Power 10; Bottom 5

The 2004 ESPN.com rankings begin with the mighty Yankees and end with the pitiful Rangers.

Originally Published: April 2, 2004
ESPN.com

The regular season is finally here. So who's the best, and who's the worst? ESPN.com contributing writer Phil Rogers kicks off our rankings with his Power 10 and Bottom 5, and all teams in between.

ESPN.com Power 10
Rank Team Rogers' comment
Yankees 1. YankeesGiven that $190 million payroll, there's surprisingly little depth in the starting rotation but it looks like one of the best lineups in history. It's amazing how little talk there has been about Gary Sheffield, who is as good of a bet to win the AL MVP as Alex Rodriguez.
Angels 2. AngelsWith Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar at the front of the rotation, this might be the most complete team in the majors. Troy Percival looked shaky this spring, but don't be fooled. He'll turn it up once the season begins.
Astros 3. AstrosRoy Oswalt looked great in spring training, as did Roger Clemens. The rotation is arguably eight deep, with Brandon Duckworth, Carlos Hernandez and Taylor Buchholz waiting in the wings.
Red Sox 4. Red SoxInjuries to Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon and Byung-Hyun Kim set a troubling tone for a team that hasn't done a good job getting its players under contract. The potential free agents after this season include Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Scott Williamson, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Garciaparra.
Cubs 5. CubsIf Mark Prior is healthy and on form by Memorial Day, this should be the best team in the NL. But Dusty Baker and everyone in Cubs Nation are holding their breath about Prior. Look for a big year from Sammy Sosa, who is in terrific shape.
Marlins 6. MarlinsHard to believe you can be the world champions and underrated, but that appears the case. With Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis and Carl Pavano on track, Florida is positioned to do something it never has -- win a division title.
Athletics 7. AthleticsIf you've got the Big Three, you've got a chance. But the A's have more questions than usual, with the biggest being the bullpen. Will Arthur Rhodes still be the closer in August?
Mariners 8. MarinersWhile 40-year-old Jamie Moyer remains the ace, few organizations have more good arms. Freddy Garcia appears poised for a significant comeback.
Phillies 9. PhilliesBilly Wagner and Tim Worrell, who combined for 82 saves last year, are huge additions. This might be the deepest roster in the National League. But as long as Larry Bowa is the manager, it's hard to foresee smooth sailing.
Cardinals 10. CardinalsWith the Cubs and Astros spending more every year, St. Louis' excellent management team has been hindered by ownership's spending restriction. The failure to sign Greg Maddux, after veterans offered to defer some of their salaries, was a late demoralizing blow.
Diamondbacks 11. DiamondbacksGo ahead, pull teams out of the hat in the NL West. They could finish in almost any order. But if any team has an edge, it's the one with a healthy Randy Johnson along with the unflappable Brandon Webb.
Braves 12. BravesThis should be the year that the 12-year streak stops growing. But never count out a team run by Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz.
Giants 13. GiantsSince J.T. Snow failed to make it home against Florida, San Francisco has had a huge talent drain. Rich Aurilia, Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan will be badly missed, and questions linger about Robb Nen and Jason Schmidt.
Twins 14. TwinsJoe Mauer has had an ideal spring, and Ron Gardenhire once again has Minnesota winning. But it's hard to see this thin pitching staff, especially the bullpen, holding up for a full season. And remember this: only two teams have won division titles with rookie catchers since 1969.
White Sox 15. White SoxAfter underachieving under Jerry Manuel in recent years, the Sox are quietly poised to be a surprise. Frank Thomas has a perfect mindset for the season, and Mark Buehrle could join Esteban Loaiza to give the White Sox back-to-back 20-game winners.
Blue Jays 16. Blue JaysIn another division, we'd be talking a lot about Vernon Wells, Kevin Cash, Josh Phelps and the rest of Toronto's good young players. But given the giants ahead of them, the only question is do they deal Carlos Delgado or find a way to keep him?
Royals 17. RoyalsTony Pena opens the season with an all-lefty starting rotation while he waits for Kevin Appier to get healthy. Kansas City hopes to build off the momentum it built in the first half of last season, but history says teams that improve 20 games from one year to another almost never do better the next season.
Dodgers 18. DodgersGiven the lack of firepower, it appears this is a season when Los Angeles will have to take its lumps. Kevin Brown figures to be missed.
Reds 19. RedsRight on schedule, Ken Griffey Jr. left Monday's game with an injury. But the strained calf doesn't appear serious. If Griffey can reassert himself as an elite player, Cincinnati could be a pleasant surprise, especially if outfield mates Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn are also healthy.
Expos 20. ExposGM Omar Minaya continues to do an excellent job in an outrageous situation, but there's bound to be a slide without Vladimir Guerrero and Javier Vazquez. Lots of teams will also come around asking for middle infielders Jose Vidro and Orlando Cabrera at the trade deadline.
Rockies 21. RockiesShawn Estes, a bust as a fifth starter for the Cubs, showed signs in spring training of being this year's Esteban Loaiza. Look for a big return from Scott Elarton and some Rookie of the Year mentions for second baseman Aaron Miles. It could add up to a winning season, and maybe even a rare taste of contention, for Colorado.
Orioles 22. OriolesThis could be an interesting team, but it appears the pitching staff lags behind the lineup, which has added Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro and Javy Lopez. Kurt Ainsworth, added in the Sidney Ponson trade last year, could be a pleasant surprise now that he's healthy.
Padres 23. PadresBrian Giles may finally be on a team worthy of his approach. But this probably won't be the year that happens, not with David Wells (not Greg Maddux) as the centerpiece of the off-season renovations.
Tigers 24. TigersA fast start is imperative for Alan Trammell's team. If starters Mike Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman, Jason Johnson and Nate Cornejo are solid, the Detroit revival could be baseball's top story at Memorial Day.
Mets 25. MetsWith improved fielding and the arrival of pitching coach Rick Peterson from Oakland, Tom Glavine and Al Leiter could win 35 games between them. The health of Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd is the great X-factor.
ESPN.com Bottom 5
Rank Team Rogers' comment
Devil Rays 26. Devil RaysThey've had veterans in the lineup before, but never as productive as they should be after adding Jose Cruz Jr., Robert Fick, Tino Martinez, Eduardo Perez and Rey Sanchez, among others. This could be the year they don't finish last.
Indians 27. IndiansWith Detroit's improvement, it seems more likely Cleveland will move downward rather than into the middle of the Central division. The Indians are paying four pitchers who won't throw a pitch in 2004 (Billy Traber, Brian Tallet, Mark Wohlers and Scott Sauerbeck) along with Bob Wickman, who's out until the All-Star break, and Bob Howry, who is also continuing to recover from elbow surgery.
Pirates 28. PiratesThe starting pitching is decent, but this looks like the least productive lineup in the majors, especially if the Jason Kendall-to-Seattle rumors prove true. Don't be surprised if shortstop Jack Wilson represents Pittsburgh at the All-Star Game.
Brewers 29. BrewersThe first four or five months of 2003 figure to be as dreadful as usual in Milwaukee but September, and maybe August, could be fun. A deep corps of prospects, highlighted by Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, J.J Hardy, Brad Nelson and Mike Jones is on its way.
Rangers 30. RangersThe lack of pitching means another Groundhog's Day season for the faithful in Texas. The Rangers will get beaten up early, as they play their first 19 games against Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle. And with Alex Rodriguez gone, a 100-loss season seems more likely than not.