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Rotations, rotations, rotations

It’s been another interesting and exciting offseason in MLB, hasn’t it. The rich get richer, except for the Yankees. And when is the last time you could say that?LeePhiladelphia adds Cliff Lee. The Dodgers bolster their rotation. The Brewers go out and pull in a couple of good arms to help a pitching staff that has been woeful of late. The Giants are loaded with arms. The Cardinals have a strong staff. It goes on and on.

So, on the blog today, I’m going to give you the top 10 starting rotations in baseball as of this second. I’m not going to bore you with statistical analysis, I’m just going to throw the rotations out there and you can mull it over. Please get back to me with your thoughts because I love hearing from readers. Civil readers, at least.

1) Philadelphia Phillies. Duh. They’ve added Cliff Lee to what was already one of the strongest rotations in the game, one that included Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Joe Blanton, if he isn’t traded, isn’t a bad No. 5. It has a chance to be one of the best rotations in history, forget about just 2011. But only Hamels is under 30, so if you’re anti-Phillies you can logically hope for an injury meltdown. But that’s not being very nice.

2) San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are stars. Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner have the ability to be stars. Barry Zito is a former star. This is, in my estimation, a constellation rotation, full of stars. It wasn’t the Giants’ hitting that won the team a World Series in 2010, remember?

3) St. Louis Cardinals. Am I being a homer? I don’t think so. The Cardinals have two guys – Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter – who can stand toe to toe with Lee and Halladay in Philly. After that, it gets a little iffy. But Jaime Garcia had an outstanding rookie season and Jake Westbrook is a proven 15-game winner. The fifth starter, Kyle Lohse, has been down and out for a couple of seasons because of injuries. If he bounces back, St. Louis has the pitching to win big.

4) Boston Red Sox. Boston has made a splash this offseason by adding the bats of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox didn’t need to add starting pitching, because they have enough. Yes, Boston needs Josh Beckett to pitch like the Beckett of old. But in Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz, the Sox have three horses. The fifth starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka, has No. 1 or No. 2 stuff, but can’t stay on the field.

5) Los Angeles Dodgers. You watch. Young left-hander Clayton Kershaw is going to explode in 2011 to become a serious Cy YoungKershawAward candidate. He’ll be just 23 on Opening Day and last season was 13-10 with a 2.91 ERA. In 204.1 innings, he gave up only 160 hits and struck out 212. He’s scary good and the Dodgers have surrounded him with dependable veterans like Chad Billingsley, Jon Garland, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda.

6) Tampa Bay Rays. Yes, Tampa has lost Crawford and first baseman Carlos Pena, not to mention closer Rafael Soriano. And, reportedly, starting pitcher Matt Garza is on the block. But it’s pitching that will keep Tampa Bay respectable in the American League East, led by lefty David Price, who will likely be joined in the rotation by James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson, provided Garza is dealt.

7) Oakland Athletics. You don’t think much about Oakland, do you? But the A’s do have a good, young pitching staff led by 23-year-old right-hander Trevor Cahill, who was 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 2010. He’s joined by Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 3.23), Dallas Braden (perfect game Dallas) and 22-year-old Brett Anderson. The fifth starter could be newcomer Brandon McCarthy, who last pitched for Texas in 2009, or another of the A’s youngsters, Vin Mazzaro.

8) San Diego Padres. Another team you don’t think about much, the Padres were in contention in the National League West until the final day of the season. Why? Pitching. Their rotation is led by another star-in-the-making, Mat Latos, who is joined by Chris Richard, Tim Stauffer, Cory Leubke and Wade LeBlanc. There’s not a household name among them, probably even in San Diego households. Right-hander Aaron Harang has been brought over from Cincinnati to provide depth and a veteran presence.

9) Atlanta Braves. The ATL has a nice mix of young pitchers with high ceilings and veterans who are trying to stay at a high level. Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe are the latter; Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are the young guys. The No. 5 starter could be Mike Minor, who is highly regarded after coming up through Atlanta’s system.

10) Milwaukee Brewers. I hate the Brewers. I know the Cubs are supposed to be the Cardinals’ biggest rival, and they probably stillGreinke meets the Milwaukee mediaare, but Milwaukee rubs me wrong. Have to admit, though, general manager Doug Melvin has addressed a weakness by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to the rotation, where they’ll join Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson. Greinke, Marcum and Gallardo were Opening Day starters last season. Milwaukee has gotten better on the mound and will be much better situated, thanks to one of the best offenses in the National League, to make a bid for the postseason.

What do you notice about this list? Well, I would think it might be that seven of the 10 teams listed are from the National League, which has added Lee and Greinke, among others, in the past week or so. The Florida Marlins just missed making the list, as did the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers from the American League. No Yankees. Isn’t that great?

Who is the Opinion Line contributor?

Let’s get right to it. These are from actual posts in The Wichita Eagle’s Opinion Line. My gift is to tell you, generally, who they come from:

It is strange that our kids always have time for us to help them, but never have time to help us.

Whoa boy, family crisis. And one big enough to make it to the Opinion Line. Yes, this is nasty. This is a woman, definitely a woman, who has kids from multiple marriages. In fact, she’s not always sure which kids are from which marriage. But she knows they should be doing more for her because, after all, she raised them. Or at least she’s pretty sure she did. Having kids, she believes, is an entitlement to being taken care of. I’m guessing one of her kids asked to borrow money, then wouldn’t change the oil in her car. She’s in her 50s, lives in the Seneca and 31st Street area and isn’t putting many presents under her Christmas tree.

I heard Christmas may be canceled this year because Rudolph has a bad alternator.

OK, I’m missing something here. Is there an inside joke? Is there a big alternator story out there that I haven’t heard about? Because, if not, this makes no sense. And if there’s one thing I know about the Opinion Line, it’s that it always makes sense. Otherwise, if this is just a random post with no “inside joke,” it’s just plain dumb. And it was probably submitted by the same woman who doesn’t think her kids do enough for her.

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