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Major League Baseball Rankings...By Jerry Butler

April 21, 2003

National League

1-San Francisco: Many people, including myself, thought that the Giants would struggle without departed manager Dusty Baker and Jeff Kent but they haven.t seemed to miss them during their 15-3 hot streak.

2- Chicago Cubs: If Kerry Wood can stay healthy for the entire season, the Cubs will be legitimate contenders. 3-Colorado: Journeyman Nelson Cruz has been a very pleasant surprise on the hill for the Rockies.

4-Montreal: The Expos seem to have fallen in love with their home away from home in Puerto Rico.

5-Atlanta: With Mike Remlinger, Tim Spooneybarger and Chris Hammond gone from last year.s team, the Braves bullpen is nowhere near as good as it was last season.

6-Philadelphia: Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, Brett Myers and Brandon Duckworth have the talent to form a very strong starting staff.

7-St. Louis: Jim Edmonds is off to a red-hot start with the stick for the Cards.

8-Houston: Veteran pickup Brian Moehler has pitched very poorly in the early going for the Astros.

9-Pittsburgh: The signing of veteran Reggie Sanders looks like a real shrewd move by the Pirates.

10-NY Mets: This season.s edition of the Mets looks a lot like the overrated, underachieving team of last season.

11-Arizona: The Diamondbacks look like a team that is starting showing its age.

12-Florida: The Marlins are very pleased with the early season play of speedy Juan Pierre.

13-Los Angeles: The Dodgers very erratic offense has been the main problem in the early going.

14-Milwaukee: Veteran shortstop Royce Clayton has been the Brewers best player through the first 3 weeks of the season.

15-San Diego: The excellent performance on the mound by RH Brian Lawrence has been one of the few bright spots for the talent thin Padres.

16-Cincinnati: The Reds have the worst starting staff in the NL.

American League

1-NY Yankees: Even with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Steve Karsay sidelined with injuries, the Yankees are off to a 16-3 start.

2-Kansas City: Young right-hander Runelvys Hernandez looks like the real deal on the mound for the Royals.

3-Boston: The Red Sox are going to have to find a legitimate closer if they are going to be a factor in the AL.

4-Chicago White Sox: Lefty Mark Buehrle has been pitching some strong baseball for the Sox.

5-Seattle: The Mariners need more offense from struggling third baseman Jeff Cirillo.

6-Oakland: The acquisition of lefty slugger Erubiel Durazo was the best off-season move that the A.s front office made.

7-Anaheim: Garret Anderson continues to be the main man on offense for the Angels.

8-Minnesota: Torri Hunter is off to a very slow start with the stick for the Twins.

9-Baltimore: Thought to be the strength of their team when the season started, the Orioles starting pitching has been absolutely horrible.

10-Texas: Last years big money signing of Chan Ho Park has turned into a disaster for the Rangers.

11-Toronto: Carlos Delgado is off to a big start with the bat for the slumping Blue Jays.

12-Cleveland: With very little offensive talent and not much in the pitching department, it looks like it.s going to be a very long season at Jacobs Field.

13-Tampa Bay: The Rays really like what they have seen from closer Lance Carter.

14-Detroit: The Tigers are so short on talent that they probably couldn.t be a winning team at the Triple AAA level.

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