Everyone expects the
No one expects the
Everyone expected the
Of course, spring expectations too often are driven by winter glitz.
With that in mind, here are some questions and answers as major league teams open camp:
Who won this winter?
In 2008, after finishing in third place in the
The Yankees finished third again last season. They just spent $490 million on nine players — including $175 million on Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, $153 million on center fielder
Does that make the Yankees favorites to win the World Series?
No. The entire infield is questionable — shortstop
For the first time since 1997, the Yankees will play without
Is Tanaka the best pitcher in the world not named Kershaw?
You would have thought so, given his undefeated season last year in Japan, the breathless tracking of his free agency, and the Yankees' putting up more money for him than any team has committed to sign any major league pitcher besides Kershaw and Justin Verlander.
The Dodgers are not shy about opening their wallet, but their scouts did not see Tanaka as a long-term ace in the majors. A good pitcher, yes — but, for them, a guy who would battle
The Yankees desperately needed Tanaka and bid accordingly, but still it was startling to hear General Manager
Where did the best hitters end up, if not with the Yankees?
Cano, Choo and Fielder all bat left-handed. That could make left-handed reliever
What hitter might get the biggest contract next winter?
It could be
In the meantime, the Dodgers ought to do with him this spring what they did last September — give him the minimum number of at-bats he needs to stay sharp, and otherwise keep him in bubble wrap until the season starts. The Dodgers started slowly last season, when he had a broken thumb, and they collapsed in the
What player made the smartest off-season move?
On Saturday, the Dodgers signed
So Haren got to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas without worrying about where he would play this year.
With Valentine's Day coming, which pitchers could be jilted?
You could build a pretty good rotation out of remaining free agents — Burnett,
So the Angels had a bad winter?
No. General Manager Jerry Dipoto, handcuffed by a lack of money, prospects and legitimate starting pitchers, turned
Santiago is 26, Richards 25, Skaggs 22. These kids take time. The last time the Angels got 30 starts each from three pitchers 26 or younger: 1971 (Andy Messersmith, Rudy May, Tom Murphy). They finished 25 1/2 games out of first place and, after the season, traded for a wild but hard-throwing prospect named Nolan Ryan.
Is anyone famous paying attention to the Angels?
"It's like a Swiss Army knife. It's like
Do spring-training records mean anything?
No. Of the 10 playoff teams last season, five finished the spring with a winning record.
Three teams played better than .600 ball last spring; none made the playoffs. Three teams played worse than .400 ball last spring; two made the playoffs. The Dodgers were one of them.
Which team had the worst record last spring?