I found this great article on MSNBS about the 2008 baseball season, and I thought I would share. It was rather long, so I trimmed out some parts, although it doesn't appear that way, so click here if you would like to read it in its entirety.
We come to you today from the
performance enhancing drug-free zone, with zero tolerance for
grandstanding, blame-gaming and WADA references. Instead, in the
spirit of moving forward, we bring you nine reasons for delicious
anticipation of a new season that is about to unfold:
1. The Boston Red
Sox, and this century’s first shot at a mini-dynasty. They have won
two World Series in the last four seasons, and are the odds-on
favorite to win another as they return virtually intact from a sweep
of the Colorado Rockies, and have emerging young talents such as
Dustin Pedroia, Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester to cushion
the effects of age on a roster that includes 40-somethings Curt
Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin, and a mostly-mid-30s
2. The Johan Santana question. Has a
pitcher of this magnitude ever been stuck in this must-be-dealt
situation? And where he goes — Red Sox, Yankees, Mets or surprise
late-bidder — will alter the balance of power in either league. The
Twins are trying their best to maximize their return, but in reality,
they are up against it here. You can only ask for so much young
talent for a pitcher who will be signing an extension in the
$150-million range, and both the Red Sox and Yankees wisely aren’t
willing to go any higher than they’ve already gone. The Mets might
be willing to, but don’t really have as much to offer.
3. Joba Chamberlain, Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy. We pretty much
know what to expect from the rest of the Yankees’ roster . What we
don’t know is just how good Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy will
be, and how soon they will get there. And so these three young
pitchers who will make about $1 million between them could be the key
to the Yankees’ fortunes in 2008 — an interesting twist from the
franchise that brought you the first $200-million payroll.
4. The Detroit
Tigers’ lineup. Any way Jim Leyland decides to go — and knowing
him, he will go in many different directions — this is a potential
950-run monster. Here is one possible combination: Curtis Granderson,
Placido Polanco, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield,
Carlos Guillen, Jacque Jones, Edgar Renteria, Ivan Rodriguez. With
this group in place and healthy, there’s little reason to worry
about Dontrelle Willis’ adjustment to the American League.
5. The National League West race. Good luck winning it, as the
division that gave us the 2007 NLCS matchup is poised once again. The
Dodgers have added Joe Torre, Andruw Jones and Hiroki Kuroda in hopes
of erasing the memory of their late-September meltdown. Meanwhile,
the comebacks of Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal, Hong-Chi Kuo and
Yhency Brazoban are on schedule. The Diamondbacks pulled the winter’s
biggest coup by landing Dan Haren for a bunch of prospects they can
do without, giving them their best 1-2 rotation combination since
their 2001 World Series title season. And you have to figure that
young core players Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Justin
Upton and Chris Young will get better. The Rockies lost more than
they added this winter, but there is little debating the fact that
they were the best team in the National League during the entire
second half, not just their late-September run. And they should get
full seasons from No. 2 and No. 3 starters Aaron Cook and Ubaldo
Jimenez, which they didn’t get in 2007.
6. The Milwaukee
Brewers. While Commissioner Bud Selig finds himself embroiled in a
mess that won’t go away, his former team is doing its best to fight
the fight of the small-to-mid-market franchise. Look no further for a
team poised to improve in 2008 behind emerging stars Prince Fielder,
Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun.
7. The Chicago Cubs. They needed a corner outfielder and some
left-handed power to balance their lineup, and got both in Kosuke
Fukudome. He could hit second, or he could hit fifth, and his power
should translate to Wrigley Field, adding another threat to the
combination of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. There
are plenty of quality late-inning bullpen options in Carlos Marmol,
Kerry Wood, Bob Howry and Jose Ascanio, rotation depth has been added
with Jon Lieber and Ryan Dempster, and it says here Carlos Zambrano
is poised for his first 20-win season in a bounce-back year of sorts.
Felix Pie and Geovanny Soto will have to do what Ryan Theriot was
able to do last season in establishing himself as a regular, but
things are pointing to a return trip to the post-season.
8. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John
Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Schilling, Jamie Moyer,
Kenny Rogers: We’re running out of time to appreciate this stellar
group of 40-somethings that could include up to five future Hall of
Famers. And in fact, it could be our last chances to watch Maddux and
Glavine, two 300-game winners who did it in the biggest offensive era
in the game’s history.
9. Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th
homer (he’s seven away); Maddux’s 350th win (three
away); Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield’s 500th homers
(10 and 20 away, respectively); the 2,600th hit for the
game’s new active career leader — surprise! Omar Vizquel (two
away); and maybe — just maybe — Johnson’s 300th win
(he’s 16 away).
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