Five fearless forecasts • The Washington Nationals will lose 100 games. But, like a tree that no one hears fall in a forest, maybe...

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Five fearless forecasts

• The Washington Nationals will lose 100 games. But, like a tree that no one hears fall in a forest, maybe all those losses won’t really happen.

• In the feel-good moment of the summer, former Bellarmine Prep star Jon Lester, now cancer-free, will return to the Red Sox.

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• In the feel-queasy moment of the summer, Barry Bonds will overtake Hank Aaron and become baseball’s home-run king.

• The St. Louis Cardinals will not repeat as World Series champions.

• The Philadelphia Phillies will be this year’s Detroit Tigers, and advance to the World Series. (Or they won’t, and manager Charlie Manuel will get fired).

Best free-agent signings

• OF Shannon Stewart, Oakland, one year, $1 million: This really looked smart after Mark Kotsay was injured and the A’s needed to move Stewart into the lineup.

• 3B Wes Helms, Philadelphia, two years, $5.45 million: That’s a pretty good deal for a guy who could hit 25-30 homers in full-time duty.

• 2B Marcus Giles, San Diego, one year, $3.75 million: Padres found a dependable second baseman and leadoff hitter at a bargain rate.

• RP Eric Gagne, Texas, one year, $6 million: OK, this one’s a little risky, but if Gagne comes off the disabled list in good health, he’ll be worth it.

• REO Speedwagon, to sing the national anthem before the Kansas City Royals’ opener.

Worst free-agent signings

• OF Gary Matthews Jr., Angels, five years, $50 million: That’s just too much money for a 32-year-old who has had one good season.

• SP Gil Meche, Kansas City, five years, $55 million: Seriously, what were the Royals thinking? Have they ever watched him pitch?

• OF Juan Pierre, Dodgers, five years, $44 million: Jeez, how much is Ichiro going to get?

• SP Barry Zito, San Francisco, seven years, $126 million: Seven years for a pitcher? Mariners are lucky they didn’t win this bidding war.

• SP Adam Eaton, Philadelphia, three years, $24.5 million: Snohomish native has never won more than 11 games, but his bloated contract established the market this winter.

Welcome back

• Ken Griffey Jr. — if he’s healthy — will play in Seattle for the first time since he was traded when the Reds play the Mariners June 22-24.

• Lou Piniella returns after a year off to manage the Chicago Cubs. He should do better than he did in three years with Tampa Bay.

• Josh Hamilton, the first overall pick of the 1999 draft, has finally made it to the major leagues. Hamilton didn’t play during the 2003-05 seasons because of drug and alcohol addictions. The Devil Rays finally gave up on him, but he made Cincinnati’s roster.

• Carl Pavano hasn’t pitched since June 2005 because of ribs, shoulder, back, buttocks and elbow injuries, but he’s in the Yankees’ rotation this year. In fact, with the Yankees’ pitching being what it is, he’ll start the opener.

• After three years in last place, it looks like the Mariners might be ready to rejoin the American League West party. Not saying they’ll win it, but maybe they can contend this year until later than, like, June.

AL AWARDS: Five easy picks

MVP: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees.

Cy Young: Johan Santana, Minnesota.

Rookie: Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Boston.

Comeback player: Sammy Sosa, DH, Texas.

Manager: Terry Francona, Boston.

Five longshot picks

MVP: J.D. Drew, OF, Boston. Hey, maybe this will be the year he stays healthy.

Cy Young: Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay. If he pitched anywhere else, you’d know all about him.

Rookie: Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City. OK, not exactly a longshot, but not nearly the hype of Matsuzaka.

Comeback player: Sidney Ponson, SP, Minnesota. Would become first player to be knighted, and win comeback player of the year. We think.

Manager: Mike Hargrove, Mariners. We said “longshot,” didn’t we?


How does Albert Pujols keep getting better?

NL AWARDS: Five easy picks

MVP: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis.

Cy Young: Roy Oswalt, Houston.

Rookie: Chris Young, OF, Arizona.

Comeback player: Derrek Lee, Cubs.

Manager: Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia.

Five longshot picks

MVP: Jose Reyes, SS, Mets. Still just 23, he finished seventh in MVP vote last year.

Cy Young: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia. Left-hander has nasty, nasty stuff.

Rookie: Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, San Diego. Maybe that would make fans forgive Padres for trading Josh Barfield to Indians for Kouzmanoff.

Comeback player: Cristian Guzman, SS, Washington. Oh wait, he wasn’t very good even when he was healthy.

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez, Florida. Phillies and Mets are probably better, but Marlins have a chance.

Best bets to be first manager fired:

• Mike Hargrove, Mariners.

• Buddy Bell, Kansas City.

• John Gibbons, Toronto.

• Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia.

• Clint Hurdle, Colorado.

Hey, didn’t you used to be …

• Carl Everett.

• John Halama.

• David Bell.

• Mike Hampton.

• Clint Nageotte, Ryan Anderson, Rett Johnson, Ken Cloude, Jeff Heaverlo, Denny Stark, Jim Converse, Allan Simpson, Sam Hays, Mac Suzuki, Bobby Madritsch, Scott Atchison, Brian Sweeney …

Follow the former Mariners

• Wilson Valdez, the Mariners’ opening day shortstop in 2005, is with the Dodgers, and is in line to start if Rafael Furcal opens the season on the disabled list.

• Bobby Livingston, the Mariners’ fourth-round draft pick in 2001, had a great spring and nearly made the Reds’ rotation, but will start in the minors.

• Former Mariners minor-leaguer Terrmel Sledge is the San Diego Padres’ left fielder.

• Brett Tomko, who pitched for the Mariners in 2000-01, has earned the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

• Aaron Sele, who also pitched for the Mariners in 2000-01 (then again in 2005), is pitching in relief for the Mets.

Story lines we’re tired of

• Anything having to do with Barry Bonds.

• Who will sign Roger Clemens?

• Daisuke Matsuzaka’s gyroball.

• Kerry Wood, Mark Prior battling injuries.

• Alex Rodriguez vs. Derek Jeter.


Looks like this is the year that Barry Bonds passes Henry Aaron (above, hitting No. 715).

2007 milestones,

Barry Bonds division

• As you may have heard, Bonds has 734 home runs, which means he needs 21 to catch Hank Aaron.

• Bonds also has 2,841 hits, needing 159 to make it to 3,000. But because he doesn’t play every day, and pitchers walk him a lot, Bonds hasn’t had 159 hits in a season since 1998.

• Bonds has 1,930 RBI, so a decent season would get him to 2,000, and past Lou Gehrig into fourth place all-time.

• Bonds is already baseball’s all-time walks leader, with 2,426.

• He’s also baseball’s all-time leader in “Guy Bud Selig Really Hopes Doesn’t Break Hank Aaron’s Home-Run Record.”

Other 2007 milestones

• Houston second baseman Craig Biggio has 2,930 hits, so he should become the 27th player to reach 3,000 hits.

• Mets left-hander Tom Glavine has 290 wins, and should join the 22 other pitchers with at least 300. Randy Johnson, who rejoined the Arizona Diamondbacks, has 280, but the Big Unit hasn’t won 20 since 2002, so it seems unlikely he’ll get to 300 this year.

• Speaking of former Mariners … Jamie Moyer is ninth all-time with 414 home runs allowed, and would need to surrender 34 this year with the Phillies to tie Frank Tanana for fifth place.

• Sammy Sosa is back this year, with the Rangers, and needs 12 home runs to reach 600. Ken Griffey Jr. has 563, so he’ll need to stay healthy all season to have a shot at reaching 600.

• Four players have a legitimate chance to reach 500 career home runs this season — Frank Thomas (487), Jim Thome (472), Manny Ramirez (470) and Alex Rodriguez (464).

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