Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.
Story of the Day: Liberal Spenders
At least not everything liberal had a bad winter in the Canada.
Unlike the country's liberal politicians, who took a beating in the recent general elections that produced new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Toronto Blue Jays appear to have engendered a fair bit of national optimism by spending liberally this offseason. Catcher Bengie Molina is the newest addition, signed on Tuesday to a one-year deal after hitting .295 with 15 home runs for the Angels in 2005.
When asked to pick the team most likely to make the playoffs this season after missing out last season, SportsNation voters placed the Blue Jays well behind the Dodgers and Indians. But check just the international votes and the Jays emerge as solid favorites. Then again, since only 16 percent of voters think the Red Sox are the most likely playoff team to tumble out of the postseason picture, the Jays still have some work ahead of them in the AL East.
The Blue Jays are on the cusp of contending for a championship, but what about teams in a less advanced stage of rebuilding? Check out which team voters think is in the best shape.
12% Devil Rays
5% Royals Vote!
"I like the Tigers, but I don't believe that Leyland is some sort of savior. The rotation's a bit soft, and they still look like a fourth-place team to me (though luck might push them into third)."
"I know the Brewers are sort of a trendy pick, but I think their young hitters probably need another season (or two) of seasoning."
Rob Neyer in chat
Which team that missed the playoffs last season is most likely to make it this season? (41,031 votes)
34.2% New York Mets
25.1% Cleveland Indians
13.8% Los Angeles Dodgers
13.5% Toronto Blue Jays
13.2% Oakland Athletics
SN Map: Click here to see Canada's take
Which team that made the playoffs last season is most likely to miss the playoffs this season? (7,232 votes)
41.7% San Diego Padres
27.3% Houston Astros
16.3% Boston Red Sox
9.0% Atlanta Braves
5.4% Los Angeles Angels
Which new addition will help Toronto the most this season? (7,452 votes)
34.1% A.J. Burnett
28.8% Troy Glaus
18.0% B.J. Ryan
10.5% Bengie Molina
8.3% Lyle Overbay
Which team will win the AL East? (40,755 votes)
52.1% New York Yankees
26.3% Boston Red Sox
11.5% Toronto Blue Jays
5.4% Baltimore Orioles
4.4% Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Voice of the Fan
This offseason shows that J.P. Ricciardi is one of the top executives in baseball. He managed to lure free agents who otherwise would have never thought twice about Toronto. Sure he had the money to do it, but so did other teams.
This just in: J.P. Ricciardi's offseason moves guarantee the most expensive third-place finish in Blue Jays' history!
Overpaying doesn't equate to brilliance. It's like praising Cashman for Damon or the Rangers for A-Rod. Molina is a moderate upgrade at best over Zaun's performance last year.
SportsNation's Show: Expert Opinion
JFK: Do you think the Blue Jays signing Bengie Molina was a good one? I am not sure. I thought Gregg Zaun did a nice job for us last year. I would have spent the money upgrading LF or RF.
Rob Neyer: I think if the Jays could have upgraded right field for $6 million, they might have done it. But this is a nice, short-term and (relatively) low-cost move, and represents a real upgrade. I still don't think they've caught the Yankees and Red Sox. But again, they've inched a bit closer.
Will (San Antonio): Why is everyone counting the Astros out before the season starts? Even assuming Roger Clemens doesn't return (I think he is coming back), Roy Oswalt should have a better year, Brandon Backe should be healthy, Preston Wilson will provide some good offense, and their young hitters (Lane, Berkman, Burke, Ensberg) can only have better years.
Rob Neyer: Really? Oswalt's going to follow up the best season of his brilliant career with a better season? The pitching will be worse, and last season the Astros were 11th in the National League in scoring. This just isn't a good team. Too much Backe, Ausmus, and Everett.