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Will the National League West again be the National League Worst?

If they stay reasonably healthy, the Giants are the team to beat in the NL West.

They are the most balanced from top to bottom, and have a deep rotation, bullpen, and bench. But the caveat “if they stay healthy” is huge for a team as old as San Francisco.

The Padres don’t have enough offense, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks don’t have enough starting pitching, and the Rockies are the Rockies. There is no great team here, but the division won’t be as pathetic as it was in 2005. Will it?

How close will Barry Bonds get to Hank Aaron’s home run record?

Controversial San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, the man everyone loves to hate, enters the 2006 season with 708 career home runs, 6 shy of Babe Ruth’s 714 and 47 short of Hank Aaron’s major league record.

To catch Aaron this season, Bonds would have to have his third-best home run year at age 42 while facing the endless media barrage he loathes. Bonds will certainly pass the Babe this year, but how close to Aaron will he get and how many people will care?

What effect will baseball’s new drug testing policy have on the game?

It’s hard to know. The new steroids and amphetamines testing policy certainly should help clean up the game, but what effect will it have on the product we see on the field? Some believe that the attempt to eliminate amphetamines, or “greenies”, could have a bigger impact than steroids.

But the only prediction I feel comfortable making is that more players will spend time on the shelf in 2006 as their muscles take longer to recover and they don’t have a daily jolt of energy to keep them going.