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THE PAYOFF PITCH ...
BEN REITER
April 04, 2011
BEST CASE
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April 04, 2011

The Payoff Pitch ...

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WORST CASE

A jerry-rigged bullpen without a clear closer fails to approach last season's standard and blows enough games to cost the Rays their third postseason appearance in four years.

BEST CASE

Buck Showalter's aggression-instilling magic persists, and the O's ride a top-five offense and an improving young staff to a 25-win improvement—though 91 is only good for third in the AL East.

WORST CASE

Buck can't reverse the declines of Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy and Derrek Lee (silver lining: all have one-year deals), and the team's hopes again rest with a callow core.

BEST CASE

Aaron Hill (.205 BA, 26 homers in 2010) and Adam Lind (.237, 23) rebound from frustrating years—Lind: "I was frustrated because I sucked"—and another power barrage keeps the Jays competitive.

WORST CASE

Vernon Wells Redux: G.M. Alex Anthopoulos's gamble on Jose Bautista fails when he regresses to his pre-2010 career norm (.729 OPS), suffocating long-term plans under another payroll albatross.

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