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CHICAGO Cubs (Mesa, Ariz.)

The losses of closer Kerry Wood and do-everything Mark DeRosa were countered by some off-season signings, the most significant of which was outfielder Milton Bradley. But, with Bradley in right, will disappointing Kosuke Fukudome split time in center with Reed Johnson?

MILWAUKEE Brewers (Phoenix)

The primary concern is the starting rotation, which is only five arms deep after the losses of aces CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency. The team still will produce runs with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder anchoring the lineup, but the pitching staff must come together, both in the rotation and bullpen.

HOUSTON Astros (Kissimmee, Fla.)

The penny-pinching Astros were forced to let Ty Wigginton and left-hander Randy Wolf leave via free agency. The rotation must be fleshed out behind ace Roy Oswalt, with club officials crossing their fingers that injury-plagued Mike Hampton won't break their hearts once again.

ST. LOUIS Cardinals (Jupiter, Fla.)

Chris Carpenter hasn't won a game in the last two seasons because of elbow and shoulder injuries, but if he is productive and healthy the Cardinals will be all the stronger. Their inability to close out games - the bullpen lost 31 games last year - could be a problem again if youngster Chris Perez isn't up to the task.

CINCINNATI Reds (Sarasota, Fla.)

The Reds focused on adding a right-handed, power-hitting outfielder but failed, and couldn't land a top-of-the-line catcher, either. Micah Owings and Homer Bailey will contend for the fifth spot in the rotation, which could prove to be the team's strength.

PITTSBURGH Pirates (Bradenton, Fla.)

Not long ago, the Pirates were considered to have the up-and-coming pitching staff in the league. But most of them imploded, leaving lefty Paul Maholm to do the heavy lifting. Centerfielder Nate McLouth had a breakthrough '08 season, but corner outfielders Nyjer Morgan and Brandon Moss lack the pop normally associated with those positions.

NL East

PHILADELPHIA Phillies (Clearwater, Fla.)

The Phillies replaced departed leftfielder Pat Burrell with free agent Raul Ibanez, so the offense will continue to be robust. There was little other tinkering other than adding journeyman pitcher Chan Ho Park. A key to camp will be how far second baseman Chase Utley has come from hip surgery.

NEW YORK Mets (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)

The Mets bullpen (29 blown saves) was the primary reason the Brewers won the wild card, but that should change with the additions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. No big bat was added, however, so the Mets are counting on Carlos Delgado to hit in the clutch again and David Wright to learn how to relax in the heat of a pennant race.

FLORIDA Marlins (Jupiter, Fla.)

With 17 arbitration-eligible players entering the winter, some had to go - and they did. Now, the Marlins will see if some of that production can be replaced by youngsters such as centerfielder Cameron Maybin, first baseman Gaby Sanchez and catcher John Baker. Matt Lindstrom must prove he can handle the pressure of closing, also.

ATLANTA BRAVES (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)

John Smoltz and Tom Glavine aren't around to be counted on anymore, but newcomers Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami will refortify the rotation. Rightfielder Jeff Francoeur must find a way to recapture the confidence that slipped away from him in '08.

WASHINGTON Nationals (Viera, Fla.)

The Nationals were in the free-agent news for attempting to sign Mark Teixeira but thus far have done very little to upgrade from their 102-loss campaign. After missing most of the past two seasons with injuries, first baseman Nick Johnson must show he can stay on the field.

NL West

LOS ANGELES Dodgers (Glendale, Ariz.)

The list of players the Dodgers lost is long, but it becomes infinitely longer if they can't re-sign Manny Ramirez. Beyond that, questions remain about the closer role with Takashi Saito gone, and if Jason Schmidt will be healthy enough to contribute to a thin rotation.

ARIZONA Diamondbacks (Tucson, Ariz.)

The Diamondbacks once again will count on a rotation in which Jon Garland has replaced Randy Johnson. Leftfielder Eric Byrnes will try to recover the form that made him an offensive dynamo before missing much of last season with a hamstring injury.

COLORADO Rockies (Tucson, Ariz.)

The Rockies bolstered their pitching by adding starter Jason Marquis and reliever Huston Street, assuming he lives up to his potential, but face another crisis with lefty Jeff Francis and his balky shoulder. It also remains to be seen how productive first baseman Todd Helton can be after back surgery.

SAN FRANCISCO Giants (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

What do you get a lineup that needs everything? The addition of shortstop Edgar Renteria won't solve the offensive woes that plagued the Giants in '08. If some hitters don't step up, a strong rotation led by Tim Lincecum will be wasted.

SAN DIEGO Padres (Peoria, Ariz.)

A massive salary dump left Padres fans with little hope for '09, though somehow ace Jake Peavy made it to spring camp without being dealt (will he make it to opening day?). Shortstop Luis Rodriguez and second baseman David Eckstein will try to keep the club competitive up the middle.


With spring training camps set to open in Arizona and Florida, Journal Sentinel Baseball writers Tom Haudricourt (AL) and Anthony Witrado (NL) look at the major objective of each club during the six-week preparation for the regular season. Clubs are listed in order of their 2008 finish.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: February 8, 2009

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