- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

1. NEW YORK YANKEES
Projected lineup
SS Derek Jeter
CF Bernie Williams
1B Jason Giambi
LF Rondell White
C Jorge Posada
3B Robin Ventura
RF John Vander Wal/Shane Spencer
DH Nick Johnson/Ron Coomer
2B Alfonso Soriano
Rotation
Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez
Closer
Mariano Rivera

2001 record: 95-65, 1st place
Manager: Joe Torre (7th season, 582-387 record)
Key additions: IF Ron Coomer (FA/Cubs), 1B Jason Giambi (FA/A's), RHP Steve Karsay (FA/Braves), OF John Vander Wal (trade/Giants), 3B Robin Ventura (trade/Mets), LHP David Wells (FA/White Sox), OF Rondell White (FA/Cubs)
Key losses: 3B Scott Brosius (retired), OF David Justice (trade/Mets), OF Chuck Knoblauch (FA/Royals), 1B Tino Martinez (FA/Cardinals), OF Paul O'Neill (retired), IF Luis Sojo (retired), 2B Randy Velarde (FA/A's), RHP Jay Witasick (trade/Giants), RHP Mark Wohlers (FA/Indians)
Key questions: Will Giambi hit 50 HRs over the short porch in RF? Is Johnson ready to be an everyday player? Can Wells' back hold up for an entire season?
Key stat: They hit 203 homers as a team last season … and that was without Giambi.
The lowdown: Apparently, losing the World Series (after winning three straight) only makes owner George Steinbrenner hungrier for another title. After falling to the Diamondbacks in heartbreaking fashion, The Boss went out and signed Giambi, Wells, White and Karsay for a cool $159 million. Throw in Ventura and Vander Wal (acquired in trades) and a couple maturing youngsters in Soriano and Johnson, and it's hard to think these guys won't return to the top.

2. BOSTON RED SOX

Projected lineup
CF Johnny Damon
RF Trot Nixon
SS Nomar Garciaparra
LF Manny Ramirez
1B Tony Clark
DH Brian Daubach/Rickey Henderson
C Jason Varitek
3B Shea Hillenbrand
2B Rey Sanchez/Jose Offerman
Rotation
Pedro Martinez, John Burkett, Dustin Hermanson, Derek Lowe, Frank Castillo
Closer
Ugueth Urbina

2001 record: 82-79, 2nd place
Manager: Grady Little (1st season)
Key additions: RHP John Burkett (FA/Braves), 1B Tony Clark (waivers/Tigers), OF Johnny Damon (FA/A's), OF Rickey Henderson (FA/Padres), RHP Dustin Hermanson (trade/Cardinals), LHP Darren Oliver (trade/Rangers)
Key losses: RHP Rod Beck (FA), OF Dante Bichette (FA/Dodgers), RHP David Cone (FA), CF Carl Everett (trade/Rangers), C Scott Hatteberg (trade/Rockies), 2B Mike Lansing (FA/Indians), OF Darren Lewis (FA/Cubs), RHP Hideo Nomo (FA/Dodgers), OF Troy O'Leary (FA/Devil Rays), RHP Bret Saberhagen (retired), IF Chris Stynes (FA/Cubs), 3B John Valentin (FA/Mets)
Key questions: Can Pedro stay healthy? Can Pedro stay healthy? Can Pedro stay healthy?
Key stat: Martinez made 18 starts and won 7 games in 2001; Garciaparra played in 21 games and had 8 RBI.
The lowdown: For all the upheaval this winter/spring, from the new owners to the new GM to the new manager to the totally revamped roster, the Sox know the only way they're going to make the playoffs (probably as the wild card behind the hated Yanks), is if the greatest pitcher in the game can make it to September in one piece. Martinez has been grossly overworked over the past three seasons - if the new staff finds a way to limit his innings, they've got the potential to beat anybody.

3. TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Projected lineup
DH Shannon Stewart
2B Homer Bush
RF Raul Mondesi
1B Carlos Delgado
CF Jose Cruz Jr.
3B Eric Hinske
LF Vernon Wells
C Darrin Fletcher
SS Felipe Lopez
Rotation
Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay, Brandon Lyon, Luke Prokepec, Scott Eyre
Closer
Kelvim Escobar

2001 record: 80-82, 3rd place
Manager: Buck Martinez (2nd season, 80-82 record)
Key additions: IF Dave Berg (FA/Marlins), LHP Felix Heredia (trade/Cubs), 3B Eric Hinske (trade/A's), RHP Luke Prokepec (trade/Dodgers)
Key losses: 3B Tony Fernandez (retired), IF Jeff Frye (FA), DH Brad Fullmer (trade/Angels), SS Alex Gonzalez (trade/Cubs), IF Cesar Itzuris (trade/Dodgers), RHP Billy Koch (trade/A's), RHP Paul Quantrill (trade/Dodgers)
Key questions: Can the unproven pitching catch up with the potentially explosive offense? Are youngsters Hinske, Lopez and Wells ready to play every day? Can Escobar fill the bullpen void now that Koch is gone?
Key stat: Projected rotation has combined for only 245 career starts (88 by Carpenter).
The lowdown: There's a lot to like about the Jays' lineup, with established stars like Stewart, Delgado and Mondesi and rising stars like Hinske and Lopez. Unfortunately, everyone knows you can't win without pitching, and Toronto is sorely lacking in this department … for now. Halladay, Lyon and Prokepic are all young and talented. Give them another year or two and this franchise could be back in the game.

4. TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Projected lineup
CF Jason Tyner
2B Brent Abernathy/Russ Johnson
RF Ben Grieve
DH Greg Vaughn
C Toby Hall
1B Steve Cox
LF Randy Winn/Troy O'Leary
3B Jared Sandberg/Aubrey Huff
SS Chris Gomez
Rotation
Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Wilson, Nick Bierbrodt, Joe Kennedy, Wilson Alvarez
Closer
Esteban Yan

2001 record: 62-100, 5th place
Manager: Hal McRae (2nd season, 58-90 record)
Key additions: RHP Kevin McGlinchy (trade/Braves), OF Troy O'Leary (FA/Red Sox)
Key losses: OF Jose Guillen (released/Diamondbacks), LHP Jeff Wallace (released)
Key questions: Can young players build on the momentum of last year's strong second half? Will Grieve take it to the next level and become a star? Can anyone name a member of the pitching staff?
Key stat: Rays were 24-23 after Aug. 10 last season.
The lowdown: While their expansion brother Diamondbacks won the World Series in season No. 4, the Devil Rays have yet to approach mediocrity. With some legitimately good young players like Tyner, Hall and Bierbrodt, that could start to change this year. They won't play .500 ball, but they could finally surpass the Orioles for fourth place.

5. BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Projected lineup
2B Jerry Hairston
CF Chris Singleton
DH David Segui
1B Jeff Conine
RF Jay Gibbons
3B Tony Batista
LF Marty Cordova
SS Mike Bordick
C Brook Fordyce/Geronimo Gil
Rotation
Scott Erickson, Jason Johnson, Sidney Ponson, Josh Towers, Calvin Maduro
Closer
Willis Roberts/Buddy Groom/Jorge Julio

2001 record: 63-98, 4th place
Manager: Mike Hargrove (3rd season, 137-186 record)
Key additions: RHP Chris Brock (trade/Phillies), OF Marty Cordova (FA/Indians), OF Chris Singleton (trade/White Sox)
Key losses: OF Brady Anderson (released/Indians), RHP Jose Mercedes (FA/Indians), RHP Alan Mills (FA/Expos), 3B Cal Ripken (retired)
Key questions: Can Erickson come back from Tommy John surgery and anchor young pitching staff? Can Hairston become legitimate leadoff hitter? How many fans will make it out to Camden Yards to see them play?
Key stat: O's had AL's worst batting average (.248), on-base percentage (.319) and majors' worst slugging percentage (.380) in 2001.
The lowdown: Now that Ripken has retired and Anderson has been released, the O's transition from aging, high-priced underachiever to youthful, low-salaried rebuilding club is complete. What does that leave? Not a whole lot at the moment. A core group of talented young players (Towers, Roberts, Gibbons) has shown potential, but the organization's top prospects are still at least another year away. They'll need to stay healthy if they want to avoid a season-long battle with Tampa Bay for the division cellar.


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