Advertisement

American League preview

AMERICAN LEAGUE PREVIEW

WEST

OVERVIEW

1. Angels: Depth gets you to October—if not through October—-and Angels have five No. 2 starters.

2. Texas: Rotation depends on Colby Lewis, back from Japan, and converted reliever C.J. Wilson.

3. Seattle: First four batters: Ichiro (11 HR last year), Figgins (5), Kotchman (7), Bradley (12).

4. Oakland: Heresy? Outfielders Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney last year combined: 12 HR, 60 SB.

KEY PLAYERS

Angels: Torii Hunter turns 35 this summer, and Angels have no depth in center field.

Texas: New cleanup batter Vladimir Guerrero’s on-base-plus-slugging %, starting in 2007: .950, .886, .794.

Seattle: Co-ace Cliff Lee, who has thrown 495 innings last two years, opens on disabled list.

Oakland: Innings pitched last season by rotation keys Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer: 0.

OF NOTE

Angels: Kendry Morales finished fifth in MVP voting, behind Mauer, Teixeira, Jeter, Miguel Cabrera.

Texas: Rangers scored fewer runs and had lower ERA than Angels last year, first time since 1988.

Seattle: Ichiro/Figgins caught stealing last five years: 8/17, 2/16, 8/12, 4/13, 9/17.

Oakland: Eric Chavez at-bats in first five years of six-year contract: 625, 485, 341, 89, 30.

CENTRAL

OVERVIEW

1. Detroit: Johnny Damon now on base for Miguel Cabrera, who had 105 HR and 349 RBI last three years.

2. Minnesota: In 2003--last time Twins didn’t have closer Joe Nathan--they had three 195-inning starters.

3. Chicago: Jake Peavy, rescued from Padres, joins Mark Buehrle for best rotation duo in division.

4. Cleveland: Two from Sabathia trade crack lineup: first baseman Matt La Porta, outfielder Michael Brantley.

5. Kansas City: That’s $12 million each for pitcher Gil Meche (6-10, 5.09) and outfielder Jose Guillen (.681 OPS).

KEY PLAYERS

Detroit: Young guns Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer needed for innings, not just strikeouts.

Minnesota: Players with guaranteed contracts for more than Joe Mauer’s $184 million: A-Rod, Jeter.

Chicago: Outfielder Alex Rios hit .199 for Sox last year, with five years and $59 million left on contract.

Cleveland: Fausto Carmona went 19-8, 3.06 in 2007, but he’s 13-19, 5.89 since then.

Kansas City: Cy Young winner Zack Greinke won 16 games, no other Royals pitcher won more than eight.

OF NOTE

Detroit: Last chance for Dontrelle Willis, who has one victory in two years (14 starts) for Tigers.

Minnesota: Twins’ shortstop in their last outdoor home game, in 1981: Ron Washington.

Chicago: New leadoff batter Juan Pierre has one home run in last 1,477 at-bats.

Cleveland: Indians signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta and traded for other eight in batting order.

Kansas City: Since 1985, Royals have had 10 managers and no playoff appearances.

EAST

OVERVIEW

1. Tampa Bay: Rays, who led majors in stolen bases last year, fly on one of two remaining turf fields.

2. Boston: John Lackey, signed for $82.5 million, opens as No. 3 starter behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester.

3. New York: Innings for the indefatigable CC Sabathia, from 2007 on: 256, 257, 266.

4. Baltimore: Garrett Atkins in comeback mode; OPS with Rockies, from 2006 on: .965, .853, .780, .650.

5. Toronto: Only major league teammates with 35 HR last year: 2B Aaron Hill (36) and DH Adam Lind (35).

KEY PLAYERS

Tampa Bay: Kazmir? Rays’ golden arms: Matt Garza, James Shields, David Price, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann.

Boston: David Ortiz—his OPS down from 1.066 to .877 to .794—hit most HR among returnees.

New York: Ages come playoff time: Rivera 40, Posada 39, Pettitte 38, Jeter 36, A-Rod 35.

Baltimore: Draft darlings have arrived: catcher Matt Wieters (#5 in 2007) and pitcher Brian Matusz (#4 in ’08).

Toronto: Nathan-less Twins interested in Jays closer Jason Frasor, traded by Dodgers for Jayson Werth in ‘04.

OF NOTE

Tampa Bay: Infielder Sean Rodriguez, acquired in Kazmir trade, won job by hitting nearly .500 this spring.

Boston: Third baseman Adrian Beltre turned down three-year offer from A’s to sign one-year deal with Sox.

New York: Bigger issue in Jeter negotiations: how many years in new deal, or how much longer at shortstop?

Baltimore: Cal Ripken’s first season at third base—in 1997—was Orioles’ last winning season.

Toronto: Jays’ best pitcher in last season without Roy Halladay: Roger Clemens won 20 in 1998.


Advertisement