Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, still recovering from injury in the 2011 playoffs, may be the key to his team's World Series hopes. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Ready For New Season

Baseball is breaking out all over like flowers blooming in the gradually warming, sunny spring air and I wonder why Johnny Damon, Roy Oswalt, and Vladimir Guerrero don’t have teams. Time’s awasting, guys. Bet they are pretty nervous right about now.

Getting a deal done to play for someone has got to be foremost on their minds. My mind is just being bombarded with a mix of baseball thoughts.

What will the new Magic Johnson ownership group’s control of the Los Angeles Dodgers mean for the team?

How long will it take for Ryan Howard’s Achilles tendon to heal and will that issue be the Philadelphia Phillies Achilles heel? The Phillies have got to be thinking—what’s it take to grab off another World Series title?

 

Just what are the Chicago White Sox going to do for offense besides Paul Konerko? And just what are the Chicago Cubs going to do for offense and pitching? Will both Chicago teams finish last?

Does anybody else think it is a bit too early to anoint David Freese as the next Albert Pujols in St.   Louis because he had a great post-season?

Guys I would like to see play great who are running out of time or who are coming back from serious injury: Jim Thome, Ichiro Suzuki, Johan Santana, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Adam Wainwright, and Buster Posey.

I hope the new wild-card system giving opportunity to extra teams works out well enough that we all cheer it.

I hope rookies like Matt Moore with the Rays, Julio Teheran with the Braves, Jesus Montero with the Mariners, Yu Darvish with the Rangers, Yoenis Cespedes with the A’s, and Devin Mesoraco with the Reds, create excitement and give us fresh faces to root for.

With luck Justin Verlander will have another great season for the Tigers, but I doubt it will be as dominant as last year’s. Besides Verlander, it would be fun to see a handful of other pitchers win 20 games.

After a generation in the pits, it would be nice to see the Pittsburgh Pirates record a winning season. It has been 19 seasons since the Pirates broke .500.

The National League Central and the National League West should have the tightest multi-team divisional races. The American League West should be tight between the Angels and the Rangers. But I think the Phillies, Yankees and Tigers will win their divisions with ease.

Would like to see Dusty Baker win a World Series in his managing career, but the wreckage of Ryan Madson’s right elbow might prevent that this year—long-shot as it was already. Wonder if Mike Matheny, Tony La Russa’s successor inSt. Louis, can manage. Wonder if Robin Ventura, Ozzie Guillen’s successor with the White Sox, can manage. Wonder if Dale Sveum, the new Lord of Wrigley Field, can manage.

Derek Jeter had a first-rate season in 2011 when he joined the 3,000-hit club. He comes into the 2012 season ranked 20th all-time, but with many retired players within easy reach. He’s got 3,088 hits and I don’t know whether 168 hits this season is too much to ask for, but if Jeter does bat safely that many times he will pass Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, Paul Waner, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Nap Lajoie and Eddie Murray and then he would rank 12th all-time.

Hard to know which of these things will happen, or what other things that happen will be surprising. Whether it is team or individual performance, unfortunate injury or unexpected resurgence, there will be enough developments over the next six months to keep us entertained, engaged, interested, intrigued, excited and amused.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Albert Pujols Braves Buster Posey Cal Ripken Chicago Cubs Chicago White Sox Chipper Jones Daisuke Matsuzaka Dale Sveum Dave Winfield David Freese Derek Jeter Devin Mesoraco Dusty Baker Eddie Murray George Brett Ichiro Suzuki Jesus Montero Jim Thome Johan Santana Johnny Damon Julio Teheran Justin Verlander Los Angeles Dodgers Magic Johnson Mariners Matt Moore Mike Matheny Nap Lajoie Ozzie Guillen Paul Waner Philadelphia Phillies Pirates Rangers Rays Reds Robin Ventura Robin Yount Roy Oswalt Ryan Howard St Louis Cardinals Tigers Tony Gwynn Tony La Russa Vladimir Guerrero Yankees Yoenis Cespedes Yu Darvish

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