- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

AL EAST

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Last year: 69-93 (4th)

Manager: Dave Trembley (1st year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

2B Brian Roberts

3B Melvin Mora

RF Nick Markakis

1B Kevin Millar

LF Luke Scott

C Ramon Hernandez

DH Aubrey Huff

CF Adam Jones

SS Luis Hernandez

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Jeremy Guthrie

LHP Adam Loewen

RHP Daniel Cabrera

RHP Steve Trachsel

LHP Garrett Olson

Closer: LHP George Sherrill

Current ace: Jeremy Guthrie is the closest thing to a proven commodity the Orioles have, though Adam Loewen was impressive in six starts in the majors last year.

Future ace: Left-hander Radhames Liz could be in the majors later this year. His fastball is clocked in the mid-90s.

BOSTON RED SOX

Last year: 96-66 (1st)

Manager: Terry Francona (9th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2B Dustin Pedroia

DH David Ortiz

LF Manny Ramirez

3B Mike Lowell

RF J.D. Drew

1B Kevin Youkilis

C Jason Varitek

SS Julio Lugo

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Josh Beckett

RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

RHP Tim Wakefield

LHP Jon Lester

RHP Clay Buchholz

Closer: RHP Jonathan Papelbon

Current ace: Once he’s healthy, Josh Beckett is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won 20 games last year and is one of the best big-game pitchers around.

Future ace: Boston thought highly enough of the 23-year-old Clay Buchholz to deem him untouchable in the Johan Santana trade talks last winter. He throws three pitches well and is developing a slider.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Last year: 94-68 (2nd)

Manager: Joe Girardi (2nd year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

LF Johnny Damon

SS Derek Jeter

RF Bobby Abreu

3B Alex Rodriguez

C Jorge Posada

DH Hideki Matsui

1B Jason Giambi

2B Robinson Cano

CF Melky Cabera

PROJECTED ROTATION

LHP Andy Pettitte

RHP Chien-Ming Wang

RHP Mike Mussina

RHP Philip Hughes

RHP Ian Kennedy

Closer: RHP Mariano Rivera

Current ace: It’s probably Andy Pettitte for now, though the aging top half of the Yankees’ rotation will soon give way to a number of prized prospects.

Future ace: Take your pick: Philip Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Joba Chamberlain. All three have the stuff to be fixtures in the rotation for years.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Last year: 66-96 (5th)

Manager: Joe Maddon (5th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

2B Akinori Iwamura

LF Carl Crawford

1B Carlos Pena

CF B.J. Upton

DH Clifford Floyd

RF Jonny Gomes

3B Evan Longoria

C Dioner Navarro

SS Jason Bartlett

PROJECTED ROTATION

LHP Scott Kazmir

RHP James Shields

RHP Matt Garza

RHP Edwin Jackson

RHP Andy Sonnanstine

Closer: RHP Troy Percival

Current ace:Scott Kazmir has had arm troubles this spring, but he’s the most proven of a talented trio of pitchers that also includes James Shields and Matt Garza.

Future ace: 2007 first-round pick David Price has no major weaknesses, and the left-hander could be a fixture in Tampa before the end of the season.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Last year: 83-79 (3rd)

Manager: John Gibbons (5th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

SS David Eckstein

RF Alexis Rios

CF Vernon Wells

DH Frank Thomas

3B Scott Rolen

1B Lyle Overbay

LF Matt Stairs

2B Aaron Hill

C Gregg Zaun

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Roy Halladay

RHP A.J. Burnett

RHP Dustin McGowan

RHP Shawn Marcum

RHP Jesse Litsch

Closer: LHP B.J. Ryan

Current ace:Roy Halladay has won 93 games the last six seasons, and he’s among the AL leaders in complete games almost every year.

Future ace: Left-hander Brett Cecil has a top-notch slider, though the 2007 supplemental first-rounder is a couple years from pitching to major league hitters.

AL CENTRAL

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Last year: 72-90 (4th)

Manager: Ozzie Guillen (5th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

SS Orlando Cabrera

CF Nick Swisher

1B Paul Konerko

DH Jim Thome

RF Jermaine Dye

3B Joe Crede

C A.J. Pierzynski

LF Carlos Quentin

2B Juan Uribe

PROJECTED ROTATION

LHP Mark Buehrle

RHP Javier Vazquez

LHP John Danks

RHP Jose Contreras

RHP Gavin Floyd

Closer: RHP Bobby Jenks

Current ace:Mark Buehrle rebounded last year after a rough 2006. He doesn’t walk many hitters and is good for 200 innings every year.

Future ace: At 6-foot-6 and boasting a 98-mph fastball, left-hander Aaron Poreda is a rare specimen. There’s still some question whether he projects as a starter or reliever, but he could be special if he refines his stuff.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Last year: 96-66 (1st)

Manager: Eric Wedge (6th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Grady Sizemore

2B Asdrubal Cabrera

DH Travis Hafner

C Victor Martinez

1B Ryan Garko

LF Jason Michaels

SS Jhonny Peralta

3B Casey Blake

RF Franklin Gutierrez

PROJECTED ROTATION

LHP C.C. Sabathia

RHP Fausto Carmona

RHP Jake Westbrook

RHP Paul Byrd

LHP Aaron Laffey

Closer: RHP Joe Borowski

Current ace: The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabathia anchors a strong rotation in what could be his last year in Cleveland. He is a free agent after the season and figures to command big money.

Future ace: Right-hander Adam Miller has battled elbow problems, but he’s got a nasty slider and a developing two-seam fastball to go with his four-seamer.

DETROIT TIGERS

Last year: 88-74 (2nd)

Manager: Jim Leyland (17th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Curtis Granderson

2B Placido Polanco

DH Gary Sheffield

RF Magglio Ordonez

3B Miguel Cabrera

1B Carlos Guillen

SS Edgar Renteria

C Ivan Rodriguez

LF Jacque Jones

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Justin Verlander

RHP Jeremy Bonderman

LHP Nate Robertson

LHP Kenny Rogers

LHP Dontrelle Willis

Closer: RHP Todd Jones

Current ace: The 25-year-old Justin Verlander won 17 games in 2006 and 18 last year. He’s a classic power pitcher who struck out 183 in 201.2 innings in 2007.

Future ace: Rick Porcello has gotten plenty of hype, but the 19-year-old also has the pitches (a mid-90s fastball, slider and curveball) to back it up.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Last year: 69-93 (5th)

Manager: Trey Hillman (1st year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF David DeJesus

2B Mark Grudzielanek

LF Mark Teahen

RF Jose Guillen

1B Ross Gload

DH Billy Butler

3B Alex Gordon

C John Buck

SS Tony Pena

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Gil Meche

RHP Brian Bannister

RHP Zack Greinke

RHP Kyle Davies

LHP Jorge De La Rosa

Closer: RHP Joakim Soria

Current ace:Gil Meche isn’t spectacular, but he’s got good control and will eat up innings every five days.

Future ace: The Royals hope to see right-hander Daniel Cortes in the majors within a year. His fastball and curveball can both be strikeout pitches.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Last year: 79-83 (3rd)

Manager: Ron Gardenhire (7th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Carlos Gomez

C Joe Mauer

RF Michael Cuddyer

1B Justin Morneau

LF Delmon Young

DH Jason Kubel

3B Mike Lamb

2B Brendan Harris

SS Adam Everett

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Livan Hernandez

RHP Scott Baker

RHP Boof Bonser

RHP Kevin Slowey

LHP Francisco Liriano

Closer: RHP Joe Nathan

Current ace: Livan Hernandez will be the team’s Opening Day starter, but Francisco Liriano can be the ace if he recovers from Tommy John surgery and re-creates his stellar 2006 season.

Future ace: 6-foot-5 right-hander Deolis Guerra could end up being the key piece of the Johan Santana trade. He’s just 18 but could form a powerful 1-2 combo with Liriano someday.

AL WEST

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Last year: 94-68 (1st)

Manager: Mike Scioscia (9th year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

3B Chone Figgins

LF Gary Matthews Jr.

RF Vladimir Guerrero

DH Garret Anderson

CF Torii Hunter

1B Casey Kotchman

2B Howie Kendrick

C Mike Napoli

SS Erick Aybar

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Jon Garland

RHP Jered Weaver

LHP Joe Saunders

RHP Ervin Santana

RHP Dustin Moseley

Closer: RHP Francisco Rodriguez

Current ace: Once right-hander John Lackey comes back from a strained right triceps in May, he’ll be expected to anchor the rotation. For now, it’s Jon Garland.

Future ace: We could see righty Nick Adenhart in the majors later this year. He’s already had Tommy John surgery but has put in more than 300 innings in the minors the last two years. Scouts like his fastball and change-up.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Last year: 76-86 (4th)

Manager: Bob Geren (2nd year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

RF Travis Buck

2B Mark Ellis

1B Daric Barton

DH Dan Johnson

3B Eric Chavez

LF Emil Brown

SS Bobby Corsby

CF Chris Denorfia

C Kurt Suzuki

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Joe Blanton

RHP Rich Harden

RHP Chad Gaudin

RHP Justin Duchscherer

LHP Lenny DiNardo

Closer: RHP Huston Street

Current ace: It has to be Joe Blanton, although it could be Rich Harden if he can stay healthy for a full season.

Future ace: The A’s farm system doesn’t have anyone who projects as a No. 1 starter at this point, but lefty Gio Gonzalez is probably the closest thing.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Last year: 88-74 (2nd)

Manager: John McLaren (2nd year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Ichiro Suzuki

DH Jose Vidro

LF Raul Ibanez

3B Adrian Beltre

RF Brad Wilkerson

1B Richie Sexson

C Kenji Johjima

2B Jose Lopez

SS Yuniesky Betancourt

PROJECTED ROTATION

LHP Erik Bedard

RHP Felix Hernandez

RHP Carlos Silva

LHP Jarrod Washburn

RHP Miguel Batista

Closer: RHP J.J. Putz

Current ace: After a trade from Baltimore, Erik Bedard anchors what should be a strong rotation. He struck out 221 hitters and posted a 3.16 ERA last year.

Future ace: French Canadian Phillippe Aumont is 6-foot-7 and throws an overpowering fastball and a sinker that reaches the low 90s.

TEXAS RANGERS

Last year: 75-87 (4th)

Manager: Ron Washington (2nd year)

PROJECTED LINEUP

2B Ian Kinsler

CF Josh Hamilton

SS Michael Young

DH Milton Bradley

3B Hank Blalock

RF Marlon Byrd

1B Ben Broussard

LF Frank Catalanotto

C Gerald Laird

PROJECTED ROTATION

RHP Kevin Millwood

RHP Vicente Padilla

RHP Jason Jennings

RHP Brandon McCarthy

LHP Kason Gabbard

Closer: LHP C.J. Wilson

Current ace: Though this term is always relative with the Rangers, Kevin Millwood brings a veteran presence to the front of the rotation.

Future ace: Eric Hurley, 22, could be a midseason call-up. His stuff can be excellent, but it needs some refining.

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