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Mailbag: Importance of Spring....

This is our second mailbag of the spring asking question about what else-baseball. If you are interested in participating in the Mailbag, email me at

Q: This is not a fantasy question, but which position is the most important in your mind. I mean, which one wins ball games?

Tim R., Boston, MA

ELI: The bullpen. The bullpen wins games and keeps you in ball games that you are losing. A perfect example is in today's Opening Day in Japan. The Red Sox were down late but had solid relievers come in and limit the deficit. That allowed for Red Sox hitters to figure out their pitchers and ironically, come back against the teams best pitcher. The Athletics had the lead but were unable to keep it because of their poor bullpen. Yes, relievers are rusty coming out of Spring Training because they do not play much, but this is a fine example of how important bullpens are.

Q: Erik Bedard is having a rough spring, is this what us Mariners fans should expect from him this season?

Danny M. Portland, Oregon

ELI: It is funny you say that because he is my case study for this season to see how important spring is. I do not think you should expect it from him because there is a lot on his mind. He is getting use to a new catcher, a new team, and new opponents. He has played in Florida his whole career in Spring Training and has not faced most of the players over in Arizona. I'm not trying to make excuses, but when you are facing an ace and you are trying to make the team, you are going to be swinging at the first pitch because you know Bedard is going to be trying to get ahead in the count.

Q: Is Kosuke Fukudome a bust? He is having a terrible spring.

Justin D, Evanston, Ill.

ELI: He too, like Bedard, is getting use to a new setting. He is obviously trying to make a good first impression, and I think Cubs fans appreciate his effort. You cannot say he is a bust yet, but he is a little suprising. He is striking out a lot and you do not like to see that in Spring Training, but what can you do? Remember, he is coming off surgery, and coming into a new league, so I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet. I think he will help, but give him time to come into form.

Q: Who are your two sleeper teams to make the playoffs and go to the World Series?

Jamie E. Dayton, OH

ELI: In the American, my sleeper is the Mariners. I do not think too many teams really have a good chance right now. The Blue Jays have great pitching, but are playing in a really tough division. Because the Angels are hurt right now, I think the Mariners can get ahead. I think people are going to be looking back at the end of the season and say, "Wow, Carlos Silva was a great pickup." As for the NL, I think the Braves have a great chance to win the division. The Phillies will need an even better showing from their pitching, which is unlikely, and the Mets need their players to get and stay healthy, which is also unlikely. The Braves have depth and a healthy lineup.

If you are interested in participating in the mailbag, email me at