Milton Bradley has a hyperactive temper, Aroldis Chapman a hyperactive fastball, Ozzie Guillen a hyperactive Twitter account and I can name you several dozen baseball columnists and fans who have hyperactive imaginations come prediction time each spring.
MLB 2010, let's rock:
1. Yankees: Mark Teixeira is past the adjustment phase in the Bronx. Alex Rodriguez is through the centaur half-man, half-horse('s rear) phase. Javier Vazquez looks far better as a No. 4 starter now than he did toward the top of the rotation during his first Pinstripe tour.
4. Orioles: Rough spring for second baseman Brian Roberts (back) and starter Chris Tillman (back to Triple-A), but veteran Kevin Millwood did become a Certified Babysitter as Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Co. make Baltimore baseball's best fourth-place team.
5. Blue Jays: Baseball and People magazine again teaming up for "All-Stars Among Us" promotion this summer. Next choice was awarding prizes to any fan who can name two of Toronto's starting pitchers in the post-Roy Halladay era.
1. Twins: A $184 million spring deal for Joe Mauer and a franchise record $96 million payroll in 2010 as they move into new Target Field. What could possibly be next for this crazy franchise, a vacation home in the south of France? A private, bullet-proof-glass-enclosed suite for Denard Span's mom?
2. White Sox: If Ozzie Guillen likes this Sox team this summer as much as he likes Bed and Bath (it's an Ozzie Twitter thing) -- and what's not to like with Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, Carlos Quentin and others -- they'll be baseball's answer to Toyota (no stopping them). And they'll smell lovely, too.
3. Tigers: Verlander, Porcello and as long as Dontrelle doesn't turn into jello. ...
4. Indians: Promising news for the future: Indians' average age of 26.5 on 40-man roster was youngest in majors this spring. Discouraging news: They're so young they're having difficulty getting over Miley Cyrus ditching Hannah Montana for more grownup roles.
5. Royals: Getting very close to saying "Ah, screw it" and asking George Brett, Frank White and Amos Otis to make comebacks.
1. Angels: No ace after the dearly departed John Lackey, but Angels believe rotation of Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Joel Piñeiro will give them a chance to win every night. Erick Aybar, who led the majors in bunt hits last year, replaces Chone Figgins atop the order, giving the Angels an advantage in not having to explain to everyone all summer how to pronounce "Chone."
3. Mariners: This is not a good sign: Milton Bradley was ejected from two Cactus League games this spring.
4. Athletics: Don't know why, but talking with good-guy Ben Sheets always leaves me in the mood to eat alligator. Maybe it's that thick-as-gumbo Louisiana drawl. If he's with the A's past July 31, by the way, it must mean they're in contention.
1. Phillies: Moving from the AL East to the NL for Doc Halladay would be like you or me moving from a job at the assembly line to lying on the beaches of Margaritaville all day. Halladay and Cole Hamels should spend much of this summer turning out the lights on opponents. And Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will be lighting those opponents back up. Placido Polanco might be the most underrated offensive acquisition of the year.
2. Braves: If Jason Heyward isn't the next Dave Parker, my name's not Danny Knobler. Or whatever. Meantime, please bring a rocking chair to the ballpark with you to present to retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox.
3. Marlins: Ricky Nolasco had such a good spring he became a trendy pick for NL Cy Young. Anybody for Hanley Ramirez for NL MVP this summer? And if Cameron plays more like Maybin than Diaz in center field, the Marlins will be there through September.
4. Mets: Dr. David Altchek, Mets medical director. Dr. Struan Coleman, team physician. Dr. Andrew Pearle, associate team physician. And Dr. Seth Miller, orthopedist. Because if you're gonna watch the Mets, you had better know the names of their doctors.
More contenders than you think
Predictions & awards: Who the experts like
Dobrow: Fantasy preseason awards
Sunday: Opening night -- Yanks at BoSox, 8:05 ET
1. Cardinals: Hey, whatever did happen against the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs last year anyway? The keys here are simple: If starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright stay healthy, and Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday keep bopping, Cards will get another crack at the playoffs this October.
2. Brewers: It's not how many times Bernie Brewer slides into the beer mug after Milwaukee home runs this summer. It's how many times the Brewers' Bernies on the mound -- Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Dave Bush, etc. -- keep opposing runners from scoring.
3. Cubs: If it turns out catcher Geovany Soto was a one-hit wonder as a rookie, he'll have a burgeoning second career giving Jenny Craig a run in the diet department (he lost 40 pounds over the winter).
5. Astros: Prospects so dim Astros announced this spring they are throwing in the (J.R.) Towles this season.
6. Pirates: Team motto: "At least maybe we can plunder the Astros! Aaaargghh!"
1. Rockies: Just think what manager Jim Tracy could do with these guys when given a full season. Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook lead a deep rotation, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler lead a balanced lineup and the only hitch in the giddyup of the division's deepest and most well-balanced team is the early absence of closer Huston Street (shoulder).
2. Giants: In Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval and hitting coach Hensley Meulens, the Giants have the Freak, Kung Fu Panda and Bam-Bam. Yet they'll be far more entertaining if Aaron Rowand clicks in leadoff spot (Giants' .312 on-base percentage from leadoff spot last year ranked 28th in majors) and if they improve their team on-base percentage (.309 last year, worst in NL) and walk total (392, also worst in NL).
3. Dodgers: Manny Ramirez no longer speaking with media. Again. Word of warning to Dodgers: When that happened in Boston, it usually was followed by his coming up with a sore leg or pulled dreadlock as a prelude to an in-season vacation.
AL: White Sox. Chicago's South Siders are loaded with arms, from Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, John Danks and Gavin Floyd in the rotation to Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink and Sergio Santos in bullpen. If Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin and even a slimmed-down Andruw Jones hit, look out.
NL: Braves. Tim Hudson appears reinvigorated at 34, telling me this spring that his arm is the best it's been in eight years and that "I feel like I'm 24 again." If he pitches like that, he'll make manager Bobby Cox feel like he's 24 again, too.
Phillies over Yankees: Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels do what Cliff Lee and Hamels couldn't last year: Pitch the Phillies past the Yankees in the Fall Classic. It will be the first World Series re-match the very next year since the Dodgers-Yankees in 1977-1978, and the Phillies will become the first NL team to win three consecutive pennants since the 1942-1944 Cardinals did it.
AL MVP: Carlos Quentin, White Sox. Hard worker, smart (went to Stanford) and is determined this year to take out a lost 2009 on AL pitchers. Pity them.
NL MVP: Prince Fielder, Brewers. His 141 RBI last year led the majors, and he played in 162 games. This year, there's an added bonus: He's in a contract year.
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners. Post-All-Star break last year, The King went 10-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 16 starts. At 24, he's just coming into his own -- and he works in a park that favors pitchers.
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Phillies. He won one in the AL back in 2003, finished among the top three in the voting two other times and now gets to face much weaker lineups every outing in the NL. Good luck to the hitters.
AL Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz, Orioles. The pride of the O's youth movement, Matusz went 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA during an eight-start cup of coffee in the bigs last year. And he went seven innings in each of his last three starts.
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, Braves. Hang around him long enough and you hear scouts start bringing up names like Dave Parker and Darryl Strawberry. What really sets Heyward apart at 20, though, isn't simply his 6-4, 220-pound frame and incredible athletic ability. It's his maturity, which will allow him to flourish.
AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, Twins. How could Gardenhire not have won a manager of the year award over the past decade?
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox, Braves. I know, I know. It would be too corny for Cox to go out on top as he manages his final season, right? But then, that's what they said about Butler before the Dawgs made the Final Four in Indianapolis, too.
Will last year's World Series teams make it back?
World Series repeat
Two new teams
Total Votes: 27,535
AL Most Surprising Team: Indians. If Fausto Carmona's good spring means that he's channeling 2007 instead of '08 and '09, and if Jake Westbrook's comeback is successful and Justin Masterson masters a spot in the rotation. With Shin-Soo Choo, a healthy Grady Sizemore and rookie Matt LaPorta, the Indians believe they will score enough.
NL Most Surprising Team: Reds. Score a big surprise for the state of Ohio if the Indians accomplish what's mapped out above, and if pitcher Aroldis Chapman and third baseman Scott Rolen make meaningful contributions to Dusty Baker's Reds.
AL Most Disappointing Team: Mariners. Love the direction they're going under general manager Jack Zduriencik, but Cliff Lee's spring injury, Milton Bradley's volcanic temper and a questionable back end of the rotation have temporarily put a damper on things.
NL Most Disappointing Team: Mets. Who has their spring training disrupted by a shortstop with a hyperactive thyroid (Jose Reyes) and a closer with an extended case of pinkeye (Francisco Rodriguez)?
AL Comeback Player: Fausto Carmona, Indians. He had a sizzling spring. He was so good in '07 that I'm buying it. Dominance must be in that body somewhere.
NL Comeback Player: Jim Edmonds, Brewers. He's well-rested from a year off, and as long as Milwaukee manager Ken Macha sticks to his plan of spotting Edmonds into the lineup three or four times a week, the eight-time Gold Glove winner might be reinvigorated at 39.
First Manager Fired: Jerry Manuel, Mets. The more correct answer, though, probably is: "Take your pick." By my count, there are six managers opening the season just a move or two from the hot seat:
• Manuel: He has done the best with what he has had. But in the wake of an incredible rash of debilitating injuries, it hasn't been much. Manuel's problem in 2010 is that the Mets are running out of people to blame. And with his contract expiring after this season (with a club option for 2011), he could be an easy scapegoat.
• Ron Washington, Rangers: His contract is up, too, after this season. The Rangers think they can win this year. And Washington's safety net is gone after news leaked this spring of his cocaine use last summer. The Rangers have handled Washington admirably so far, but if they start slowly, there may be no choice but to make a move. And in new hitting coach Clint Hurdle, they've got a manager-in-waiting.
• Dusty Baker, Reds: After acquiring Scott Rolen last year and shelling out $30 million for pitcher Aroldis Chapman (who will start the season in the minors), the Reds think they can make a move in 2010. Baker is in the final year of his contract, so if he doesn't win now. ...
• Ken Macha, Brewers: After baseball fever reached a frenzy in Milwaukee with the addition of CC Sabathia in 2008, the Brewers went 80-82 in Macha's first season and all that playoff magic crumbled. Macha has to have a winning season this year or his lease is probably up. His contract is through 2010, with a club option for '11.
• Dave Trembley, Orioles: As the emphasis begins to shift from developing young players to winning in Baltimore, the Orioles surprised some by picking up Trembley's 2010 option. It shouldn't have been a surprise: Club president Andy MacPhail is a smart, fair man and Trembley, as fine a man as you'll meet, deserved to continue in the job. But the margin for error is less this year and the AL East remains the toughest run in baseball.
• Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins: He has got some breathing room in that Gonzalez is the only manager on this list signed through 2011. But when rumors strengthened last fall that the Marlins were going to talk with Bobby Valentine, owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson were suspiciously silent. When they could have taken the offensive and supported their manager, they didn't. Some think Gonzalez could replace Bobby Cox in Atlanta after Cox retires this year.
Biggest Name Traded at July Deadline: Adrian Gonzalez, Padres. The baseball will be better in San Diego this year than it has been in either of the previous two years. But the finances will not. No way the Padres can afford Gonzalez past 2011.