New York Mets (11 points)
Above-average (3): John Maine
Mystery (5): Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Martinez*
Up-and-coming (3): Mike Pelfrey, Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey
Below-average (0): Jorge Sosa
* extra point given to Martinez for his super above-average potential
Comment: The potential of the Mets' rotation is exceeded only by its mystery, with the performance of pitchers who were injured and/or inconsistent in '07 too difficult to call.
Chicago Cubs (10 points)
Above-average (9): Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Hill
Up-and-coming (1): Sean Marshall
Below-average (0): Jason Marquis, Sean Gallagher, Kevin Hart
Comment: Lilly could get one less point and Zambrano one more, but it all evens out for now. In any case, the front three would give a team like the Dodgers a healthy battle, but the Cubs' depth consists of low-ceiling major-leaguers and prospects.
Philadelphia Phillies (10 points)
Above-average (9): Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers
Mystery (1): Ryan Madson
Below-average (0): Adam Eaton, J.D. Durbin, Francisco Rosario, Zach Segovia, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer
Comment: Hamels might only need an injury-free season to challenge for Cy Young award honors. But Kendrick and Myers have their flaws, and there isn't much else to shout about.
Cincinnati Reds (9 points)
Above-average (6): Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo
Up-and-coming (3): Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Matthew Maloney
Below-average (0): Matt Belisle, Bobby Livingston, Tom Shearn
Comment: Harang and Arroyo have done right by the Reds, but Bailey and Cueto can't arrive fast enough. It will be interesting to see how new manager Dusty Baker handles them.
Houston Astros (7 points)
Super above-average (4): Roy Oswalt
Mystery (1): Brandon Backe
Up-and-coming (2): Juan Gutierrez, Felipe Paulino
Below-average (0): Wandy Rodriguez, Woody Williams, Chris Sampson
Comment: Oswalt is something like the Lone Gunman on a staff that will be struggling almost every other game, at least if this is the group to choose from at the start of the season.
Pittsburgh Pirates (6 points)
Above-average (3): Tom Gorzelanny
Average to above-average (2): Ian Snell
Up-and-coming (1): Ty Taubenheim
Below-average (0): Paul Maholm, Matt Morris, Zach Duke, John Van Benschoten, Yoslan Herrera, Bryan Bullington, Phil Dumatrait
Comment: At this point, it might be worth the trouble to distinguish the below-average talent from the really below average talent. All I can say is, the Pirates and the teams below them are the furthest from fielding a competitive rotation.
St. Louis Cardinals (6 points)
Above-average (3): Adam Wainwright
Mystery (1): Chris Carpenter
Up-and-coming (2): Jamie Garcia, Anthony Reyes
Below-average (0): Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson, Braden Looper, Mike Maroth, Mark Mulder, Mitch Boggs
Florida Marlins (5 points)
Mystery (2): Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson
Up-and-coming (3): Rick VandenHurk, Andrew Miller, Daniel Barone
Below-average (0): Scott Olsen, Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Seddon
Washington Nationals (3 points)
Mystery (3): John Patterson, Shawn Hill, Tim Redding
Below-average (0): Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, Tyler Clippard, John Lannan, Joel Hanrahan, Mike Bacsik, Collin Balester