AL East capsules

In order of 2002 finish

New York Yankees

Manager: Joe Torre.

2002: 103-58, 1st; lost to Anaheim in 1st round.

Payroll: $164 million.

Rotation: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Jeff Weaver.

Meat of the order: Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui.

Turning point: George Steinbrenner seems unwilling to back away and watch the winning, which means distractions could be a major problem for a team that is unsurpassed in proven talent.

Fresh face: Matsui will either become beloved or besieged as he arrives with high expectations after hitting 50 homers and batting .334 last season in Japan.

Best guess: A disappointing spring is a prelude to a bumpy ride ahead for the Yankees, who might lead the league in both angst and victories. Any losing streak could prompt a clash between the Boss and Torre, possibly leading to a midseason managerial change.

Boston Red Sox

Manager: Grady Little.

2002: 93-69, 2nd.

Payroll: $96.9 million.

Rotation: Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Derek Lowe, Casey Fossum, John Burkett.

Meat of the order: Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Millar.

Turning point: If Boston is to make it back to the playoffs after a three-year absence, it must not only get healthy seasons from Martinez and Lowe but some surprises from the rest of the staff as well.

Fresh faces: None.

Best guess: GM Theo Epstein's gambles on a closer-by-situation bullpen and a lineup built around offensive players like Todd Walker, Jeremy Giambi and Millar backfires and the Red Sox are once again unable to run down the Yankees.

Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: Carlos Tosca.

2002: 78-84, 3rd.

Payroll: $53 million.

Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cory Lidle, Tanyon Sturtze, Mark Hendrickson.

Meat of the order: Vernon Wells, Carlos Delgado, Josh Phelps.

Turning point: The Blue Jays took a major gamble on Frank Catalanotto, anointing him as the regular in right field, where he had rarely before played. He needs to justify their faith by outproducing predecessor Jose Cruz Jr.

Fresh face: Hendrickson, a 6-9 lefty who spent four years wandering through the NBA, pitched well after joining the Jays last season.

Best guess: With the addition of Lidle and Sturtze behind Halladay, Toronto has a chance to be the AL's biggest surprise. With a strong first half and the addition of an arm or two, a playoff run is possible.

Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Mike Hargrove.

2002: 67-95, 4th.

Payroll: $49 million.

Rotation: Rodrigo Lopez, Omar Daal, Sidney Ponson, Rick Helling, Jason Johnson. On the DL: Scott Erickson.

Meat of the order: B.J. Surhoff, Jeff Conine, Jay Gibbons. On the DL: David Segui.

Turning point: The GM duo of Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie spent spring training exploring a way to trade Ponson and prospects for a proven hitter, such as Ken Griffey Jr., Carlos Beltran or Carlos Lee. Ponson must re-establish his market with a strong start to the season for Baltimore to add a much-needed bat.

Fresh face: Acquired in a spring trade, Jack Cust provides the Orioles with a power threat. He has nowhere to play for the moment, however, so he waits in the wings in the minor leagues.

Best guess: Another long season could lead to a managerial change. Owner Peter Angelos needs quick results, especially if the rumors are correct about his possibly selling the team.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Manager: Lou Piniella.

2002: 55-106, 5th.

Payroll: $19.5 million.

Rotation: Joe Kennedy, Victor Zambrano, Jim Parque, Nick Bierbrodt, Steve Parris.

Meat of the order: Aubrey Huff, Ben Grieve, Travis Lee.

Turning point: Kennedy, in only his second full season, will carry a big load in a rotation in which the other four starters are recovering from injuries or trying to establish themselves. Nothing establishes a team's stability more than the rotation.

Fresh face: Center fielder Rocco Baldelli has played 40 games above Class A but is bubbling with enthusiasm, which will come in handy.

Best guess: Piniella falls short of his 70-win goal, but he likely lays the base for better days in 2004. Owner Vince Naimoli promises to provide payroll for significant off-season acquisitions.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad