1997: 101-61, 1st place; beat Houston in first round of playoffs, lost to Florida in NLCS.
Manager: Bobby Cox (9th season).
He’s Here: 1B Andres Galarraga, SS Walt Weiss, RHP Dennis Martinez, OF Gerald Williams, OF Curtis Pride.
He’s Outta Here: 1B Fred McGriff, OF Kenny Lofton, 2B Mark Lemke, SS Jeff Blauser, IF Mike Mordecai, RHP Mike Bielecki, RHP Chad Fox, C Greg Myers, LHP Terrell Wade, C Tim Spehr.
Projected Lineup: CF Andruw Jones, RF Michael Tucker, 3B Chipper Jones, 1B Andres Galarraga, LF Ryan Klesko, C Javy Lopez, 2B Tony Graffanino, SS Walt Weiss, P Greg Maddux.
Rotation: RHP Greg Maddux, LHP Denny Neagle, RHP John Smoltz, LHP Tom Glavine, RHP Dennis Martinez.
Relievers: RHP Mark Wohlers, RHP Mike Cather, RHP Kerry Ligtenberg, LHP Alan Embree, RHP Kevin Millwood.
Hot Shot: Millwood. At 23, will start season in rotation while Smoltz recovers from elbow surgery. Went 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA at Triple-A Richmond last season, then was 5-3 for Atlanta.
Hot Spot: Braves hope Andruw Jones can fill leadoff slot previously held by Kenny Lofton and Marquis Grissom. Jones has power (18 HRs) and speed (20 SBs), but needs to get on base - hit just .231 and struck out 107 times in 399 at-bats.
Bottom Line: Big Four should easily pitch Atlanta into postseason for record seventh straight year and Marlins’ breakup clears a path to the World Series. But after so many October disappointments, only a championship will make it a successful season.
1997: 92-70, 2nd place (wild card), nine games behind; beat San Francisco in first round of playoffs, beat Atlanta in NLCS, beat Cleveland in World Series.
Manager: Jim Leyland (2nd season).
He’s Here: 1B Derrek Lee, RHP Eric Ludwick.
He’s Outta Here: OF Moises Alou, RHP Kevin Brown, RHP Robb Nen, OF Devon White, LHP Al Leiter, LHP Tony Saunders, 2B Kurt Abbott, 1B Darren Daulton, 1B Jeff Conine, LHP Dennis Cook, LHP Ed Vosberg, IF Alex Arias.
Projected Lineup: LF Cliff Floyd, SS Edgar Renteria, RF Gary Sheffield, 3B Bobby Bonilla, 1B Derrek Lee, CF Todd Dunwoody, C Charles Johnson, 2B Craig Counsell, P Livan Hernandez.
Rotation: RHP Livan Hernandez, LHP Felix Heredia, RHP Brian Meadows, RHP Rafael Medina, RHP Eric Ludwick.
Relievers: RHP Jay Powell, RHP Antonio Alfonseca, LHP Vic Darensbourg, LHP Gabe Gonzalez, LHP Jesus Martinez, LHP Kurt Ojala, RHP Rob Stanifer.
Hot Shot: Kotsay and Dunwoody. Both 22-year-old rookies could be starting on opening day. Kotsay hit .306 in Double-A and flashed five-tool potential; Dunwoody showed speed and strength in Triple-A.
Hot Spot: A staff infection. With Alex Fernandez sidelined all season, World Series MVP Hernandez is only returning member of rotation. Bullpen is just as raw with no experienced stopper.
Bottom Line: Minus 12 players from 25-man World Series roster in salary purge, Marlins may resemble an expansion team, or worse. Could be facing a dropoff of historic proportions, with 100 losses possible.
1997: 78-84, 4th place, 23 games behind.
Manager: Felipe Alou (7th season).
He’s Here: RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Shawn Boskie, OF Derrick May, OF Chuckie Carr, IF Mike Mordecai.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Pedro Martinez, 2B Mike Lansing, OF Henry Rodriguez, 1B David Segui, C Darrin Fletcher, RHP Jim Bullinger, RHP Dave Veres, IF Doug Strange.
Projected Lineup: SS Mark Grudzielanek, LF F.P. Santangelo, RF Vladimir Guerrero, CF Rondell White, 1B Brad Fullmer, 3B Jose Vidro, 2B Orlando Cabrera, C Chris Widger, P Carlos Perez.
Rotation: LHP Carlos Perez, RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Dustin Hermanson, RHP Shawn Boskie, RHP Marc Valdes.
Relievers: RHP Ugueth Urbina, RHP Anthony Telford, LHP Rick DeHart, RHP Shayne Bennett, RHP Matt Wagner.
Hot Shot: Pavano. The key piece in the Martinez package after going 11-6 at Triple-A. Considered one of baseball’s best prospects, Pavano is ready to make major league debut at 22.
Hot Spot: The future of the franchise. Cash-strapped Expos expect to know by midsummer whether they will remain in Montreal or soon move to a more lucrative market.
Bottom Line: Hard not to feel bad for Felipe. Add this latest round of winter defections to a list that already included Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and John Wetteland and it’s amazing Expos ever win.
New York Mets
1997: 88-74, 3rd place, 13 games behind.
Manager: Bobby Valentine (3rd season).
He’s Here: LHP Al Leiter, RHP John Hudek, LHP Dennis Cook, OF Rich Becker, 3B Craig Paquette, C Tim Spehr.
He’s Outta Here: OF Alex Ochoa, OF Carl Everett, RHP Cory Lidle, OF Steve Bieser.
Projected Lineup: CF Brian McRae, 3B Edgardo Alfonzo, 1B John Olerud, RF Butch Huskey, LF Bernard Gilkey, 2B Carlos Baerga, C Todd Pratt, SS Rey Ordonez, P Bobby Jones.
Rotation: RHP Bobby Jones, LHP Al Leiter, RHP Rick Reed, RHP Dave Mlicki, RHP Masato Yoshii.
Relievers: LHP John Franco, RHP Mel Rojas, RHP John Hudek, RHP Turk Wendell, LHP Dennis Cook, RHP Greg McMichael, RHP Armando Reynoso.
Hot Shot: Yoshii. Went 13-6 with a 2.99 ERA in Japan last season. Features split-finger fastball, learned from former teammate Hideo Nomo. Turns 23 in April and could become valuable pitcher, either this year or next.
Hot Spot: Cleanup. Catcher Todd Hundley is out at least until the All-Star break after elbow surgery. Mets can replace his defense, but not his power.
Bottom Line: For once, rotation is not dependent on health of young guns Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen. Mets have enough pitching without them to contend for wild-card spot. Need someone to hit 25 home runs and Gilkey and McRae must boost sub-.250 averages.
1997: 68-94, 5th place, 33 games behind.
Manager: Terry Francona (2nd season).
He’s Here: OF Doug Glanville, OF Bob Abreu, IF Mark Lewis, IF Alex Arias. He’s Outta Here: 2B Mickey Morandini, SS Kevin Stocker, OF Derrick May, OF Danny Tartabull.
Projected Lineup: CF Doug Glanville, 2B Mark Lewis, LF Gregg Jefferies, 3B Scott Rolen, 1B Rico Brogna, C Mike Lieberthal, RF Bob Abreu, SS Desi Relaford, P Curt Schilling.
Rotation: RHP Curt Schilling, RHP Mark Portugal, LHP Matt Beech, RHP Mike Grace, RHP Tyler Green.
Relievers: RHP Ricky Bottalico, RHP Wayne Gomes, LHP Darrin Winston, RHP Jerry Spradlin, RHP Mark Leiter, RHP Garrett Stephenson.
Hot Shot: Relaford. Switch-hitting rookie takes over for Kevin Stocker at short. Brings hot glove and fast feet to bigs at 24.
Hot Spot: Center field. Lenny Dykstra, injured since May 1996, was miffed Phils didn’t give him his old job - until bad back slowed comeback. Glanville hit .300 for Cubs, came over in Morandini trade and does not want to sit.
Bottom Line: Had majors’ worst record in first half of ‘97, then had fourth-best mark in second half. Young team is improving under patient Francona, although pitching - aside from Schilling - is shaky.
1997: 68-94, 5th place, 16 games behind.
Manager: Jim Riggleman (4th season).
He’s Here: OF Henry Rodriguez, 2B Mickey Morandini, SS Jeff Blauser, RHP Rod Beck, OF Matt Mieske.
He’s Outta Here: 2B Ryne Sandberg, OF Doug Glanville, OF Dave Clark, IF Dave Hansen, OF-1B Brooks Kieschnick, IF Miguel Cairo.
Projected Lineup: CF Lance Johnson, 2B Mickey Morandini, RF Sammy Sosa, 1B Mark Grace, LF Henry Rodriguez, SS Jeff Blauser, 3B Kevin Orie, C Scott Servais, P Kevin Tapani.
Rotation: RHP Kevin Tapani, RHP Mark Clark, RHP Jeremi Gonzalez, RHP Steve Trachsel, LHP Terry Mulholland.
Relievers: RHP Rod Beck, RHP Terry Adams, LHP Bob Patterson, RHP Marc Pisciotta.
Hot Shot: RHP Kerry Wood. At 20, he’s 6-foot-5 and throws hard. Might be baseball’s top pitching prospect, though Cubs do not want to rush him through Triple-A.
Hot Spot: Outfield defense. Rodriguez, Sosa and Johnson can hit, no doubt. But there’s a tradeoff, and Wrigley Field fans should get ready to see the three having glove trouble.
Bottom Line: Cubs hope Oh Henry! and Blauser can bring power to a team that ranked among N.L.’s lowest in runs and homers. The rotation remains shaky, and there are lingering concerns about Beck’s velocity.
1997: 76-86, 3rd place, nine games behind.
Manager: Jack McKeon (1st full season).
He’s Here: OF Melvin Nieves, 1B Dmitri Young, RHP Mark Hutton, RHP David Weathers, LHP Steve Cooke, RHP Pete Harnisch.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Jeff Brantley, 1B Hal Morris, OF Deion Sanders, RHP Mike Morgan, C Joe Oliver, LHP Pete Schourek, OF Curtis Goodwin, LHP Kent Mercker.
Projected Lineup: SS Pokey Reese, LF Chris Stynes, 3B Willie Greene, CF Reggie Sanders, 1B Eduardo Perez, C Eddie Taubensee, RF Jon Nunnally, 2B Bret Boone, P Dave Burba.
Rotation: RHP Dave Burba, RHP Brett Tomko, LHP Mike Remlinger, RHP Pete Harnisch, LHP Steve Cooke.
Relievers: RHP Jeff Shaw, RHP Stan Belinda, RHP David Weathers, RHP Mark Hutton, LHP Gabe White, RHP Scott Sullivan.
Hot Shot: 3B Aaron Boone. Bret’s brother and Bob’s son was team MVP at Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting 22 homers with 75 RBIs. Made major league debut in brief stint last year.
Hot Spot: The trainer’s table. Barry Larkin will miss the opener - and maybe a lot more - because of neck injury. Former World Series MVP Jose Rijo trying to come back from five elbow surgeries that have kept him out since 1995.
Bottom Line: GM Jim Bowden has strong track record of turning low-budget pickups into productive players, and hopes Nieves and Young fit the pattern. Reds could use excitement - Deion Sanders is out of baseball, for now.
1997: 84-78, 1st place; lost to Atlanta in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Larry Dierker (2nd season).
He’s Here: OF Moises Alou, Of Carl Everett, RHP Sean Bergman, OF Dave Clark, RHP Doug Henry, 1B-3B Jack Howell, LHP Pete Schourek, 1B J.R. Phillips.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Darryl Kile, OF Luis Gonzalez, RHP John Hudek, LHP Tom Martin, RHP Russ Springer, OF Bob Abreu, OF Chuckie Carr, OF Thomas Howard, C Tony Pena.
Projected Lineup: 2B Craig Biggio, 3B Bill Spiers, 1B Jeff Bagwell, RF Derek Bell, LF Moises Alou, CF Richard Hidalgo, C Brad Ausmus, SS Tim Bogar, P Mike Hampton.
Rotation: LHP Mike Hampton, RHP Shane Reynolds, RHP Chris Holt, RHP Ramon Garcia/LHP John Halama, LHP Pete Schourek.
Relievers: LHP Billy Wagner, RHP Doug Henry, RHP Sean Bergman, LHP Mike Magnante, RHP Jose Cabrera.
Hot Shot: Hidalgo. Promoted to majors last Aug. 31, started against Atlanta in playoffs at age 22. Led American Association with 37 doubles. Strong arm.
Hot Spot: Minus Kile, Hampton is the only Houston pitcher who won 10 games last season. Reynolds and Holt are capable, but Astros need a lot more from them.
Bottom Line: Alou fits neatly into a lineup boasting Biggio, Bell and Bagwell at top. Departures of Springer, Martin and Hudek deplete a bullpen built on depth. A return to the postseason is tough task.
1997: 78-83, 3rd place, eight games behind in AL Central.
Manager: Phil Garner (7th season).
He’s Here: OF Marquis Grissom, LHP Mike Myers, RHP Jeff Juden, RHP Chad Fox, 1B Bob Hamelin.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Mike Fetters, LHP Ron Villone, RHP Bryce Florie, OF Gerald Williams.
Projected Lineup: CF Marquis Grissom, SS Jose Valentin, RF Jeromy Burnitz, 1B John Jaha, 3B Jeff Cirillo, LF Marc Newfield, C Mike Matheny, 2B Fernando Vina, P Cal Eldred.
Rotation: RHP Cal Eldred, LHP Scott Karl, RHP Jose Mercedes, RHP Jeff Juden, RHP Paul Wagner.
Relievers: RHP Doug Jones, RHP Bob Wickman, LHP Mike Myers, RHP Chad Fox, RHP Al Reyes, RHP Steve Woodard.
Hot Shot: Woodard. Went combined 15-3 in minors, picked as Texas League pitcher of the year. Beat Roger Clemens in big league debut, went 3-3 in seven starts for Milwaukee. Turns 23 in May.
Hot Spot: Milwaukee pitchers went 0-for-18 at the plate in interleague play. They worked on hitting, bunting and running this spring, with mixed results - a minor league pitcher broke bone in his hand just swinging a bat.
Bottom Line: Brewers became first team to switch leagues this century, and may do better in easier N.L. Central. DH Dave Nilsson moves to left field once his knee injury heals; have to see how rest of team adjusts to N.L. style.
1997: 79-83, 2nd place, five games behind.
Manager: Gene Lamont (2nd season).
He’s Here: IF Doug Strange.
He’s Outta Here: 3B Joe Randa, SS Shawon Dunston, SS Kevin Elster, IF Dale Sveum, LHP Steve Cooke.
Projected Lineup: 2B Tony Womack, CF Jermaine Allensworth, LF Al Martin, 1B Kevin Young, RF Jose Guillen, C Jason Kendall, 3B Freddy Garcia, SS Abraham Nunez, P Francisco Cordova.
Rotation: RHP Francisco Cordova, RHP Jason Schmidt, RHP Esteban Loaiza, RHP Jon Lieber, RHP Jose Silva.
Relievers: RHP Rich Loiselle, RHP Marc Wilkins, LHP Ricardo Rincon, LHP Jason Christiansen, RHP Elmer Dessens, LHP Chris Peters.
Hot Shot: RHP Kris Benson. Overall No. 1 pick in 1996 draft, averaged more than a strikeout per inning last year in Class A and Double-A. At 23, Pirates do not want to push him to big leagues too soon.
Hot Spot: Live arms. With most teams in majors looking for young, talented pitchers, Pirates have plenty, in the rotation and bullpen. Now, will Cordova and Co. continue to develop or break down along the way?
Bottom Line: Fresh-faced Pirates caught most everyone by surprise last season, becoming one of baseball’s best feel-good stories. No one will take them lightly this year, making it harder to duplicate success.
St. Louis Cardinals
1997: 73-89, 4th place; 11 games behind.
Manager: Tony La Russa (3rd season).
He’s Here: RHP Jeff Brantley, LHP Kent Mercker, RHP Kent Bottenfield, IF David Howard, OF Vince Coleman, IF Craig Shipley.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Andy Benes, RHP Dennis Eckersley, C Mike Difelice, LHP Rick Honeycutt, LHP Tony Fossas, 1B Dmitri Young.
Projected Lineup: SS Royce Clayton, 2B Delino DeShields, 1B Mark McGwire, CF Ray Lankford, LF Ron Gant, RF Brian Jordan, 3B Gary Gaetti, C Tom Pagnozzi, P Todd Stottlemyre.
Rotation: RHP Todd Stottlemyre, RHP Matt Morris, LHP Kent Mercker, RHP Manny Aybar, RHP Alan Benes.
Relievers: RHP Jeff Brantley, RHP Kent Bottenfield, LHP Lance Painter, RHP Mark Petkovsek, RHP John Frascatore, RHP Curtis King, RHP Rigo Beltran.
Hot Shot: C Eli Marrero. One of majors’ top catching prospects. Sidelined by thyroid cancer this spring, expected to make full recovery. Threw out 39 percent of basestealers in Triple-A and was American Association All-Star.
Hot Spot: Jordan. Limited to 10 RBIs last season because of back and wrist trouble after helping St. Louis finish first in 1996 with 104 RBIs. Made speedy recovery in spring, Cards counting on his health.
Bottom Line: A huge disappointment in 1997, especially after La Russa predicted another Central title. Should bounce back in a big way, though young Morris and Aybar must deliver in Andy Benes’ absence.
Manager: Buck Showalter (1st season).
He’s Here: 3B Matt Williams, RHP Andy Benes, SS Jay Bell, OF Devon White, RHP Willie Blair, LHP Tom Martin, LHP Brian Anderson, RHP Jeff Suppan, RHP Russ Springer, RHP Hector Carrasco, C Jorge Fabregas, OF Karim Garcia.
Projected Lineup: CF Devon White, SS Jay Bell, RF Karim Garcia, 3B Matt Williams, 1B Travis Lee, C Jorge Fabregas, LF Yamil Benitez, 2B Tony Batista, P Andy Benes.
Rotation: RHP Andy Benes, RHP Willie Blair, LHP Brian Anderson, RHP Jeff Suppan, LHP Omar Daal.
Relievers: RHP Hector Carrasco, RHP Clint Sodowsky, RHP Gregg Olson, RHP Felix Rodriguez.
Hot Shot: Lee. Hit .361 with 18 homers in 61 games at Class A, then hit .300 with 14 home runs in Triple-A. Sweet swing at 22. Was first baseman on 1996 Olympic team.
Hot Spot: Bullpen. Can be awfully frustrating for new teams to watch late leads slip away. No one on Arizona roster had more than three saves in majors last year.
Bottom Line: None of baseball’s 12 expansion teams since 1961 has come within 20 games of .500. Fueled by owner Jerry Colangelo’s cash and Showalter’s skill, D-backs could do better at filled-up Bank One Ballpark.
1997: 83-79, 3rd place; seven games behind.
Manager: Don Baylor (6th season).
He’s Here: RHP Darryl Kile, 2B Mike Lansing, LHP Chuck McElroy, RHP Dave Veres, OF Curtis Goodwin, 1B Greg Colbrunn.
He’s Outta Here: 1B Andres Galarraga, SS Walt Weiss, OF Quinton McCracken, RHP Darren Holmes, RHP Frank Castillo, RHP Mark Hutton, RHP Bryan Rekar, RHP Bill Swift, RHP Steve Reed.
Projected Lineup: 2B Mike Lansing, CF Ellis Burks, RF Larry Walker, LF Dante Bichette, 1B Todd Helton, 3B Vinny Castilla, SS Neifi Perez, C Kirt Manwaring, P Darryl Kile.
Rotation: RHP Darryl Kile, RHP John Thomson, RHP Pedro Astacio, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Mark Thompson/RHP Roger Bailey.
Relievers: RHP Jerry Dipoto, RHP Curtis Leskanic, RHP Mike DeJean, LHP Chuck McElroy, RHP Dave Veres, LHP Mike Munoz, LHP Bruce Ruffin.
Hot Shot: Helton. Hit .352 with 16 homers and 88 RBIs at TripleA. Homered in first big league game, finished with five HRs in 93 at-bats for Rockies. Big bat, and big shoes to fill in replacing Galarraga at 24.
Hot Spot: Ace is the place. Kile, the first top pitcher to want to play at Coors Field, could break the team record of 17 wins held by Kevin Ritz.
Bottom Line: Rockies addressed their No. 1 need by signing a No. 1 starter, and also added bullpen help.
Los Angeles Dodgers
1997: 88-74, 2nd place; two games behind.
Manager: Bill Russell (3rd season).
He’s Here: SS Jose Vizcaino, OF Mike Devereaux, OF Thomas Howard, OF Trenidad Hubbard.
He’s Outta Here: OF Brett Butler, RHP Todd Worrell, SS Greg Gagne, 1B Eddie Murray, OF Otis Nixon, RHP Tom Candiotti, OF Darren Lewis, OF Karim Garcia.
Projected Lineup: 2B Eric Young, SS Jose Vizcaino, C Mike Piazza, 1B Eric Karros, RF Raul Mondesi, 3B Todd Zeile, LF Paul Konerko, CF Todd Hollandsworth, P Ramon Martinez.
Rotation: RHP Ramon Martinez, RHP Chan Ho Park, RHP Ismael Valdes, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Darren Dreifort.
Relievers: RHP Antonio Osuna, LHP Scott Radinsky, RHP Darren Hall, LHP Mark Guthrie, LHP Dennis Reyes.
Hot Shot: Konerko. Voted minor league player of year by many after batting .323 with 37 homers and 127 RBIs at Triple-A.
Hot Spot: Osuna. With Worrell’s retirement, Dodgers gamble by giving closer job to 24-year-old with little experience (0 saves last year, 4 lifetime in majors). Dreifort was a possibility, but he becomes a full-time starter.
Bottom Line: No reason Dodgers shouldn’t win division, unless Osuna struggles, and Piazza could be MVP. Best starting staff in baseball, aside from Braves.
San Diego Padres
1997: 76-86, 4th place; 14 games behind.
Manager: Bruce Bochy (4th season).
He’s Here: RHP Kevin Brown, RHP Brian Boehringer, RHP Dan Miceli, LHP Mark Langston, RHP Donne Wall, OF James Mouton, LHP Ed Vosberg, C Greg Myers.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Tim Worrell, RHP Doug Bochtler, C John Flaherty, 1B Derrek Lee, IF Craig Shipley, RHP Sean Bergman.
Projected Lineup: 2B Quilvio Veras, CF Steve Finley, RF Tony Gwynn, 3B Ken Caminiti, 1B Wally Joyner, LF Greg Vaughn, C Carlos Hernandez, SS Chris Gomez, P Kevin Brown.
Rotation: RHP Kevin Brown, RHP Joey Hamilton, RHP Andy Ashby, LHP Sterling Hitchcock, LHP Mark Langston.
Relievers: RHP Trevor Hoffman, RHP Brian Boehringer, RHP Dan Miceli, RHP Pete Smith, RHP Don Wengert, RHP Donne Wall.
Hot Shot: OF Ruben Rivera. The main player the Padres wanted from Yankees in Hideki Irabu trade, Rivera has outstanding power potential, provided he can avoid injuries.
Hot Spot: Brown could become the bona fide ace San Diego has been seeking, as long as his sinker is still sharp at 33. Pads really need Ashby (9-11) and Hitchcock (10-11) to get above the breakeven point.
Bottom Line: Gwynn’s eighth batting title was best thing to happen in a year when San Diego slipped from first to last. A bounce-back by Vaughn (.216, 57 RBIs) could further boost N.L.’s second-highest scoring offense.
San Francisco Giants
1997: 90-72, 1st place; lost to Florida in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Dusty Baker (6th season).
He’s Here: RHP Robb Nen, RHP Orel Hershiser, 3B Charlie Hayes, IF Rey Sanchez, RHP Steve Reed, C Brent Mayne.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Rod Beck, RHP Roberto Hernandez, SS Jose Vizcaino, OF Glenallen Hill, LHP Terry Mulholland, C Damon Berryhill, RHP Doug Henry, RHP William VanLandingham, IF Mark Lewis.
Projected Lineup: CF Darryl Hamilton, 3B Bill Mueller, LF Barry Bonds, 2B Jeff Kent, 1B J.T. Snow, RF Stan Javier, SS Rey Sanchez, C Brian Johnson, P Shawn Estes.
Rotation: LHP Shawn Estes, RHP Orel Hershiser, LHP Kirk Rueter, RHP Mark Gardner, RHP Danny Darwin.
Relievers: RHP Robb Nen, RHP Julian Tavarez, LHP Rich Rodriguez, RHP Steve Reed.
Hot Shot: OF Jacob Cruz. Led Pacific Coast League in batting (.361), doubles and on-base average. Has been team’s MVP at Triple-A Phoenix for two straight years.
Hot Spot: Given a choice of big-name relievers, Giants made their pick: They traded for Nen and cut loose Roberto Hernandez and Rod Beck. The decision will be debated if Nen - shaky in World Series - doesn’t cut his 3.89 ERA.
Bottom Line: Caught N.L. by surprise last year, improving 22 games and winning West. Won’t be so simple this time, even if Bonds (40 HRs, 101 RBIs, 37 SBs, 145 walks) shines.
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