Yankees, Red Sox joined at the hip

Originally Published: April 2, 2005
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Yankees 1. New York Yankees: As the season begins, the onus shifts to Jason Giambi's bat: If he hits early in the season, he'll be forgiven in Yankee Stadium. Otherwise, it'll be rough.
Red Sox 2. Boston Red Sox: Shake hands with the Yankees? Sorry, kids, but it's time to grow up.
Braves 3. Atlanta Braves: Every starter threw effectively this spring, including Horacio Ramirez and Mike Hampton. Could get off to a fast start.
Twins 4. Minnesota Twins: Jason Bartlett opens the season at shortstop, and no one doubts he'll hit. His glove will be closely watched by a manager who loves defense.
Marlins 5. Florida Marlins: Josh Beckett had an 0.87 ERA in spring training, with 14 hits and five walks over 20.2 innings. Maybe this is the year he takes off.
Cardinals 6. St. Louis Cardinals: New book says Tony La Russa felt great angst over retaliation pitches. And this just in: Lawrence Taylor had trouble sleeping when he punished QBs.
Angels 7. Los Angeles Angels: Now Francisco Rodriguez will learn what it means to pitch without a safety net.
Cubs 8. Chicago Cubs: They are hopeful that Mark Prior will pitch April 12, but they're putting themselves in position to put him on the DL in case that doesn't work out.
Indians 9. Cleveland Indians: They're going to hit, with or without Juan Gone. Now, if their bullpen can just hold some leads.
Padres 10. San Diego Padres: Looks like they'll open the year without Dave Roberts, the guy who is supposed to change their offense.
Astros 11. Houston Astros: Trying all different kinds of combinations offensively, but they should stay in games often, assuming The Rocket's spring wasn't an early sign of a 42-year-old's flameout.
Phillies 12. Philadelphia Phillies: Pat Burrell is ready to bust out. No, we're not kidding this time.
Mets 13. New York Mets: An entire spring training did little to solve their bullpen problems. And between the aged Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez and the strike-challenged Kaz Ishii and Victor Zambrano, they're going to need a lot of bullpen help.
Athletics 14. Oakland Athletics: They're going to score runs, and when Barry Zito and Rich Harden pitch, they should be tough. The other days? We'll see.
Giants 15. San Francisco Giants: Opening the season without Barry Bonds leaves an enormous hole in their lineup. They gotta have him.
Rangers 16. Texas Rangers: Ryan Drese seems to be ready to take it to the next level. Now the Rangers need two or three other pitchers to do the same thing.
Orioles 17. Baltimore Orioles: Sidney Ponson has used up about eight of his nine Baltimore lives.
Dodgers 18. Los Angeles Dodgers: The scouts' take: A team with some serious issues. Unless Derek Lowe, Jeff Weaver and J.D. Drew are great players, they could struggle to stay in the race.
Tigers 19. Detroit Tigers: Jeremy Bonderman ready to bust out, so they've got a leader. Now they need other starters to follow.
Blue Jays 20. Toronto Blue Jays: Gustavo Chacin was an intriguing performer in spring training this year.
Mariners 21. Seattle Mariners: So many questions about pitching injuries. Ichiro will get a lot of hits, but we're not sure how many of them will mean something.
White Sox 22. Chicago White Sox: Brandon McCarthy might want to keep his cell phone on at all times. The bet here is that he'll be up by May 1.
Brewers 23. Milwaukee Brewers: They want to sign Ben Sheets, and Sheets wants to sign. It'll happen, eventually.
Reds 24. Cincinnati Reds: Yes, we know Eric Milton has had success. But nothing happened in the spring to make us think he'll win at the Great American Ball Park.
Diamondbacks 25. Arizona Diamondbacks: Spring-training consensus: Troy Glaus is going to do some big-time damage.
Pirates 26. Pittsburgh Pirates: They had a bunch of guys hit well in the spring, and Jason Bay just rejoined the team. We're rooting for them.
Nationals 27. Washington Nationals: Yes, they are going to be on television -- on the Orioles' network. But maybe Peter Angelos will give them the 5 a.m. time slot, up against infomercials.
Devil Rays 28. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Won a franchise-best 70 games in '04, but still finished 30½ games out of first place. Expect another long year for Lou Piniella and Co.
Rockies 29. Colorado Rockies: They're making strides but are still miles away.
Royals 30. Kansas City Royals: Twenty years since their last postseason appearance. That's Two-Zero, as in 20, years.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is being released in paperback on May 1 and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine