Top 10 MLB Storylines of 2008 (10-5)

Today we thought we would look at the crystal ball and find some of the top stories that will dominate the 2008 season in the media and on the field.

10. Steroids/Bonds Trial/Clemens Lawsuit/Tejada Investigation

Yes, this will still be in the news and the cloud of steroids will be with us for sometime.  I would even go as far as to characterize it as a “cold war” that is hanging over baseball.  The games will go on, but the specter of BALCO, the Mitchell Investigation, and wild accusations will be present for sometime.

Home-run king, for the time being, Barry Bonds is set to face four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice after being formally indicted on November 15 of last year.  A pretrial hearing is set for February 7. 

Roger Clemens, filing a defamation lawsuit against former trainer Brian McNamee for McNamee’s testimony for the Mitchell Report alleging that he injected steroids into Clemens, will be another ongoing story.  Both Clemens and McNamee will appear before Congress on January 26 and again on February 13th in order to prepare for the trail. 

New Houston Astro Miguel Tejada is also facing an investigation of his own by the FBI about having possibly lied to authorities on his steroid use.  New GM Ed Wade cannot be happy about having the baggage that comes along with an FBI investigation on top of having the re-build a franchise that has fallen far after its appearance in the World Series in 2005.

9. Red Sox Repeat?

Is it possible? Are we actually talking about a repeat?  A team that hadn’t had a World Series title in 86 years and then they win 2 of the last 4 years.  With young stars like Jacoby Ellsbury, 2007 AL Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedrioa and Jonathan Papelbon mixed with veterans Manny Ramiriez, David Ortiz and newly extended Mike Lowell this team seems poised to have another great year. 

8. Rockies and D-Backs, rest of NL West

The National League West is starting to become one of the biggest pools of talent in the National League if not MLB.  The Rockies’ improbable run to the 2007 World Series, the Diamondbacks being in the NLCS despite being outscored during the regular season, and the San Diego Padres making it to the play-in game, losing to the Rockies in dramatic fashion were great stories that I expect to make some more waves in 2008.  With the exception of the Dodgers, who have signed Joe Torre as manager, and the San Francisco Giants blowing up the franchise after the departure of Barry Bonds, the NL West is very strong.  Can the Rockies and D-Backs have a repeat performance of last season? Will the youth movement of these two teams mature even further and become a bigger force in 2008?

With the Rockies signing Matt Holliday 2 year/$23 million contract to avoid arbitration, the organization seems committed to having a long run.  They also have strong pitching with Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jiminez, and closer Manny Corpas.  

The Diamondbacks acquired Dan Haren from the Oakland A’s to go with pitching ace Brandon Webb for a strong 1-2 punch. 

The Padres added a questionable Mark Prior to a rotation that includes the NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavey, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, and pitcher Chris Young who had an excellent start of the 2007 season before falling off a bit. 

7. Glavine and Smoltz in the ATL

This one is a bit sentimental for me as I came back to baseball in the 90s and what a decade it was for these two men. Glavine returns after five season with the New York Mets to the team who drafted him way back in 1987.  I wish that he Smoltz and Maddux all go into the Hall of Fame together. 

6. New Yankee Skipper

After spending 3 years (1996-1999) with the Yankees behind the plate as a catcher, Joe Girardi goes from the FOX broadcast booth back to the field as manager of the Bronx Bombers.  While managing the Florida Marlins in 2006, Girardi won NL Manager of the Year, but was later fired after clashing with the organization heads.  It will be interesting to see if he can manage All-Star talent, along with the Alex Rodriguez drama, in the Big Apple.  Will the Yankees be able to return to the Series like ownership had hoped, or will New York fans be wanting Joe Torre back? 

5. Hollywood Joe Torre

From the Big Apple to the bright lights of Hollywood, Joe Torre goes west to the LA Dodgers.  Torre is supposedly a great manager of talent, but he will have to find a way to quiet down a tumultuous clubhouse that pitted veterans against the younger players in the Dodger lineup.  This will be his third stint in the National League where he wasn’t very successful.  Atlanta (257-259), New York Mets (286-420), St Louis Cardinals (351-354)