Some outlooks from the desert 

With five weeks in the books and one to go, here’s what we’ve learned at spring training 2007, Cactus League-style.

» Sammy Sosa isn’t done. He might not be the Sammy we once loved so much, but a year off seems to have restored his bat speed. And his presence makes the Texas Rangers’ always-stacked lineup look like it just might be able to overcome the club’s annual paucity of pitching.

» The team of Sammy’s heyday, the Chicago Cubs, has a pretty loaded lineup, too. But you still have to get 27 outs to win games, and on the days Carlos Zambrano isn’t pitching, Chicago’s going to have a hard time getting them.

» The Arizona Diamondbacks have some fantastic young position players, particularly Stephen Drew and Carlos Quentin, but any team counting on Randy Johnson as its No. 2 starter is in for a long summer.

» The ColoradoRockies are still the Rockies. Turn the lights off on your way out, fellas.

» If Greg Maddux and Boomer Wells combine for 50 or more starts, San Diego will be very tough. And Jake Peavy is absolutely filthy.

» The manager-general manager combo in Seattle will not survive the season. Nor will the patience of Mariners fans. Safeco Field, once a jam-packed jewel, will be a ghost town by July.

» The Los Angeles Angels have zero margin for error in their starting rotation. If one of them misses significant time, they’re in big trouble. If two of them go down, they’re out of the race.

» The Milwaukee Brewers will finish two games under .500 for the 103rd consecutive season.

» The Kansas City Royals will actually be watchable for the first time in 103 seasons. Alex Gordon is your American League Rookie of the Year and Octavio Dotel is your AL Comeback Player of the Year.

» Ozzie Guillen is still insane. But when you catch his act in person, it’s far more palatable than hearing about it from afar. The man is a snake charmer.

» Rich Harden of the A’s should be illegal. The rest of baseball is lucky he’s never been healthy for a full season. When he’s on top of his ridiculous stuff, he makes big-league studs look like junior varsity rejects.

» The Giants are going to be better than you think. Barry Zito and Matt Cain are as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the National League, and no matter what happens with the closer’s role, the G-Men are going to hang around the top of the standings into early fall.

Mychael Urban is the author of "Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito" and a writer for MLB.com.

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