Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

American League Capsules

February 10, 2001



Baltimore Orioles
Manager: Mike Hargrove (2nd season).
2000: 74-88, 4th place.
Training Town: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: RHP Pat Hentgen, 1B David Segui, SS Mike Bordick, RHP John Bale.
He's Outta Here: RHP Mike Mussina, RHP Pat Rapp, OF Karim Garcia.
Spring Chicken: Ryan Kohlmeier. Wasn't highly regarded, but Kohlmeier shined in late-season audition as Orioles closer. Right-hander had 13 saves in 14 chances with 2.39 ERA.
Outlook: At least the Orioles won't be the most overpaid team anymore. Last season's budget-cutting trades and loss of ace Mussina to free agency appeared to be part of a plan to get younger. But offseason's main additions Hentgen, Segui and Bordick are 32, 34, and 35, respectively. Albert Belle's injured hip remains a question mark.

Boston Red Sox
Manager: Jimy Williams (5th season).
2000: 85-77, 2nd place.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 17/Feb. 20.
He's Here: OF Manny Ramirez, RHP David Cone, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Frank Castillo, LHP Kent Mercker, 3B Chris Stynes.
He's Outta Here: RHP Ramon Martinez, RHP Tom Gordon, LHP Rheal Cormier, LHP Jeff Fassero, 1B Rico Brogna, OF Midre Cummings, OF Bernard Gilkey.
Spring Chicken: Paxton Crawford. Starting rotation is filled with questions behind Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez. Red Sox will try to patch it together with veterans and unproven youngsters like Crawford and Toma Ohka. Crawford doesn't have overpowering stuff but could be solid back-of-rotation starter.
Outlook: Added perhaps the most feared hitter in the league in Ramirez to offense that was third worst in scoring in AL. Ramirez (122 RBIs in 118 games) will replace the mostly ineffective Troy O'Leary. Questions remain at third base where John Valentin, coming off a knee injury, will battle Stynes, and in rotation. Keys are Jose Offerman, whose on-base percentage dropped from .391 to .354, and Nomo, Cone and Castillo in the rotation.

New York Yankees
Manager: Joe Torre (6th season).
2000: 87-74, World Series champ.
Training Town: Tampa, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: RHP Mike Mussina, RHP Edison Reynoso, RHP Brian Boehringer, C Joe Oliver.
He's Outta Here: LHP Denny Neagle, RHP David Cone, RHP Jeff Nelson, RHP Jason Grimsley, INF Jose Vizcaino, DH Jose Canseco.
Spring Chicken: Adrian "El Duquecito" Hernandez. Nicknamed for his similarity in delivery to Yankees star Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez no relation this Cuban defector will get a shot at filling No. 5 spot in rotation or right-handed setup man. Went 6-1 in minors last year before season was cut short by sprained left knee ligament.
Outlook: The rich get richer, as the three-time defending World Series champions added Mussina to rotation that already has Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and El Duque. Mussina replaces Cone, the worst starter in the league last season. Questions at the corners, with aging RF Paul O'Neill, 1B Tino Martinez and 3B Scott Brosius showing wear and tear, and LF Shane Spencer coming off knee injury. 2B Chuck Knoblauch needs to regain confidence in field.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Manager: Larry Rothschild (4th season).
2000: 69-92, 5th place.
Training Town: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 16/Feb. 21.
He's Here: OF Ben Grieve, LHP Paul Spoljaric, LHP Bill Pulsipher.
He's Outta Here: RHP Roberto Hernandez, RHP Corey Lidle, LHP Jim Morris, INF Miguel Cairo, OF Quinton McCracken.
Spring Chicken: Josh Hamilton. The No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft hasn't disappointed in two seasons in the minors. Has no weaknesses at plate, hitting .301 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs in Class-A last season before knee injury. Should begin 2001 at Double-A.
Outlook: Grieve should provide some help, although he led majors with 32 double plays and struck out 130 times. Despite injuries to Wilson Alvarez and Juan Guzman, Tampa Bay's starters had the best ERA in the league after June 1, behind unheralded Albie Lopez and Bryan Rekar. Esteban Yan gets the chance to close with Hernandez gone.

Toronto Blue Jays
Manager: Buck Martinez (1st season).
2000: 83-79, 3rd place.
Training Town: Dunedin, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 17/Feb. 20.
He's Here: LHP Mike Sirotka, RHP Kevin Beirne, LHP Dan Plesac, RHP Steve Parris, LHP Scott Eyre, OF Brian Simmons, RHP Jason Dickson, INF Jeff Frye.
He's Outta Here: LHP David Wells, RHP Frank Castillo, RHP Steve Trachsel, LHP Mark Guthrie, OF Dave Martinez.
Spring Chicken: Vernon Wells. After moving from Class-A to the majors in 1999 being picked as the top prospect at each stop on the way Wells' progress slowed last season. Hit only .243 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs in Triple-A, but could replace Jose Cruz Jr. in center field with strong spring.
Outlook: Martinez needs to get better results from young pitchers Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay or he won't have much more success than Jim Fregosi did before getting fired. Blue Jays remain in the limbo of baseball's middle class, signing Carlos Delgado to $68 million, four-year contract a record in October while also losing three starting pitchers. Led majors with 243 homers.

Chicago White Sox
Manager: Jerry Manuel (4th year).
2000: 95-67, 1st place.
Training Town: Tucson, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb 16/Feb. 21.
He's Here: LHP David Wells, C Sandy Alomar, SS Royce Clayton, RHP Matt DeWitt.
He's Outta Here: LHP Mike Sirotka, C Charles Johnson, RHP Aaron Myette, LHP Scott Eyre, INF Craig Wilson, OF Brian Simmons, OF Jeff Abbott.
Spring Chicken: Jon Rauch. Named the top prospect last season by Baseball America, the 6-foot-11 right-hander will probably start season in Double-A. Went 18-4 with 187 strikeouts in 166 innings in 2000, capping season by striking out 21 and walking none in 11 innings to help U.S. team win Olympic gold medal.
Outlook: Swept out of the playoffs by Seattle after finishing with league's best record. Wells brings in needed top-of-the-rotation starter. Clayton will stabilize defense that committed 133 errors, contributing to league-high 88 unearned runs. Powerful lineup led by Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez should be helped with fences moving in. Rauch, Kip Wells, and Jon Garland are part of deep corps of young starters who could pay big dividends soon.

Cleveland Indians
Manager: Charlie Manuel (2nd season).
2000: 90-72, 2nd place.
Training Town: Winter Haven, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: OF Juan Gonzalez, OF Ellis Burks, C Eddie Taubensee, RHP Willie Blair.
He's Outta Here: OF Manny Ramirez, C Sandy Alomar, 1B David Segui, RHP Jason Bere, LHP Chris Haney.
Spring Chicken: C.C. Sabathia. Hard-throwing, 6-7 left-hander has dominating stuff. Will get a chance to make Indians rotation but might need more refinement in minors before making impact.
Outlook: Losing Ramirez would be catastrophic for most teams, but GM John Hart helped make up for loss by signing Burks and Gonzalez. Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar remain best tablesetters in the game. Problem in Cleveland remains pitching. Colon is finally developing into dominating starter and Burba is solid. But Chuck Finley, Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright are all coming off injuries. Unbalanced schedule might not help Indians, who went 21-30 last season against AL Central.

Detroit Tigers
Manager: Phil Garner (2nd season).
2000: 79-83, 3rd place.
Training Town: Lakeland, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 16/Feb. 21.
He's Here: OF Roger Cedeno, C Mitch Meluskey, RHP Chris Holt, LHP Matt Perisho, C Scott Servais.
He's Outta Here: OF Juan Gonzalez, C Brad Ausmus, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Doug Brocail, INF Gregg Jefferies, RHP Nelson Cruz.
Spring Chicken: Brandon Inge. College shortstop has made smooth transition to catcher. Solid in the field, Inge needs work with the bat, hitting only .221 after being promoted to Triple-A last season. Tigers showed faith by trading Ausmus. Meluskey could be moved to first base or DH to make room for Inge.
Outlook: Optimism from new stadium has waned quickly, as team held payroll down following disappointing 79-win season. Didn't make an attempt to sign Gonzalez, instead adding speed in Cedeno and plate discipline in Meluskey in attempt to adapt to spacious Comerica Park. Jeff Weaver needs to fulfill potential as the ace of the staff.

Kansas City Royals
Manager: Tony Muser (5th season).
2000: 77-85, 4th place.
Training Town: Haines City, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 17/Feb. 20.
He's Here: RHP Roberto Hernandez, C A.J. Hinch, RHP Doug Henry.
He's Outta Here: OF Johnny Damon, C Jorge Fabregas, RHP Ricky Bottalico.
Spring Chicken: Dee Brown. Damon trade could speed Brown's promotion to big leagues. Speedy, undisciplined hitter batted .269 with 23 homers and 20 steals at Triple-A in 2000. Like former Royals star Willie Wilson, Brown passed up football scholarship at Maryland to sign with Kansas City.
Outlook: Lost best player in Damon, but GM Allard Baird knew he couldn't keep Damon after this season and wanted a closer to upgrade bullpen that has 58 saves and 56 blown saves over the past two seasons. Hernandez should help, but keep in mind, many of those blown saves came before the ninth inning and the Devil Rays led the league with 28 blown saves last season with Hernandez. CF Carlos Beltran and 2B Carlos Febles need to recover from sophomore slumps.

Minnesota Twins
Manager: Tom Kelly (16th season).
2000: 69-93, 5th place.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He's Here: C Tom Prince.
He's Outta Here: 1B Ron Coomer.
Spring Chicken: Luis Rivas. Moved from shortstop to second base and could team with Cristian Guzman as double-play partners of the future for Twins. Very quick, Rivas still needs more discipline at plate. Hit .310 in 58 at-bats in late-season callup for Twins.
Outlook: What happened to the Homerdome? Twins were last in league in homers last season. There are few bright spots on team other than Guzman and starters Brad Radke and Eric Milton. OF Matt Lawton could be moved to a contender, possibly the Mets.


Anaheim Angels
Manager: Mike Scioscia (2nd season).
2000: 82-80, 3rd place.
Training Town: Tempe, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: RHP Ismael Valdes, RHP Pat Rapp, DH Jose Canseco, C Jorge Fabregas.
He's Outta Here: OF Ron Gant, RHP Seth Etherton, LHP Scott Karl, RHP Jason Dickson, LHP Kent Mercker.
Spring Chicken: Joe Torres. One of the few left-handed pitching prospects in organization, last year's first-round pick went 4-1 with 2.54 ERA in Class-A. Torres, 18, needs another year of A-ball, but his future is bright.
Outlook: Only three teams Kansas City, Montreal and Milwaukee have gone longer without making the postseason than the big-market Angels. That doesn't figure to change in 2001, especially with the arm injury that could keep Mo Vaughn out for the season. Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon still are threats in lineup, but rotation is thin. No starter won more than eight games last season, although Ramon Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn have potential. Canseco should be big upgrade at DH if healthy. Scott Spiezio was Anaheim's most frequent DH last season, batting only .224 with six homers in 50 games.

Oakland Athletics
Manager: Art Howe (6th season).
2000: 91-70, 1st place.
Training Town: Phoenix.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 17/Feb. 21.
He's Here: OF Johnny Damon, LHP Mark Guthrie, RHP Corey Lidle, RHP Dave Eiland.
He's Outta Here: OF Ben Grieve, RHP Kevin Appier, 2B Randy Velarde, OF Matt Stairs, RHP Doug Jones.
Spring Chicken: Jose Ortiz. Will be given shot to win second base job, following trade of Velarde to Texas. Ortiz hit .351 with 24 homers, 108 RBIs and 22 steals to win MVP in the Pacific Coast League. Still needs work in field.
Outlook: Won the AL West and took the Yankees to five games in first round despite fourth lowest payroll in league. MVP Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez form lethal nucleus in lineup. Damon brings speed to offense that dominated with walks and home runs the past two seasons. Full season from Barry Zito (7-4, 2.72 ERA) should help make up for loss of Appier. Zito's .195 batting-average-against was second among starters to Pedro Martinez. Tim Hudson was second in Cy Young voting after winning 20 games in his second season. A's pushing hard in 2001 before Damon and Giambi hit free agency.

Seattle Mariners
Manager: Lou Piniella (9th season).
2000: 91-71, wild card, lost in ALCS.
Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Jeff Nelson, 2B Bret Boone.
He's Outta Here: SS Alex Rodriguez, RHP Jose Mesa, C Joe Oliver, OF Rickey Henderson.
Spring Chicken: Ryan Anderson. Nicknamed the Little Unit for his similarity in size (6-10) and stuff to former Mariners ace Randy Johnson. Anderson, much heralded when picked in first round of 1997 draft, should finally get shot in big leagues. Still inconsistent, Anderson went 5-8 with 3.98 last season at Triple-A, but had 146 strikeouts in 104 innings.
Outlook: Survived loss of Johnson in 1998 and Ken Griffey Jr. before last season to make it to ALCS. A-Rod's departure will be harder to overcome. Carlos Guillen moves to shortstop. Solid rotation is led by Aaron Sele and Freddy Garcia, but Gil Meche could miss the season with a shoulder injury. Nelson adds depth to bullpen featuring Rookie of the Year Kazuhiro Sasaki. Suzuki, a seven-time batting champion in Japan, needs to make adjustment to majors.

Texas Rangers
Manager: Johnny Oates (6th season).
2000: 71-91, 4th place.
Training Town: Port Charlotte, Fla.
He's Here: SS Alex Rodriguez, 1B Andres Galarraga, 3B Ken Caminiti, 2B Randy Velarde, RHP Aaron Myette, RHP Jeff Brantley, LHP Chris Haney, RHP Mark Petkovsek.
He's Outta Here: SS Royce Clayton, LHP Matt Perisho.
Spring Chicken: Myette. Acquired from White Sox for Clayton, Myette will get a shot to make rotation that needs help. Temper can be a problem he broke his right hand punching a clubhouse wall last spring. Myette has a strong sinking fastball.
Outlook: Owner Tom Hicks opened his wallet to give $252 million to Rodriguez in attempt to help Texas win its first playoff series ever. A-Rod teams with Ivan Rodriguez for potent one-two punch in lineup. Velarde and Caminiti should help upgrade defense that was worst in majors last year. But Texas still hasn't addressed pitching. Rick Helling and Kenny Rogers are followed by three question marks in the rotation and Tim Crabtree takes over closer role from John Wetteland.

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