A's, Royals might surprise; Brewers could disappoint
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
WHO WILL SURPRISE? WHO WILL DISAPPOINT?
By Tim Kurkjian, ESPNI think the Oakland A's will be a fascinating team to keep an eye on this season. They have made some upgrades and should be way better than they were last season. They could still turn out to be too old and too injured to get what they want, but they are significantly better offensively with Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra. Just as important to their chance is getting back a healthy Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez, even if Chavez isn't quite as healthy as they would like.
BEST OF THE BLOGSEach day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Buster Olney checks in on the latest A-Rod episode: Alex Rodriguez has nine years and about $275 million remaining on his contract, and he'll probably outlast everybody currently in the organization not named Steinbrenner. He'll be with the Yankees after Derek Jeter retires, after CC Sabathia's contract expires, after manager Joe Girardi is fired. He isn't going anywhere. So in that respect, he's increasingly viewed as the eccentric uncle in the Yankees' family. He's part of the clan, and that isn't going to change. So the Yankees live with his personality quirks, which don't surprise any of them anymore. The rest of the world might ask: Why has A-Rod befriended Madonna? Inside the Yankees' family, the response is That's Alex. The rest of the world might ask: Why would A-Rod host a news conference about his past steroid use and create more questions than he answers? Inside the Yankees' family, the response is That's Alex. And today, the rest of the world might ask: Why would A-Rod pose for a picture in which he appears to be kissing himself in a mirror? Inside the Yankees' family, the response is That's Alex. For the rest of this entry from Buster Olney's blog, click here.
Free agency isn't what it used to be. Pedro Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner with 214 career victories, is still without a contract, but that could change soon.
According to MLB.com, the most realistic suitors for Pedro at this point seem to be the Dodgers and the Mets, though the Mets said Pedro would not be returning to Queens.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti didn't throw the entire idea out the window the way the Mets did, and admitted L.A. has some interest in the right-hander.
Manny Ramirez, a former teammate of Pedro's in Boston, said he called Martinez on Sunday after hearing rumors that the Dodgers were a possible destination.
"He said he has two options," Manny told MLB.com. "I don't know what he's going to do. He has to do what's best for him."
Recent reports had Pedro signing with the Houston Astros, but Astros general manager Ed Wade dispelled those rumors.
"We have had zero conversations with Pedro," Wade told MLB.com.
Pedro's search for a John Smoltz-type contract is the reason he is still on the market. Teams are not willing to give the oft-injured starter $5 million of guaranteed money.
BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY
|8 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Carlos Baerga
BBTN MINUTE: YANKEES GETTING HEALTHY
BASEBALL TONIGHT MAILBAG
Have a question for one of our analysts? Ever wonder what it's like behind the scenes at "Baseball Tonight"? Curious about a player or a team or an executive?
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight he looks at Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers' Opening Day starter:
|Hiroki Kuroda (2008)|
|First 20 starts||Last 11 starts|
|BB Per 9 innings||2.4||1.5|
MANNY BEING MANNY
WEDNESDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• The Cubs announced they will retire the No. 31 in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux. Jenkins, a Hall of Famer, and Maddux, undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer, will join Billy Williams (No. 26), Ernie Banks (14), Ron Santo (10) and Ryne Sandberg (23) in having their number retired by the team.||WORST|
|• The growing list of those sidelined by injuries at the World Baseball Classic got another name Wednesday. Kevin Youkilis left Team USA with a sore left ankle. Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Lindstrom and Ryan Braun already have been plagued by injury at the event.|
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Chien-Ming Wang started for the Yankees on Wednesday, allowing one run and three hits over five innings in New York's 4-1 win over Houston.This is a reassuring sight for Yankees fans, as Wang has been one of the winningest pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons, with 46 wins. Wang surely would have more wins had he not been forced to miss the final 3½ months of last season with a foot injury suffered while running the bases in an interleague contest. His .754 win percentage over the past three seasons is tops in the majors among pitchers with 40 decisions. Wins and losses, however, are not the best way to judge a pitcher. What makes Wang so effective that he continues to put himself in a position to earn these wins time and again? It's his superior ability to generate ground balls, limit opponents' power and induce double plays:
ALL IN THE DETAILS FOR A-ROD
Have questions about how to build your roster? Whom should you choose early or late in your draft? Which catcher do you want? We have the answers. Draft Kit