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1. NEW YORK YANKEES

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page H10

Four years without a World Series title has made owner George Steinbrenner antsy. Spurned during the 2004 season in an attempt to land Randy Johnson, the Yankees acquired the likely Hall of Fame left-hander in the offseason. To bolster a pitching staff that ranked sixth in the American League in ERA, the Yankees also added free agents Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.

The core of the offense was mostly unchanged, though the Yankees did add Tino Martinez and Tony Womack. Martinez is expected to get the majority of starts at first base, sending Jason Giambi to the DH role. Any significant help offensively from Giambi will be a surprise.


Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has more to prove than any other Yankee following the team's collapse to the Red Sox in last year's American League Championship Series. (Charles Krupa -- AP)

_____ Breakdown _____
 baseball
Lineup
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Gary Sheffield
LF Hideki Matsui
CF Bernie Williams
DH Jason Giambi
C Jorge Posada
1B Tino Martinez
2B Tony Womack
Rotation
LHP Randy Johnson
RHP Mike Mussina
RHP Carl Pavano
RHP Jaret Wright
RHP Kevin Brown
Closer
Mariano Rivera

Best move: They needed an ace and they have one in Randy Johnson.
Biggest loss: Orlando Hernandez was the Yankees' best starter last season, but concerns about his health made the Yankees cautious.
Top rival: Boston Red Sox.

___ Team Capsules ___
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
NL East
NL Central
NL West
1. Cubs
4. Mets
4. Reds
   
 
AL East
AL Central
AL West
 


The additions of Martinez and reliever Mike Stanton were an attempt by the team to revisit some of its glory years; both were part of the last Yankees championship in 2000.

Remarkably, the Yankees did not have to part with top prospect Eric Duncan in the Johnson trade and could use the third baseman for a midseason acquisition.

The loss to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series was embarrassing and the team is looking to forget the dubious piece of history it made by squandering a 3-0 lead.

Alex Rodriguez claims he awoke every day at 6 a.m. for workouts this offseason. Those remarks were mocked by several Red Sox players. Rodriguez has more to prove than any Yankee. His status as the game's best player took a hit with his performance in the final four games of the ALCS. His attempt to slap a ball away from pitcher Bronson Arroyo in Game 6 was the defining image of A-Rod in his first year in New York.

Mariano Rivera is still considered baseball's best closer, but his blown saves in Games 4 and 5 allowed the Red Sox' comeback.

For all their faults, the Yankees have the best rotation in the division and one of the best lineups.


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