2007 record: 96-66 (first place)
Manager: Eric Wedge (sixth season, 415-395)
2008 payroll: $80 million
Additions: RHP Masahide Kobayashi, 2B Jamey Carroll.
Subtractions: CF Kenny Lofton, SS Chris Gomez.
Projected lineup: CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Travis Hafner,
C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, LF David Dellucci, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez
Projected rotation: LH C.C. Sabathia, RH Fausto Carmona, RH Jake Westbrook, RH Paul Byrd, LH Cliff Lee
Closer: RH Joe Borowski
Why they’ll soar: With most players returning from ‘07, team finds its way back to ALCS or beyond.
Why they’ll sink: With most players returning from ‘07, team unable to keep up with improved competition.
2007 record: 88-74 (second place)
Manager: Jim Leyland (third season with Tigers, 183-141; 17th season overall, 1,252-1,272)
2008 payroll: $134 million
Additions: 3B Miguel Cabrera, LHP Dontrelle Willis, SS Edgar Renteria, LF Jacque Jones
Subtractions: SS Omar Infante, CF Cameron Maybin, RHP Jair Jurrjens, C Mike Rabelo
Projected lineup: SS Edgar Renteria, 2B Placido Polanco, DH Gary Sheffield, RF Magglio Ordonez, 3B Miguel Cabrera, C Ivan Rodriguez, CF Brandon Inge, LF Jacque Jones
Projected rotation: RH Justin Verlander, RH Jeremy Bonderman, LH Nate Robertson, LH Kenny Rogers, LH Dontrelle Willis
Closer: RH Todd Jones
Why they’ll soar: Cabrera, Renteria make already-imposing lineup an unstoppable force; Willis turns in ace-like performance from fifth spot of rotation.
Why they’ll sink: New pieces fail to fit in as expected; Willis’ career continues to collapse; unsteady bullpen proves to be crucial weakness.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
2007 record: 72-90 (fourth place)
Manager: Ozzie Guillen (fifth season, 344-304)
2008 payroll: $118 million
Additions: SS Orlando Cabrera, RHP Scott Linebrink, RF Carlos Quentin, CF Nick Swisher, RHP Octavio Dotel
Subtractions: RHP Jon Garland, CF Darin Erstad, LHP Gio Gonzalez, LF Ryan Sweeney
Projected lineup: SS Orlando Cabrera, CF Nick Swisher, 1B Paul Konerko, DH Jim Thome, RF Jermaine Dye, 3B Joe Crede, C A.J. Pierzynski, LF Carlos Quentin, 2B Juan Uribe
Projected rotation: LH Mark Buehrle, RH Javier Vazquez, LH John Danks, RH Jose Contreras, RH Gavin Floyd
Closer: RH Bobby Jenks
Why they’ll soar: Cabrera, Swisher help turn around what was one of the worst offenses in the A.L. in 2007; Thome tops 100 RBIs for the 10th time in his career.
Why they’ll sink: Lineup sinks again; rotation struggles after Buehrle.
2007 record: 79-83 (third place)
Manager: Ron Gardenhire (seventh season, 534-437)
2008 payroll: $56 million
Additions: RF Craig Monroe, LF Delmon Young, 2B Brendan Harris, SS Adam Everett, 3B Mike Lamb, CF Carlos Gomez
Subtractions: LHP Johan Santana, CF Torii Hunter, RHP Matt Garza, SS Jason Bartlett, RHP Carlos Silva
Projected lineup: CF Carlos Gomez, C Joe Mauer, RF Michael Cuddyer, 1B Justin Morneau, LF Delmon Young, DH Jason Kubel/ Craig Monroe, 3B Mike Lamb, 2B Brendan Harris, SS Adam Everett
Projected rotation: RH Livan Hernandez, RH Scott Baker, RH Boof Bonser, RH Kevin Slowey, LH Francisco Liriano
Closer: RH Joe Nathan
Why they’ll soar: Morneau, Mauer able to make everyone forget about Hunter; Young, Gomez develop into top talents; Lamb, Everett solidify infield; rotation stays together.
Why they’ll sink: Without Santana and Hunter, Indians and Tigers swallow them up.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
2007 record: 69-93 (fifth place)
Manager: Trey Hillman (first season)
2008 payroll: $60 million
Additions: RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta, RF Jose Guillen, 3B Alberto Callaspo, RHP Billy Buckner, LHP Ron Mahay, C Miguel Olivo
Subtractions: C Jason LaRue, RHP David Riske, CF Emil Brown
Projected lineup: CF David DeJesus, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, LF Mark Teahen, RF Jose Guillen, 1B Ross Gload, DH Billy Butler, 3B Alex Gordon, C John Buck/Miguel Olivo, SS Tony Pena
Projected rotation: RH Gil Meche, RH Brian Bannister, RH Zack Greinke, LH John Bale, RH Brett Tomko
Closer: RH Joakim Soria
Why they’ll soar: Hillman manages to whip perennial cellar-dwellers into shape; Guillen provides some pop in the middle of the lineup.
Why they’ll sink: Guillen implodes, Hillman finds himself in over his head.
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