No. 2: Can the young pitchers on the other end of the rotation mature enough to keep balls from flying out of Wrigley Field at an even faster rate than usual?
No. 3: Has the revolving door in left field stopped spinning with the arrival of slugger Henry Rodriguez from the Montreal Expos?
No. 4: Will the second-half struggles of closer Rod Beck, whose ERA almost doubled, continue into this year after he was signed away from the San Francisco Giants?
No. 5: How much will Beck's arrival affect Terry Adams, who took over the closer's role last year after Mel Rojas was traded and who voiced his displeasure at the Beck signing?
St. Louis Cardinals
Manager: Tony La Russa,
1997 record: 73-89, fourth place
No. 1: Will the Cardinals be able to put their full team on the field from Day 1, something they couldn't do last year because of injuries?
No. 2: Without Andy Benes, who steps forward as the ace of the staff? Brother Alan, perhaps?
No. 3: Who's on third, aging Gary Gaetti or converted first baseman/outfielder John Mabry?
No. 4: Will outfielders Ron Gant and Brian Jordan rebound from seasons they would rather forget?
No. 5: How many times will La Russa stroll to the mound and mistakenly signal for closer Dennis Eckersley, who finally cut the cord and will play for a different manager?
Manager: Gene Lamont
1997 record: 79-83, second place
No. 1: Can this low-budget band of no-names overachieve again and make another run at the Central Division title?
No. 2: If the above happens, will anyone in Pittsburgh notice?
No. 3: Is starter Jason Schmidt ready for a breakthrough season that would help justify the Denny Neagle trade?
No. 4: Is Emil Brown, a former Rule 5 draft choice who had 95 major-league at-bats and a .179 average last season, ready to be the everyday center fielder?
No. 5: Is Kevin Young going to be the first baseman, or will he be pushed to third by Ron Wright, who tied the Arizona Fall League record with 11 homers?
Manager: Phil Garner
1997 record: 78-83, third place (AL Central)
No. 1: Can their pitchers hit, and can the rest of the team bare to watch?
No. 2: Does Garner remember the intricacies of the double switch from his days as an NL player?
No. 3: Will Marquis Grissom's knack for coming up big in the postseason go to waste here?
No. 4: Is there enough pitching after a flurry of off-season trades, plus the shoulder injury that will sideline Jeff D'Amico until at least the All-Star break?
No. 5: Can slopball artist Doug Jones get hitters out for another season, or will the odds -- and batters -- finally catch up to him?
Mangager: Larry Dierker
1997 record: 84-78, first place
No. 1: Will Dierker, whose hiring before last season was ridiculed inside baseball circles until he led the Astros to the Central Division title, suffer a sophomore jinx?
No. 2: Can the club withstand the loss of Darryl Kile and find another ace for the rotation?
No. 3: Just how good is Mike Hampton, who put together a strong second half to win 15 games and receive a substantial raise?
No. 4: Will the latest gamble on a rehabilitated arm, this time former Cincinnati Reds lefthander Pete Schourek, pan out better than the likes of Sid Fernandez and Tommy Greene?
No. 5: Is there enough overall talent here to win the balanced Central Division?
San Francisco Giants
record: 90-72, first place
No. 1: Can a team that was in the bottom half of the cumulative league rankings in team batting average, ERA and fielding percentage last year repeat as division champion?
No. 2: Do veteran starters Orel Hershiser and Danny Darwin have enough left to fill out the starting rotation?
No. 3: Is 19-game winner Shawn Estes the real deal?
No. 4: Will newly signed stopper Rob Nenn be a substantial improvement over Rod Beck?
No. 5: At what point this spring will Barry Bonds claim that he can no longer live on $13 million per year?
Los Angeles Dodgers
Manager: Bill Russell
1997 record: 88-74, second place
No. 1: Can the Dodgers be stopped if their starting rotation stays healthy all year?
No. 2: Will the club finally sign superstar catcher Mike Piazza to a long-term contract extension?
No. 3: Will Piazza become the highest-paid player in the game?
No. 4: How will outfielder Raul Mondesi respond to the added responsibility that comes with his club record contract extension?
No. 5: How will the pending sale of the club to Fox Sports impact the day-to-day operation of the franchise?
Manager: Don Baylor
1997 record: 83-79, third place
No. 1: Is the upgraded pitching staff ready to return the Rockies to the top of the standings?
No. 2: Will free agent acquisition Darryl Kyle pick up where he left off in Houston in 1997, or fall victim to the thin air at Coors Field?
No. 3: Can late-season acquisition Pedro Astacio live up to last year's strong finish and justify his new multi-year contract?
No. 4: Can outfielder Larry Walker replicate last year's tremendous offensive performance?