Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spring Training: At a Glance.

Has anyone seen Santana without a smile on his face recently? You'd be smiling, too, if you left a second-tier team and signed a six-year, $137.5 million contract with a legitimate contender! Others in new uniforms include Torii Hunter(Angels), Jon Garland(Angels), Aaron Rowand(Giants), Brad Lidge(Phillies), Tom Glavine(Braves), Mark Kotsay(Braves), Dan Haren(Diamondbacks), Jose Valverde(Astros), Miguel Tejada(Astros), Miguel Cabrera(Tigers), Dontrelle Willis(Tigers), Nick Swisher(White Sox), Mark Prior(Padres), Jim Edmonds(Padres), Andruw Jones(Dodgers), Scott Rolen(Blue Jays), and Erik Bedard(Mariners).

Who's missing? As camps get set to open, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza are all without jobs. If all four are indeed done, they will all make their debut on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.

Trade bait? Some teams are still looking for a starting pitcher, the Reds jump to mind. The A's might continue their organization restocking by dealing RHSP Joe Blanton this spring. The Cubs would love to move Jason Marquis, and the Brewers have a surplus of arms. The White Sox could deal Joe Crede, and the Phillies Wes Helms. The Orioles have been looking for a place to ship Brian Roberts, the Red Sox Coco Crisp and Pittsburgh could move Jason Bay.

Joe Torre leaves the Yankees after 12 straight trips to the postseason and four World Series titles for the Dodgers. Joe Girardi has some huges shoes to fill in the Bronx. The Reds test the waters with Dusty Baker, the Astros go with new skipper Cecil Cooper. The Royals gave Trey Hillman his first big league shot, while the Pirates clean house from top to bottom, their new manger is John Russell.

A few more imports join the majors in Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fokudome(Cubs), and Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Dodgers. The White Sox got Cuban infielder Alexei Ramirez.

Are three key pitchers ready or still rehabbing? Arizona's Randy Johnson had a second back surgery. The 5-time Cy Young winner needs only 16 wins for 300 on his career. If healthy, he'll join Brandon Webb, and newcomer Dan Haren in a strong 1-2-3 punch. Atlanta is counting on Mike Hampton finally being healthy after missing much of the last two seasons with a series of injuries. In Minnesota. Francisco Liriano is back after missing 2007 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The 100 year wait continues...The Cubs haven't won a World Series in a century. Their last one came in 1908. Could this be the year?

Playing ball off in Asia. The Red Sox and A's will open the regular season with a two-game series in Tokyo on March 25-26. The Dodgers and Padres will play two exhibition games in China on March 15-16.