a three-year $27 million contract.
Seattle and Oakland were the only rotations in the league to finish with an ERA under 4.00 last year. Freddy Garcia (1843), Moyer and Paul Abbott (174) will have to do it again. In the bullpen, the Mariners only rival is the Yankees. Closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (45for-52) and set-up men Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson don't lose many leads.
2. OAKIAND A'S--The free agent defections of Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen were a product of the A's trying to survive on a $40 million payroll. So were GM Billy Beane's moves to replace them.
Beane traded for Koch (36-for-44) to be his new closer. Then Beane added David Justice and first base prospect Carlos Pena to replace some of Giambi's lost offense. As for a center fielder and leadoff hitter, the A's are talking about moving Ter rence Long back to center.
What makes the A's go is the rotation of Tim Hudson (18-9), Mark Mulder (21-8), Barry Zito (17-8) and Cory Lidle (13-6). They had the lowest ERA and pitched the most innings of any rotation in the league. It was the first time Mulder and Zito pitched over 200 innings, and they will be watched for any adverse effects.
The bullpen blew 23 saves last year. Isringhausen blew nine of them, while Koch blew eight in Toronto. That means things should be lively again in the pen. Lefties Mike Holtz and Mike Venafro have been added to go along with set-up men Jeff Tam, Mike Magnante and Jim Mecir.
The A's survived a 8-17 April to win 102 games last year, seven more than any team in the league besides Seattle. They did it with pitching, attitude and a take-no-prisoner's offense.
Giambi took a lot of that attitude and offense to Yankee Stadium, but there's still some left in shortstop Miguel Tejada (.267, 31, 113, 11 steals), fight fielder Jermaine Dye (.282, 26, 106), third baseman Eric Chavez (.288, 32, 114) and Long (.283, 12, 85). Dye is still recovering from a broken left leg suffered in the postseason, but is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
If Long moves to center, Jeremy Giambi, Adam Piatt and Eric Byrnes can play left. Ramon Hernandez (.254, 15, 60) is becoming a good two-way catcher.
3. TEXAS RANGERS--Cleveland has come to Texas.
General manager John Hart turned the Indians into contenders in the 1990s by stressing offense. Pitching was an afterthought, and ultimately kept Hart from winning a World Series.
He's trying the same blueprint with the Rangers, only this time he has an owner who won't say no. So while adding Juan Gonzalez and Carl Everett to a lineup that already includes Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Rusty Greer and Frank Catalanotto, Hart can afford to give CPR to the worst pitching staff in the big leagues.
Chan Ho Park and Dave Burba were signed as free agents. Hideki Irabu was brought in on a minor league deal. All this was done to try and upgrade a rotation that had a 6.00 ERA last year. Kenny Rogers, Rob Bell, Doug Davis are the holdovers. Prospects Joaquin Benoit and Aaron Myette are available.
In the bullpen, John Rocker, Jay Powell and Todd Van Poppel arrived to clear the way for closer Jeff Zimmerman (28-for-31). Hector Carrasco has gone to camp on a minor league deal. If Rocker, a bust in Cleveland, finds himself after a good winter performance in Puerto Rico, the pen could become a strength.
There is concern about All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has missed 122 games the last two years because of injuries and is approaching free agency. Sometime this year rookie Hank Blalock may take over at second base to go along with second-year man Mike Young. But Blalock will have to get through Herbert Perry and Mike Lamb first.
Hart learned long ago that offense does not solve all problems. But with Alex Rodriguez, Gonzalez and Palmeiro hitting in the middle of the line-up, it's a good place to start.
4. ANAHEIM ANGELS--Manager Mike Scioscia may have the most improved team in the league. His reward could be a pat the back and a dip in the standings.
The Angels, third in the A.L. West last year, strengthened the best part of their team by signing free agent Aaron Sele (15-5) and getting Kevin Appier (11-10) from the Mets in the Mo Vaughn trade.
Sele and Appier will ease the pressure on promising starters Ramon Ortiz (13-10), Jarred Washburn (11-10) and Scott Schoeneweis (10-11).
Sele, as long as he's not in the postseason, is a dominating pitcher. He's won 69 games over the last four years. Appier has won 42 games over the last four years. Together they can provide the veteran leadership missing last year from Pat Rapp and Ismael Valdes.
They will also balance the rotation since Washburn and Schoeneweis are left-handed.
Closer Troy Percival (39-for-42) is healthy and happy. He said he wanted to be traded late last year when details of his contract became public. But Percival withdrew the trade demand after team president Tony Tavarez resigned. Percival blamed him for leaking the information.
Veteran lefty Dennis Cook will help in the pen, but the Angels will miss Mike Holtz and Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Ben Weber (6-2) and Al Levin should help.
The improved rotation won't mean much unless the offense hits like the Angels of old. They finished 12th in runs scored.
Tim Salmon (.227, 17, 49) and Darin Erstad (.258, 9, 63) need to bounce back. General manager Bill Stoneman traded for Toronto designated hitter Brad Fullmer (.274, 18, 83) to help replace Vaughn's offense. Vaughn didn't play last year because of a torn biceps muscle.
Troy Glaus has hit 89 homers the last two years, but has never driven in more than 108 runs because not enough people are on base. Top of the order hitters David Eckstein and Erstad could change that.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPION: Oakland Athletics
How They'll Finish A.L. East Rk Team Manager 1 New York Yankees Joe Torre 2. Boston Red Sox Joe Kerrigan 3. Toronto Blue Jays Buck Martinez 4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays Hal McRae 5. Baltimore Orioles Mike Hargrove A.L. Central Rk Team Manager 1. Chicago White Sox Jerry Manuel 2. Minnesota Twins Ron Gardenhire 3. Cleveland Indians Charlie Manuel 4. Kansas City Royals Tony Muser 5. Detroit Tigers Phil Garner A.L. West Rk Team Manager 1. Seattle Mariners Lou Piniella 2. Oakland A's Art Howe 3. Texas Rangers Jerry Narron 4. Anaheim Angels Mike Scioscia A.L. EAST World Series League Division Wild Card Team 2001 Record Titles Pennants Titles Berths New York Yankees 95-65 .594 26 38 11 2 Boston Red Sox 82-79 .509 5 10 5 2 Toronto Blue Jays 80-82 .494 2 2 5 0 Baltimore Orioles (+) 63-98 .391 3 7 8 1 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 62-100 .383 0 0 0 0 (+) Won one A.L. pennant as the St. Louis Browns and six as the Baltimore Orioles. HOW THE YANKEES HAVE FARED THROUGH THE YEARS THE NEW YORK YANKEES FIRST CAME INTO THE AMERICAN LEAGUE IN 1901 AS THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES before moving to New York as the Highlanders in 1903 and changing their name to Yankees for the 1913 season. Below is a breakdown--by each decade--of how the Yankees have fared in the American League. YEARS WINS LOSSES PCT. A.L. PENNANTS 1901-1910 726 734 .497 None 1911-1920 708 776 .477 None 1921-1930 924 611 .602 6 (1921-23, 1926-28) 1931-1940 972 552 .638 5 (1932, 1936-39) 1941-1950 939 599 .611 6 (1941-43, 1947, 1949-50) 1951-1960 954 583 .621 8 (1951-53, 1955-58, 1960) 1961-1970 883 732 .547 4 (1961-1964) 1971-1980 902 705 .561 3 (1976-1978) 1981-1990 818 744 .524 1 (1981) 1991-2000 871 681 .561 4 (1996, 1998-2000) 2001-- 95 65 .594 1 (2001) YEARS WORLD SERIES TITLES 1901-1910 None 1911-1920 None 1921-1930 3 (1923, 1927, 1928) 1931-1940 5 (1932, 1936-39) 1941-1950 5 (1941, 1943, 1947, 1949-50) 1951-1960 5 (1951-53, 1956, 1958) 1961-1970 2 (1961, 1962) 1971-1980 2 (1977-1978) 1981-1990 None 1991-2000 4 (1996, 1998-2000) 2001-- None A.L. CENTRAL World League Division Wild Crad Series Pennants Titles Berths Team 2001 Record Titles Cleveland Indians 91-71 .562 2 5 6 0 Minnesota Twins (+) 85-77 .525 3 6 4 0 Chicago White Sox 83-79 .512 2 4 4 0 Detroit Tigers 66-96 .407 4 9 3 0 Kansas City Royals 65-97 .401 1 2 6 0 (+) Won one World Series and three pennants as the Washington Senators PLAYERS WHO FELL ONE HR SHORT OF 50-HOMER CLUB Player Team Year HR Jim Thorne Indians 2001 49 Todd Helton Rockies 2001 49 Shawn Green Dodgers 2001 49 Barry Bonds Giants 2000 49 Albert Belle White Sox 1998 49 Larry Walker Rockies 1997 49 Ken Griffey, Jr. Mariners 1996 49 Andre Dawson Cubs 1987 49 Mark McGwire A's 1987 49 Harmon Killebrew Twins 1969 49 Frank Robinson Orioles 1966 49 Harmon Killebrew Twins 1964 49 Willie Mays Giants 1962 49 Ted Kluszewski Reds 1954 49 Lou Gehrig Yankees 1936 49 Lou Gehrig Yankees 1934 49 Babe Ruth Yankees 1930 49 A.L. WEST World League Division Wild Card Series Pennants Titles Berths Team 2001 Record Titles Seattle Mariners 116-46 .716 0 0 3 1 Oakland A's (+) 102-60 .630 9 14 11 1 Anaheim Angels 75-87 .463 0 0 3 0 Texas Rangers 73-89 .451 0 0 3 0 (+) Won five World Series and eight pennants as the Philadelphia A's Major League Teams With Most Wins, Season Year Team W-L Pct. 1906 Chicago Cubs 116-36 .763 2001 Seattle Mariners 116-46 .716 1998 New York Yankees 114-48 .704 1954 Cleveland Indians 111-43 .721 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates 110-42 .724 1927 New York Yankees 110-44 .714 1961 New York Yankees 109-53 .673 1969 Baltimore Orioles 109-53 .673 1970 Baltimore Orioles 108-54 .667 1975 Cincinnati Reds 108-54 .667 1986 New York Mets 108-54 .667 1907 Chicago Cubs 107-45 .704 1931 Philadelphia A's 107-45 .704 1932 New York Yankees 107-47 .695 1939 New York Yankees 106-45 .702 1904 New York Giants 106-47 .693 1942 St. Louis Cardinals 106-48 .688 1998 Atlanta Braves 106-56 .654 1912 Boston Red Sox 105-47 .691 1905 New York Giants 105-48 .686 1943 St. Louis Cardinals 105-49 .682 1944 St. Louis Cardinals 105-49 .682 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers 105-49 .682
Paul Hoynes, a baseball writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has covered the Cleveland Indians for 19 years.
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|Date:||Apr 1, 2002|
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