Playing on a level financial playing field, the Indianapolis Colts are on the verge of locking up Edgerrin James to go with new deals for Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. On the diamond, Billy Beane can afford no such luxury for his stars.
Faced with the prospect of losing them to free agency, Oakland's GM broke up his trinity of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito by trading Hudson to Atlanta and Mulder to St. Louis. Beane and the Athletics didn't walk away empty-handed, getting prospects like Dan Haren and Dan Meyer back in return, but the trades are clearly a blow to the team's immediate title hopes.
Did Beane do the best he could with the hand he was dealt? How will the A's fare in 2005? And which of the three pitchers will have the best career?