Pressing the Suits

Nine burning questions about the second half of the season (and beyond) were put to 22 baseball executives
July 15, 2007

1. Whichfree-agent-to-be has done the most to bolster his stock in the first half?

Ichiro Suzuki, OF,Mariners 27%
Torii Hunter, OF, Twins 18%
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees 14%

Loose lips:"Pretty quietly Ichiro (right) is having an outstanding season, even by hisstandards." . . . "Hunter has been out of his mind. His best year byfar. Someone's going to look at his numbers and pay big."

2. Whichfree-agent-to-be has hurt his stock the most in the first half?

Andruw Jones, OF,Braves 77%
Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox 9%

Loose lips:"Andruw was a $100 million guy before the season. It's going to beinteresting to see how far he falls." . . . "A year ago Jermaine Dyewas an MVP candidate. Now he's killing the Sox."

3. Which player(in either league) has been the biggest surprise so far?

Jeremy Guthrie,RHP, Orioles 18%
Josh Hamilton, OF, Reds 18%
Sammy Sosa, DH, Rangers 14%

Loose lips:"Amazing what Josh Hamilton (right) is doing after falling so far. Showsyou how much talent he has." . . . "Guthrie's more than a surprise. Helooks like he can be something special."

4. Which team willwin the NL pennant?

Padres 41%
Mets 36%

Loose lips:"The Padres' bullpen is second to none. They've got the starters, if ChrisYoung (below, right) stays this good. [Greg] Maddux has been there. [Jake]Peavy is obviously an ace." . . . "The Mets still are the class of theleague with their lineup. Scary."

5. Which team willwin the AL pennant?

Red Sox 50%
Tigers 27%

Loose lips:"Boston is the most balanced team and still has offensive upside in thesecond half. The Tigers are a close second, but their bullpen is a mess. Howthey do is contingent on the trades they make to bolster [the pen]."

6. Which team willwin the World Series?

Red Sox 45%
Tigers 27%

Loose lips:"No NL team is even close to the top four AL teams, so you have to thinkthe winner is coming from the AL."

7. Given a choicebetween Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols over the next five seasons, whom wouldyou take?

Rodriguez55%
Pujols 36%

Loose lips: "Ilike A-Rod (right) based upon position, but I would go with Pujols simplybecause he brings fewer distractions."

8. Which team is adark-horse contender for 2008?

Diamondbacks36%
Rockies 27%
Brewers 14%

Loose lips:"Some of Arizona's position players are struggling, but by next yearthey'll be better." . . . "I like the Rockies. [Their front office] hasstopped doing the dumb stuff."

9. Who is yourbreakout player for the second half?

Tim Lincecum, RHP,Giants 18%
Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox 14%
Andruw Jones, OF, Braves 14%

Loose lips:"Oh, my goodness, is Lincecum (right) talented. He had a rocky start, buthe's figuring it all out. He could dominate the rest of the way."

THREE PHOTOSBRAD MANGIN PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIER
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)