3 Feeding Leather To The Tigers: Here's another team that seems to fascinate everyone. The enduring image of those Detroit Tigers last October was Torii Hunter somersaulting into the bullpen at Fenway. Now that seems almost fitting, since this whole franchise feels as if it's turned itself upside down. Out went Jim Leyland, Prince Fielder, Omar Infante and Doug Fister. In came Brad Ausmus, Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain, Rajai Davis and a newfound emphasis on seeing how many baseballs they can catch instead of how many baseballs they can whack into somebody's moussaka plate in Greektown. So we know this team will be different. But will it be better?Other AL storylines:
• How much more imposing is the Texas Rangers' lineup now that they've promised to stuff $268 million into the pockets of Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo? On the other hand, is there any reason to panic over the state of this pitching staff, in the wake of Joe Nathan's exit and Derek Holland's misadventures playing with his dog (or whatever the heck attacked his meniscus)?
• Will Joe Mauer wear his shin guards out to first base?
• How is that famous medial patellofemoral ligament in Manny Machado's left knee feeling? And if the answer to that is "great," would he also mind pitching the ninth inning?
1 Excess Hollywood: Here's yet one more team the execs in our poll are clearly mesmerized by. Since last we saw the L.A. Dodgers of Chavez Ravine, they've extended the contracts of their manager (Don Mattingly) and their resident Cy Young ( Clayton Kershaw). They've provided helpful driving tips for Yasiel Puig. They've lengthened their rotation by handing much-lauded, one-year deals to Dan Haren and Paul Maholm. They've loaded up on bullpen depth by signing Jamey Wright and Chris Perez, and by bringing back J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson's facial hair. They've got a payroll that's still hovering somewhere around $220 million. And yet we still don't know what to make of their four-headed outfield monster, where Josh Beckett fits or whether much-ballyhooed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero can play second base. Then again, what we do know is that, if trouble arises, there's apparently enough money in the checking account to fix it.