In an article that appeared last week on ESPN.com, Peter Gammons provided a list of 20 players whom respondants to an informal straw poll described as candidates for a breakout season. The list, derived from a survey of major league executives, included a mix of pitchers and hitters, five-tool talents and makeup guys, united only in their ability to tease hibernating fantasy leaguers into dreams of greener days ahead.
If one needs any reminder that lists like these are little more than a grownup’s version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, it’s worth reviewing a similar list that Gammons produced last year.
Flash back to January 1987. Walk Like an Egyptian is at the top of the pop charts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has coasted past 2,000. John Elway has broken Cleveland’s heart for the very first time. And in baseball, the free agents are getting utterly and completely shafted.
Between the persistence of Pete Rose, the ongoing turf war between Tribune Co. and the Wrigleyville neighborhood, and the deteriorating mental health of John Schuerholz, the most oft-reported story of this winter has been the apparent deflation in the market for free agents.