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January 19, 1998

Winter Lineupectomy

This week's patient: the AL East

by Joe Sheehan

With very few significant free agents unsigned, and the trade market at a bit of a standstill, we thought it would be a good time to look at what your favorite team should look like in three months. Here's the first in the midwinter Lineupectomy series.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

An aging, overrated team whose offense should continue sliding. The fragility of corner outfielders Jeffrey Hammonds and Eric Davis should create yet another opportunity for Tony Tarasco, while shortstop Augie Ojeda could be ready by midseason. Danny Clyburn could also have an impact as a platoon DH.

There's a lack of a good #3 hitter; using Alomar there against right-handers means the #2 slot is a little weak. Tarasco has some upside there.

And, no, we didn't forget about Mike Bordick or Joe Carter.
vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Anderson CF	Anderson CF
Tarasco RF	Clyburn DH
Alomar 2B	Davis RF
Palmeiro 1B	Hammonds LF
Baines DH	Hoiles C
Hammonds LF	Palmeiro 1B
Surhoff 3B	Ripken SS
Hoiles C	Surhoff 3B
Ripken SS	Alomar 2B

BOSTON RED SOX

The lack of good platoon partners in left field, right field and at designated hitter is a big problem for the Sox, and one that should be easy to remedy. People like Patrick Lennon are still available. Having to use Jeff Frye as a left fielder, and play Damon Buford at all, is a sign you're not paying attention.

Having so-so corner outfield platoons also negates much of the benefit derived from having the best offensive middle infield in the game, along with a pretty good catching platoon. If the Sox can find even one good corner outfielder by April, they could score 900 runs.

The lack of good outfielders also means there's a lot of pressure on Michael Coleman to be for real. Right now, he is the team's best CF option.
vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Naehring 3B	Naehring 3B
Valentin 2B	Valentin 2B
Vaughn 1B	Vaughn 1B
Garciaparra 2B	Garciaparra 2B
Jefferson DH	Leyritz C
Coleman CF	Coleman CF
Hatteberg C	Pozo DH
O'Leary LF	Frye LF
Bragg RF	Buford/Hyzdu RF

NEW YORK YANKEES

The big surprise in the lineups below is Rudy Gomez. Gomez is a 23-year-old second baseman, a 1996 draftee, who has hit ever since he was drafted, with no problems adjusting to the wooden bat. He looks a bit like Quilvio Veras, circa 1995, and is the Yankees' best second-base option. He is listed below as a bottom-of-the-order hitter, but his skills really would make him a leadoff hitter if he can make the jump from Double-A to the majors.

Third base is a problem, but the Yankees should get enough offense out of 2B/SS/C that they can carry Scott Brosius' glove and hope he reverts to his 1995 form, a happy medium between his 1996 and 1997 seasons.
vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Williams CF	Jeter SS
Jeter SS	Curtis LF
O'Neill RF	Williams CF
Davis DH	Davis DH
Martinez 1B	Martinez 1B
Ledee LF	Brosius 3B
Gomez 2B	O'Neill RF
Posada C	Posada C
Brosius 3B	Gomez 2B

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

A horrific offense. Really, really bad, and there are really no better options in the system than the ones we list below. Players like Steve Cox and Robert Smith might be better than Fred McGriff and Kevin Stocker, but it's close. If the Devil Rays score 700 runs, it's a major upset.
vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Boggs 3B	McCracken CF
Martinez CF	Stocker SS
Butler RF	Kelly LF
Sorrento 1B	Trammell DH
McGriff DH	McGriff 1B
Kieschnick LF	Martinez RF
Ledesma 2B	Boggs 3B
Flaherty C	Ledesma 2B
Stocker SS	Flaherty C

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

It's fairly obvious who is most deserving of playing time in Toronto. It's simple: if Tom Evans and Jeff Patzke play, the team can win the division. If Ed Sprague plays third base and Tony Fernandez gets the bulk of the time at second base, the 75-80 runs that would cost the Jays will probably be enough to keep them home in October.
vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Stewart LF	Stewart LF
Patzke 2B	Fernandez 2B
Cruz CF		Cruz CF
Stanley DH	Stanley DH
Delgado 1B	Evans 3B
Evans 3B	Santiago C
Green RF	Delgado 1B
Fletcher C	Green RF
Gonzalez SS	Gonzalez SS

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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