If it's not broken, don't fix it. Who could begrudge Anaheim Angels general manager Bill Stoneman a restful winter?
After all, the Angels' ultraimpressive run through the playoffs should not be viewed as the doing of the Rally Monkey or any other Disney-generated pixie dust. Anaheim is as sound as any team around, including the Yankees.
Witness the Angels' 207 run differential in scoring last season. They were fourth in the majors in runs scored while allowing the fewest in the American League. Better yet, they did this without having a single player in his walk year.
Anaheim returns 23 players from the World Series, with reserves Orlando Palmeiro and Alex Ochoa the only castoffs. This lack of activity is striking in the AL West, where every other team has a new manager. Oakland, which as usual has shuffled the deck some, and an aging Seattle team will take swings against Anaheim while Texas remains the most expensive last-place team in history.
While the Yankees have more new faces than usual, the finances and stubbornness of George Steinbrenner give Boston little room for optimism in the East. The Central shapes up as a two-team race between champion Minnesota and the improved White Sox.
Here's a look at each team, in order of finish from 2002.
Last year: 94-67, 1st; defeated Oakland in first round, lost to Anaheim in ALCS.
Manager: Ron Gardenhire.
Key additions: None.
Key losses: DH David Ortiz, RHP Mike Jackson.
Other moves: Added RHP Jose Cabrera, RHP Mike Fetters, SS Chris Gomez; lost RHP Bob Wells.
Big question: Can Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Joe Maysthe guts of the starting rotationassert themselves to take the pressure off a bullpen that was the key to the Twins' 29-16 record in one-run games last year?
Keep an eye on: RF Michael Cuddyer. The Twins need someone to add pop to a lineup that was ninth in the AL in runs last year. Other possibilities include strikeout-prone slugger Mike Restovich, Bobby Kielty and Matthew LeCroy.
Last year: 81-81, 2nd.
Manager: Jerry Manuel.
Key additions: RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Billy Koch, RHP Tom Gordon.
2003 AMERICAN LEAGUE PREVIEW