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Old 03-14-2002, 07:18 PM   #1
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Default 2002 Professional Baseball Preseason Rankings

1.-NEW YORK YANKEES-With the acquisition of Jason Giambi the team has all the power it needs on offense. Robin Ventura is a good choice for third base until Drew Henson is ready. Henson is large at 6-5 220. I'm interested to see how first baseman Nick Johnson does this year. 2001 Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens will head up the pitching staff along with Andy Pettitte, Sterling Hitchcock and Mike Mussina. Don't bet against this team unless they have a lot of injuries.

2.-NEW YORK METS-The Mets did some major improvements during the off-season. Second baseman Roberto Alomar acquired from Cleveland could be the best second baseman in all of baseball. Big Mo Vaughan at first base could hit 30 to 40 homeruns if he remains healthy. Roger Cedeno who was acquired from Detroit adds speed to the team immediately. Mets also acquired outfielder Jeromy Burnitz from Milwaukee. Pitcher Al Leiter needs to step up and be the ace of this team, and newly acquired Shawn Estes could win 15 to 18 games with some run support.

3.-ST. LOUIS CARDINALS-This team could very well end up in the World Series this year. Slugger Mark McGwire is retired, but ex-Yankee Tino Martinez brings new leadership and a good bat. 2001 Rookie of the Year Albert Pujols returns and he should be as good as last season. Jim Edmonds and J.D. Drew will take care of the outfield and provide plenty of offense. Pitcher Rick Ankiel really needs to get his control under control and stay healthy. Pitcher Darryl Kile and Matt Morris both could win 20 games this season. Morris went 22-8 with an ERA of 3.16 in 2001. 22 year old lefty Bud Smith tossed a no-hitter last year and could very well repeat that again. Got to like the Cardinals acquiring closer Jason Isringhausen from Oakland. He had 34 saves in 2001. Pitcher Woody Williams who came over from San Diego last season pitched very effectively for the Cardinals going 7-1 with an ERA of 2.28. I really think St. Louis will win the NL pennant this year.

4.-ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS-Defending World Champs need another good season from starting pitcher Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Both are aging quickly. Can they repeat? Barring any major injuries they can. Outfielder Luis Gonzalez probably won't repeat the staggering numbers he had in 2001, but he will still be a very effective hitter. Outfielder Steve Finley needs to stay healthy. It was a bad break, no pun intended, that third baseman Matt Williams broke his leg. He may be ready to go by the end of April. Pitcher Miguel Batista finished 11-8 last season, but needs to improve on that.

5.SEATTLE MARINERS-Not much has changed since last season, with the exception of losing starting pitcher Aaron Sele to Anaheim. Seattle still has a great staff. Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Paul Abbott, Joel Pineiro and John Halama will make up the starting pitching staff. I really like this kid Joel Pineiro. He's only 23. He went 6-2 with an ERA of only 2.03 in 2001 for the Mariners. 2001 AL Rookie of the Year Ichiro returns. Swings a hot bat and has plenty of speed. I look for him to bat around .320 this season. Second baseman Bret Boone will be hard pressed to repeat his numbers from a year ago, but its possible. Seattle picked up infielder Jeff Cirillo during the off-season. DH Edgar Martinez shows signs of slowing down.

6.BOSTON RED SOX-The Sox have a new owner and a new manager. Grady Little will take charge. He was the bench coach for the Indians. Boston and New York will fight all year for the division title. This will only happen if pitcher Pedro Martinez stays off the DL and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra is 100%. Boston added ex-Oakland Athletic Johnny Damon to their lineup and in the outfield. Damon can hit .300 and hit with some power. They also acquired often injured first baseman Tony Clark from Detroit. He's big at 6-7. Slugger Manny Ramirez hit 41 homeruns with 125 RBI's in 2001. Believe it or not he can improve upon those numbers. He will need too for his team to win it all. Catcher Jason Varitek is back healthy after missing half the season in 2001. Boston's starting pitching is still a little on the weak side. They acquired John Burkett from Atlanta, but Burkett is 37 years old. Frank Castillo returns healthy this spring. A lot of questions about Rolando Arrojo starting and staying off the DL.

7.-ATLANTA BRAVES-Atlanta without a doubt will have the best outfield combination in all of baseball. Gary Sheffield in right field, Andruw Jones in center and Chipper Jones in left. Sheffield was a big acquisition. He can hit 30 or 40 homerun. If Chipper Jones can hit just as many, watch out opposing teams. Andruw Jones is capable of hitting just as many-he just needs to cut down on his strikeouts. Newly acquired Vinny Castilla will handle third base. He played well with Houston last season. The first base job has not been resolved just yet. It's between 40 year old Julio Franco and Wes Helms. I would go with Helms myself. I'm interested in seeing how rookie George Lombard does with the Braves. He's an outfielder, but he could play first. The Braves pitching staff is aging. Greg Maddux seems to wear out by August. Tom Glavine can still be effective most of the time. Kevin Millwood has not returned to his old self quite yet and the Braves are hoping for big things from Jason Marquis. Albie Lopez comes over from Arizona and hopes for a fresh start. Ex-starter John Smoltz will be the closer.

8.-TEXAS RANGERS-The Rangers did a lot of wheeling and dealing during the winter to improve their team and they did. They picked up moody outfielder Carl Everett from Boston, slugger Juan Gonzalez from Cleveland, controversial closer John Rocker from Cleveland and pitcher Chan Ho Park from Los Angeles. Future slugger Jason Hart was also acquired from Oakland. I really like this kid. Shortstop Alex Rodriquez should be good for 50 homeruns again. He knocked in 135 runs last year. Also it is hoped that Ivan Rodriquez can stay injury free. Texas' starting pitching is still lacking, even with the addition of Park, but it is hoped that Kenny Rogers will contribute more this year and maybe Dave Burba also acquired from Cleveland has one good season left in him. Texas led the league in total bases, slugging and homeruns hit. Those numbers should increase this season. This should be a fun team to watch in 2002.

9.-CHICAGO CUBS-The Cubs were in and out of first place in the NL Central last season and they are hoping to stay in first place now that they have outfielder Moises Alou. Alou was picked up from the Houston Astros. Alou brings a hot bat with him. He batted .331 last season and knocked in 108 runs. Sammy Sosa and Alou in the outfield and at the plate will spell danger for opposing pitchers. First baseman Fred McGriff is back and can be just as dangerous. McGriff has 448 career homeruns. Sosa has 450. Chicago needs a good year from catcher Todd Hundley. He can hit 30 or more homeruns when in the right groove. A lot is expected of young outfielder Corey Patterson. The Cubs have a good starting pitching staff with 20 game winner Jon Leiber returning. Kerry Wood should be 100% in 2002. Jason Bere has great potential. Sit back and see what rookie Juan Cruz can do. Mark Prior is suspose to be something special too. It appears that closer Tom Gordon will be out for two months due to an injury. Jeff Fassero and Kyle Fawnsworth will need to step up.

10.-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS-Homerun slugger Barry Bonds wants a World Series ring more than hitting 70 or more homeruns. This could be their year. Bonds shows no signs of slowing down. The Giants acquired outfielder Reggie Sanders from Arizona. He hit over 30 homeruns last season. The rest of the team is almost entirely intact. Pitcher Shawn Estes is gone, but the Giants are high on pitcher Jason Schmidt. Schmidt went 7-1 as a Giant last year. Rookie pitcher Kurt Ainsworth is expected to contribute this season. He was 10-9 with Fresno State in 2001, but he has great potential. His slider is one of the nastiest in the minors. He can throw a 93 MPH fastball.

11.-CHICAGO WHITE SOX-The White Sox should win the AL Central for three reasons. A healthy Frank Thomas, the acquisition of outfielder Kenny Lofton and the pitching of Mark Buehrle. Buehrle could easily win 20 this season. He went 16-8 in 2001. Outfielder Magglio Ordonez is another reason the White Sox will be successful this season. He hit 31 homeruns and drove in 113 runs last year. Chicago acquired pitcher Todd Ritchie from Pittsburgh. He had a tough year last year, but has the potential to be a good pitcher.

12.CINCINNATI REDS-Reds need a healthy Ken Griffey Jr. They need 40 or 50 homeruns from him. Outfielder Adam Dunn is going to be a great ballplayer. He is capable of hitting 40 homeruns or more. He is only 22. Ex-Tiger Juan Encarnacion joins the outfield. First baseman Sean Casey needs a big year. He was so so in 2001. A healthy Barry Larkin is needed too. Starting pitching for the Reds is not very good. Elmer Dessens and Chris Reitsma head the pitching staff. They only had 17 wins between them last year.

13.-LOS ANGELES DODGERS-Dodgers are due to win a pennant, but it won't be this year. Sheffield is gone and was replaced by Atlanta's Brian Jordan. I think Atlanta got the best of this deal. Outfielder Shawn Green needs to repeat his numbers from 2001. Catcher Paul Lo Duca should provide some run production as he did in 2001. First baseman Eric Karros needs to drive in 100 runs or more. The pitching staff is led by often injured Kevin Brown. But when he is 100% he is hard to beat. Andy Ashby should be healed by now. Hideo Nomo returned to his old team from Boston. He led the AL in strikeouts last season. LA signed another Japanese pitcher. His name is Kazuhisa Ishii. He's a lefty with a 93 MPH sharp curve ball. Omar Daal is capable of winning a few games. He was 13-7 for Philadelphia last season. If LA can get their starting pitching at their best this team could be dangerous. Only time will tell.

14.-SAN DIEGO PADRES-This could be a Cinderella team. They have a bunch of talent on this squad. It was a terrible blow to lose Mike Darr to an auto accident. Ryan Kleso and third baseman Phil Nevin will provide most the offense. Both had a good year in 2001. Nevin hit 41 homeruns and Klesko hit 30. Outfielder Bubba Trammell was a pleasant surprise by knocking in 92 runs last year. A lot is expected of rookie infielder Sean Burroughs. Pitcher Kevin Jarvis heads up the pitching staff along with ex-Mariner Brett Tomko. Brian Tollberg can be effective. He was 10-4 in 2001. I really expect this team to do well.

li>15.-OAKLAND ATHLETICS-Athletics let Jason Giambi get away and Johnny Damon too. Not good. The good thing about this team is their young talented starting pitching staff with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Cory Lidle. Mulder went 21-8 last season and Hudson was 18-9. They lost closer Jason Isringhausen to St. Louis. but they did pick up closer Billy Koch from Toronto. He has a great fastball. This team could run into big trouble this year. A good bit of their offense is gone. But they still have Jermaine Dye, Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada. Tejada and Chavez both drove in over an 100 runs in 2001. Jeremy Giambi is still with the team, but he is in no way as productive as his brother. This team could surprise us and win their division, but I doubt it.

16.-HOUSTON ASTROS-Astros have a new manager in Jimy Williams. I really hated it when he was fired by Boston. He's a classy guy. He may work wonders with this team. They should probably be ranked higher than I have them. Losing Moises Alou was a big part of their offense, but they still have slugger Jeff Bagwell and a great hitter in Lance Berkman. Berkman hit 34 homeruns and drove in 126 runs. He batted .331. Outfielder Richard Hidalgo can hit for power, but he had an off year in 2001. It is hoped he can return to his 2000 form. Rookie second baseman Morgan Ensberg could be rookie of the year if he gets enough playing time. Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt head up the starting pitching staff. Oswalt went 14-3 with an ERA of 2.73 in 2001. Shane Reynolds is capable of winning a lot of games. Tim Redding could be another effective pitcher. Houston won't win the NL Central, but they may secure a wild card spot.

17.-ANAHEIM ANGELS-This could be another Cinderella team. The Angels really improved their pitching staff by acquiring Aaron Sele from Seattle. Sele went 15-5 in 2001. The Angeles acquired another pitcher from the New York Mets by the name of Kevin Appier. He's capable of winning 15 to 18 games. Ramon Ortiz returns again this season. Third baseman Troy Glaus is the big man on this team. He hit 41 homeruns last season with 108 RBI's. Outfielders Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon both need to have a better year than last. Garrett Anderson drove in 123 runs in 2001. With some better hitting and better pitching this season, Anaheim could secure a wild card spot. They have the talent.

18.-MINNESOTA TWINS-The Twins had a very successful year last season. They survived contraction this year so that might be a good sign. Third baseman Cory Koskie is currently recuperating from a wrist injury, but should be ready by opening day. He knocked in 103 runs last season. First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz did well too by driving in 103 runs. Outfielder Torii Hunter has a lot of promise and potential. He drove in over 90 runs. DH David Ortiz can crank them out of the ballpark. The Twins starting pitching is pretty good. It is led by Brad Radke who went 15-11 with an ERA of 3.94. Eric Milton went 15-7. Joe Mays won 17 games. I like their pitching staff very much. They will depend on Eddie Guardado to close the close games out for them. Minnesota can win the AL Central if the ball bounces just right for them.

19.-CLEVELAND INDIANS-The Indians are much weaker this season. Why? Roberto Alomar, Kenny Lofton, and Juan Gonzalez are long gone. First baseman Jim Thome will be the muscle man and is capable of hitting 40 to 50 homeruns. The Indians desperately need third baseman Travis Fryman to have a solid year. Mark Shapiro is the new GM and he believes his club can win with their starting pitching. It's not that good. C.C. Sabathia and Bartolo Colon are it. Sabathia went 17-5 last season. Chuck Finley is washed up in my opinion. This team will drop like a rock in 2002.

20.-FLORIDA MARLINS-I'm excited about this young team, especially their starting pitching staff. They are young and very good. They remind me of Atlanta's pitching staff in the early 90's. A lot will be expected from 21 year oild Josh Beckett. He has a great fastball that has been clocked at 95 MPH and a nasty diving curve ball. A.J. Burnett pitched a no-hitter last season and should be better this year. Brad Penny who was 10-10 will improve too. Matt Clement and Ryan Dempster are also good pitchers. Dempster led the staff with 15 wins. All-Star outfielder Cliff Floyd had a big year with 31 homeruns and 103 runs driven in last season. Rookie Abraham Nunez has plenty of promise. Third baseman Mike Lowell is good for 100 RBI's and first baseman Derek Lee could do the same. Watch this team closely this year, they may shock you. They will contend for the NL East crown.

21.-MONTREAL EXPOS-I really like this team. Montreal fans and major league baseball may not, but I do. Frank Robinson takes over at manager. I think he will do well. I was so happy to see them acquire Jose Canseco and Andres Galarraga. Galarraga can still play everyday and hit for power. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is a talented young man. He batted .276 with 96 RBI's in 2001. First baseman Lee Stevens is capable of putting up some big numbers. He hit 25 homeruns last year and knocked in 95. The main man on this team is none other than Vladimir Guerrero. He produces big every year. He hit 34 homeruns with 108 RBI's in 2001. He's fast too. Stole 37 bases. Pitcher Javier Vasquez is the ace of this club. He was 16-11 last season. Tony Armas Jr. has the talent to win 16 too. Masato Yoshii could very well do the same.

22.-KANSAS CITY ROYALS-The Royals may be another big surprise in 2002. First baseman Mike Sweeney leads the offense. He hit 29 homeruns with 99 RBI's. He served a 10 game suspension last season for fighting with Detroit pitcher Jeff Weaver. Sweeney can put up some big numbers. Third baseman Joe Randa is capable of hitting well. 2001 was an off year for him. The Royals are high on rookie shortstop Angel Berroa. Outfielder Carlos Beltran can also drive in a lot of runs. He knocked in 101 last season. Ex-Yankee Chuck Knoblauch will play in the outfield for his new team. He can provide some key leadership if he will. Jeff Suppan will be the team's top pitcher along with Chad Durbin. The pitching staff is young give them some time to develop.

23.-PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES-The Phillies really surprised everyone in baseball by leading the NL East for most of the year. I don't think they will do quite as well this season. Manager Larry Bowa is a difficult man to play for. He demands a lot, maybe too much. Outfielder Bobby Abreu put up great numbers last season. He hit 31 homers with 110 RBI's. Third baseman Scott Rolen has been reported to be unhappy with the directions the Phils are going. He just needs to play his best and let management do their job. First baseman Travis Lee can hit for power. Pitcher Robert Person went 15-7 with an ERA of 4.19 in 2001. Rookie Brandon Duckworth is expected to do well in the majors. He was 13-2 with Scranton AAA last season. Closer Jose Mesa had 42 saves in 2001.

24.-MILWAUKEE BREWERS-Brewers let Jeromy Burnitz get away to the New York Mets. Richie Sexson will be their power man this year. He hit 45 homeruns with 125 RBI's in 2001. Geoff Jenkins will contribute on offense and in the outfield. Ben Sheets is the ace of this squad. Ruben Quevedo will improve with time. Pitcher Jamey Wright was 11-12 in 2001. He is 27 years old. 21 year old Nick Neugebauer could develop into a good pitcher with the proper coaching. His fastball has been clocked at 97 MPH.

25.-COLORADO ROCKIES-Another team that could turn it around over night. In 2001 they ranked first in batting,total bases, slugging,on-base% and in runs scored in the NL. They ranked second in homeruns hit. Ok so my point is offense is not their problem is. Their starting pitching has killed them plus playing in Coors Field. Mike Hampton who came over from the Mets last year to play for Colorado was effective at times, but not enough times. He went 14-13 with an ERA of 5.41 and Denny Neagle was 9-8 with an ERA of 5.38. Shawn Chacon also had an ERA of 5.06. Scott Elarton is on the DL. So the team is giving up over five runs per game. Not good. The good news is having Todd Helton and Larry Walker on the team. Helton hit 49 homeruns with 146 RBI's. AMAZING! Walker hit 38 homeruns with 123 RBI's. Outfielder Juan Pierre batted .327. and stole 46 bases. So if their starting pitching can improve this team could be very dangerous.

26.PITTSBURGH PIRATES-The Pirates can only hope for good things to happen to them or for them. Outfielder Brian Giles helps lead the offense. He hit 37 homeruns with 95 RBI's. He batted .309 and third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit 34 homeruns with 112 RBI's and he batted .300. Both are very important to this team. Catcher Jason Kendall had an off year by hitting only 10 homeruns and driving in 53. They need him to produce. Bottom line is the Pirates have no starting pitching to speak of. Kris Benson heads the staff up, but he did not play last year. Kip Wells came over from the White Sox, so it is hoped he will do well in the NL. He was 10-11 with Chicago.

27.-TORONTO BLUEJAYS-The Jays could compete in the AL East with some good pitching. Chris Carpenter heads the staff up. He went 11-11 in 2001. The good news is that they acquired pitcher Luke Prokopec from Los Angeles. He's Australian and only 24 years old. He is and will be a good pitcher one day soon. First baseman Carlos Delgado is the anchor for this team. Outfielder Jose Cruz Jr can hit for power and drive in runs. He hit 34 homeruns in 2001. Shannon Stewart had an off-season and it is hoped he will return to his old form. The good news is the Royals ranked second in the AL in fielding.

28.-DETROIT TIGERS-Ex-President of the Florida Marlins Dave Dombrowski is now the President of the Detroit Tigers. He's going to take a hard look at the GM, the manager Phil Garner and to the lowest minor league affiliate. Gone is first baseman Tony Clark-he was traded to Boston. Also Juan Encarnacion is history. This team will take on a new look and hopefully a new attitude. Outfielder Bobby Higginson is capable of putting up big numbers. Second baseman Damian Easley has promise too-just needs to use it. Rookie Brandon Inge will takeover at catcher. Starting pitcher Steve Sparks had a good year by going 14-9. Jeff Weaver returns too. He won 13 games in 2001. They are praying that Jose Lima will return to his old form-winning ball games. A lot is expected of Nate Cornejo. He was one of the top pitchers in the Eastern League in the minors. He has a nasty sinking fastball.

29.-BALTIMORE ORIOLES-Too bad Cal Ripken Jr has retired. What reason will the fans have to come out to the ballpark now? You think maybe ex-Cleveland Indian Marty Cordova can bring them back to the park? Seriously, Cordova is a good player. He batted .301 and hit 20 homeruns in the 122 games he played in. I think Jay Gibbons is going to be a fine hitter and outfielder. Third baseman Tony Batista needs to hit 40 homeruns again. First baseman David Segui has power at times. Jeff Conine will play in right field this year. He knocked in 97 runs last season. Can 34 year old pitcher Scott Erickson return to his old self? He did not play at all last year. Sidney Ponson who is 25 may develop into a good pitcher. Jason Johnson at 6-6 235 may intimidate some hitters. Young Josh Towers may contribute this season. I'd like to see this once proud organization return to its old self soon.

30.-TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS-Tampa Bay can only win by developing its young pitching staff. Tanyon Sturtze was 11-12 with an ERA of 4.42 in 2001. Big Joe Kennedy 6-4 225 may be a fine pitcher soon. Paul Wilson another big pitcher at 6-5 235 has potential. Lefty Wilson Alvarez must figure into the equation. Outfielder and slugger Greg Vaughan is growing older. He's 36. Outfielder Ben Grieve could be their next big slugger. A lot is expected of thiurd baseman Jared Sandberg, the nephew of ex-Chicago Cubs Ryne Sandberg. I'm not sure if manager Hal McRae is the right man to lead this team. I say give him a chance.

Written by Keith Thronson-bama 4256
Keith "baseball nut" Thronson

Last edited by bama4256; 03-15-2002 at 12:10 AM.
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