• Mon. Jan. 22: Who are the top remaining Free Agents?
• Tue. Jan. 23: Who are the top players switching leagues?
• Wed. Jan. 24: Whose farm system will be the talk?
• Thu. Jan. 25: Who will be this year's Frank Thomas?
• Fri. Jan. 26: Is the NL turning the tide?
• Mon. Jan. 29: Can the Cardinals repeat as champs?
• Tue. Jan. 30: Why no repeat winners since 2000?
• Wed. Jan. 31: Can Cubs break the curse?
• Thu. Feb. 1: Will Central dominance continue?
• Fri. Feb. 2: Which teams could surprise?
• Mon. Feb. 5: Which new managers will have an impact?
• Tue. Feb. 6: Which young pitchers will make The Leap?
• Wed. Feb. 7: Which young hitters will make The Leap?
• Thu. Feb. 8: How good will Matsuzaka be?
• Fri. Feb. 9: Will anyone hit 60 home runs?
• Mon. Feb. 12: Will anyone win 20 games?
• Tue. Feb. 13: Who will be this year's surprise closer?
• Wed. Feb. 14: Where will Clemens pitch?
• Thu. Feb. 15: If pitching wins, who tops the Marlins?
• Fri. Feb. 16: Who will win the World Series?
At 37 the youngest manager in the Majors, Acta and his youthful team, led by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, will have a chance to grow together.Black has a tough act to follow in San Diego. The 49-year-old former Major League pitcher spent the previous seven seasons as the Angels' pitching coach. He had been mentioned as a potential big-league manager for several seasons and the opportunity to manage a team close to his home and family in Southern California made it easier for him to pursue and eventually accept this job. Inexperience, he said, is overrated. "When you talk about managing, obviously you hope to have the qualities to lead a team, to lead men," he said. "Hopefully my career as a player and as coach has given me those opportunities to get those skills in order to manage. You have to start somewhere. Fortunately, I'm starting at the top." In Oakland, the transition from one manager to the next went smoothly the last time it happened and fingers are crossed in the East Bay that it happens again when Geren takes over the reins. The 44-year-old has seven years of Minor League managerial experience (452-390 record) and should have a great working relationship with general manager Billy Beane. They are best friends and Geren was the best man at the GM's second wedding. Replacing the Manager of the Year would appear to be a tough assignment for anyone, but familiarity with the players and circumstances surrounding the departure of Joe Girardi should make for smooth sailing for Gonzalez at Florida. Gonzalez steps into a promising situation as the foundation has been established for future success. Still, there could be some bumps along the way. "The tough thing is going to be when the honeymoon is over, and your friends, parents and family have to hear how bad you are," he said. "That's what I told my mom and dad -- 'You know your little boy is going to get chastised or called a dummy.' It's going to be tough. But we'll be ready to get through it when it comes." After four seasons in a Marine-like atmosphere under former manager Buck Showalter, Washington can establish a more laid-back approach in Texasd but still maintain a "take-no-prisoners" mindset. Washington excels in the teaching aspect of the game and that worked well in Oakland, where the players loved him. "I'm a player's manager," he said. "I will always be a player's manager because I was a player." Washington begins his 37th year in baseball with a positive message.
"My whole goal is to get started in Spring Training and take it from there," he said. "Just get them as prepared as I can possibly get them, teach them a great work ethic, make them believe in each other and execute the fundamentals. If we do that, we're going to win. I have no doubt about it."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.