Manager: Buck Showalter
1998 record: 65-97, fifth place
No. 1: How many second-year expansion teams have six good candidates for the starting rotation? Answer: This one.
No. 2: Who will be the odd man out in the rotation?
No. 3: General manager Joe Garagiola Jr. must decide whether to deal the pitching surplus for help elsewhere.
No. 4: Jay Bell must readjust to a regular role at second base after 10 years at short.
No. 5: Can rejuvenated former Orioles closer Gregg Olson stay injury free for a second straight year?
Manager: Jim Leyland
1998 record: 77-85, fourth place
No. 1: Can Leyland create a winning chemistry and reverse the club's three-year slide?
No. 2: Can he do it despite a roster that hasn't changed much from last year's?
No. 3: The club has enough veterans in the rotation but may be in the market for a go-to starter.
No. 4: Top outfield prospects Edgard Clemente and Derrick Gibson may be dangled in trade talks.
No. 5: Leyland has five candidates for the closer's role; that isn't such a good thing.
Manager: Davey Johnson
1998 record: 83-79, third place
No. 1: Can Johnson and new ace Kevin Brown give this underachieving club a heart transplant?
No. 2: Can Brown handle the pressure of being the most expensive player in baseball history?
No. 3: Todd Hundley may not be healthy enough to replace four-time Gold Glove catcher Charles Johnson.
No. 4: Who's in right? Raul Mondesi and Gary Sheffield could butt heads over their favorite position.
No. 5: Bullpen depth could be a problem after the departure of setup man Scott Radinsky.
Manager: Bruce Bochy
1998 record: 98-64, first place
No. 1: The first order of business: Convince the fans that this isn't a Marlins meltdown.
No. 2: Time to find out if super prospect Ruben Rivera is ready for prime time.
No. 3: Can the Padres field an adequate rotation after losing Kevin Brown to free agency and trading Joey Hamilton to Toronto?
No. 4: Will the club miss dynamic pitching coach Dave Stewart?
San Francisco Giants
Manager: Dusty Baker
1998 record: 89-74, second place
No. 1: Superstar Barry Bonds has been making noises about wanting to leave.
No. 2: No starter last year had an ERA better than 4.33, so the rotation will be a major priority.
No. 3: Who will replace departed 11-game winner Orel Hershiser?
No. 4: Can former switch-hitting first baseman J. T. Snow hit lefties well enough to keep full-time role?
No. 5: With little depth and several players coming off surgery, the fragile club seeks to stay healthy all spring.
Pub Date: 2/21/99