Peep Show

Updated: March 30, 2004, 8:58 AM ET
By Jim Baker

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks: In spite of the loss of Miguel Batista and Curt Schilling (not to mention the fact that the pitchers received for him have been unable to throw owing to sore arms), manager Bob Brenly has every faith that his staff can step up big this year. "I think we can be equally as effective as we have been in the past," he told Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic. "Pitching and defense, we have always considered that to be our strength. With Schill and Miguel Batista going away this year -- those were two guys who were capable of being very dominating -- looking at the guys in the rotation this year, I don't think we'll be as dominating, but I think we can be equally as effective. With a complete recovery by Randy Johnson and a full season from Rookie of the Year should-have-been Brandon Webb, the Snakes are set in the first two slots. Elmer Dessens, Shane Reynolds and Steve Sparks fill out the rest of the rotation. They had the fourth-best team ERA in 2003, in spite of playing in a hitters' park.

Chicago Cubs: With the Cubs favored by many to win the division and fan expectations at an all-time high, the last thing they want to do is stumble out of the gate. If only so they don't have to hear about stupid curses, jinxes and hoodoo nonsense, it would behoove the Cubs to get in the race early. With this in mind, manager Dusty Baker says that's his top priority -- getting off to a fast start. "The second thing is we want to get to 82 victories as soon as possible so we can have two [winning seasons] back-to-back," he told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. This is something they haven't done since 1972.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at