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Posted: Wednesday April 15, 2009 5:38PM; Updated: Friday April 17, 2009 3:40PM
Ted Keith Ted Keith >
BASEBALL MAILBAG

Baseball mailbag (cont.)

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Adam Lind has been on an offensive tear for the Blue Jays, but even with his help, a third place finish is unlikely.
Adam Lind has been on an offensive tear for the Blue Jays, but even with his help, a third place finish is unlikely.
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Ted Keith's Mailbag
Ted Keith will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
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Do you think Roger Clemens will make it to the Hall of Fame or spend the rest of his life trying to get in like Pete Rose?
-- Mike Naron, Houston, Texas

I think a lot of it will depend on what other information comes out about him and the rest of the Steroids Era between now and when he's eligible in 2013. Clemens' appearance in the Mitchell Report, and the claims of his trainer, Brian McNamee, have been damaging, and at this point I can't imagine him making it to the Hall of Fame with that cloud hanging over his head. And if it's ever proven beyond a doubt that he used steroids, I don't think he'll get in.

What are the chances of the Royals having a successful year (being over .500) this season?
-- Keith, Warrensburg, Mo.

To get over .500, the Royals would have to improve by eight wins over a season ago. That's a reasonable goal for a team that has increased its wins totals by six, seven and six wins the past three seasons since bottoming out at a franchise-worst 106 losses in 2005. For that to happen, though, their young starting pitchers must develop enough to support Gil Meche in the rotation. So far, so good: twenty-five year-olds Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies are 3-0 with a combined 1.14 ERA in four starts. Another promising starter, Luke Hochevar, was sent to the minor leagues at the end of spring training but should be back before long.

I am a huge Frank Thomas fan. Do you think there is any chance he will find a team to play for?
-- Shannon Artman, Monee, Ill.

Thomas made it clear he would like to play this season, and he might be able to find a team that needs him -- after all, he did manage to drive in 95 and 114 runs in his last two full seasons. But will those teams want to take a chance on him? He played just 71 games in 2008, hasn't played in the field since 2004 and will turn 41 in late May. Putting aside the money issue, there isn't a huge market for injury-prone, over-40 DHs.

What if Rolen can be Rolen, Rios can be Rios, Wells can stay healthy and Overbay goes back to his 2006 numbers? Add a for-sure breakout year for Hill and Lind, RoY contender Snider, more from our deep bullpen, wins in 80 percent of Doc's games and competent management from Gaston. Can we spoil one of the Big Three? Can we fight for our third place finish this year?
-- Allister, Toronto

It's probably instructive that even if all those things happen -- which is a big if -- it would only spell a third place finish in the loaded AL East. It's also instructive that a third place finish would satisfy a large number of Blue Jays fans. It just goes to show just how tough the AL East is and just how big a mountain the Blue Jays and Orioles have to climb to be consistently competitive in that division.

All the articles I've read about Skip Schumaker this spring say his switch from the outfield to second base is unprecedented. Didn't Kelly Johnson of the Braves do it just a few years ago?
-- Chas Reitzner, Middletown, Calif.

Johnson did, in fact, make a similar move, playing 79 games in left field in 2005 before moving to second base in 2007 and playing 133 games there. You may have noticed a significant difference between Johnson and Schumaker, though: Johnson took a year off between his moves to recover from Tommy John surgery, which became necessary when throws from the outfield put further strain on his already damaged arm. Schumaker made his move from one season to the next, and didn't have any injury concerns to worry about. Neither is the first player to have made such a move, though. Alan Wiggins of the Padres made a similar transition, playing 105 games in the outfield in 1983 (and 45 games at first base) and then 157 games at second base in 1984, when the Padres won a surprising National League pennant.

Shouldn't your article about who would opt for the NBA include Lawson and Ellington? If either stays, Carolina becomes a favorite again.
-- Steven Smith, Jacksonville

Whoa, what is this question doing in here? Since you asked, I'll tell you what a friend of mine says whenever the topic of Ty Lawson returning to North Carolina for his senior year comes up. When fans try to talk themselves into thinking their favorite players will return to their team/school, he quotes a recently-released chick-flick. "He's just not that into you. You're like the girl who thinks that just because you went out a couple of times he really is going to choose you over the super-hot girl who also happens to be filthy rich that wants to date him." Translation: Lawson is gone, and Ellington probably is too. Carolina will still be a factor next year, but another national championship run is probably a stretch.

 
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