"I don't see their closer," says Indians pitcher Tom Candiotti. It's Jeff Reardon, who could become the first reliever to save at least 20 games a season 10 years in a row. His pen pals are weak, but Reardon seems unconcerned about the starters. "We had the best rotation in the league last year," he says, "but if you ask good sports fans, I bet they couldn't name who was on it."
This year's names to memorize are Clemens, Greg Harris, Young and Darwin, plus either Dana Kiecker or Tom Bolton. Can that rotation, with a weak bullpen, win the division? In the American League East, the question is moot. Unless Boggs falls out of his car on Yawkey Way, the Red Sox should hit their way to the top.
2. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
The attitude transplant in Toronto seems to have taken. The Blue Jays are a happier, harder-working team. "We've had so much talent in the past, they used to just throw the bats and balls out there in practice," says reliever Tom Henke. "You get a little lazy." Not this year, thanks largely to the departure of mercurial Tony Fernandez and cantankerous George Bell and the arrival of upbeat outfielder Joe Carter, who came over with Roberto Alomar from the Padres in a trade for Fernandez and Fred McGriff. "It's like a breath of fresh air," says Henke.
"But," says outfielder-DH Glenallen Hill, "this family unity doesn't mean a thing unless we play at the level we're noted for." That will depend greatly on Carter, who must help defray the loss of 75 homers and 305 RBIs in the winter purge. This is Carter's chance to prove he's more than the Dominique Wilkins of baseball, somebody who runs up big numbers for bad teams.
Carter had the most RBIs in baseball over the past five years (545), but few teammates can easily recount his big hits, his key homers. Last year he drove in 115 runs for San Diego, but he came to the plate with more runners in scoring position than anyone in baseball. His .220 average from the cleanup spot was the lowest in the National League. The Blue Jays need Carter to be more like Bell, at least at the plate: a tough out in late innings and in big games. Can someone who has never played in an important game after August pull that off?
That's not the only Carter question. Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn asks, "Can Carter play the outfield?" Not known for his defense as a leftfielder, Carter will play part of the time in right, a tougher position. With the weak-armed Mookie Wilson, 35, in left, the Jays' shaky outfield won't help a starting rotation that completed only six games in 1990—a major league record low.
Lloyd Moseby, Tiger outfielder and a former Blue Jay, sums it up this way: "I don't know what the Blue Jays' [off-season moves] will do. They could be good this year. And they could have a disaster."
3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
When a well-respected scout was asked to name the best young pitcher in the American League, he reacted as if he had been asked to name the winner of the gulf war. "What, you mean other than Ben?" he said.