WTNYSeptember 24, 2003
2004 Rookie Contestants
By Bryan Smith

As the days before the infamous WaTNeYs make their premier, I must start thinking about the 2004 Rookies of the Year. So in doing so, here's a look at players that should qualify next season for the AL:

I'm not exactly sure where the rookie cutoff is...if you know it, e-mail me....

New York Yankees- No one, are you kidding me?
Boston Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis- .327/.487/.465 in 312 AA at-bats
Jorge De La Rosa- 6-3 2.80 87H/99.2IP 102K/36BB at AA
Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Cash- .270/.331/.442 in 326 AAA at-bats
Jason Arnold- 4-8 4.33 121H/120.1IP 82K/46BB at AAA
Gabe Gross- .319/.423/.481 in 310 AA at-bats
Baltimore Orioles
Matt Riley- 4-2 3.58 70H/70.1IP 77K/28BB at AAA
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Chad Gaudin- 1-0 4.04 33H/35.2IP 20K/15BB in ML

Not an All-Star division. Youkilis was terrible in AAA, and will probably not get the job. De La Rosa will have a hard time as well, expect them both to get dealt. Kevin Cash is a great defensive catcher, so even decent offensive numbers will help his case. Arnold got worse as the year went on, so I don't like his chances. I'm a big Gabe Gross fan, I just don't see where he fits in on the Blue Jays. Matt Riley, a southpaw, probably is the choice from this division. He was a top pitching prospect a few years ago, and finally broke back on the scene. Gaudin may or may not be a rookie, but if so, has already proved himself in the big leagues.

To the Central: (Cliff Lee, Jimmy Gobble, not candidates?)

Minnesota Twins
Jesse Crain- 3-1 3.12 24H/26IP 33K/10BB at AAA
Lew Ford- .303/.357/.450 in 211 AAA at-bats
Chicago White Sox
Neal Cotts- 9-7 2.16 67H/108.1IP 133K/56BB at AA
Jeremy Reed- .409/.474/.591 in 242 AA at-bats
Aaron Miles- .304/.351/.445 in 546 AAA at-bats
Kansas City Royals
David DeJesus- .298/.412/.470 in 215 AAA at-bats
Cleveland Indians
Alex Escobar- .251/.296/.472 in 439 AAA at-bats
Kazuhito Tadano- 4-1 1.24 62H/72.2IP 78K/15BB in AA
Francisco Cruceta- 13-9 3.09 141H/163.IP 134K/66BB in AA
Detroit Tigers
Cody Ross- .287/.333/.515 in 470 AAA at-bats

Crain may get the closer role, with Guardado and Hawkins likely out the door. Ford will probably not get a job until he's traded, simply too much of a logjam. Cotts proved he's not quite ready for the Majors, and the Sox have big decisions to make for the future of Reed and Miles. DeJesus is a solid bat, as he will be leading off for the Royals next season. Escobar has made significant improvements since hitting the Major League club, and may hit 30 home runs next season. Tadano will likely have a Hasegawa-like role next season, prohibiting him from the award. If Cruceta gets a rotation slot, he's a good bet, but the Indians can wait on Francisco and Jeremy Guthrie. Cody Ross has no real redeeming quality, and doesn't have the skills for this award.

Westward bound...

Oakland A's
Joe Blanton- 3-1 1.26 21H/35.2IP 30K/7BB at AA
Bobby Crosby- .308/.395/.544 in 465 AAA at-bats
Justin Duchscherer- 14-2 3.25 151/155 117/18
Seattle Mariners (no Rafeal Soriano right?)
Rett Johnson- 5-2 2.15 63H/71IP 49K/18BB at AAA
Travis Blackley- 17-3 2.61 125/162.1 144/62 at AA
Anaheim Angels- no one until Mathis, Jenks, Santana, Kotchman, McPherson arrive
Texas Rangers
Ramon Nivar- .347/.387/.464 in 317 AA at-bats
Jose Dominguez- 5-0 2.60 35/55.1 54/21 at AA

Crosby is the front-runner, as the A's are handing him Miguel Tejada's job next season. Duchscherer will start the year in the five-slot, and Blanton should finsih in that role. Rett Johnson or Travis Blackley will get a spot in Seattle, and whomever does will compete. The Angels have to wait until their big five is ready, but they should sweep the 2005 awards. Nivar is a solid player who has no real position, and Dominguez isn't quite ready.

Check back next Tuesday for the WaTNeYs, and my 2004 ROY pix...