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Chicago White Sox
2000: 95-67, 1st place, lost Division Series to Seattle

Offseason transactions: Traded RHPs Aaron Myette and Brian Schmack to Texas for SS Royce Clayton. Traded LHP Mike Sirotka, RHP Kevin Beirne, RHP Mike Williams and OF Brian Simmons to Toronto for LHP David Wells and RHP Matt DeWitt. Traded OF Jeff Abbott to Florida for OF Julio Ramirez. Traded LHP Scott Eyre to Toronto for RHP Gary Glover. Signed FA C Sandy Alomar and DH Harold Baines. Lost FA C Charles Johnson. Waived IFs Mike Caruso, Craig Wilson and Greg Norton.

Rookies and other strangers: RHP Matt Ginter (11-6, 2.25, AA). RHP Josh Fogg (11-7, 2.57, AA). 3B Joe Crede (.306, 21, 97, AA). IF Amaury Garcia (.292, AAA). 1B-3B-OF Jeff Liefer (.281, 32 HR, AAA). CF McKay Christensen (.256, AAA). RHP Rocky Biddle (11-6, AA).

Runs scored/allowed: 978-839, +139

Runs: 978
Slugging/On-base pct.: .470/.356
OPS: .826
Home runs: 216
BB/K: 591/960
SB/CS: 119/42
1-2-3 OBP: .353/351/.429

The ChiSox led the league in runs, and, yes, the Frank Thomas/Magglio Ordonez/Paul Konerko/Carlos Lee block of the order had monster years. But they still haven't found a pure on-base leadoff hitter, although Jose Valentin may hit there if he can play center field. Ray Durham is close to being a dominant offensive player, and while Herbert Perry did a great job at third, Joe Crede will soon be a big-time player. They are heavily right-handed, but Harold Baines and Jeff Liefer could help. Remember, while Johnson hit 31 homers, only 10 were for the White Sox.

Runs allowed/ERA: 839/4.66
OPS: .780
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.20
Starters: 65-46, 4.90
Starters' innings pitched: 915
Quality starts: 68
Bullpen: 30-21, 4.25
Saves-opportunities: 43-67
Appearances/innings: 466/535.1

David Wells gives them a marquee, postseason starter who can pitch Game 1 of a series until Jon Garland, Kip Wells, Jon Rauch, Brian West, Ricky Biddle or the like are ready to do so. Asking James Baldwin and Cal Eldred to repeat their 24-8 performance may be a lot to ask, but they are solid veterans, and Garland could easily become a 12-15 game winner right away.

Keith Foulke is now one of the elite closers -- the AL's Trevor Hoffman, using his great changeup -- and if Bobby Howry is all right, he, Lorenzo Barcelo and left-handers Kelly Wunsch (.160 vs. lefties) and Mark Buehrle give them depth for most situations. The Bill Simas injury hurts, but with Kip Wells, Ginter, Biddle, et al, they have a lot of power arms that could fit roles.

Errors: 133
Unearned runs allowed: 88
Opponents SB pct.: 58

The White Sox can dismiss their defensive questions all they want, but 133 errors and 88 unearned runs were by far the worst in the division. Valentin plays very hard and has leadership skills, but he struggled, so the addition of Clayton should help. They really aren't outstanding in any defensive position, but they can play better than last season.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 6th in AL
Home runs per at-bat: 3rd in AL

The fences have been moved in by five and 12 feet in the corners, which might add a few runs.

Spring training questions
Are Baldwin and Eldred ready and healthy? Which of the young pitchers is ready for the rotation? With Bobby Howry coming off shoulder problems and Bill Simas out for the year, will Lorenzo Barcelo, Matt Ginter, et al be ready to take on expanded roles? Can Jose Valentin handle center field or is he best suited as a utilityman? How close is Crede to being ready?

2001 team song: "While You Were Steppin' out, Someone Else was Slippin' In"

Cleveland Indians
2000: 90-72, 2nd place, five games back

Offseason transactions: Traded RHPs Jim Brower and Robert Pugmire to Cincinnati for C Eddie Taubensee. Lost FAs OF Manny Ramirez, 1B David Segui, RHP Jason Bere and LHP Chris Haney. Signed FA OFs Ellis Burks and Juan Gonzalez. Invited LH Rel. Scott Radinsky, RH Rel. Jerry Spradlin and OF Butch Huskey to spring training.

Rookies and other strangers: LHP C.C. Sabathia (6-9, AA-AAA). RHP Jake Westbrook (5-7, AAA). RH Rel. David Riske (0-0, AA-AAA). RHP Danys Baez (7-11, A-AA). RHP Zach Day (15-9, A-AA). RHP Tim Drew (10-10, AA-AAA). LH Rel. Roy Padilla (1-1, A-AA). CF Dave Roberts (.292, 39 SB, AAA). SS John McDonald (.260, AAA). 1B Danny Peoples (.260, 21 HR, AAA).

Runs scored/allowed: 950-816, +134

Runs: 950
Slugging/On-base pct.: .470/.367
OPS: .837
Home runs: 221
BB/K: 685/1067
SB/CS: 113/34
1-2-3 OBP: .337/376/.385

Kenny Lofton wasn't fully healthy until August, Omar Vizquel was distracted for half a season and something seemed to eat at Robby Alomar. And they still scored 950 runs. Manny Ramirez may be the best hitter in the game, but as Lofton, Vizquel and Alomar go, so go the Indians. Burks is a huge addition, on and off the field, and if Gonzalez's back holds up, Cleveland will again be a thunderous offensive team. Jim Thome is Jim Thome, Travis Fryman knocked in 106 runs and they have Russell Branyan, who projected over a 600 at-bat season would hit 43 homers and strike out 247 times. But that could sure be a lot of fun. Wilfredo Cordero spent the winter in Cleveland with the children whose custody he won, and they really like Jacob Cruz. They have to keep Lofton, Burks and Gonzalez healthy, but this could be an amazing offensive team.

Runs allowed/ERA: 876/4.84
OPS: .775
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.36
Starters: 65-50, 5.13
Starters' innings pitched: 909.2
Quality starts: 70
Bullpen: 25-22, 4.73
Saves-opportunities: 34-57
Appearances/innings: 462/532.2

Few teams have ever gone through what the Tribe endured in 2000 -- 33 pitchers in the big leagues, 40 more in Triple-A Buffalo, and the big-league numbers don't include two more guys who worked in a game that was rained out after four innings. But that can stabilize. Bartolo Colon can up his 15 wins to 20 and while Chuck Finley may miss a couple of starts following minor knee surgery, he's still a solid 16-game winner. Dave Burba won 16 and while Charles Nagy's elbow may be shot, they think Jaret Wright will come back, healthy, and that Steve Woodard is serviceable. There is talk of putting Steve Karsay in the rotation, but he's never pitched more than 133 innings in a season and he's broken down when used as a starter. So why would they do that? Don't ask.

Once again, come June, GM John Hart will be trolling for a starter, although Jake Westbrook or C.C. Sabathia could step in by then. In fact, they'll tell you Westbrook is the kid most likely to be the first in from Buffalo.

If Karsay stays in the pen, they have Karsay, Paul Shuey, Bob Wickman and Ricardo Rincon (whose slider tilt came back, helping him hold lefties to an OPS under .600) to get the last nine outs. Sean DePaula is healthy again and Sabathia, Danys Baez, LH/Surfer Cam Caincross and David Riske add depth. With the runs that will likely be needed in games with Chicago, Oakland and Boston, the Indians' will need that depth.

Errors: 72
Unearned runs allowed: 41
Opponents SB pct.: 72

The infield is the best when interested and healthy, and the outfield is adequate. They had planned on putting Einer Diaz back behind the plate and backing him up with Sandy Alomar, so adding Eddie Taubensee's bat and letting Alomar go was probably for the best.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 3rd in AL
Home runs per at-bat: 4th in AL

Spring training questions
Is Gonzalez's back OK? Are Lofton and Burks healthy? Is Wright back? Are there any lingering problems for Finley? How will Charlie Manuel use Karsay? Which kid pitchers are close? Will there be heat on Manuel, especially with Terry Francona and Joel Skinner waiting in the wings?

2001 team song: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"

Detroit Tigers
2000: 79-83, 3rd place, 16 games back

Offseason transactions: Traded C Brad Ausmus and RH Rel. Doug Brocail and Nelson Cruz to Houston for OF Roger Cedeno, RHP Chris Holt and C-DH Mitch Meluskey. Traded Ps Kevin Mobley and Brandon Villafuente to Texas for LHP Matt Perisho. Signed FA C Scott Servais. Lost FA OF Juan Gonzalez, RHP Hideo Nomo and DH Gregg Jefferies.

Rookies and other strangers: C Brandon Inge (.243, 11, 73, AA-AAA). RHP Adam Bernero (5-6, AA-AAA). LHP Matt Miller (8-5, AA). LHP Adam Pettyjohn (2-6, AA-AAA). Invitees LHP Heath Murray, 1B Ryan Jackson, 1B Randall Simon, OF Jermaine Allensworth, 3B Tom Evans.

Runs scored/allowed: 823-827, -4

Runs: 823
Slugging/On-base pct.: .438/.347
OPS: .781
Home runs: 177
BB/K: 562/987
SB/CS: 83-38
1-2-3 OBP: .342/.381/.375

Phil Garner made a lot of progress with this team's concept of hitting, i.e., trying to get better pitches and work deeper counts. They still are a free-swinging team, but Roger Cedeno (.383) and Mitch Meluskey (.401) are good on-base percentage guys. The players are very happy to be rid of Gonzalez and whatever ailed him in Detroit, and now hope that Bobby Higginson comes close to matching last year's 30 homers and Juan Encarnacion keeps improving and Tony Clark's back heals. If Clark is healthy, with Damion Easley, Deivi Cruz (.302, 82 RBI) and Dean Palmer, they have a productive infield. 1B-DH Robert Fick can hack, and when Brandon Inge is ready to catch, Meluskey can DH and play some first.

Runs allowed/ERA: 827/4.71
OPS: .786
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.42
Starters: 54-65, 4.93
Starters' innings pitched: 964.2
Quality starts: 73
Bullpen: 25-18, 4.14
Saves-opportunities: 44-61
Appearances/innings: 429/478.2

Not only was Hideo Nomo their most consistent starter, with half his outings being quality starts, but he worked the front end of the rotation. Jeff Weaver should be able to get to that level soon. Brian Moehler won 12 games and Dave Mlicki has good stuff (and a 51-59 career record). Chris Holt also has good stuff and a 21-42 career record, although going to Detroit might be the new start he needs. Steve Sparks and Matt Perisho will compete for a spot in the rotation.

The bullpen should again be very good. Todd Jones is a No. 1 closer, set-up man Matt Anderson has closer stuff and C.J. Nitkowski is a solid left-handed reliever. They need a little more depth, but they can find that.

Errors: 105
Unearned runs allwed: 72
Opponents' SB pct.: 57

The infield catches the ball well, and Encarnacion and Cedeno should help track balls down in that big Comerica outfield. They'll miss Brad Ausmus and that low stolen base ratio against them, but Inge is their best everyday prospect with a gun for an arm and a great makeup.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 12th in AL
Home runs per at-bat:14th in AL

Yes, it's a pitchers' park, which means it's easier to build a winner.

2001 team song: "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning"

Kansas City Royals
2000: 77-85, 4th place, 18 games back

Offseason transactions: Traded OF Johnny Damon and IF Mark Ellis to Oakland in a three-way deal for RH Rel. Roberto Hernandez, C A.J. Hinch and SS Angel Berroa. Signed RHP Doug Henry. Lost FA RH Rel. Ricky Bottalico.

Rookies and other strangers: LH Rel. Scott Mullen (5-3, 12 Sv., AA-AAA). RHP Dan Murray (10-9, AAA). RH Rel. Shawn Sonnier (2.25 ERA, 21 Sv., 90 K, 64 IP, AA). RH Rel. Kris Wilson (7-3, AAA). OF Dee Brown (.269, 23, 70, AAA). Runs scored/allowed: 879-930, -51

Runs: 879
Slugging/On-base pct.: .425/.348
OPS: .773
Home runs: 150
BB/K: 511/840
SB/CS: 121/35
1-2-3 OBP: .372/.345/.391

The Royals scored 879 runs, and the two big producers -- Mike Sweeney (144 RBI) and Jermaine Dye (118 RBI) are back. The problem is replacing Damon, who had 68 extra-base hits and scored 136 runs. If Carlos Beltran plays the way he did as a rookie, that problem is lessened, because he has more tools than Damon. Joe Randa (106 RBI) and Mark Quinn fit nicely and Carlos Febles is a fine player if he can stay healthy. They think Dee Brown will be a fine player as well, but when he will become one they don't know. The sooner the better for the Royals and Brown. They also really need a catcher beyond Gregg Zaun.

Runs allowed/ERA: 930/5.48
OPS: .838
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.33
Starters: 48-55, 5.43
Starters' innings pitched: 943.2
Quality starts: 62
Bullpen: 29-30, 5.17
Saves-opportunities: 29-55
Appearances/innings: 329/495.2

They Royals were fifth in runs, and still got outscored by 51. They have to stabilize the pitching and believe that if Jose Rosado comes back from surgery, that with Dan Riechert, Jeff Suppan, Blake Stein (8-5) and Brian Meadows -- and Mac Suzuki by Memorial Day -- they can be competitive and stay in games.

Then they have to close games, something they've barely done at a 50 percent clip the last two years. The 37-year-old Hernandez is not a lot to get for Damon, but the Royals feel that with Doug Henry and maybe some of the kids -- Sean Sonnier is a potential star, and they like Kris Wilson, Scott Mullen, Chad Durbin, Chris Fussell -- perhaps they can keep from wearing out the positional players in a daily 12-11 ritual. All their comebacks were peachy, but they wore out the players.

Errors: 102
Unearned runs allowed: 64
Opponents' SB pct.: 76

If Beltran plays as he can, then with Dye, they have two-thirds of the outfield covered. The infield is solid, although they need to keep Febles from wearing down and getting hurt. Rey Sanchez has played well at short, but they're looking for a kid like Angel Berroa to come along in time.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 4th in AL
Home runs per at-bat: 2nd in AL

Spring training questions
Is Rosado healthy? How will Tony Muser shake down the pen? Is Beltran in a '99 frame of mind? Can Brown make it to the bigs?

2001 team song: "What if they Close the Door?"

Minnesota Twins
2000: 69-93, 5th place, 26 games back

Offseason transactions: Drafted RHP Brandon Knight from the Yankees. Signed C Tom Prince, who is no relation to the city's other Prince. Lost FA 1B Ron Coomer.

Rookies and other strangers: RHP Matt Kinney (11-3, AA-AAA). 2B Luis Rivas (.250, AA). 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (.334, 18, 96, AAA). OF John Barnes (.365, 13, 85, AAA). OF Brian Buchanan (.301, 17, 103, AAA).

Runs scorwed/allowed: 748-882, -134

Runs: 748
Slugging/On-base pct.: .407/.377
OPS: .744
Home runs: 116
BB/K: 556/1021
SB/CS: 90/42
1-2-3 OBP: .315./.329/.393

Just look at all these numbers and you know that this was a terrible offense. They didn't get on base on the top of the order, they didn't hit home runs, and they dumped Coomer, who led the team in homers and was second in RBI. They need more power and they need to be less left-handed. Torii Hunter showed some punch when he came back from Triple-A Salt Lake City, and Tom Kelly thinks that with Matt Lawton and Jacques Jones and perhaps John Barnes (the minors' leading hitter) off the bench, they can improve their production. They believe third baseman Cory Koskie should hit 30 homers, not nine, DH David Ortiz should hit 30, not 10, and that while Mientkiewicz isn't a power guy, he can be a Mark Grace-type player. Cristian Guzman is one of the league's most exciting players. They think Rivas can hit, but he has a .316 career on-base percentage in the minors.

Runs allowed/ERA: 882
OPS: .813
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.01
Starters: 51-71, 5.58
Starters' innings pitched: 920.1
Quality starts: 71
Bullpen: 18-22, 4.36
Saves-opportunities: 35-54
Appearances/innings: 412/512.1

If Terry Ryan could run the videotape back, he'd have signed Brad Radke in spring training and avoided that three-month distraction. Radke had an OK year (12-16, 4.45), but can be better. That's the frustating part. In terms of stuff, this isn't a bad starting staff. Eric Milton can throw no-hitters, then have a 4.86 ERA. Joe Mays has a lot better stuff than 7-15, 5.56, while Mark Redmond had a nice 12-9 rookie season. Kinney has the best power stuff on the staff and will be given a chance to make it. If he doesn't, J.C. Romero could be the fifth starter or go into the pen.

Slowly, but surely, LaTroy Hawkins is putting together his live arm, athleticism and willingness to learn. They're hoping he can assume the closer's role. If he can't, Everyday Eddie Guardado or Bob Wells will split the role. With Guardado, Travis Miller, Romero and Johan Santana from the left side and Wells, Hawkins and Knight from the right, Kelly has a deep, workable pen.

Errors: 102
Unearned runs allowed: 61
Opponents SB pct.: 66

Kelly's teams always catch the ball and play respectable defense, although he's struggled getting his young players to commit to that philospohy over the last few years. Hunter has a chance to be a Gold Glove winner in center field, Guzman is a dazzler, Mientkiewicz is a superb defender and they have speed on the outfield corners. The teams that kill themselves are those who cannot catch the ball, so they have a start towards respectability.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 2nd in AL
Home runs per at-bat: 10th in AL

Spring training questions
Can Hawkins take the closer role? Is Kinney ready? Have Milton and Mays started to focus? Can Rivas play second? Can Koskie, Ortiz, Jones and Hunter start lifting the ball?

2001 team song: "Can You Please Crawl out of your Window?"

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