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|Is this the year David Wright becomes a superstar? (AP Photo/Rick Silva)|
Willie's talked about not wanting to rush Wright (he hit him down in the order last year, even when it was clear the kid could mash), and he's toying with his batting order plans this spring like a repentant grandma working her rosary. This shouldn't be complicated: Wright should hit second or third, not fifth or sixth. If he doesn't, the Mets are selling him short and shooting themselves in the foot. THE ORIOLES
He's younger (26 vs. 32), cheaper (2.75 mil vs. 13), better defensively (check out David Pinto's probabilistic model of range numbers at baseballmusings.com), roughly equivalent offensively right now (.810 OPS vs. .805 OPS), and, unlike Damon, he's making a move from a pitchers' park to a favorable hitters' park. There's a chance Damon will have the better year. But I'd call it a push, at best, taking into account Damon's recent downward trend offensively (dips in slugging, walks, home runs and RBI) and Crisp's steady climb in hits, doubles, home runs and OPS the last three years. And beyond '06, while George is cutting fat check after fat check for an outdated Damon, my guess is the résumé of Coco Crisp and the legend of Theo Epstein will grow step-for-step. THE CARDINALS
|Wouldn't it be something if Rick Ankiel made it, and not as a pitcher? (AP Photo/James A. Finley)|
Think about this now. This would be amazing. The guy was a puddle, he was a slow-motion car crash, he was a weird Blassian tale told in hushed tones over stiff drinks. And now? Now he could rise like some crazy left-fielding phoenix, utterly transformed.
If he makes the club, if he replaces the memory of the wild-pitch meltdowns of days gone by with some graceful catches or timely hits for the big club, we'll be talking about a great story, about a story that trumps every other story this season, really including the story of a Cardinals win in the Series. THE BRAVES
But, um, somebody should really tell these guys, that, um, they still don't have a closer and, um, the season begins in, like, four weeks.
|B.J. Ryan has high expectations to live up to in Toronto. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)|