1. Worst. Hot Stove. Ever. While the Dodgers continue to raid the couch cushions to scrimp for seconds and irregulars, the Yankees held a bake sale and sniped, oh, only the top starting pitcher and the top bat from this off-season's free agents—all before Christmas. Yanks fans found a puppy under the tree; the rest of us are waiting with bated breath to learn the fates of Brad Ausmus and Kris Benson. Thank goodness for the Super Bowl and March Madness.
2. How's the leg, Chad Billingsley? If you hadn't heard, our best pitcher broke his leg a-slippin' and a-slidin' on the icy plains of Pennsylvania a few months ago. Although Bills is supposed to be ready for spring training, you just know everybody's going to question the leg if he doesn't come out throwing smoke. Three words for next off-season, Chadley: warm-weather winter. Hawaii is beautiful in December.
3. Need extra cash, Greg Maddux? Randy Johnson got $8 million, and he's 45. You, on the other hand, will be a sprightly 43, and you don't throw like you're trying to boomerang your arm around the peanut vendor in Section 13. Plus, you've got that whole Yoda-type wisdom thing going on ("Some chin music you should throw, hmmm?"). Maybe the Red Sox can lure you out of retirement to call all of Brad Penny's starts.
Seriously, if you don't pull a Favre, then your last pitch will have been for the Dodgers—out of the bullpen, in a playoff loss to the Phillies. Your reaction to not starting? Nothing but class. Thank you, Greg Maddux.
4. Really, Chad—how's the leg? Because without you we're toast. Did I mention you're our best pitcher now? Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald will be following your lead. That's right, 2009 is the year you step into the role of staff ace. Break a leg, Chad!
What? What'd I say? Should I not have said that?
5. Manuel Aristides (Onelcida) Ramirez. There's only one piece of suspense left this off-season, and according to our sidebar poll, 63% of you think it will go the Dodgers' way. How long the Manny negotiations will drag out is anyone's guess; both sides need each other, yet each side needs to claim victory. What we got here is a pissing match during a windstorm, and it seems the season won't start without someone's pants leg getting wet.