- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Capsules of American League teams, listed in order of finish last year:


Tampa Bay Rays

2010: 96-66, first place, lost in first round.

Manager: Joe Maddon (6th season).

He’s Here: LF Johnny Damon, DH Manny Ramirez, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, RHP Joel Peralta, RHP Adam Russell, 1B Casey Kotchman.

He’s Outta There: LF Carl Crawford, 1B Carlos Pena, SS Jason Bartlett, RHP Matt Garza, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Dan Wheeler, LHP Randy Choate, RHP Chad Qualls, C Dioner Navarro, OF-1B Brad Hawpe, OF Rocco Baldelli.

Projected Lineup: 2B Ben Zobrist (.238, 10 HRs, 75 RBIs, 23 stolen bases), LF Johnny Damon (.271, 8, 51 in 145 games with Detroit), 3B Evan Longoria (.294, 22, 104), DH Manny Ramirez (.298, 9, 42 in 90 games with Dodgers and White Sox), RF Matt Joyce (.241, 10, 40 in 77 games), 1B Dan Johnson (.198, 7, 23 in 40 games), CF B.J. Upton (.237, 18, 62), C John Jaso (.263, 5, 44 in 109 games) SS Reid Brignac (.256, 8, 45 in 113 games).

Rotation: LH David Price (19-6, 2.72 ERA, 188 Ks), RH James Shields (13-15, 5.18, 187 Ks), RH Wade Davis (12-10, 4.07), RH Jeff Niemann (12-8, 4.39), RH Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 3.47 in 10 appearances, four starts).

Key Relievers: RH Andy Sonnanstine ( 3-1, 4.44 ERA), RH Kyle Farnsworth (3-2, 3.34 in 60 games with Kansas City and Atlanta), RH Joel Peralta (1-0, 2.02 in 39 games with Washington), LH Jake McGee (0-0, 1.80 in 8 appearances), RH Adam Russell (0-0, 4.02 in 12 appearances with San Diego), LH J.P. Howell (injured all last season, 7-5, 2.84 in 69 appearances in 2009), RH Juan Cruz (0-0, 3.38 in 5 appearances with Kansas City).

Hot Spots: Bullpen. The defending AL East champions are rebuilding one of baseball’s top bullpens almost from the ground up after losing six relievers, including Soriano, the All-Star closer, to free agency. Sonnanstine, slated for the long relief role, is the only holdover and Howell, a key performer in 2008 and 2009 before missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery, is not expected to return until May at the earliest. That leaves Maddon to try to reconstruct the unit around newcomers Farnsworth, Cruz, Peralta and McGee, a rookie. With no proven closer on the roster, Maddon plans to fill the role by committee.

Outlook: Despite losing Crawford, Pena, Garza and Bartlett via free agency or trades while trimming payroll, the Rays believe they can remain competitive with the big-spending Red Sox and Yankees in baseball’s toughest division. The biggest reason is a strong young nucleus of talent that includes Longoria, Upton, and well as a solid pitching rotation featuring 2010 AL Cy Young runnerup Price, Shields, Davis, Niemann and Hellickson, a rookie, whose development is why the Rays were comfortable with parting with Garza, last year’s No. 2 starter. The offseason acquisition of Damon and Ramirez fill the need for a left fielder and cleanup hitter. Maddon is counting on them to provide veteran leadership in the clubhouse, too.


New York Yankees

2010: 95-67, second place, wild card.

Manager: Joe Girardi (4th season).

He’s Here: 3B-1B Eric Chavez, LHP Pedro Feliciano, DH-OF Andruw Jones, C Russell Martin, RHP Rafael Soriano.

He’s Outta There: RHP Alfredo Aceves, 1B-DH Lance Berkman, 1B-DH Nick Johnson, OF Austin Kearns, LHP Andy Pettitte, OF-DH Marcus Thames, RHP Javier Vazquez, RHP Kerry Wood.

Projected Lineup: SS Derek Jeter (.270, 10, 67), RF Nick Swisher (.288, 29, 89), 1B Mark Teixeira (.256, 33, 108), 3B Alex Rodriguez (.270, 30, 125), 2B Robinson Cano (.319, 29, 109), DH Jorge Posada (.248, 18, 57), CF Curtis Granderson (.247, 24, 67), C Russell Martin (.248, 5, 26 with Dodgers), LF Brett Gardner (.277, 5, 47, 47 SBs).

Rotation: LH CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18, 197 Ks), RH A.J. Burnett (10-15, 5.26), RH Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19), RH Ivan Nova (1-2, 4.50), RH Freddy Garcia (12-6, 4.64 with White Sox).

Key Relievers: RH Mariano Rivera (3-3, 1.80, 33 saves in 38 chances), Rafael Soriano (3-2, AL-leading 45 saves in 48 chances, 1.73 with Tampa Bay), RH Joba Chamberlain (3-4, 4.40, 3 saves, 71 hits in 71 1-3 IP), RH David Robertson (4-5, 3.82), LH Pedro Feliciano (3-6, 3.30, 62 2-3 innings in majors-leading 92 games with Mets) LH Boone Logan (2-0, 2.93), RH Sergio Mitre (0-3, 3.33).

Hot Spots: Rotation, catcher, DH. After losing out on free agent Cliff Lee, Yankees brought in veterans Garcia and Bartolo Colon to compete for two open spots in the rotation _ one left by Pettitte, who retired during the offseason. Martin was signed as free agent and is coming off hip and knee injuries. Posada is making the move from catcher to DH, and time will tell how well he adjusts _ not always an easy move for guys accustomed to being on the field all the time.

Outlook: The Yankees have the offense and bullpen to again challenge for the AL East title with an improved Boston Red Sox team. With a ‘pen that includes Rivera, eighth-inning setup man Soriano, right-handers Chamberlain and Robertson, and left-handers Feliciano and Logan, New York will shorten games. A-Rod, cleared to return to his normal offseason workout program two years after right hip surgery, has looked in midseason form since the start of spring training. Teixeira, normally a slow regular-season starter, took more batting practice during the winter. Jeter, looking to rebound from last season’s drop-off at the plate, is making a mechanical adjustment and eliminating his stride. The Yankees are hoping the sometimes testy contract negotiations over the winter with Jeter are truly in the past. The Captain needs 74 hits to reach 3,000. Gardner could bat leadoff on occasion, especially against right-handers. If Burnett and the back of the rotation provide stability, the Yankees will be a legitimate threat to win their 28th World Series championship. If the starters flop, New York might have to scratch and claw just to make the playoffs.


Boston Red Sox

2010: 89-73, third place.

Manager: Terry Francona (8th season).

He’s Here: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford, RHP Bobby Jenks, RHP Dan Wheeler, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Alfredo Aceves and LHP Dennys Reyes.

He’s Outta There: 3B Adrian Beltre, C Victor Martinez, 3B Mike Lowell, IF-OF Bill Hall, OF Eric Patterson.

Projected Lineup: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.192, 0 HR, 5 RBIs, 7 SB, 18 games), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.288, 12, 41, 75 games), LF Carl Crawford (.307, 19, 90, 13 3B, 47 SB with Tampa Bay), 3B Kevin Youkilis (.307, 19, 62), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.298, 31, 101 with San Diego), DH David Ortiz (.270, 32, 102), RF J.D. Drew (.255, 22, 68), C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.158, 0, 1, 10 games with Boston), SS Marco Scutaro (.275, 11, 56).

Rotation: LH Jon Lester (19-9, 3.25 ERA, 225 Ks), RH John Lackey, (14-11, 4.40), RH Clay Buchholz (17-7, 2.33), RH Josh Beckett (6-6, 5.78), RH Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-6, 4.69).

Key Relievers: RH Jonathan Papelbon (5-7, 3.90, 37/45), RH Daniel Bard (1-2, 1.93, 76 Ks), RH Bobby Jenks (1-3, 4.44, with Chicago White Sox), RH Dan Wheeler (2-4, 3.35, with Tampa Bay), LH Hideki Okajima (4-4, 4.50), RH Tim Wakefield (4-10, 5.34).

Hot Spots: Catcher, No. 5 starter. The Red Sox hope Saltalamacchia, once a top prospect with the Texas Rangers, can handle the starting job. If not, veteran Jason Varitek is still around. The big question mark in a deep rotation is Matsuzaka, entering the fifth year of a $52 million, six-year contract. He’s had an inconsistent exhibition season and must cut down on his pitch count that plagued him in the past. Beckett, dropped in the rotation after an injury-plagued season, also needs a solid comeback.

Outlook: Boston may have the most potent lineup, with the additions of Crawford and Gonzalez, and strongest rotation in the AL after outstanding seasons by the 27-year-old Lester and 26-year-old Buchholz. The speedy Ellsbury had a solid spring after rib injuries limited him to 18 games last year and can team up with Crawford to cause trouble on the basepaths. Pedroia and Youkilis are healthy again after missing significant time. Papelbon is coming off his worst season, but the Red Sox are well stocked with closers-in-waiting Bard and Jenks.


Toronto Blue Jays

2010: 85-77, fourth place.

Manager: John Farrell (1st season).

He’s Here: OF Rajai Davis, RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Frank Francisco, INF Brett Lawrie, RHP Jon Rauch, OF Juan Rivera, RHP Carlos Villanueva.

He’s Outta There: LHP Scott Downs, RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Shawn Hill, RHP Shaun Marcum, 1B Lyle Overbay, LHP Brian Tallet, OF Vernon Wells.

Projected Lineup: CF Rajai Davis (.284, 5, 52 with Oakland), SS Yunel Escobar (.275, 4, 16 in 60 games with Toronto), 3B Jose Bautista (.260, 54, 124), 1B Adam Lind (.237, 23, 72), 2B Aaron Hill (.205, 26, 68), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.244, 21, 51), LF Travis Snider (.255, 14, 32), RF Juan Rivera (.255, 15, 52 with Angels), C J.P. Arencibia (.301, 32, 85 at Triple-A Las Vegas, PCL MVP).

Rotation: LH Ricky Romero (14-9, 3.73), RH Brandon Morrow (10-7, 4.49), LH Brett Cecil (15-7, 4.22), RH Jesse Litsch (1-5, 5.79 in nine starts before season-ending injury), RH Kyle Drabek (14-9, 2.94 at Double-A New Hampshire).

Key Relievers: RH Frank Francisco (6-4, 3.76, 2 saves with Texas), RH Octavio Dotel (3-4, 4.08, 22 saves 28 chances with Colorado, the Dodgers and Pittsburgh), RH Jon Rauch (3-1, 3.12, career high 21 saves in 25 with Minnesota), RH Jason Frasor (3-4, 3.68), RH Shawn Camp (4-3, 2.99).

Hot Spots: Catcher, closer, Nos. 4 and 5 starters. The Blue Jays are prepared to weather the inevitable struggles that Arencibia will face in his first full season. A first-round pick in 2007, he was Pacific Coast League MVP in 2010 but hit just .143 in limited big league action last year and has struggled with the bat again this spring. Francisco (shoulder, chest) and Dotel (hamstring) have been slowed by injuries during camp, giving Rauch the early edge in the competition to win the closer’s role. Litsch and Drabek are the presumed favorites to round out the rotation, but left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes isn’t out of the running.

Outlook: Toronto exceeded expectations in 2010 but could be hard-pressed to duplicate its success after trading Marcum and Wells over the winter and losing Buck, Downs and Gregg to free agency. Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach, takes on his first managerial job after being hired to replace the retired Cito Gaston, and has expressed a desire to make the Blue Jays, major league leaders with 257 homers last season, less dependent on the long ball. Newly-signed to a five-year, $65-million contract, will Bautista produce another power-packed season after leading baseball with a career-best 54 home runs in 2010?


Baltimore Orioles

2010: 66-96, last place.

Manager: Buck Showalter (1st full season).

He’s Here: DH Vladimir Guerrero, 3B Mark Reynolds, 1B Derrek Lee, SS J.J. Hardy, RHP Justin Duchscherer, RHP Jeremy Accardo, RHP Kevin Gregg.

He’s Outta There: 1B Ty Wigginton, RHP Matt Albers, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Kevin Millwood, RHP Kam Mickilio, OF Corey Patterson.

Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Roberts (.278, 4, 15 in 59 games), RF Nick Markakis (.297, 12, 60, .436 slugging), 1B Derrek Lee (.260, 19, 80 with Cubs and Atlanta), DH Vladimir Guerrero (.300, 29, 115 with Texas), LF Luke Scott (.284, 27, 82), CF Adam Jones (.284, 19, 69), 3B Mark Reynolds (.198, 32, 85, 211 Ks with Arizona), C Matt Wieters (.249, 11, 55), SS J.J. Hardy (.268, 6, 38 with Minnesota).

Rotation: RH Jeremy Guthrie (11-14, 3.83, 32 starts), LH Brian Matusz (10-12, 4.30, 143 Ks), RH Brad Bergesen (8-12, 4.98), RH Jake Arrieta (6-6, 4.66), RH Justin Duchscherer (2-1, 2.89 in 5 starts with Oakland).

Key Relievers: RH Kevin Gregg (2-6, 3.51, 37 saves in 43 chances with Toronto), RH Koji Uehara (1-2, 2.86, 13 saves in 15 chances), RH Jim Johnson (1-1, 3.42), RH Jeremy Accardo (0-1, 8.10 in five games with Toronto), LH Mike Gonzalez (1-3, 4.01), RH Jason Berken (3-3, 3.03).

Hot Spots: Starting rotation, 3B. Beyond opening-day starter Guthrie, who went 11-14 last year, the Orioles’ rotation consists of three pitchers with a combined 4 1/2 years of experience and the oft-injured Duchscherer, whose nagging hip problems have been an issue during spring training. If Baltimore needs its offense to win, Reynolds has the power to provide the necessary home runs. But he could be a rally killer if he can’t cut down his strikeouts (211 last year) and raise his batting average (.198).

Outlook: The Orioles went on a spending spree during the offseason, breaking the budget to vastly improved their starting lineup. The signing of free agents Lee and Guerrero, along with trades that landed Hardy and Reynolds, should boost an offense that severely lacked power in 2010. Baltimore had a winning record after Showalter took over as manager in August, providing hope for a carry-over that will enable the Orioles to break their string of 13 straight losing seasons. For that to happen, a young starting rotation will have to mature under fire in the talent-laden AL East.



Minnesota Twins

2010: 94-68, first place, lost in first round.

Manager: Ron Gardenhire (10th season).

He’s Here: INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka, LHP Dusty Hughes.

He’s Outta There: RHP Matt Guerrier, RHP Jesse Crain, SS J.J. Hardy, 2B Orlando Hudson, INF Nick Punto.

Projected Lineup: CF Denard Span (.264, 3, 58, 26 SBs), 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.346, 11, 59 RBIs, 121 runs, 22 SBs with Chiba Lotte in Japan), C Joe Mauer (.327, 9, 75, 43 2Bs), 1B Justin Morneau (.345, 18, 56 in 81 games), DH Jim Thome (.283, 25, 59, .412 OBP in 276 ABs) or Jason Kubel (.249, 21, 92), RF Michael Cuddyer (.271, 14, 81), LF Delmon Young (.298, 21, 112 RBIs, 46 2Bs), 3B Danny Valencia (.311, 7, 40 in 85 games), SS Alexi Casilla (.276, 1, 20 in 69 games).

Rotation: RH Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA, 7 CGs), LH Francisco Liriano (14-10, 3.62, 201 Ks), RH Nick Blackburn (10-12, 5.42, .302 opponents’ batting average), LH Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.62, 13 starts, 53 appearances), RH Scott Baker (12-9, 4.49).

Key Relievers: RH Joe Nathan (injured all last season, 2-2, 2.10, 47 saves in 2009), RH Kevin Slowey (13-6, 4.45 in 28 starts, LH Dusty Hughes (1-3, 3.83, 3 HR, 57 appearances with Kansas City), LH Jose Mijares (1-1, 3.31), RH Matt Capps (2-0, 2.00, 16 saves in 27 games after trade from Washington).

Hot Spots: 1B, 2B, SS, Nos. 3-5 starters, closer. Morneau missed the last four months of last season with a concussion and has gradually eased his way back this spring. Twins lineup is much different with him hitting cleanup. If he can’t overcome the injury, Cuddyer will move from RF to 1B and Kubel will go to RF. The Twins are also breaking in a new middle infield after Hardy and Hudson were let go. Stepping in are Casilla and Nishioka, both of whom are unproven. They also need some consistency at the back end of their rotation after Blackburn, Baker and Slowey all struggled to be reliable for most of last season. Nathan was an All-Star before missing the entire 2010 season after reconstructive surgery on his elbow, and Twins hope he regains his form.

Outlook: The Tigers and White Sox made big moves in the offseason in hopes of chasing down the two-time defending division champions. But the Twins always seem to find a way to be in the race in September, and that doesn’t figure to change this year _ unless Mauer and Morneau are out of the lineup. Mauer had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason and didn’t start catching in spring training until last week. He begins the first season of an eight-year, $184 million contract extension, the biggest sign yet that the Twins are no longer a small-market club thanks to cash cow Target Field, which opened last season.


Chicago White Sox

Manager: Ozzie Guillen (8th season).

2010: 88-74, second place.

He’s Here: DH Adam Dunn, RHP Jesse Crain, LHP Will Ohman.

He’s Outta There: RHP Bobby Jenks, RHP Freddy Garcia, DH Manny Ramirez.

Projected lineup: LF Juan Pierre (.275, 1, 47, 68 SBs), 2B Gordon Beckham (.252, 9, 49), DH Adam Dunn (.260, 39, 103, 199 Ks with Washington), 1B Paul Konerko (.312, 39, 111), CF Alex Rios (.284, 21, 88, 34 SBs), RF Carlos Quentin (.243, 26, 87), C A.J. Pierzynski (.270, 9, 56), SS Alexei Ramirez (.282, 18, 70), 3B Brent Morel (.231, 3, 7 in 21 games) or Mark Teahen (.258, 4, 25 in 77 games).

Rotation: LH Mark Buehrle (13-13, 4.28, 210 1-3 IP, 246 hits allowed), LH John Danks (15-11, 3.72, 213 IP), RH Gavin Floyd (10-13, 4.08), RH Edwin Jackson (6-10, 5.16 ERA in 21 starts with Arizona; 4-2, 3.24 in 11 starts with White Sox), RH Jake Peavy (7-6, 4.63 in 17 starts) or RH Phil Humber (2-1, 4.15 in 8 games with Kansas City).

Key Relievers: LH Matt Thornton (5-4, 2.67 in 61 appearances, 8 saves), RH Jesse Crain (1-1, 3.04 in 71 appearances with Minnesota), LH Will Ohman (0-0, 3.30 in 51 games with Baltimore; 0-2, 3.00 in 17 games with Florida), RH Tony Pena (5-3, 5.10), RH Sergio Santos (2-2, 2.96), LH Chris Sale (2-1, 1.93, 4 saves in 21 games).

Hot Spots: 3B, No. 5 starter, closer. Morel’s glove may have won him the starting 3B job over Teahen, who played only 77 games in his first season with the White Sox because of injuries. Morel was a late callup but impressed the White Sox. Peavy, recovering from surgery to repair a detached muscle behind his shoulder, made great strides to rejoin the rotation before a sore rotator cuff slowed him late in the spring. Jenks is gone to the Red Sox _ he took some shots at Guillen for his handling of the bullpen last year _ and Thornton is going to get the role at the beginning of the season. He signed a two-year, $12 million extension this spring.

Overlook: All in. That’s the White Sox motto after a productive offseason that could push their payroll over $125 million. Instead of rebuilding, they decided to spend what they needed to make a run at Minnesota in the AL Central. They signed Dunn and relievers Crain and Ohman, brought back veterans Konerko and Pierzynski and gave Ramirez a new deal. And they also picked up Guillen’s option for 2012. Guillen and general manager Ken Williams, at odds last season after Guillen’s son, Oney, toasted the front office on Twitter, have patched up their differences. The White Sox are counting on Beckham playing like he did as a rookie two years ago, hoping Dunn can adjust to being a DH and take advantage of the friendly fences at U.S. Cellular Field. They’re also looking for Quentin to return to his form of 2008 when he was an MVP candidate before a self-induced wrist injury forced him out the final month. Their biggest concern now is what they thought would be their strength _ the rotation. Opening-day starter Buehrle is entering the final year of his contract and has been prone to big run and high hits totals after pitching at least 200 innings for 10 straight years. Peavy’s health continues to be a concern, as it has been ever since he joined the team at the trading deadline in 2009. The bullpen appears to be a strength with three lefties, including the gangly 6-6 Sale, who was called up two months after being drafted last June and was an immediate success with his 100 mph fastball.


Detroit Tigers

2010: 81-81, third place.

Manager: Jim Leyland (6th season).

He’s Here: C-DH Victor Martinez, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Joaquin Benoit.

He’s Outta There: OF Johnny Damon, RHP Armando Galarraga, RHP Jeremy Bonderman, C Gerald Laird, LHP Bobby Seay, RHP Zach Miner, RHP Eddie Bonine, RHP Alfredo Figaro.

Projected Lineup: CF Austin Jackson (.293, 4, 41, 27 SBs), LF Ryan Raburn (.280, 15, 62), RF Magglio Ordonez (.303, 12, 59 in 84 games), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.328, 38, 126 AL leader), DH Victor Martinez (.302, 20, 79 with Boston), SS Jhonny Peralta (.249, 15, 81 with Tigers and Cleveland), 3B Brandon Inge (.247, 13, 70), C Alex Avila (.228, 7, 31), 2B Will Rhymes (.304, 1, 19).

Rotation: RH Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.37 ERA, 219 Ks), RH Max Scherzer (12-11, 3.50), RH Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.92), LH Phil Coke (7-5, 3.76 as a reliever), RH Brad Penny (3-4, 3.23 in nine starts with St. Louis Cardinals).

Key Relievers: RH Jose Valverde (2-4, 3.00, 26 saves in 29 chances), RH Joaquin Benoit (1-2, 1.34 with Tampa Bay), RH Joel Zumaya (2-1, 2.58), RH Ryan Perry (3-5, 3.59), LH Daniel Schlereth (2-0, 2.89).

Hot Spots: 2B, back of the rotation. With Carlos Guillen recovering from a left leg injury, Rhymes has been named the team’s opening day second baseman. Verlander and Scherzer could form one of baseball’s best 1-2 starting tandems, but Detroit is counting on Penny to stay healthy, Porcello to bounce back and Coke to make the transition from the bullpen to the rotation.

Outlook: Detroit received a jolt early in spring training when Cabrera was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Leyland insisted his team wouldn’t be distracted, but the Tigers need to make sure their slugger takes care of himself off the field. Detroit made some big moves in the offseason, adding Martinez, Penny and Benoit in an effort to make a run at the AL Central title. The Tigers’ postseason hopes may rest with a bullpen that has plenty of potential but is again dealing with injury questions facing Zumaya.


Cleveland Indians

2010: 69-93, fourth place.

Manager: Manny Acta (2nd season).

He’s Here: INF Orlando Cabrera, OF Travis Buck, INF Adam Everett, 3B Jack Hannahan, OF Austin Kearns, RHP Joe Martinez, RHP Doug Mathis, C Paul Phillips.

He’s Outta There: INF Andy Marte, C Chris Gimenez.

Projected Lineup: CF Grady Sizemore (.211, 0, 13 in 33 games), SS Asdrubal Cabrera (.276, 3, 29 in 97 games), RF Shin-Soo Choo (.300, 14, 66, 22 SBs), C Carlos Santana (.260, 6, 22 in 46 games), DH Travis Hafner (.278, 13, 50), 2B Orlando Cabrera (.263, 4, 42 with Cincinnati), 1B Matt LaPorta (.221, 12, 41), 3B Jason Donald (.253, 4, 24 in 88 games), LF Michael Brantley (.246, 3, 22, 10 SBs in 72 games).

Rotation: RH Fausto Carmona (13-14, 3.77), RH Justin Masterson (6-13, 4.70 _ 2.86 in last 13 games), RH Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.83 in 7 starts), Mitch Talbot (10-13, 4.41 as rookie), RH Josh Tomlin (6-4, 4.56 in 12 starts).

Key Relievers: RH Chris Perez (2-2, 1.71, 23 saves in 27 chances, 0.53 ERA in last 33 games), RH Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.80 in 64 games for Philadelphia), RH Joe Smith (2-2, 3.83), LH Rafael Perez (6-1, 3.25, team-high 70 outings).

Hot Spots: Sizemore’s not opening the season with the Indians as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery. The club is keeping its fingers crossed that the 28-year-old can again be the full-steam-ahead All-Star that made him one of baseball’s most exciting players. The pressure’s on LaPorta, who hasn’t lived up to expectations since he was acquired in the 2009 trade for CC Sabathia. In fairness, LaPorta never completely recovered last season after undergoing two operations the previous winter. He’s in better baseball shape, and his bat looks quick again. Cleveland needs him to be a thumper.

Outlook: Acta’s infectious energy is perfect for the majors’ youngest club. Last season, injuries to Sizemore, Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera forced the Indians to bring up minor leaguers before they were ready. But that baptism by fire could pay dividends this season. Acta expects the Indians to win _ now _ and he has told them that since training camp opened. No excuses. Carmona bounced back nicely after an awful ‘09 and anchors a rotation that needs someone else to emerge as a double-digit winner. It could be Carrasco, who can effectively control four pitches. The Indians need their young players to step up and blossom together. That’s what happened in the early 1990s, setting the stage for Cleveland’s dominant run in the AL Central.


Kansas City Royals

2010: 67-95, last place.

Manager: Ned Yost (2nd full season).

He’s Here: OF Jeff Francoeur, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Vin Mazzaro, SS Alcides Escobar.

He’s Outta There: RHP Zack Greinke, OF David DeJesus, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP Brian Bannister, RHP Gil Meche, LHP Dusty Hughes.

Projected Lineup: 3B Mike Aviles (.304, 8, 32), 2B Chris Getz (.237, 0, 18), DH Billy Butler (.318, 15, 78), 1B Kila Ka’aihue (.217, 8, 25), RF Jeff Francoeur (.237, 11, 54 with Mets, .340, 2, 11 with Texas), CF Melky Cabrera (.255, 4, 42 with Atlanta), LF Alex Gordon (.215, 8, 20), C Brayan Pena (.253, 1, 19), SS Alcides Escobar (.235, 4, 41).

Rotation: RH Luke Hochevar (6-6, 4.81), LH Jeff Francis (4-6, 5.00 with Colorado), RH Kyle Davies (8-12, 5.34), LH Bruce Chen (12-7, 4.17), RH Vin Mazzaro (6-8, 4.27 with Oakland).

Key Relievers: RH Joakim Soria (1-2, 1.78, 43 saves in 46 chance), RH Robinson Tejeda (3-5, 3.54), RH Sean O’Sullivan (3-6, 6.11 in 14 games after Royals got him in July trade with Angels).

Hot Spots: CF, RF, LF, rotation, bullpen outside of Soria and Tejeda. The Royals need free-agent signees Francoeur and Cabrera to have bounce-back years after disappointing 2010 seasons. The Royals moved Gordon from 3B to the OF last year, and are growing impatient for his breakout season offensively. With Greinke trade to the Brewers, they’re hoping Hochevar, the first pick in the 2006 draft, will make a quantum leap. Bullpen will be inexperienced with exception of All-Star closer Soria and dependable setup man Tejeda.

Outlook: Kansas City will likely have the lowest payroll in the majors and yet another losing season. They’ve had only one winning season since 1994 and have not made the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series. Help, however, is on the way with a farm system said by Baseball America to be the deepest in the land. 3B Mike Moustakas, 1B Eric Hosmer, LHPs Mike Montgomery, Will Smith, Chris Dwyer and John Lamb, RHP Jake Odorizzi, INF Christian Colon, OF Wil Myers and C Salvador Perez are all blue-chip prospects and some could make their big league debut before the end of the season. Royals will likely not end their playoff drought this season, but by 2013-14 they could be contenders if the "can’t-miss" prospects pan out.



Texas Rangers

2010: 90-72, AL champions, lost in World Series.

Manager: Ron Washington (5th season).

He’s Here: 3B Adrian Beltre, RHP Brandon Webb, C Yorvit Torrealba, LHP Arthur Rhodes, C-1B Mike Napoli.

He’s Outta There: LHP Cliff Lee, DH Vladimir Guerrero, RHP Frank Francisco, C Bengie Molina, INF Jorge Cantu, OF Jeff Francoeur, RHP Rich Harden.

Projected Lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler (.286, 9, 45), SS Elvis Andrus (.265, 0, 35, 32 SBs), LF Josh Hamilton (majors-leading .359, 32, 100, AL MVP), 3B Adrian Beltre (.321, 28, 102, AL-high 49 doubles with Boston), RF Nelson Cruz (.318, 22, 78), DH Michael Young (.284, 21, 91), 1B Mitch Moreland (.255, 9, 25), C Yorvit Torrealba (.271, 7, 37 with San Diego), CF Julio Borbon (.276, 3, 42, 15 SBs).

Rotation: LH C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35), RH Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72; 3-0, 1.71 in 4 postseason starts), RH Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73), LH Derek Holland (3-4, 4.08), LH Matt Harrison (3-2, 4.71).

Key Relievers: RH Neftali Feliz (4-3, 2.73, major league rookie record 40 saves in 43 chances), Michael Kirkman (0-0, 1.65 in 14 games), Alexi Ogando (4-1, 1.30), Mark Lowe (1-3, 5.40 in 14 games for Seattle and Texas), Darren O’Day (6-2, 2.03), Arthur Rhodes (4-4, 2.29 in 69 games for Cincinnati), Darren Oliver (1-2, 2.48).

Hot Spots: Feliz’s role, 1B-DH. Feliz was stretched out this spring for the possibility of being in the rotation, but making him a starter could leave a huge hole on the back end of the bullpen, especially since other proven relievers struggled this spring. Texas has other starting options, plus expects former NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb to be added to the mix the first half of the season. Feliz went into his rookie season last year as a setup reliever, but flourished when given a chance to close after Francisco blew two saves the first week of the season. Francisco is no longer a closing option since he got sent to Toronto for Napoli. If Feliz starts, Harrison or Holland likely become a long reliever, then Ogando or Lowe could share the closing duty if the Rangers can’t find a better option. The acquisition of Beltre pushed Young into a DH/utility role. The plan is for Young to play some first base with Moreland, but the Rangers also got Napoli, a backup catcher who is also a 1B-DH. Washington has said Young will be a regular in the lineup _ assuming he isn’t traded as he requested before spring training.

Outlook: Though Lee couldn’t be persuaded to stay with the Rangers after their first World Series, just remember they already had a significant division lead before the ace lefty arrived in July. With the addition of Beltre to an already potent lineup, the Rangers should be in contention to defend their AL West title even as other division teams have seemingly improved. They expect Wilson and Lewis to be solid again after breakthrough seasons for the Rangers last year, and they will get a big boost if Webb is healthy and able to contribute after coming back from shoulder surgery in 2009. And they hope Hamilton, right fielder Nelson Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler can be healthy for the entire season. All were still big contributors despite missing significant time because of injury last season.


Oakland Athletics

2010: 81-81, second place.

Manager: Bob Geren (5th season).

He’s Here: OF David DeJesus, DH Hideki Matsui, OF Josh Willingham, LHP Brian Fuentes, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Rich Harden, RHP Grant Balfour.

He’s Outta There: RHP Ben Sheets, OF Rajai Davis, DH Jack Cust, INF Eric Chavez, OF Gabe Gross, RHP Justin Duchscherer, RHP Vin Mazzaro.

Projected Lineup: CF Coco Crisp (.279, 8, 38, 32 SBs in 75 games), 1B Daric Barton (.273, 10, 57, 110 BBs, .393 OBP), RF David DeJesus (.318, 5, 37 in 91 games for Kansas City), LF Josh Willingham (.268, 15, 66 for Washington), DH Hideki Matsui (.274, 21, 84 for Angels), C Kurt Suzuki (.242, 13, 71), 2B Mark Ellis (.291, 5, 49), 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (.247, 16, 71), SS Cliff Pennington (.250, 6, 46, 29 SBs, 25 errors).

Rotation: LF Brett Anderson (7-6, 2.80 in 19 starts), LH Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 3.23), RH Trevor Cahill (18-8, 2.97), LH Dallas Braden (11-14, 3.50 with a perfect game), RH Brandon McCarthy (4-2, 3.36 in 11 games at Triple-A Oklahoma).

Key Relievers: RH Andrew Bailey (1-3, 1.47, 25 saves in 28 chances, .199 BA against), LH Brian Fuentes (4-1, 2.81, 24 saves in 28 chances for Minnesota and Angels), RH Grant Balfour (2-1, 2.28 for Tampa Bay), RH Michael Wuertz (2-3, 4.31, 6 saves), LH Craig Breslow (4-4, 3.01, 5 saves, 75 games, .181 BA vs LH).

Hot Spots: The A’s are hoping the additions of Willingham and DeJesus and a healthy season from Crisp upgrade an outfield that was one of the weakest-hitting groups in the majors. Oakland’s outfielders combined for just 32 home runs all of last season _ one more than last-place Kansas City. While the A’s still lack a big home run threat in their lineup, they should be able to improve on the .378 slugging percentage (second worst in majors) and major league-worst .314 on-base percentage their outfielders provided last year.

Outlook: The A’s bring back four of the 16 AL pitchers who had ERAs of 3.50 or better in at least 100 innings last season and all of them are 27 or younger. So with that young core in place, the task this offseason was on adding bullpen depth and improving an offense that hit the third-fewest homers in the majors with 109 and scored the fourth-fewest runs in the AL with 663 _ the second-lowest total in a full season for the franchise in three decades. The bullpen depth is already being tested with four-time All-Star closer Brian Fuentes possibly having to fill in for incumbent closer Andrew Bailey, who was sidelined in the spring with a strained forearm. If DeJesus, Willingham and Matsui can sufficiently upgrade the offense and the A’s can stay relatively healthy after being decimated by injuries in recent seasons, they could be in position to contend in the AL West.


Los Angeles Angels

2010: 80-82, third place.

Manager: Mike Scioscia (12th season).

He’s Here: OF Vernon Wells, LHP Scott Downs.

He’s Outta There: C Mike Napoli, OF Juan Rivera, DH Hideki Matsui.

Projected Lineup: 3B Maicer Izturis (.250, 3, 27 in 61 games), SS Erick Aybar (.253, 5, 29, 22 SBs), DH Bobby Abreu (.255, 20, 78), 1B Kendrys Morales (.290, 11, 39 in 51 games, will start season on DL), RF Torii Hunter (.281, 23, 90), LF Vernon Wells (.273, 31, 88 with Toronto), 2B Howie Kendrick (.279, 10, 75), C Jeff Mathis (.195, 3, 18 in 68 games), CF Peter Bourjos (.204, 6, 15 in 51 games as a rookie).

Rotation: RH Jered Weaver (13-12, 3.01, AL-leading 233 Ks), RH Dan Haren (12-12, 3.91, 216 Ks with Arizona and Angels), RH Ervin Santana (17-10, 3.92, 169 Ks), RH Joel Pineiro (10-7, 3.84), LH Scott Kazmir (9-15, 5.94).

Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (4-3, 4.24, 14 saves in 21 chances), RH Kevin Jepsen (2-4, 3.97), LH Hisanori Takahashi (10-6, 3.61, 8 saves in 8 chances with the Mets), LH Scott Downs (5-5, 2.64 with Toronto; out until late April), RH Jordan Walden (0-1, 2.35), RH Matt Palmer (1-2, 4.54).

Hot Spots: C, 1B, bullpen. With a strong spring behind the plate and with the bat, Mathis appears to be winning his competition with Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger to become the Angels’ everyday catcher after Napoli’s departure. Morales is expected to begin the season where he started the last _ on the disabled list. That means a lineup shift could pull the young Bourjos out of center field until the Cuban cleanup hitter returns. The bullpen competition is down to just a couple of spots, with Matt Palmer and Rich Thompson fighting to stick with the big league club or get released. Scot Shields has retired after a brilliant decade as a setup man.

Outlook: After their first losing season since 2003, the Angels are hoping to come back strong with much the same roster from last season, but hopefully with fewer injuries and more production from the heart of their order. Their only major offseason addition was a big gamble on Wells, the slugging outfielder who had spent his entire career in Canadian obscurity. The rotation remains formidable, with Weaver and Haren providing an enviable 1-2 punch for an apparently solid bullpen. Scioscia has ranked this club among his most talented in a dozen seasons in Orange County, but the Angels must create more consistent offense to earn a seventh postseason appearance in 10 years.


Seattle Mariners

2010: 61-101, last place.

Manager: Eric Wedge (1st season).

He’s Here: C Miguel Olivo, DH Jack Cust, INF Brendan Ryan, INF Adam Kennedy.

He’s Outta There: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, 3B Jose Lopez, DH Mike Sweeney, DH Ken Griffey Jr., 1B Casey Kotchman, C Rob Johnson, 1B-DH Russell Branyan.

Projected Lineup: RF Ichiro Suzuki (.315, 6, 43, 42 SBs), 3B Chone Figgins (.259, 1, 36, 42 SBs), CF Franklin Gutierrez (.245, 12, 64), DH Jack Cust (.272, 13, 52 with Oakland), LF Milton Bradley (.205, 8, 29 in 73 games), 1B Justin Smoak (.218, 13, 48 in 100 games with Texas and Seattle), 2B Brendan Ryan (.223, 2, 36), C Miguel Olivo (.269, 15, 58 with Colorado), SS Jack Wilson (.249, 0, 14 in 61 games).

Rotation: RH Felix Hernandez (13-12, 2.27, 232 Ks, AL Cy Young winner), LH Jason Vargas (9-12, 3.78), LH Erik Bedard (injured, did not pitch in 2010), RH Doug Fister (6-14, 4.11), RH Michael Pineda (11-4, 3.36 ERA in 25 starts at Double-A and Triple-A) or LH Luke French (5-7, 4.83 ERA in 13 starts).

Key Relievers: RH Brandon League (9-7, 3.42 in 70 games), RH Josh Lueke (5-2, 1.86 in 50 games with four minor league clubs), RH Chris Ray (5-0, 3.72 ERA in 63 games with Texas and San Francisco), RH David Pauley (4-9, 4.07 in 19 games, 15 starts), RH Jamey Wright (1-3, 4.17 in 46 games with Seattle and Cleveland), RH Tom Wilhelmsen (7-1, 2.19 in 15 games with three minor league teams).

Hot Spots: Back end of the rotation, unproven youngsters in the bullpen, middle of the batting order, closer until David Aardsma returns from hip surgery. The Mariners don’t deny they’re going to be young and inexperienced in places, most notably in the bullpen to start. Getting Aardsma back within the first six weeks and the return of Shawn Kelley at midseason would help. Can Bedard finally stay healthy? If so, Seattle’s first four in rotation looks solid. Scoring runs was the problem though the last two seasons and outside of Cust, the Mariners did very little to address that problem in the offseason. Seattle is counting on Bradley to return to his form of old _ and stay out of trouble _ and Smoak to continue his strong close to 2010.

Outlook: This is step one in a rebuilding project for Wedge. The Mariners won’t call it rebuilding, but with a number of contracts coming off the books after this season and promising prospects in the minors, the Mariners hope 2011 is a bridge between the problems of the past and their future potential. Having the reigning AL Cy Young winner Hernandez and Suzuki at least makes the Mariners interesting and at some point this season will come the likely debuts of young prospects Pineda and second baseman Dustin Ackley. But the likelihood is this will be another long summer of baseball in Seattle.

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