1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Key arrivals: INF Rob Mackowiak, DH Jim Thome, SP Javier Vazquez.
On the way up: GM Kenny Williams traded a reliable piece of his championship team when Rowand went to Philadelphia for Thome. Rowand was a cool head in a clubhouse that had a tendency toward nutty. Now the White Sox go with Brian Anderson in center field. He's 24, has power potential and gets on base, despite a strikeout spike in triple A.
On the way out: Reliever Bobby Jenks got on a dream roll during the postseason and rode it to the last out of the World Series. He throws 100 mph, but control might always be an issue, and there is talk that Neal Cotts will see the ball as often in the ninth. Jose Contreras can be a free agent, and the team has four starters under contract for 2007.
Story lines: Keep an eye, and an ear, on Ozzie Guillen, who has a knack for taking the routine and making it unpredictable. If the trainers can keep him in the batter's box, Thome could be a 40-homer threat again. Scott Podsednik finished last season with a groin injury and starts this one recovering from a shoulder injury.
At Angel Stadium: April 28-30, Sept. 11-13.
2. CLEVELAND INDIANS
On the way up: The Indians. Attendance at the Jake. Mark Shapiro. Heave a dart toward Lake Erie, it all looks good. After three dark years, Shapiro has impressively reworked the Indians into a young, talented, post-steroid-era contender.
On the way out: Every winter, the Indians go looking for a closer. Every winter, they come away with Bob Wickman, who just turned 37. After possibly Wickman's best season -- 45 saves, 2.47 ERA -- they chased Trevor Hoffman. Shapiro demonstrated unusual loyalty picking up Aaron Boone's option year, but Andy Marte, whom many view as an Adrian Beltre-type, is a commuter flight away.
Story lines: What a long, horrendous week the Indians had to finish the 2005 season, beginning with the fly ball Grady Sizemore lost in the Kansas City sun, ending with another quiet October in Cleveland. They lost six of seven games, the last three at home to the White Sox, handing the division to Chicago and the wild card to Boston. So, with a few changes, including the trade of Crisp, the Indians get after it again.
At Angel Stadium: July 17-19.
3. MINNESOTA TWINS
Key arrivals: 3B Tony Batista, 2B Luis Castillo, DH Ruben Sierra, OF Rondell White.
Key departures: OF Jacque Jones, SP Joe Mays, RP Terry Mulholland, RP J.C. Romero.
On the way up: Justin Morneau is healthy and 10 pounds heavier, and should benefit from a lineup in which he hits behind on-base percentage guys Shannon Stewart, Castillo and Joe Mauer. Mauer caught 111 games last season, leaving behind questions about his left knee. He'll be 23 in two weeks, and should develop some power. Francisco Liriano, 22, has the pitches to become a top-end starter.
On the way out: Brad Radke, 33, has pitched with a slight rotator cuff tear for years and expects this year to be his last. Stewart is in the last year of his contract, and seems healthy after a series of nagging injuries changed his game for the worse. Torii Hunter, the face of the franchise, has urged management to upgrade around him, but he is in the final guaranteed year of his contract. The team holds a $12-million option for 2007.
Story lines: Somehow, the Twins missed the entire steroid era, having gone nearly 20 years without a 30-home run hitter. Last in the AL in runs in 2005, they'll need productive seasons out of the middle of the lineup -- Morneau, Hunter and White -- to challenge in the Central.
At Angel Stadium: May 29-31.
4. DETROIT TIGERS
Key arrivals: RP Todd Jones, RP Matt Mantei, SP Kenny Rogers.
Key departures: OF Bobby Higginson, SP Jason Johnson, OF Rondell White.
On the way up: Carlos Guillen is the seventh player to improve his batting average for six consecutive seasons, having somewhat of an advantage in that he started at .158. Right-hander Justin Verlander, 23, is the fifth starter. Though scouts are waiting on a better breaking ball, his top-end velocity approaches 100, and a pretty good place to start.
On the way out: The Tigers haven't finished better than third in their division for 15 years.GM Dave Dombrowski has had four years. He's going on his third manager. One of these years, he's going to be Matt Millen.
Story lines: From 2004 to 2005, Ivan Rodriguez went from 19 home runs to 14, 86 RBIs to 50, .383 on-base percentage to .290, .334 average to .276. At 34, he's still a Gold Glove catcher, but the Tigers could use some of the old Pudge in their lineup. Jim Leyland returns to the bench, where his previous two jobs resulted in 90 losses in Colorado (1999) and 108 losses in Florida (1998). It shouldn't be quite that bad in Detroit. In fact, if he can keep Magglio Ordonez healthy and get some pitching, Leyland could drag a .500 season out of the Tigers.
At Angel Stadium: April 24-26.
5. KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Key arrivals: SP Scott Elarton, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, SP Joe Mays, 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, SP Mark Redman, OF Reggie Sanders.
Key departures: RP D.J. Carrasco, INF Denny Hocking, SP Jose Lima, OF Terrence Long.
On the way up: They're Pretty Sure Category: Center fielder David DeJesus. Solid leadoff hitter, good defender, runs well. Left-hander Andy Sisco. Throws hard, scares hitters (6 feet 9, 260, lots of tattoos), gets strikeouts (76 in 75 1/3 innings). They Can Only Hope Category: shortstop Angel Berroa, catcher John Buck, third baseman Mark Teahen, right-hander Runelvys Hernandez.
On the way out: Come July 31, you can bet Reggie Sanders will be on a flight to a pennant race, perhaps L.A. The Royals have tried to get on the Minnesota-Oakland track, but find themselves fending off 100 losses every September. It's a tough job, but GM Allard Baird can't keep taking last-place hits in what once was a proud baseball town.
Story lines: The future of pitcher Zack Greinke, whose promise gave way to a 17-loss season and then an AWOL surprise in camp, is as vague as ever. Royal fans once waved dollar bills at the Yankees. Hope they saved them. If they'll pay for Kauffman Stadium improvements, Bud Selig has promised an All-Star game in the next eight years.
At Angel Stadium: June 12-15.