- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

2006: 70-92

Manager: Sam Perlozzo

Probable starters

2B Brian Roberts

3B Melvin Mora

RF Nick Markakis

SS Miguel Tejada

LF Jay Payton

1B Aubrey Huff

C Ramon Hernandez

DH Jay Gibbons

CF Corey Patterson

Rotation: Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Adam Loewen, Jaret Wright, Steve Trachsel

Closer: Chris Ray

Bottom line: The good news: They should be better and more competitive. The bad news: They’re still not good enough to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, and maybe not even the Blue Jays. If the O’s are going to have any chance, Bedard and Cabrera are going to have to develop into a pair of aces.

BOSTON RED SOX

2006: 86-76

Manager: Terry Francona

Probable starters

SS Julio Lugo

1B Kevin Youkikis

DH David Ortiz

LF Manny Ramirez

RF J.D. Drew

C Jason Varitek

3B Mike Lowell

CF Coco Crisp

2B Dustin Pedroia

Rotation: Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Julian Tavarez, Tim Wakefield

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon

Bottom line: We’ve known for years how potent their lineup is, but how about that five-deep rotation they’ve now assembled? In addition to aces Schilling and Beckett and the always-reliable Wakefield, they’ve now added Japanese star “Dice-K” and future star Papelbon. Only possible weakness is the bullpen.

NEW YORK YANKEES

2006: 97-65

Manager: Joe Torre

Probable starters

CF Johnny Damon

SS Derek Jeter

RF Bobby Abreu

3B Alex Rodriguez

DH Jason Giambi

LF Hideki Matsui

C Jorge Posada

2B Robinson Cano

1B Doug Mientkiewicz

Rotation: Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa

Closer: Mariano Rivera

Bottom line: There aren’t many questions about the lineup, especially with Abreu now entrenched in the 3-hole for an entire season. And Wang, Mussina and the returning Pettitte give the Bombers a formidable front three starters. The key will be the back end of the rotation, with Pavano and Igawa big unknowns.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

2006: 61-101

Manager: Joe Maddon

Probable starters

CF Rocco Baldelli

RF Delmon Young

LF Carl Crawford

1B Ty Wigginton

DH Greg Norton

2B Jorge Cantu

3B Akinori Iwamura

C Dioner Navarro

SS Ben Zobrist

Rotation: Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Casey Fossum, Jae Seo, Edwin Jackson

Closer: Seth McClung

Bottom line: OK, they finally have some legitimate studs on the roster like Young, Crawford, Cantu and ace Kazmir. But there’s just no depth after that. When Wigginton is your projected cleanup hitter, can you legitimately think you can compete with the Yankees and Red Sox? No.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

2006: 87-75

Manager: John Gibbons

Probable starters

LF Reed Johnson

1B Lyle Overbay

CF Vernon Wells

DH Frank Thomas

3B Troy Glaus

RF Alex Rios

C Gregg Zaun

2B Aaron Hill

SS Royce Clayton

Rotation: Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, John Thomson, Tomo Ohka

Closer: B.J. Ryan

Bottom line: The Jays made a significant step last year in leapfrogging the Red Sox for second place in the AL East. If they’re going to take the next step and return to the playoffs, they’ll need some reliable starters to emerge behind Halladay and Burnett.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide