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 the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber

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PostSubject: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:16 pm

02/12/2008 9:41 AM ET
Looking at the top stories entering '08
Mets pitchers, the Tigers' potential are big headline-grabbers
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

One of the many beauties of baseball's lengthy schedule is that the season has plenty of chances to write its own storylines. In mid-February, there's just no way of really knowing what's going to be capturing people's attention come August, never mind October.

Just think about last year. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona the American League's best 1-2 punch? The Rockies and Diamondbacks playing for the National League pennant? We can guess, but we can't know.

The flipside, however, is that we've gone four months without anything happening on the field. This year is infinitely more interesting than last year. So let's take a look at the storylines that enter the 2008 season as favorites to rule the headlines. Maybe they'll be knocked off, maybe they won't.

Johan, Pedro and the mighty Mets: It's tough to knock the Yankees off the back pages, but chances are the Mets will do that at least two out of every five days this summer. With the addition of Johan Santana to a staff that already included future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, New York's NL team has two of the most compelling pitchers in baseball, not to mention the best in the business, alongside the best of the past decade.

The Mets scored plenty last year; they just weren't quite good enough at preventing runs. Adding Santana changes the entire balance of power in the NL East and makes them must-watch baseball at least three times a week.

Tigers loaded for bear: Take a lineup that finished third in baseball in runs scored last year. Upgrade from Brandon Inge to Miguel Cabrera at third base, and replace Sean Casey and Craig Monroe with Edgar Renteria and Jacque Jones. Shake up and unload on the AL 162 times.

The Tigers figure to sport an utterly terrifying lineup, and their rotation could be special as well. When Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson are the guys at the back of your starting five, things look pretty bright.

Cubs aim higher: Cubs fans everywhere were surely heartened when the Erik Bedard trade finally went down -- it gave them hope that perhaps their own club's deal with Baltimore might be completed at some point. But whenever -- or whether -- Brian Roberts becomes a North Sider, this looks like a very stout team.

A decent offense got a lot better with the addition of Kosuke Fukudome, and Roberts would add the one thing most desperately lacking: an on-base threat at the top of the order. The Cubs also have the one thing every team craves, which is starting pitching depth. Chicago was already good, and it's getting better.

Sox opera never stops: Even coming off a World Series title, it's never quiet in Boston. Curt Schilling's shoulder has become a huge story before the first pitch of the season has even been thrown.

With or without Schilling, though, the Sox look stout. They only got 151 innings from their venerable righty last year, and the season turned out pretty decent. The young core of the club should keep getting better, and still more talent is on the way. From the bullpen to the rotation to the offense, no team has fewer holes than Boston, and another title would lead the team's always-zealous fans to start uttering the word dynasty.

Repeating is the hardest part: Two young teams took over the NL West last year, and the Rockies and D-backs went on to meet for the pennant. Both organizations seem to be of the up-and-coming variety, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll keep moving forward.

For both clubs, one of the intriguing questions will be how they manage the line between present and future. Arizona shipped off a slew of prospects for Dan Haren, moving away from the recent build-from-within ethos while still adding a young, outstanding pitcher to its core. Colorado stayed relatively quiet, hoping its kids keep developing.

Big jobs: Two of baseball's signature franchises changed skippers this winter, with Joe Girardi replacing Joe Torre in New York and Torre moving west to take over for Grady Little with the Dodgers. The value of a manager in terms of wins and losses is generally overstated, but these were big moves by teams that have big media and fan followings.

Torre will face a familiar set of challenges: an extremely demanding owner and an organization trying to decide how much to let the youngsters play. Girardi, meanwhile, may have watched Torre handle himself in New York, but he likely has no idea just how taxing his new job will actually be.

Steroids, still: Some hoped that the Mitchell Report would put the conversation about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball to bed, but it certainly has not. Congressional hearings are on the way, and some star players have lots of questions to answer when they get to camp.

It's likely that once the regular season starts, the focus will be on the game on the field. But much like three years ago, a large number of spring's headlines will center on needles and syringes.

The Hall of Fame class of 2013? Plenty of free agents remain unsigned, including Kenny Lofton, Corey Patterson and Kyle Lohse, but the big names are three players whose performance on the field, at least, would seem to guarantee them first-ballot entry to Cooperstown: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza. Of course, the aforementioned steroids question may cloud the cases of Clemens and Bonds, but nonetheless, these are three of the most accomplished players of this or any era.

Will any of them sign? Will all of them sign? If so, where? If not, and they all retire, let the Hall of Fame discussions begin.

Rising Rays and Reds? Fading royalty? For most of the past 15 years, the Atlanta Braves have set the standard in the NL. Over the last 10 or so, the St. Louis Cardinals have stood toe-to-toe with them, if not above them. But both are coming off down years, and both have watched division rivals make bold moves. It could be a losing year in both Atlanta and St. Louis, and that hasn't happened since 1990.

Meanwhile, two of baseball's more downtrodden franchises may be climbing the ladder. The Reds made a big splash by acquiring Francisco Cordero, have aggressively courted rotation help and have an exciting core of prospects on the rise. The Rays have patiently waited for their youngsters to develop, and this looks like the year it should really begin coming together. The Reds haven't had a winning season since 2000 and haven't made the playoffs since 1995. The Rays have never done either.

Farewell to a legend: Whether you love or loathe the Yankees, it's hard not to get nostalgic about their ballpark. Yankee Stadium is one of the genuinely special, historic places in American sports, and it will be gone after this year. The "House That Ruth Built" will host one last All-Star Game, and probably some playoff games, before it's replaced by a newer facility. See it while you can.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:08 pm

That's right....FEAR THE TIGER !!!!!!!!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:12 pm

Quote :
The Tigers figure to sport an utterly terrifying
lineup, and their rotation could be special as well. When Dontrelle
Willis and Nate Robertson are the guys at the back of your starting
five, things look pretty bright

And this from a non-Tiger reporter!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:18 pm

Wonder if ESPN will finally see the Non-Yankee Light??
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PostSubject: Re: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:36 pm

If they have finally taken the blinders off theit tunnel vision eyes! Go Tigs!!!


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PostSubject: Re: the Tigers' potential are big headline grabber   Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:00 am

Playoffs...WS....all the way, baby!
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