Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

National League Capsules

February 10, 2001



Atlanta Braves
Manager: Bobby Cox (12th season).
2000: 95-67, 1st place.
Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: 1B Rico Brogna, OF Dave Martinez, INF Kurt Abbott.
He's Outta Here: 1B Andres Galarraga, 1B Wally Joyner, RHP Andy Ashby, LHP Terry Mulholland, OF Bobby Bonilla, OF Reggie Sanders.
Spring Chicken: Marcus Giles. Smaller than his All-Star brother, Brian, the 5-foot-8 Marcus is a power-hitting second base prospect. Hit 17 homers and stole 25 bases in first season in Double-A. Steady in field.
Outlook: After not making the NLCS for the first time since 1990, the Braves had a surprisingly quiet offseason. GM John Schuerholz didn't make big plays for either Alex Rodriguez or Mike Hampton. John Smoltz will be back from an elbow injury to fill out the rotation. Chipper Jones, 28, and Andruw Jones, 23, are two of the best young players in the game. Controversy surrounding John Rocker should ease this season.

Florida Marlins
Manager: John Boles (3rd Season).
2000: 79-82, 3rd place.
Training Town: Viera, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 17/Feb. 21.
He's Here: C Charles Johnson, OF Jeff Abbott.
He's Outta Here: RHP Brian Edmondson.
Spring Chicken: Adrian Gonzalez. The top pick in last year's draft hit .297 with no homers and 33 RBIs in 61 games last season.
Outlook: The Marlins have begun to recover from their post-World Series salary purge, improving from 54 wins in 1998 to 79 last season. Johnson should stabilize strong, young staff led by All-Star Ryan Dempster. Despite productive years from Preston Wilson, Cliff Floyd, Mike Lowell and Derrek Lee, Florida still finished 29th in majors in runs scored. Owner John Henry has plan for downtown stadium that could be ready by 2004, when Florida's deep, young talent begins to reach its potential.

Montreal Expos
Manager: Felipe Alou (10th season).
2000: 67-95, 4th place.
Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 21.
He's Here: 3B Fernando Tatis, RHP Britt Reames, 3B Ryan Minor.
He's Outta Here: RHP Dustin Hermanson, LHP Steve Kline.
Spring Chicken: Milton Bradley. This speedy outfielder with a name for any game struggled in brief stint with Expos last season. Hit .221 in 154 at-bats, after batting .304 in Triple-A Ottawa.
Outlook: Injuries hurt last season, as team went from 42-42 before the All-Star break to 25-53 in the second half. There still is little money and not much hope for baseball in Montreal. But there is talent, highlighted by All-Stars Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Vidro. Tatis trade allows Michael Barrett to move to catcher. Carl Pavano missed the last half of 2000 with an elbow injury and probably won't be ready by opening day.

New York Mets
Manager: Bobby Valentine (6th season).
2000: 94-68, wild card, lost World Series to New York Yankees.
Training Town: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 16/Feb. 21.
He's Here: RHP Kevin Appier, RHP Steve Trachsel, RHP Donne Wall, OF Tsuyoshi Shinjo.
He's Outta Here: LHP Mike Hampton, RHP Bobby J. Jones, SS Mike Bordick, OF Derek Bell, OF Bubba Trammell, INF Kurt Abbott.
Spring Chicken: Alex Escobar. Bounced back from injuries after playing only three games in 1999. Has power, speed, hits for a high average and can play all three outfield positions.
Outlook: Excitement from first NL pennant in 14 years dampened quickly as Hampton left for Colorado and the Mets didn't sign any of the top free agents. Pressure will be on Appier to replace Hampton's 15 wins and toughness.

Philadelphia Phillies
Manager: Larry Bowa (1st season).
2000: 65-97, 5th place.
Training Town: Clearwater, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: LHP Rheal Cormier, RHP Jose Mesa, RHP Ricky Bottalico, OF Brian L. Hunter.
He's Outta Here: RHP Kent Bottenfield, SS Alex Arias, RHP Jeff Brantley, C Tom Prince.
Spring Chicken: Jimmy Rollins. Cousin of former big leaguer Tony Tarasco, Rollins excelled in the Arizona Fall League. Hit .274 with 12 homers and 24 steals in Triple-A last season, and should be the answer to the Phillies' woes at shortstop.
Outlook: After entering last year with optimistic talk of a wild card berth, the Phillies tied the Cubs for the worst record in the majors. Brought in Bottalico, Mesa and Cormier to shore up bullpen that went 21-37 with a 5.72 ERA last season. No team in baseball had a higher bullpen ERA or more relief losses.


Chicago Cubs
Manager: Don Baylor (2nd season).
2000: 65-97, 6th place.
Training Town: Mesa, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: C Todd Hundley, RHP Julian Tavarez, 3B Bill Mueller, OF Matt Stairs, SS Ricky Gutierrez, LHP Jeff Fassero, RHP Tom Gordon, RHP Jason Bere, 1B Ron Coomer.
He's Outta Here: 1B Mark Grace, 3B Shane Andrews, RHP Jerry Spradlin, RHP Ben Ford, RHP Tim Worrell.
Spring Chicken: Corey Patterson. The Cubs are banking much of their future on their star 20-year-old outfielder. Has great power and speed but needs work on plate discipline. Could make majors with strong spring.
Outlook: Wait till next year the rallying cry for Cubs fans for years could soon be coming true. After years of a barren farm system, the Cubs minor leagues were ranked second best by Baseball America. Unfortunately, much of the help is at least another year away.

Cincinnati Reds
Manager: Bob Boone (1st season).
2000: 85-77, 2nd place.
Training Town: Sarasota, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 13/Feb. 18.
He's Here: INF Wilton Guerrero, RHP Seth Etherton, INF Donnie Sadler, OF Michael Coleman, C Kelly Stinnett, RHP Frankie Rodriguez, RHP Jim Brower.
He's Outta Here: RHP Steve Parris, LHP Ron Villone, C Eddie Taubensee, 3B Chris Stynes.
Spring Chicken: Gookie Dawkins. Excellent range at shortstop, but is blocked in Cincinnati by Barry Larkin. Still needs work offensively.
Outlook: After falling one game short of the playoffs in 1999, Reds fans thought the addition of Ken Griffey Jr. would be the difference. Instead Cincinnati finished 10 games behind St. Louis. With reconfigured stadium favoring hitters, Reds need starters to get to bullpen.

Houston Astros
Manager: Larry Dierker (5th season).
2000: 72-90, 4th place.
Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: C Brad Ausmus, RHP Doug Brocail, RHP Nelson Cruz, RHP Kent Bottenfield, 3B Charlie Hayes, RHP Mike Jackson, INF Jose Vizcaino.
He's Outta Here: 3B Ken Caminiti, OF Roger Cedeno, RHP Chris Holt, C Mitch Meluskey.
Spring Chicken: Infielder Keith Ginter. Hit .333 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs in Double-A last season.
Outlook: Three-time division champs fell to 23 games back last season as they struggled to adjust to hitters haven, Enron Field. Starter Shane Reynolds will miss the first month with a knee injury.

Milwaukee Brewers
Manager: Davey Lopes (2nd season).
2000: 73-89, 3rd place.
Training Town: Maryvale, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: OF Jeffrey Hammonds.
He's Outta Here: OF Lyle Mouton, 3B Charlie Hayes.
Spring Chicken: Ben Sheets. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Sheets pitched three-hit shutout vs. Cuba to win the Olympic gold medal. Went 8-8 with a 2.38 ERA in minors last seasons.
Outlook: Miller Park opens a year late, but Brewers are no closer to playoffs. Only major offseason addition was Hammonds, who had breakthrough season at Coors Field but hit .275 on the road.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Manager: Lloyd McClendon (1st season).
2000: 69-93, 5th place.
Training Town: Bradenton, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: LHP Terry Mulholland, OF Derek Bell.
He's Outta Here: LHP Jeff Wallace, RHP Brad Clontz, RHP Marc Wilkins, OF Alex Ramirez.
Spring Chicken: Bobby Bradley. Pirates top pick in 1999 draft has one of the best curveballs in baseball. Went 8-2 with 2.29 ERA last season in Class-A.
Outlook: Pirates have up-and-coming stars like Jason Kendall, Brian Giles and Kris Benson, but too many problems. Signing Bell to two-year contract made little sense, especially because John Vander Wal is more productive. Mulholland adds flexibility for McClendon in team's first season at PNC Park.

St. Louis Cardinals
Manager: Tony La Russa (6th season).
2000: 95-67, 1st place, lost NLCS.
Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: RHP Dustin Hermanson, LHP Steve Kline, 3B Shane Andrews, OF Bobby Bonilla, OF Bernard Gilkey, OF Quinton McCracken, OF John Mabry, RHP Heathcliff Slocumb.
He's Outta Here: 3B Fernando Tatis, RHP Pat Hentgen, RHP Britt Reames, 1B Will Clark, OF Eric Davis, INF/OF Shawon Dunston.
Spring Chicken: 3B Albert Pujols. Cardinals belief in this 21-year-old prospect helped ease the trade of Fernando Tatis.
Pujols hit .324 with 17 homers in Class-A Midwest League and also had strong Arizona Fall League campaign.
Outlook: Two big questions surround the NL Central champions as they get ready for 2001: the health of Mark McGwire's knee and Rick Ankiel's control. Big Mac was limited to 15 at-bats after the All-Star game because of his gimpy right knee.


Arizona Diamondbacks
Manager: Bob Brenly (1st season).
2000: 85-77. 3rd place.
Training Town: Tucson, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 20.
He's Here: 1B Mark Grace, OF Reggie Sanders, RHP Miguel Batista, OF Midre Cummings.
He's Outta Here: LHP Dan Plesac.
Spring Chicken: Jack Cust. Power-hitting outfielder was solid in Double-A last year, but showed holes with 150 strikeouts in 447 at-bats. But also walked 117 times and hit 20 homers. Best position might be DH.
Outlook: Went from division champs in '99 to third place last season. Will probably feature an opening day lineup with nine players 31 or older. Duo of Cy Young winner Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling is as good as any.

Colorado Rockies
Manager: Buddy Bell (2nd season).
2000: 82-80, 4th place.
Training Town: Tucson, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 16/Feb. 18.
He's Here: LHP Mike Hampton, LHP Denny Neagle, LHP Ron Villone, OF Ron Gant, INF Greg Norton, OF Roberto Kelly, INF Terry Shumpert.
He's Outta Here: RHP Julian Tavarez, OF Jeffrey Hammonds, INF Jeff Frye.
Spring Chicken: Chin-Hui Tsao. Tsao, 19, features a 97 mph fastball, wicked slider and command of five pitches. Went 11-8 with 2.73 ERA in Class-A and could jump to Double-A this year.
Outlook: GM Dan O'Dowd was able to persuade two of the top free agent pitchers to come to Coors Field. Hampton's sinking fastball could be ideal in the high altitude, but Neagle gave up the most flyballs in baseball last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Manager: Jim Tracy (1st season).
2000: 86-76, 2nd place.
Training Town: Vero Beach, Fla.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 14/Feb. 19.
He's Here: RHP Andy Ashby, RHP Ramon Martinez.
He's Outta Here: C Todd Hundley, RHP Ismael Valdes.
Spring Chicken: Chin-Feng Chen. The Taiwanese outfielder was slowed by a sore shoulder last season and needs at least another year of seasoning.
Outlook: Spent $55 million to keep Darren Dreifort and have one of the toughest rotations in the league with Ashby, Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park and Eric Gagne. Shawn Green was disappointing in his first year in L.A.

San Diego Padres
Manager: Bruce Bochy (7th season).
2000: 76-86, 5th place.
Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 15/Feb. 21.
He's Here: OF Bubba Trammell, LHP Scott Karl, SS Alex Arias, RHP Bobby J. Jones.
He's Outta Here: 2B Bret Boone, RHP Donne Wall, SS Desi Relaford, OF John Mabry, RHP Heathcliff Slocumb.
Spring Chicken: Sean Burroughs. Former Little League star and son of 1974 AL MVP Jeff Burroughs won the MVP at last summer's Futures Game. Just 20, Burroughs hit .291 in Double-A last season but still needs to develop power for a third baseman.
Outlook: Padres brought back Tony Gwynn for at least one more season but there is not much else to get excited about three years after San Diego won the NL. Trammell and Jones were biggest offseason additions, which probably won't be enough to get out of last place in baseball's deepest division. 3B Phil Nevin could be dealt with Burroughs close to ready.

San Francisco Giants
Manager: Dusty Baker (9th season).
2000: 97-65, 1st place.
Training Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Reporting Dates: Feb. 16/Feb. 20.
He's Here: OF Eric Davis, INF/OF Shawon Dunston, RHP Tim Worrell.
He's Outta Here: OF Ellis Burks, 3B Bill Mueller, C Scott Servais.
Spring Chicken: Kurt Ainsworth. Allowed one run in winning two starts at Olympics. Underwent reconstructive elbow surgery three years ago, but has been strong last two seasons in minors. Went 10-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 158 innings in Texas League last season. Could make Giants rotation in 2001.
Outlook: It will be hard to top last season when Giants opened spectacular Pacific Bell and won NL West. Burks will be missed, but Barry Bonds and MVP Jeff Kent still provide ample power. Russ Ortiz and Livan Hernandez headline deep rotation and Robb Nen was the best closer in the league last season.

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