MLB Story Lines
NL vs. AL?
Who thought that this Cardinals team would win the World Series?
Nothing against the Cards, of course. They've got a good base of talent, some excellent young pitchers, and a first baseman who we hear has been hitting home runs now and again. Still, just 83 wins? A mere five games over .500? St. Louis didn't exactly dominate its competition.
But then again, the season starts anew in the playoffs, where the Cardinals certainly showed that they belonged. To do so, they had to go through a resurgent Tigers team which had set new lows in futility scant years before. Led by a young and exciting pitching staff, the Tigers rode Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya's fastballs as long as they could, before inexperience and David Eckstein derailed them in the World Series.
Both teams have re-upped key players and largely stood pat in the offseason, with Detroit's trade for Gary Sheffield the only big move for either team. Can they repeat their playoff success in 2007?
What They're Saying
Peter Gammons: "The Tigers' veteran team is, obviously, very good, with Gary Sheffield's power a significant complement to Sean Casey's contact in the middle of the lineup, but it is their young pitching that is so intriguing. Justin Verlander, who'd never thrown more than 130 innings, admits he was "exhausted at the end" of last season, but he learned to deal with pitching without his best stuff from Kenny Rogers and altered his workout regimen to prepare for the long season. We have all seen the power of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, and the Tigers see Andrew Miller's stuff and remarkable athleticism and see something special in the future. But now Jason Grilli is all the way back, and Kyle Sleeth is getting there."
Feb. 28, 2007
News, notes, quotes from Florida
Tim Kurkjian: "Now the Cardinals are trying to put together their rotation after the loss of Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Jason Marquis to free agency in the offseason. Kip Wells was signed as a free agent and Mark Mulder was re-signed, but he likely won't throw off a mound until April, and likely won't pitch in a game for the Cardinals until perhaps July. Anthony Reyes, 25, is expected to get a regular turn in the rotation for the first time. Braden Looper, who hasn't started a game on any level in 10 years, will also get a long look this spring for the rotation. The projected five starters won 22 games last year as starters, which makes [Adam] Wainwright's move to the rotation very important."
Feb. 23, 2007
Wainwright eyeing 'smooth' transition to rotation
Tony La Russa: "There's not much margin to miss much work and get ready. We'll take it one step at a time."
March 11, 2007
Injured Cards Edmonds, Eckstein handling injuries
The Rundown: Championship Hangover
Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox had a rough 2006 after their Cinderella 2005.
2003: 91-71, won World Series
2004 83-79, missed playoffs
Boston Red Sox
2004: 98-64, won World Series
2005: 95-67, lost in divisional round
Chicago White Sox
2005: 99-63, won World Series
2006: 90-72, missed playoffs
2005: 89-73, lost World Series
2006: 82-80, missed playoffs
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2002: 99-63, won World Series
2003: 77-85, missed playoffs