previous years, I’ve used the six divisional columns to predict
records and make comments about the teams. This year, I’m debating
the records part. There will still be a summary column… so I’m
thinking of putting records over there if I do them.
now… let’s take a look at the AL West. The listing of teams is
in the order I’m predicting the division to finish…
like to tell you there is a contest out here… and it actually
may seem like there is one for the first couple of months. But
the reality is that the Angels are about 5 to 10 games better
than everyone else in this division, even if they have to struggle
to finish there.
they dominate early… good night… they’ll win easy and be coasting
that isn’t what I expect to see happen.
think Oakland or Texas is going to play very well in April and
May… more likely Oakland. And we’re going to hit the 40-game mark
with two teams around 24 to 26 wins.
trouble is… only California is built to maintain a 90-plus win
pace. That may not mean cruise control as the July trading deadline
closes and the dog days arrive, but it will mean the division
lead… and I don’t expect them to give it back.
Angels ~ Has anyone else noticed that Vladimir Guerrero
isn’t Vladimir Guerrero these days? I’m not trying to be mean…
I think he’s a fabulous ballplayer. But for the past couple of
seasons, it seems like he has a smaller and smaller presence.
I don’t know if that makes sense though.
141 games in 2005 was the lowest total for a season since his
days in Montreal. And he pretty much puts in 600 plate appearances
per year. So no worries there…
.303/.365/27/91 for batting average, on-base percentage, home
runs and runs batted in are down… but I don’t know how terribly
concerned you can be about them. His highest total ever for home
runs was 44, and most years in California he has hovered near
30. As to RBIs… well… that’s determined by people getting on base
ahead of you as much as anything else.
yeah… I can’t put my finger on it… and the decline of age seems
on a natural course and not a worrisome course… but something
doesn’t seem right with him.
as is my way… there is your lead in to the Angels. Nothing appears
to be wrong here… and I expect them to take this division they
way they normally do… but something isn’t quite right.
may be one of the only people that feel they upgraded at the closer
I should probably clarify that.)
do believe that based on talent alone, Francisco Rodriguez can
be one of the best in the game. But there is a difference between
Francisco the player and K-Rod the entertainer. And for a couple
of seasons now, we have been getting more of the entertainer and
less of the player. (You can go look at my Mets comments here,
where I rattle off how K-Rod pulls a vanishing act in the playoffs.)
to that end… I think Brian Fuentes is going to be just fine at
the end of their bullpen. (Think of it this way… Rodriguez pitched
in 76 regular season games last year. Guess how many innings he
pitched. No… really… take a shot. 76? 80? 85? Try 68. Yup… the
top closer in the game (all sarcasm intended) averaged less than
an inning per appearance last year. 68.1 innings in 76 appearances.
My point simply being that someone was pitching for the Angels
before he made his one-minus inning appearance. And most of those
same effective pitchers will be taking the mound on the way to
getting the ball to Fuentes.)
the way… Papelbon, 69.1 innings in 67 appearances… Rivera, 70.2
innings in 64 appearances.)
162 games… the John Lackey contract situation will be fine. (I
expect his health to improve as well.) And Saunders, Weaver, and
whatever pray for rain duo becomes the fourth and fifth starters
will be more than enough as a rotation. (They have some injuries,
so guys will be joining them as the season moves along.)
162 games… Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero and Bobby Abreu
may not be young, but they will each contribute to a winning season.
not concerned about them. They will be fine, and should just meander
along until their first round opponent knocks them out of the
A’s ~ There’s alot to like here if a few things spin
the right way… so chances are that all things won’t go right,
and the results will be closer to alot to be hopeful about and
a future to build, but not a 2009 breakout. That said…
Cabrera and Jason Giambi? I like both of these signings for this
club. Matt Holliday? It’s a bad trade only if he is absolutely,
beyond belief, horrendously awful. Otherwise… if they play well
and win, he’s likely a big contributor… if they play poorly and
lose, he’s likely one of the best trade chips on the market in
Do you think we’re talking about a youth movement in Oakland?
Carbera and Giambi might say no… and the addition of Nomar Garciaparra
would seem to add to that total. But that’s not quite fair.
Sweeney is all of 23 years old right now. He’s also coming off
a solid 2008. Most of the pitchers on the club are Sweeney’s age.
There is an intriguing balance of youth and experience, which
could serve them well if they can still see California in the
standings when we get to Labor Day.
I don’t see them battling for the postseason this year, the only
problem I have with the A’s is this… I don’t know of Giambi, Cabrera
or Garciaparra will be playing… not just for Oakland, I mean playing
at all… when they do make the playoffs again. And that means for
all the bargain shopping and posturing that scored Oakland these
players, they’ll need to replace them. And Matt Holliday may be
the first one swapped out.
Rangers ~ You’ll have to answer this one for me. Let’s
say everything goes perfectly for Texas. They stay healthy… get
a few unexpected sources of production… maybe even make a decent
trade or two. If everything goes exactly right for them, are they
winning more than 85 games? Because for me… well… I don’t see
it. If everything goes right for California… 92-95 wins. If everything
goes right for Oakland… 90-93 wins. And if everything goes perfect
in Texas… well… I see a winning record. And that’s with everything
name a Texas pitcher… starter or reliever.
question… because of course you know Kevin Millwood and Vicente
let’s make it tougher. Can you name any other pitcher on their
roster not named Millwood or Padilla?
so I’m barely in to an analysis of Texas and already they’re out
of pitchers. (At least… pitchers you may have ever heard of.)
jokes out of the way though, I like some of what is happening
here. Taylor Teagarden should develop into a solid catcher. (I’m
on the Saltalamacchia doesn’t want to be a catcher forever side
of the fence. Which means I’m not expecting him to be traded any
time soon. Although, that appearance of not caring about catching
might exactly be what gets him traded.)
Hamilton has been nothing short of outstanding for them.
in a couple of years the dead wood of Hank Blalock and the contract
that is Michael Young will be gone. (I don’t personally think
either of them is worthy of complete dead wood status, but you
tell Texas you’ll pay their contracts and send back a player with
nothing above single-A potential and I guarantee you they don’t
hang up the phone. They might not make the trade, but they’ll
the way, Kris Benson… the Kris Benson… the Kris Benson with a
Cy Young award incentive from his wife that tops anything that
could possibly be in his contract… is in the Texas rotation. Yup…
we’re done here.
Mariners ~ This club is about two things, and two things
one, celebrating Ken Griffey, Jr. Yup, we’re going to see him
retire as a member of the Mariners. That’s nice.
number two, huge potential for trading off most of its roster
by the end of July. Or… do you think the Yankees haven’t at least
looked over someone like Adrian Beltre as an option for their
third base concerns?
the end… I think Griffey will have a better year than the organization.