There are two pervasive thoughts for the 2008 baseball season:
The American League is far superior to the National League.
And no team is without a significant question mark heading into its first games, even in the AL.
The Boston Red Sox's rotation is banged up, the New York Yankees are maybe too old and maybe too young. The Detroit Tigers' bullpen is a mess, the Cleveland Indians have offensive holes and a top-heavy rotation and the Los Angeles Angels? deep rotation already is reeling.
Still, with impressive additions made by teams such as the Tigers, Angels and Seattle Mariners, and to a lesser extent the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, the AL might be as good as it has been in years.
"I think so, but I have said that every year for the last three years," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said.
"It keeps getting better and better. It's ridiculous."
In the NL, there are plenty of solid teams, but none is spectacular.
And that might open the door for September?s hottest club to win the league, the way the Colorado Rockies did in 2007.
"I don?t think one of you guys [in the media] picked the Rockies last year to go to the World Series," Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta said.
For the record, I had the Red Sox beating the Indians in the American League ChampionshipSeries and then winning the World Series.
(Against the Philadelphia Phillies, but why pick nits?)
This is, of course, a new season, with new predictions. Here goes:
Joe Torre, manager, Dodgers. Torre's run with the Yankees was impressive ? 12 seasons, 12 playoff appearances, four World Series rings. But now it's time to see what Torre, 67, does without Derek Jeter & Co.