James Evans

It’s mid-February, and you know what that means — the migration to the South of baseball teams. Yep that’s right, spring training is almost here and the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season is about to begin. In the next six weeks, we will break down each division and each team and their strengths and weakness.


Key Additions: Hideki Matsui (OF), Jose Contreras (P), Jon Lieber (P), Chris Hammond (P) and Todd Zeile (1B)

Key Losses: Orlando Hernandez (P), Ramiro Mendoza (P), Mike Stanton (P) and Shane Spencer (OF)

Team Motto: Money, it is only paper with green print and dead presidents on it.

Once again, it seems like the Yankees will run away with the division, and they have one person to thank: George Steinbrenner (and his seemingly bottomless pockets). George went out again this off-season and demonstrated to the world that money is no issue when it comes to winning for him. He started off by going after the most highly touted Japanese outfield slugger Hideki Matsui and then decided to bolster their starting rotation by signing the Cuban defect Jose Contreras.

Matsui will sure love playing at Yankee Stadium, especially considering the lefty will be taking swings where the right-field fence is only a mere 300 feet away, while Contreras is pitching for a club that can easily provide him with five to more runs a start.

With the signings of Contreras and Lieber this off-season, the Yankees now have a solid core of eight starting pitchers: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Sterling Hitchcock and Jeff Weaver. A starting pitcher’s week on a regular team is not usually bad, pitching one day and getting four off, but for the Yankees rotation, a pitcher will be able to pitch and then take a whole week off.

The Yankees haven’t won a World Series in two years and I’m sure Steinbrenner will not be looking to extend that to three, no matter what it takes, even if it is increasing the payroll to $200 million.


Key Additions: Mike Timlin (P), Ramiro Mendoza (P), Jeremy Giambi (OF), David Ortiz (1B) and Todd Walker (2B).

Key Losses: Cliff Floyd (OF), Ugueth Urbina (P), Brian Daubach (1B) and Carlos Baerga (2B) Team Motto: There’s always the wild card.

The Sox had good starting pitchers last year in Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe; it was the middle relief that handcuffed them. However, it seems as though they might have taken care of that by adding players like Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Timlin. Even though they still haven’t figured out who is going to close games for them this year, at least they will be able to get to that point with their middle relief. They will do well, but only a miracle will let them beat the Yankees in the AL East, and only the hand of God itself will allow for the curse to be broken and the Bo Sox to finally get a championship.


Key Additions: Mike Bordick (SS), Frank Catalanotto (OF), Cory Lidle (P), Jeff Tam (P) and Tanyon Strutze (P).

Key Losses: Chris Carpenter (P), Jose Cruz Jr. (OF), Felipe Lopez (SS) and Esteban Loaiza (P).

Team Motto: Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but the following year we’ll be good.

Toronto comes into the season with one of the best young pitchers in the game in Roy Halladay. Halladay won 19 games last year, pitching 239 innings while maintaining an ERA of 2.39. Management has surrounded Halladay with some solid starting pitchers this year in Corey Lidle and Tanyon Strutze. Lidle is projected to be the second man in the rotation, a big step up from last year when he was fourth in a star-studded Oakland A’s rotation. Strutze finally found his way out of the baseball wasteland that is Tampa Bay and, with a fresh start in Canada, this powerful pitcher could turn some heads. Rounding out the Blue Jays rotation are Justin Miller and Pete Walker. Both pitchers started out in the bullpen last year for the Jays, but fought their way into the starting rotation last year at the end of the season and both ended up four games over .500. Besides Halladay, the rotation is made up of guys whose ERA jumps between four and five, but who can give a club 200 innings a season, so as long as the bats stay warm for the Jays and produce runs, it could just be an interesting September to be in Canada.


Key Additions: Omar Daal (P), Kerry Ligtenberg (P), Rick Helling (P) and Deivi Cruz (SS)

Key Losses: Mike Bordick (SS), Chris Singleton (OF) and Yorkis Perez(P)

Team Motto: Let’s try for .500 this year.

This team needed help last year when it came to starting pitching, as they only had two solid starters in Pat Hentgen and Scott Erickson. So management answered the call for help by getting Omar Daal and signing Rick Helling to a minor league deal. This was probably not the help the Orioles were expecting. Add to that a shaky middle relief, and closer Jorge Julio will be lucky to get the opportunity to save 30 games all season. Julio came on strong at the end of the season, saving 25 of his 31 chances and it seems as the Orioles have finally found a pitcher to hand the ball to in the ninth. I don’t see this team improving too much, though. Their main talent resides in two players: Batista and Lopez, with few supporting players other than Cordova. With at least three stronger teams in the same division, the playoffs are a long shot for this team. Add to that the loss of Bordick, the man who made it ok for Cal to finally call it quits and their main offensive threat the last couple of years, and you have all the makings for a below five hundred record this year.


Key Additions: Jim Parque (P), Travis Lee (1B), Marlon Anderson (2B) and Steve Parris (P)

Key Losses: Ryan Rupe (P), Tanyon Strutze (P), Esteban Yan (P) and John Flaherty (C)

Team Motto: Now we got the coach, all we need is the team.

Writing a preview on this team seems almost pointless; everyone knows that at the end of the season that they will be able to find the Rays dead last in the American League. However, it would be fun to compare this team to the Cleveland Indians in the movie “Major League.” In the movie, the Indians bring in a ton of nobodies to try out for the team. Likewise, the Rays have decided to invite 29 non-major leaguers to spring training this year. Furthermore, is it just me or is there an uncanny resemblance between Lou Piniella and James Gammon, the actor who plays the Cleveland Indians manager? I mean, if Gammon shaves that mustache and stood next to Piniella, I couldn’t tell them apart. The only question now is who is going to play the role of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, a former prisoner turned star.