Major League Baseball Preview


It’s April, which means it’s time to kick off another season of Major League Baseball. How will the local teams stack up? Staff writer Jason Levy serves up his thoughts on how the 2006 season will shape up for the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.

Boston Red Sox:
Key additions: Josh Becket SP, Rudy Seanez, RP, Alex Gonzalez SS, Mark Loretta 2B, Mike Lowell 3B, Coco Crisp OF, Wily Mo Pena OF

Key losses: Johnny Damon OF, Edgar Renteria SS, Bronson Arroyo SP, Kevin Millar 1B

Analysis: No team in baseball went through more of an off-season soap opera than the Red Sox. First it was GM Theo Epstein quitting out of the blue, only to return months later, and that was nothing compared to the Manny Ramirez saga, where his decision to stay or go seemed to change by the hour. The season will ride on the health of 2004 heroes Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. Should their injuries return, the BoSox will struggle to make it back to October, especially with the up and coming Blue Jays nipping at their heels. One player to watch is Jonathon Papelbon, who contributed as a rookie last season and should become a key figure in the Sox bullpen.

Prediction: 2nd in AL East, miss playoffs

New York Yankees:
Key additions: Johnny Damon OF, Kyle Farnsworth RP, Octavio Dotel RP, Kelly Stinnett C,

Key losses: Tom Gordon RP, Ruben Sierra DH, Tony Womack IF/OF, Tino Martinez 1B

Analysis: The Yanks got the most headlines over the winter when they brought Damon down to the Bronx. The move fills a gaping centerfield hole, and improved their offense from spectacular to lethal. Will the move improve clubhouse chemistry, or is Damon yet another in a long line of mercenaries in pinstripes? No one doubts the Yankees’ bats, but the biggest question is the Yankees’ starting pitching. Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright spent most of ’05 on the DL, but that’s where they do the least damage. And how much do Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson have left in the tank? Offense wins plenty of games, but pitching wins titles.

Prediction: 1st in AL East, lose in Divisional Series

New York Mets:
Key additions: Carlos Delgado 1B, Paul Lo Duca C, Xavier Nady OF, Billy Wagner RP, Duaner Sanchez RP, Julio Franco 1B

Key losses: Mike Piazza C, Mike Cameron OF, Miguel Cairo 2B, Jae-Wong Seo SP, Kris Benson SP, Anna Benson

Analysis: The Mets made major strides back toward contention in ’05, and GM Omar Minaya continued the overhaul in the off-season, improving nearly every weak point. With more protection in the batting order, Carlos Beltran should be more comfortable in New York and see his numbers improve. David Wright will benefit as well, as he could be on his way to an MVP season. Rookie Anderson Hernandez could pry the second base job away from the much-maligned Kaz Matsui. But everything rides on the big toe of ace Pedro Martinez. If he goes down, 2006 could easily follow. But the rest of the NL East took a step backwards over the winter, and the Mets could reap the benefits.

Prediction: 2nd in NL East, win NL wild card, lose in World Series