April 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 98  

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Polishuk’s American League baseball preview

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

David Bowie is afraid of Americans, but The Gazette isn’t afraid of writing about the American League.

It was just another off-season for the New York Yankees. Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon? Sure, why not. Trading for Alex Rodriguez? Icing on the cake. The New York lineup is now one of the scariest in history, and the only thing that can stop the Yankees is if the pressure of being expected to win at least 110 games gets to them, or if there are too many egos in the clubhouse.

The Toronto Blue Jays had an outstanding off-season, improving their bullpen 100 per cent and acquiring Miguel Batista and Ted Lilly to back-up Roy Halladay in the rotation. It’s a contract year, so expect huge numbers from Carlos Delgado.

You might wonder why the Boston Red Sox — who added Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke to their already terrific team — will fall to third place. It’s all about their failed attempt to deal for A-Rod. Losing A-Rod is bad enough, but losing him to the Yankees is like seeing your girlfriend dump you for your most hated enemy and having to watch them have sex on your lawn every day. The mental pressure has the BoSox beat before the year even begins.

After six losing seasons, the Baltimore Orioles brought in Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro to put some runs on the board. Unfortunately, their wretched pitching staff will keep them in fourth place.

With all this change in the AL East, it’s comforting to know that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will still suck.

For the last couple of years, the Chicago White Sox have had more talent than anyone else in the division with nothing to show for it. New manager Ozzie Guillen is a “player’s buddy” type of boss, so if he can get this bunch of slackers to play up to their potential, they’ll win.

The Kansas City Royals were a pleasant surprise last year. The addition of slugger Juan Gonzalez and the Royals’ potential all-lefty pitching staff might be enough to give K.C. the nod.

The Minnesota Twins are the two-time defending Central champs, but they suffered major losses in their bullpen. If Shannon Stewart can’t keep up the MVP-esque production he delivered after being dealt to the Twins last summer, Minnesota won’t be three-peating.

The Cleveland Indians are in the middle of one of those “youth movements” that fans love so much. Unless LeBron James can play baseball too, the Tribe are still a year away from contending.

After one of the worst seasons in pro sports history, the Detroit Tigers signed World Series stars Pudge Rodriguez and Ugie Urbina. They’ll still suck, but now they’ll suck less.

Arte Moreno is the ideal Major League owner. His first act after buying the Anaheim Angels was to lower beer prices at Edison Field. His second (and maybe even greater) act was to OK a payroll increase, which allowed the Angels to sign Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon. Guerrero, Jose Guillen and Garret Anderson make up one of baseball’s best outfields, and the 2002 champs look like they’ll be making another run at a title.

The Seattle Mariners are a well-balanced, veteran club that will give the Angels all they can handle. There is a rumour they’re looking to bring back Ken Griffey Jr., so the Mariners will even be deep at the DL spot.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito are arguably the best trio of pitchers in baseball, so the Oakland A’s will be competitive. Their offense, however, is down to Eric Chavez and Billy Beane’s latest bunch of Moneyball On Base Percentage fiends. Oakland’s run of division titles will end.

It’s the same old story for the Texas Rangers, as they have A-Rod, but no pitching... what’s that? They traded A-Rod? Oh man, they’re screwed.

AL CHAMPION: George Steinbrenner will lose it because Anaheim is going back to the Series.

WORLD SERIES: Anaheim will need the Angels in the outfield to overcome the years of destiny on the Cubs’ side. In the end, it will take six games for Chicago to win its first World Series since 1908.




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