a two-horse race, with no surprises coming. Look for California
and Texas to battle it out on the top. Oakland and Seattle possibly
not even visible in the mirror.
What I expect in 2012: 95-67
they did in 2011: 86-76
personnel changes: An awesome off-season that signals
the Angels expect to win right now.
Pujols, LaTroy Hawkins and C.J. Wilson were brought in. Chris
Iannetta was an interesting trade acquisition.
the unexpected steals are Iannetta and then Wilson.
Iannetta is very good defensively, but also brings along a high
on-base percentage. (His career on-base is .357, but three of
his six big league seasons with some game time have involved him
being at .370 or over. And… get this… his two highest seasons
for games played, 2008 and 2011, had his two highest percentages
at .390 and .370 respectively. He needs to play… more than the
104 and 111 that are current highs. But he’s not a one-sided player.
And for an Angels team that needed to improve the offense, Iannetta
brings really good defense plus someone that can hit. This off-season
was much more successful than just Pujols and Wilson. That said…)
after being touted as a rotation saver and to-be-paid-as-an-ace
question… joins a staff with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren up front,
where he will be asked to simply contribute with Ervin Santana
as part of what may be top to bottom the best rotation in the
American League, if not all of baseball. (It’s not… I prefer Tampa’s…
but it’s still damn good. And with pitchers like Haren… who simply
walks no one… this rotation won’t tax the bullpen.)
also looked to solidify some places with signings like Jason Isringhausen…
low risk, significant potential reward.
expectations: Ok… flip a coin… because this is going
to be close.
I like the high end pitching more in California, and that’s what
gives the division title to them here. If Haren, Wilson and Weaver
all make more than 30 starts, the Angels are in great shape.
offense isn’t as deep as some… Texas, New York and Boston are
still likely all better. But, a combination of Kendrick, Aybar
and Morales in some fashion around Pujols means this club will
score runs. Considering the past two years, that means something.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): In the
next five years, the Angels could deliver two or three appearances
in the World Series. And that could include a championship or
that happens… awesome… everything after that, such as Albert Pujols
declining and maybe even spending half of a season (if not full
seasons) as a designated hitter, will still earn applause and
problem is if the Angels fall short of a title. Pujols was not
signed to lead this team in 2019… or even 2016. He was brought
in for now. 2012… 2013… for the next four or five years, getting
past the Rangers in the division and being able to dominate a
series against the Tigers, Red Sox or Yankees.
place in the West would be horrible… not in the playoffs would
you want specifics and not drum beating? Ok… why do the Angels
consistently have players that work as first base – designated
hitter – corner outfield players? They so very rarely do well
at short, second, or center. Oh sure… Pujols, Morales, Abreau…
we could go on… the list is filled with players that are all ok,
if not better than most. But it really ties up their flexibility.
And if you don’t believe me, than explain how someone like Vernon
Wells is around. (And why Mike Trout isn’t.))
Ok… Ervin Santana has cleared 220-innings the past two seasons,
with a sub-4 ERA. He’s not one of their top three starters. Behind
him though are incredibly unproven commodities. And… honestly…
there are some that aren’t sold on Santana given the 2009 season.
So the top pitchers had better produce.)
What I expect in 2012: 92-70
they did in 2011: 96-66
personnel changes: Yu Darvish is… justifiably so… getting
the most attention. Joe Nathan is in the bullpen (allowing Neftali
Feliz to join the rotation). C.J. Wilson left Texas for California.
expectations: Overall, there’s no reason to believe the
Rangers aren’t as good as they were last year. Yu Darvish should
be able to deliver at the same level as Wilson did… plus the rotation
appears stronger with Feliz in it.
thing is… the team puzzles me. And for that, I’m going to mention
I’m not a Beltre fan. I like his defensive ability and talents
just fine. And I think he’s ok offensively. But the past two seasons
are way out of line… matching up more with his 2004 season than
any other part of his career. To put it into perspective, his
162-game average is a .276 batting average, .329 on-base percentage,
26 home runs and 92 RBIs. Those are all numbers that he bettered
in 2010 and 2011 with Texas and Boston. From 2005 to 2009 he was
worse in just about every measurable category every season except
for two spots… both in 2007, when he hit 26 home runs to match
the average and 99 RBIs. When a guy is putting up offensive numbers
at 31 and 32 that he didn’t touch at 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30… well…
you get the idea. I just can’t commit to a big year from Belte
as part of my predictions for the club. Probably some sort of
blinders on my part… as hitting between Hamilton and Young should
allow him to be just fine… but I expect a drop.
players like Beltre, Mike Napoli and Michael Young be part of
a big year in Texas? Sure they could. On the other side, everyone
is watching Josh Hamilton… coming back after some off-field problems
in what may be his final season with Texas.
I can throw darts out all day long. I could tell you about ghosts
and rumors that could swirl, and yet might amount to nothing.
The simple idea is that after two trips to the World Series, I
have to wonder if this team might not be a bit tired heading in
teams like A’s and Mariners in the division though, they should
be able to stay right with the Angels. And even outside of the
division, for every battering the games with the Yankees, Red
Sox, Rays and Tigers offer, there are comparable numbers of games
with the Royals, White Sox, Twins and Orioles.
have to like the Rangers to make the playoffs, and to cruise along
a steady course during the regular season.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): It would
not surprise me to see Texas not making the playoffs. I’m telling
you... this is going to be a very strange year in the American
League. There is a real difference between the haves and the have-nots.
The bigger teams seem deeper to me. A real separation from the
top to bottom in every division, even when you consider Toronto
and Cleveland as decent.
said… this is a club that will win around 90 games, even if they
have problems. And that is a result blurred only by success as
a comparison. (Remember… Boston won 90 last year in their miserable
season of complete failure. But 90 is a decent accomplishment.)
where could it fall apart? Ok…
Darvish struggles and cannot be a solid pitcher… let’s for argument
use generic ideas and say something around a number two or three
starter would be acceptable, even though they are just asking
him to be ok… that could cause problems. (I expect 15-plus wins
for Darvish and very real consideration for the Rookie of the
Perez struggles as a starter (not likely) or Nathan can’t deliver
as a closer (possible, considering age and coming off an injury
were reasons Minnesota let him leave)… that could cause problems.
Beltre looks more like his career averages than his three contract-making
seasons… yeah, you got it, problems.
What I expect in 2012: 75-87
they did in 2011: 74-88
personnel changes: Traded, released, didn’t pursue keeping:
Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney, Josh Willingham, Hideki
Matsui and others. Brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon and
expectations: Umm… I don’t know… maybe a run at an even
problem is that Texas and California should clubber them… with
pitching, offense, and defense that is simply superior in every
way. That’s roughly a quarter of their season. A significant portion
of what remains involves New York, Boston, Detroit, Tampa and
short… consider… you know how sometimes you hear people talk about
how tough it is to play in the AL East? …or someone will mention
how you have to win the games you’re supposed to win? Ok… on nights
when they get away from two top American League clubs, they will
often find themselves playing the AL East. And… the A’s are generally
one of the opponents in the games you’re supposed to beat.
to the point… Josh Reddick.
watched Reddick all last season. I think he’s a good player and
a great guy. I’d love to have him on my team. I am not sold on
him getting an everyday position.
if you want to debate Reddick, let’s drop that and ask about Bartolo
Colon. Is he really a season-saving-commitment? Or is he someone
you hope to get 8-10 starts out of and then cross your fingers?
Because the A’s will start him twice in their first four games
(thanks to the early opener in Japan).
expect that, did you? In fact, it might take another reading to
settle in. The A’s… the organization of young pitching on parade…
starting Bartolo Colon twice out of the first four games in the
is some talent… there is some room for interesting performances
(Cespedes is a Rookie of the Year candidate). I don’t see it translating
into significant wins.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): Coco Crisp
signed with Oakland to play centerfield this year.
A’s went out and added Yoenis Cespedes, and he will now play center.
fact, thanks to players like Reddick on the roster… Crisp might
have gone from starter to the bench.
that’s the kind of stuff that has me wondering about Oakland this
let’s say you think the A’s are building something… youth and
talent and getting a few veterans to fill in the spaces.
and California are better… much better.
the AL East, we find three teams with playoff hopes, and all are
better… much better.
that moves Oakland into fighting for a place in that second level.
The happy to look at a winning record, and not at all a postseason
players that aren’t happy, but need to take things for what they
are… or significant innings expected from Colon… that makes for
a long year.)
What I expect in 2012: 64-98
they did in 2011: 67-95
personnel changes: Added Jesus Montero in a trade that
sent away Michael Pineda.
expectations: Not much.
a way, I kind of like what they did between seasons. There really
is no way they were going to be able to run with California and
Texas this year (or next). So, why overpay for window dressings
that won’t change the results? I could be wrong, but I believe
their biggest signing was a one-year deal for about a million
and a half.
problems are simple though… do you believe that Ichiro and Felix
Hernandez will both be here the next time the Mariners have a
winning record for a regular season? Because I don’t. (And I’m
taking the obvious… Ichiro gone or retired.)
Jesus Montero… they added offense. This is a club that scored
less than 4-runs per game when Hernandez was on the mound last
year. One bat… and a bat that hasn’t regularly been playing in
the majors… is not an answer.
let’s have no misunderstandings… this club couldn’t score runs
at all. They were under 3.5 per game for the entire year.
can look over their batting order for chicken salad… the way Chone
Figgins has played since coming to Seattle, it’s still more likely
to be chicken feathers.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): If Ichiro’s
best days are completely behind him… if Jesus Montero doesn’t
hit… and good lord, if Pineda becomes a star… the Mariners could
find themselves treading water at a below mediocre level with
a media nightmare on top.
and Texas have shown a willingness to spend (even if Texas isn’t
opening the wallet as much). That puts them with Detroit… a club
that has been playing with the checkbook happy Boston and New
York organizations. The point is… we are seeing teams like Washington
and Florida spend money this off-season. Unexpected heavy hitters
suddenly are all over the place in baseball payroll.
also still have clubs like Tampa managing to accomplish things
with hard work and attitude.
don’t see the prospects (as in the Rays) or the arrival of free
agents (the Red Sox and Yankees, and this year the Angels and
Marlins) supporting a revival of successes here in Seattle. I
know some people think they have a few young pitchers. And that’s
good. The trouble is… after Tampa, name me a club that thought
they had several pitchers on the way and then delivered them.