1 Barry Bonds: If he can stay off the disabled list and isn't tripped up by legal problems, he should get the 22 homers he needs to break Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755. But how will baseball celebrate the accomplishment without seeming to endorse the steroid use that most people believe helped achieve it?
2 Daisuke Matsuzaka: The Red Sox spent $103 million and change to buy his negotiating rights and sign him. Not all high-priced Japanese imports succeed, but early indications are that he'll be a lot more like Ichiro than Hideki Irabu.
3 Roger Clemens: Baseball's Hamlet is once again pondering whether or not to play another season. He's had more retirements than Michael Jordon already, but may give it yet another shot with the Astros, Yankees or Red Sox. If and when he returns, he could change a pennant race.
4 500 homers: Only 20 hitters in baseball history have hit that many in their careers, but the membership of that exclusive club could explode this year as Toronto's Frank Thomas (487), Jim Thome of the White Sox (472), Boston's Manny Ramirez (470), Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees (464) and Detroit's Gary Sheffield (455) all have a shot at joining.
5 A-Rod: At the end of this season he'll still have 3 years and $81 million left on his contract, but there are hints he could exercise his right to opt out and seek an even more lucrative extension. The Angels have been prominently mentioned as a possible landing spot.
6 Sammy Sosa: At age 38 he's attempting to come back after a 1-year sabbatical with the team (Texas) and the hitting coach (Rudy Jaramillo) who helped him launch his career. And he needs just 12 homers to become only the fifth player in history to hit 600.
7 Barry Zito: The final piece of Oakland's Big Three left when Zito signed a 7-year, $126 million free-agent contract with the Giants. But will he be more successful after leaving the Athletics than Mark Mulder has been with the Cardinals or Tim Hudson has been with the Braves?
8 Cinderella teams: The Red Sox and White Sox ended historic championship streaks by winning the World Series in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The Tigers surprised almost everyone by winning the AL pennant last year. It's always fun when an underdog rises up to captivate the nation's imagination.
9 Alfonso Soriano: He became just the fourth 40-40 player in baseball history last season, which earned him an 8-year, $136 million contract from the Cubs. Big money equals big expectations, though, so it will be interesting to see what he does for an encore.
10 Cubs: And it's not just Soriano. It's Jason Marquis, Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa. It's a lucrative extension for third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Management committed over $300 million this offseason even though money can't buy happiness and often can't buy a championship, either. It also hasn't prevented pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood from getting hurt. Again.
11 New managers: Lou Piniella is trying to help the Cubs win their first World Series in 99 years. Fredi Gonzalez was hired by the Marlins after incumbent manager of the year Joe Girardi was fired. Bob Geren replaced Ken Macha, who only took the Athletics to the playoffs for the second time in 4 years. Bud Black replaced Bruce Bochy in San Diego after Bochy replaced Felipe Alou in San Francisco. Manny Acta, just 38 years old, is the new manager of the Nationals. After years of being considered a top managerial prospect, Ron Washington finally was hired by Texas.
12 Ichiro: The Mariners' superstar has become synonymous with Seattle while amassing 1,354 hits in just six seasons since becoming the most successful position player ever to make the move from Japan to the big leagues. But he can be a free agent at the end of the season and has hinted that how competitive the M's are will mean more to him than money. If a team that has finished last for three straight years is out of it, he could be traded before the July 31 deadline.
13 Pirates: The Buccos are trying to end a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons, longest current streak in the majors.
14 The Mitchell Commission: The committee appointed by commissioner Bud Selig and headed by former Senator George Mitchell is heading into its second year of investigating baseball's steroid scandal. No matter what conclusions it reaches, it's doubtful many will be satisfied.
15 Yankees-Red Sox: Incredibly, this rivalry seems to keep getting more intense every year.
16 Cardinals: No team has repeated as world champion since the 1998-2000 Yankees. Seven different teams have hoisted the trophy in the last 7 years, so St. Louis will be working against history after beating the Tigers last October.
17 300 wins: Mets lefthander Tom Glavine needs 10 to reach that elite level. And if he gets to 301, the only lefties in history with more wins will be Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton and Eddie Plank.
18 3,000 hits: Houston's Craig Biggio is 70 hits short of becoming the 27th player in history to join the club.
19 20 wins: No pitcher in the big leagues won 20 for the first full season ever. This year we'll find out whether that's just an aberration or a trend created by the fact that starters rarely pitch deep into games anymore.