SPORTS
    Scoreboard
    Redskins
    Capitals
    Wizards
    Orioles
    United
    Ravens
    Area Pro Teams
    High Schools
    Colleges
    Leagues and Sports
    MLB Section
     Baseball '04
    Columnists
    Features
    Index

American League East

Boston Red Sox  |  New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays  |  Baltimore Orioles  |  Tampa Bay Devil Rays

 
The Washington Post
Friday, April 2, 2004; Page D5

Team Capsules

National League
East
Central
West

American League
East
Central
West



1. Boston Red Sox
2003 Finish: 95-67, 2nd.
Manager: Terry Francona (first season with Red Sox; fifth season overall, 285-363).
Ace: Say what you will about the acquisition of Curt Schilling and Derek Lowe winning 38 games over the last two years, this is Pedro Martinez's team. Although his wins were down (14) in 2003, he still led the league in ERA (2.22), was second in strikeouts and allowed the fewest hits per nine innings.
Best Young Arm: Bronson Arroyo, a Pirates castoff, made enough of an impression last season that he was included on Boston's postseason roster. He will open as the team's No. 5 starter.
Closer: Keith Foulke brings his league-leading 43 saves from Oakland to Boston, where every game is a must win.
Key Acquisition: Schilling is a brutally frank right-hander who should deflect a lot of the attention from Martinez -- and give Boston a legitimate No. 2 pitcher.
Core Question: With one of the most anticipated seasons in their history, can the Red Sox finally rewrite it?
Projected Finish: First. The A-Rod fiasco not withstanding, it was a productive offseason for the Red Sox, who improved their starting pitching, bullpen and defense after winning 95 games in 2003.

2. New York Yankees
2003 Finish: 101-61, 1st.
Manager: Joe Torre (24th season overall, 3,195-1,680).
Ace: Veteran RHP Mike Mussina moves to the front of the rotation with the defection of Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to Houston. Mussina has won 52 games since signing with the Yankees three years ago and is good for 200 innings.
Best Young Arm: Javier Vazquez is a promising right-hander who was wasting away in Montreal until the Yankees acquired him in the offseason. He won 13 games in 2003 with a 3.27 ERA.
Closer: Mariano Rivera, the game's best closer, has a new contract and now has a beefed-up bullpen.
Key Acquisition: Key Acquisition: Alex Rodriguez, baseball's best player and 2003 MVP, now appears on its biggest stage -- albeit at a different position.
Core Question: Can money buy the Yankees and owner George Steinbrenner happiness again?
Projected finish: Second. Knock the cover off the ball they will, but losing three-fifths of their starting rotation will eventually wear on the Yankees.

3. Toronto Blue Jays
2003 Finish: 86-76, 3rd.
Manager: Carlos Tosca (third season, 144-127).
Ace: Roy Halladay is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and is in Toronto for the long haul, signing a four-year deal in the offseason.
Best Young Arm: Halladay is only 26 and has won 41 games over the last two seasons -- the most by any starting pitcher in the American League.
Closer: RHP Aquilino Lopez appeared in 72 games and made 14 saves as a rookie last season. Former Oriole Kerry Ligtenberg and Justin Speier may also get a look.
Key Acquisition: Ted Lilly. Left-hander is used to winning organizations, having pitched for the Yankees and Athletics since 2000. He won 12 games for Oakland last year and did not allow a run in nine postseason innings.
Core Question: Any chance for realignment?
Projected Finish: Third. The Blue Jays have a dangerous lineup and an ace to match up against any other in the league, but in this division it's simply not enough.

4. Baltimore Orioles
2003 Finish: 71-91, 4th.
Manager: Lee Mazzilli (first year).
Ace: Sidney Ponson. Chesapeake Bay proved more friendly than San Francisco Bay for Ponson last season. He started 21 games for the Orioles in 2003, compiling a 14-6 record and 3.77 ERA. He did not enjoy the same kind of success after beating dealt to the Giants at the trading deadline, and returned to Baltimore via free agency.
Best Young Arm: Kurt Ainsworth was one of the key acquisitions in the Ponson deal and will get every chance to prove himself on a rotation that needs a lot of proving.
Closer: Mazzilli took some of the drama out of spring training when he said early on that Jorge Julio would retain the job. Now if Julio could only take some of the drama out of save situations . . .
Key Acquisition: Miguel Tejada has played in all 162 games for the last three years and 160 games the year before that. Sound like a certain former Orioles shortstop? He has averaged 30 homers and 116 RBI during that time.
Core Question: With suspect pitching, will it be hit or miss for the Orioles?
Projected Finish: Fourth. The Orioles may be a year away from contending in the division, but Mazzilli injects fresh life into what had been a stagnant franchise.

5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2003 Finish: 63-99, 5th.
Manager: Lou Piniella (18th season overall, 2,616-1,382).
Ace: Victor Zambrano won 12 games and logged 188 innings for a bad team but struggles with control. He walked almost as many batters as he struck out.
Best Young Arm: Doug Waechter, at 22, received a call-up toward the end of last season, won three times and pitched a complete game.
Closer: Lance Carter. Tampa Bay's only all-star in 2003 converted 26 of 33 saves in first year in that role.
Key Acquisition: Mark Hendrickson is an intimidating left-hander who won nine games for the Blue Jays last season.
Core Question: What is a guarantee worth these days?
Projected Finish: Fifth. Piniella guaranteed in early February that the Devil Rays would not finish in last place for a seventh straight season. Don't buy it.

-- Thomas Heleba

© 2002- The Washington Post Company