Time to gaze into my crystal ball for a glimpse at what the coming baseball season will bring us.
Here's hoping all my predictions come true, except for the very last one, which would be a nightmare for the sport.
Most surprising team
The Los Angeles Dodgers as new general manager Ned Colletti’s moves restore pride to a wounded franchise.
Eric Gagne, who is recovering well from June elbow surgery, recaptures his prior form, and newcomers bonded by prior winning experience gel to bring the Dodgers a division title.
And their prized farm system moves closer to producing top-notch major league players.
A Giants future
Barry Bonds will play for the Giants, although without the rumored 40-pound weight loss. But his knees and age (42 in July) will limit him to 100 games and 30 homers.
Thus, the Giants will be forced to re-sign Bonds for 2007, insuring he breaks Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record (which Bonds badly wants) in a San Francisco uniform.
The Wright stuff
Third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets becomes a household name as the game’s next young star.
A terrific young player, and a terrific person, Wright -- not Carlos Beltran -- becomes the face of the Mets. And he can handle New York as well as Derek Jeter.
Braves' run to end
The Mets dethrone Atlanta and end the Braves' unprecedented string of National League East titles.
Blasphemous and foolish as it seems to pick against the Braves, the Mets have seized the moment this winter.
While the Nationals idle, and the Marlins dismantle, the Mets weakened a huge rival by signing Billy Wagner away from the Phillies.
Obviously, this won’t be easy, and it will require the Mets finally beating the Braves in head-to-head competition, but manager Willie Randolph has changed the mindset in the Mets' clubhouse and general manager Omar Minaya has sold that to players across the game.
Devil Rays turn a corner
Tampa Bay posts its first winning season.
Hard to imagine this happening given the strength of the American League East, but the Devil Rays proved their mettle in head-to-head play with the Yankees last year, winning the season series 11-8.
There is simply too much young talent in Tampa Bay, and the right manager for the moment in Joe Maddon.
Best acquisitions of the offseason: Toronto’s trade for Troy Glaus, and San Francisco’s trade for Steve Finley.
Glaus is a premier slugger who has regained his health, and he gives the Blue Jays the bat to replace Carlos Delgado.
Finley cost the Giants nothing, and with a remarkably healthy body for a 40-year-old, he provides the Giants with veteran experience to support the fragile Barry Bonds and Moises Alou.
HBT: Controversial umpire Angel Hernandez blew another call that nearly cost the White Sox a win on Friday, earning the ire of manager Robin Ventura.
Add another near miss in this 2013 baseball season - this time it was Detroit's Anibal Sanchez falling just short of a no-hitter.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.