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The Washington Post
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page D5
2003 Finish: 83-79, 3rd.
Manager: Tony Peña (third season, 132-156).
Ace: Starting pitching is not the strength of this club, as reflected in the 75-69 career record of its nominal leader, Brian Anderson. However, the veteran went a nifty 5-1 (3.99 ERA) for the Royals after arriving in a late-season deal last year.
Best Young Arm: The princess had her pea, the ointment its fly and as for Jeremy Affeldt -- blisters. If the lefty can get past this recurring problem, watch out, world.
Closer: As a rookie in 2003, Mike MacDougal burst out of the gates, starting 10 for 10 in save chances and making the all-star team, but fell into a horrendous second-half slump amid questions of overuse. A more complete season from MacDougal is key to the Royals' hopes; all the more pity that he'll begin the season on the disabled list with a stomach ailment.
Key Acquisition: Juan Gonzalez can be moody and injury-prone, missing 172 games the past two seasons with the Rangers. But when healthy, the two-time MVP is an offensive machine, averaging an RBI every 4.6 at-bats, and he appears to have bought into Peña's enthusiastic clubhouse vibe.
Core Question: Can this team cobble together a respectable rotation?
Projected Finish: First. The combination of a powerhouse lineup, an upgraded bullpen and a weak division should give the Royals their first title since 1985.
2. Minnesota Twins 3. Chicago White Sox 4. Cleveland Indians 5. Detroit Tigers -- Desmond Bieler © 2002- The Washington Post Company
3. Chicago White Sox 4. Cleveland Indians 5. Detroit Tigers -- Desmond Bieler © 2002- The Washington Post Company
4. Cleveland Indians 5. Detroit Tigers -- Desmond Bieler © 2002- The Washington Post Company
-- Desmond Bieler © 2002- The Washington Post Company
-- Desmond Bieler
© 2002- The Washington Post Company