Volume 93, Issue 99
Wednesday, April 5, 2000
MLB 2000 - a forecast for the AL
"I MAY NOT SHOW IT, BUT I FEEL WILD." The Toronto Blue Jays have a good chance this season of becoming the wild card team in the American League - according to Wes Brown, that is.
By Wes Brown
With the National League addressed yesterday, we turn now to the League of Americans and realize that last year's cream of the crop will rise once again in Major League Baseball.
The New York Yankees could be the first team since the 1972 Oakland Athletics to win three consecutive pennants. They have almost an identical squad to last season's championship team, which is both good and bad.
Good, because the Yankees were in the top 10 in batting average, runs scored, home runs, ERAs and fielding percentages. Bad, because it's one year later and that means pitchers Roger Clemens and David Cone, as well as fielder Paul O'Neil, have reached the ripe old age of 37. New York is hoping these veterans will be like a fine wine and only get better with age.
Also in the East, and breathing down the Yankee's necks, are the Boston Red Sox the AL's version of Cinderella from last year's post-season. Led by the king of velocity, Pedro Martinez, the Red Sox were number one in ERAs and will be looking for the fire baller to lead the pitching staff once again.
Scoring runs will be the job of infielders Jose Offerman, John Valentine and all-star Nomar Garciaparra. Boston's core batting order will also be counting on an offensive injection from off-season acquisition Carl Everett. However, without some additional pitching help, the Sox will be lucky to be the wild card again this year.
As for our beloved Toronto Blue Jays, it is unfortunate that they lie in the talent rich East with the likes of New York and Boston.
The departure of outfielder Shawn Green was a huge blow to the organization and they will try to cushion the effects with outfielder Raul Mondesi. Together, he and first basemen Carlos Delgado will have to lead the offensive charge.
Looking at the starting rotation, one word comes to mind potential.
Right handers Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay and Kelvim Escobar all have the potential to pitch well and they will decide whether the Jays can compete for the wild card spot. Lefty David Wells will have another good year, but the fate of Toronto remains with his colleagues.
Moving to the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians will once again try to prove that offence not only puts fans in the seats, but also wins ball games. The Tribe led the league in runs scored last year, crossing the plate 1,009 times and followed it up by coming second in batting averages.
Pitcher Chuck Finley has arrived to address the major weak spot in the Indian's game and the club is hoping right hander Bartolo Colon and Charles Nagy can follow up on their 1999 campaigns. The Indians have all the tools they just have to use them.
Following closely behind, nestled in their spanking new stadium "Comerica Park," is the Detroit Tigers. Rightfielder and offensive machine Juan Gonzalez travelled from Texas and will join infielders Tony Clark and Dean Palmer in the run production portion of the team.
As for pitching, on again/off again Hideo Nomo will try once again to find his form with the Motor City Kitties, joining right-hander Dave Mlicki as the leaders of the staff. In the end, Gonzalez' leadership will be much appreciated in Detroit's locker room.
Looking to the West, the Oakland Athletics will be a force to reckon with, boasting a batting order that knows how to go long frequently. Canadian Rightfielder Matt Stairs smoked 38 dingers, designated hitter John Jaha cracked 35 and first baseman Jason Giambi went long 33 times all of this on a $25 million payroll.
And while the A's trot around the bases this season, giving their pitchers huge leads to work under, their staff will need to rise to the challenge and keep opponents off the sacks.
Right-hander Tim Hudson seems to be the ace of the staff but even last season's numbers are suspect.
In order for Oak-town to be successful this season, they will have to pile up runs so that other teams can't catch them.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000