||Preparing their title defense on the assumption that
the Curse of the Minky won't last 86 years.
||Snagged the Big Unit, but spent big dollars on
imperfect pitching solutions at the expense of shoring up glaring weakness in
CF. The best team $200 million can buy?
||Starting pitching is functional, not flashy, but
this team has too many big bats for the rest of the league to get past.
||With Sosa now a bittersweet memory, health of Prior,
Wood and Zambrano is everything to this club, and everything is a bit shaky
||Should fare better under low-key manager Manuel than
Explodable Head Bowa, and with upgrades like groundball-friendly Lieber over
||Despite fears for life after the Big Three,
organizational depth and front-office smarts feed plenty of optimism.
||Santana and Radke could be league's top 1-2 punch,
and full years of Morneau and (hopefully) Mauer should boost offense.
||Penny, Perez, Lowe, Weaver, Erickson, Alvarez,
Jackson--spot the reliable, healthy starter and win a prize.
||Up-and-comers could make the Twins sweat if they
stick to blueprint and let young talent mature; Juan Gone in RF and Grady
Sizemore in Buffalo calls their resolve into question.
||Led by Cy candidate Peavy, these NL West vultures
could swo>op in if Dodgers falter and Bonds sits.
||Controversy over name change overshadows so-so
offseason. McPherson should provide much-needed injection of youth at
3B; similar boldness at 1B with Kotchman over Erstad would be a plus.
||PECOTA begs to differ, but after 13 division titles
in a row, there's little sense picking against them until they prove
||Full seasons from Beckett and Burnett could make for
an exciting Fish tale.
||High-profile signings Pedro and Beltran offer
improvement, as will a full season of David Wright.
||Barryless will be perilous; assume 10 runs (one
win) lost for every 14 games with Feliz and Tucker in LF.
||Speed'n'defense makeovers don't pan out often, nor
does cornering the market on fragile Cuban refugee starters.
||Runs will be scored in Arlington, lots and lots of
runs--many of them by the Rangers, but not enough of them.
||B's not so killer without Beltran and (for April)
Berkman, but a healthy Pettitte to go with Clemens and Oswalt ought to help.
||Slammin' Sammy Sosa joins bomb-prone offense;
pitching is already thin without Punchin' Ponson's antics--bar fights and
big butt to the contrary, Boomer Wells he ain't.
||Big Beltre and Sexson signings will propel this team
upward, not far enough.
||Dunn, Griffey, Kearns, Pena provide nice outfield
depth, but they need to push the fences deeper to help Milton and company
keep the ball in the park.
||Beware the Plexiglass Principle: big leap back to
respectability sure to be offset by returns to earth by Pudge, Guillen, Inge.
||78 million for Ortiz and Glaus? We're still
||Talent on the farm offers promise for the post-Selig
era, but they'll take their lumps for a while yet.
||High profile signings of Guzman and Castilla will
surprise lots of people. Especially Jim Bowden, and not in a good way.
||Proof that a winning altitude is a necessary
ingredient in building a champion.
||Koskie signing emblematic of a regime in danger of
losing the plot.
||Beautiful ballpark. Rudderless team.
||Lima Time may get the headlines, but Greinke Time is
the team's best hope to avoid Royals Blew epitaph.
||Hordes of young talent means they're no longer
hopeless; deploying that young talent correctly will make all the difference.