Nl East

Spring Training 2000

February 16, 2000|By JOE STRAUSS

Atlanta Braves

Manager: Bobby Cox

1999 record: 103-59, first place

No. 1: The John Rocker riddle. Traded, suspended or merely ostracized?

No. 2: Does Chipper Jones get an extension before it becomes another distraction for an organization long immune to controversy?

No. 3: Can Andres Galarraga (38) contribute after missing a year with cancer?

No. 4: Was last season an aberration for Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, or is the rotation finally showing wear?

No. 5: Will a third hitting coach in three seasons solve the chronic postseason offensive woes?

Florida Marlins

Manager: John Boles

1999 record: 64-98, fifth place

No. 1: Will Rookie of the Year runner-up Preston Wilson adjust offensively (156 K's) or become a one-year wonder?

No. 2: Will the team lose another 16 times after leading or being tied in the eighth inning?

No. 3: Can injury-prone Cliff Floyd play more than 117 games for only the second time in seven seasons?

No. 4: Are young pitchers A. J. Burnett (23) and Brad Penny (21) ready?

No. 5: Is third baseman Mike Lowell the NL breakthrough player?

Montreal Expos

Manager: Felipe Alou

1999 record: 68-94, fourth place

No. 1: Given the acquisition of Hideki Irabu, how does one say "fat toad" in French?

No. 2: Who plays center? Peter Bergeron? Milton Bradley?

No. 3: Can middle reliever Guillermo Mota return from elbow surgery to give the Expos one of the league's most effective bullpens?

No. 4: The Expos know Brad Fullmer can hit, but can he protect himself at first base?

No. 5: With a $27 million payroll, can the Expos reach .500?

New York Mets

Manager: Bobby Valentine

1999 record: 97-66, second place

No. 1: Can the Mets become the first team other than the Braves to win the NL East since 1993?

No. 2: Will disgruntled reliever Armando Benitez solidify his closer role or again become a distracted trade candidate?

No. 3: Bobby Valentine, dugout genius or self-promoter?

No. 4: Can GM Steve Phillips acquire a left-handed-hitting outfielder (perhaps Jim Edmonds) to complement a right-handed-heavy lineup?

No. 5: Will Todd Zeile adapt to first base and adequately replace John Olerud?

Philadelphia Phillies

Manager: Terry Francona

1999 record: 77-85, third place

No. 1: Can the Phillies survive an April that includes 16 games against playoff teams?

No. 2: Will Curt Schilling's right shoulder allow him to be a factor?

No. 3: Will the Paul Byrd of last season's first half (11-5, 3.94 ERA) or second half (4-6, 5.61) emerge?

No. 4: Were the Indians and Cardinals correct to run from medical reports on closer Mike Jackson?

No. 5: Are Desi Relaford and Marlon Anderson an adequate middle infield?

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