Chicago White Sox -
Starting 9: The Pale Hose will enter Season 1 with an offense very much capable of scoring runs, especially via the homerun. Leading the charge will be preseason MVP candidate Jumbo Starr and star catcher Enrique Coronado. These two should be one of the more productive duo's in the AL should any of their teammates be able to consistently get on base in front of them. James McKnight, who will most likely DH, and Nate Ferrara should provide sound support behind Starr and Coronado.
Pitching staff: Whereas this team can score runs there looks to be little chance they can protect them. AN over-the-hill staff (eight pitchers 33 and older) figures to be one of the worst in the entire league. Terry Gardner and Tino Pan are the best options on an otherwise very weak rotation. Along with promising rookie reliever Benito James there are a couple of mediocre relievers who are capable of holding and saving games if they get the chance.
The future: A handful of reliever prospects will one day form an elite bullpen. However, a lack of a true SP prospects will probably ensure a few tough years for Chicago's pitching staff. Theodore Yount and Ramon Lee will provide more power to the lineup in the future, although Yount may be blocked until S3 as both the catcher and DH spots are currently locked up.
Detroit Tigers -
Starting 9: Walt Cota and Paul Smith may be the best top of the linup combo in the league and will set the table for slugger Wilfredo Candelaria. Kory Durrington and Bernie Villafuerte should provide two more viable options in a respectable lineup.
Pitching staff: The starting rotation for the White Sox won't wow you but should be fairly dependable. Johan Kotsay should be the opening day starter and fellow veteran Eugene Allen are solid top of the rotation options. Shutting down opposing clubs in the late innings should be the task of rookie Paul Wilkerson and veteran Max Cordero. Overall this is a well rounded staff and should be capable of keeping the team in most games.
The future: Sammy Pascual is the future ace of the club and Del Macdougal will add depth to the future rotation. Doug Davis should one day compete for the batting title although lacks the power projections you would like to see from a DH/1B prospect.
Minnesota Twins -
Starting 9: This average at best offense will be lead by shortstop Tim Fisher. When facing lefties the Twins will have some nice power options in Bailey Fonville and rookie Gary Martin. However, it does not look like there is enough talent in this offense to produce consistently.
Pitching staff: It could be a long season in Minnesota - their staff from top to bottom projects to be one of the worst in the entire league. Bill Tam will most likely start the season atop the rotation though he lacks the stamina to be a truly effective starter. The best bet in the bullpen is Einar Hernandez, though you'd think his number of opportunities to save games will be limited by the lack of talent in the rotation.
The future: Unfortunately for the twins there is not a lot going on in their minor league system. Turk Weber is one of the best prospects in the game and Teddy Marquis may one day be one of the best power hitting catchers in the league. There is work to be done here in the farm system if Minnesota is to compete anytime soon.
Toronto Blue Jays -
Starting 9: Pushing runs across the plate may be the toughest job in Toronto this season. Nick Benjamin is the only player capable of getting on base consistently and Tom Burton is likely the Blue Jays best power option. After these two, though, is a real lack of talent. If Benjamin and Burton don't hit consistently it's tough to see Toronto winning many games.
Pitching staff: The best bet for the Jays to win games is if the offense can provide just a bit of run support for preseason Cy Young favorite Landon Norton. Artie Ryan and Trevor Huff should fill out the top three spots of the rotation. Donn Pierre can close games out when provided the opportunity although the team lacks a clear setup guy.
The future: Toronto's minor league system has pitching depth, lead by future All Star Ichiro Kondou. The more exciting pitching prospect for the Jays may be Johnny DuBose, the twenty two year old is currently at AAA and could see action in the ML this season if needed. Saul Romero is Toronto's best position prospect and should inject a good amount of power to the lineup when he's ready in three or four seasons.
How they will finish: If Detroit can get consistent pitching they are the best bet to win the AL North. However, if the Blue Jays can find the offense to back their top three starters they could prove to be a legitimate challenger in the division. Minnesota and Chicago will likely not play a big part in the final standings.