I see breakout seasons everywhere. Thirty of them, to be exact.
And here they are ...
Asked whether star pitcher
Towers talked extensively this winter to the Braves and Cubs, two teams on Peavy's original, informal list of teams he might consider (he has a full no-trade now, so it's up to him). The Brewers have been mentioned as a possibility more recently, and they certainly have what it takes to pull off a deal (hot-shot shortstop prospect
In an attempt to quell all the speculation and accompanying anxiety, Peavy's agent,
Meanwhile, Towers, who cut the Padres' payroll some $35 million into the mid-$40s, isn't quick to give up on the season. "I like our ball club a lot better than last year," Towers said. Although, Towers conceded that with eight new faces on the pitching staff, there are a lot of questions to be answered. "If our pitching struggles, we won't be very good," he said.
Nonetheless, Towers' teams have won more than they've lost over the years, and he isn't giving in to the outside reviews, which are almost all bad. "The expectations internally are probably a little bit better than externally ... That's the best way to sneak up on people," Towers said.
With the economy expected to decrease ticket sales by as much as 10 percent (that's a figure you hear cited), some baseball executives are predicting a major sell-off at mid-year among teams out of the race carrying big contracts.
"It could get ugly," one AL executive said.
According to baseball insiders, the Tigers are seen as one of the prime candidates for a mega sell-off if things don't go well for them. The chic pick a year ago, they are now viewed by most as only third- or fourth-most likely team to capture the AL Central. They are also carrying some fairly heavy contracts a non-contender may seek to excise.
But, as to whether a midyear sell-off's a possibility, Tigers GM
The Tigers do have a talented rotation that includes no one older than 27, and they still have some big players with impressive track records, so they could easily contend in a wide-open AL Central. But if they don't, competing executives view them as a likely mega-seller. Considering Detroit's $140 million payroll in a down economy in an especially down city, one competing GM wondered aloud whether Dombrowski has a good chance to be "under the gun" to move money come trade-deadline time. Dombrowski, whose teams have frequently delivered unexpected results (good and bad) in recent years, says, "If we play well, we expect to draw well, even in a tough economy."
Dombrowski quickly rebuilt the Tigers from a 119-game loser in a hurry, but big-ticket signings had the opposite result lately, with
If the Tigers don't contend, though, competitors see the biggest name the Tigers might put on the block as
The Jays are another team with some big contracts that may go. They will want to avoid trading superstar pitcher
Several other teams could be candidates for a sell-off, as well, and if a half-dozen teams are holding fire sales featuring stars, that's what could really make things ugly.
The Indians decided not to make a contract offer to Cy Young winner
Plus, Lee's an especially tough case since he's had such a stark divergence of results the past couple years. His agent would want to talk about his 22-3 season, while the Indians can't completely forget his awful 2007 season (5-8, 6.29). That season looks like an aberration in a terrific career, but it would still throw a monkey wrench into talks.
Lee's numbers aren't good this spring (a .440 batting average against), but agent
Indians executives, not the types to leave anything to chance, did give Braunecker a shot to name a figure. But Braunecker, who negotiated the eye-popping $82.5 million
Given the chance, Braunecker could cite Burnett ($16.5 million a year),
Braunecker also advised Lee not to negotiate during the season, saying that he's the sort who dives into everything and that negotiations might become a distraction. So the chances of Lee heading toward a repeat of the
The Indians don't like the idea of negotiations following the Cy Young season. But if Lee continues to pitch like an ace, negotiating in a walk year might prove just as difficult. Or even more difficult.
• Second-year Yankees manager
• Scouts say
• Optimism award: I can't blame
• I know they're paying
• According to
• Chuck also points out that "Pudge is chasing Pudge."
• One addition to a previous statistical note, which was pointed out by several e-mailers:
• For those who missed out on