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March 29, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Preseason Edition

by Jay Jaffe

Rk Team Proj. W-L Comment
1 Red Sox 99-63 Preparing their title defense on the assumption that the Curse of the Minky won't last 86 years.
2 Yankees 95-67 Snagged the Big Unit, but spent big dollars on imperfect pitching solutions at the expense of shoring up glaring weakness in CF. The best team $200 million can buy?
3 Cardinals 93-69 Starting pitching is functional, not flashy, but this team has too many big bats for the rest of the league to get past.
4 Cubs 90-72 With Sosa now a bittersweet memory, health of Prior, Wood and Zambrano is everything to this club, and everything is a bit shaky right now.
5 Phillies 90-72 Should fare better under low-key manager Manuel than Explodable Head Bowa, and with upgrades like groundball-friendly Lieber over homer-happy Milton.
6 A's 88-74 Despite fears for life after the Big Three, organizational depth and front-office smarts feed plenty of optimism.
7 Twins 86-76 Santana and Radke could be league's top 1-2 punch, and full years of Morneau and (hopefully) Mauer should boost offense.
8 Dodgers 85-77 Penny, Perez, Lowe, Weaver, Erickson, Alvarez, Jackson--spot the reliable, healthy starter and win a prize.
9 Indians 85-77 Up-and-comers could make the Twins sweat if they stick to blueprint and let young talent mature; Juan Gone in RF and Grady Sizemore in Buffalo calls their resolve into question.
10 Padres 84-78 Led by Cy candidate Peavy, these NL West vultures could swoop in if Dodgers falter and Bonds sits.
11 Angels 83-79 Controversy over name change overshadows so-so offseason. McPherson should provide much-needed injection of youth at 3B; similar boldness at 1B with Kotchman over Erstad would be a plus.
12 Braves 82-80 PECOTA begs to differ, but after 13 division titles in a row, there's little sense picking against them until they prove otherwise.
13 Marlins 81-81 Full seasons from Beckett and Burnett could make for an exciting Fish tale.
14 Mets 81-81 High-profile signings Pedro and Beltran offer improvement, as will a full season of David Wright.
15 Giants 81-81 Barryless will be perilous; assume 10 runs (one win) lost for every 14 games with Feliz and Tucker in LF.
16 White Sox 80-82 Speed'n'defense makeovers don't pan out often, nor does cornering the market on fragile Cuban refugee starters.
17 Rangers 79-83 Runs will be scored in Arlington, lots and lots of runs--many of them by the Rangers, but not enough of them.
18 Astros 79-83 B's not so killer without Beltran and (for April) Berkman, but a healthy Pettitte to go with Clemens and Oswalt ought to help.
19 Orioles 78-84 Slammin' Sammy Sosa joins bomb-prone offense; pitching is already thin without Punchin' Ponson's antics--bar fights and big butt to the contrary, Boomer Wells he ain't.
20 Mariners 77-85 Big Beltre and Sexson signings will propel this team upward, not far enough.
21 Reds 76-86 Dunn, Griffey, Kearns, Pena provide nice outfield depth, but they need to push the fences deeper to help Milton and company keep the ball in the park.
22 Tigers 76-86 Beware the Plexiglass Principle: big leap back to respectability sure to be offset by returns to earth by Pudge, Guillen, Inge.
23 Diamondbacks 76-86 78 million for Ortiz and Glaus? We're still laughing.
24 Brewers 74-88 Talent on the farm offers promise for the post-Selig era, but they'll take their lumps for a while yet.
25 Nationals 74-88 High profile signings of Guzman and Castilla will surprise lots of people. Especially Jim Bowden, and not in a good way.
26 Rockies 73-89 Proof that a winning altitude is a necessary ingredient in building a champion.
27 Blue Jays 73-89 Koskie signing emblematic of a regime in danger of losing the plot.
28 Pirates 72-90 Beautiful ballpark. Rudderless team.
29 Royals 69-93 Lima Time may get the headlines, but Greinke Time is the team's best hope to avoid Royals Blew epitaph.
30 Devil Rays 68-94 Hordes of young talent means they're no longer hopeless; deploying that young talent correctly will make all the difference.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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<< Previous Article
Premium Article 2005--Setting the Stag... (03/28)
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Prospectus Hit List: W... (04/12)
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Prospectus Triple Play... (03/29)

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