of note: Has everyone forgotten Albert Pujols? Sure as
heck seems like it.
changes: Zack Greinke and Dan Haren are gone, along with
Torii Hunter. Added Josh Hamilton.
Blanton and Tommy Hanson. Jason Vargas could be a nice addition…
and with the log-jam that seemed to be developing of first base
– corner outfield – designated hitter types, the loss of Kendrys
Morales isn’t likely to hurt as much as the trade could help.
you… I am not saying Pujols, Hamilton and so on are corner outfield,
DH and 1B types because I don’t like this lineup. I do like it.
I like the batting order… like the outfield… just keep them healthy
and on the field. What I am saying is that the Angels didn’t figure
to be all set or deep in pitching as the offseason began. So they
went out and nabbed Josh Hamilton. And once they signed Hamilton,
Morales didn’t have a full-time, long-term role on this club because…
you see it now… 1B/DH. Could they have gotten more for him? Maybe…
especially if they could have waited into March to make the deal.
But it wasn’t a bad trade… and if it wasn’t made, someone was
on the bench.)
injuries stay away from the pitching arms… specifically Hanson,
Ryan Madson… what they have added (including Sean Burnett) seems
very interesting and likely are quality moves. (And yes… Madson
is on the DL to kick off the regular season.)
the sun shining and calm seas: Has the potential to be
the best team in the American League. Good pitching… outstanding
offense… and I think they should have a fantastic defense (especially
the outfield… which will be one of the top two or three in all
need some work in the bullpen… but heck, so does Detroit.
use an ace to match blanks in pressure games with Tampa or Detroit.
(And might have it in Weaver. But remember… we’re talking Verlander
in paradise: This is where Kyle Loshe would have made
a lot of sense. The Angels already spend money, so $30-$35 million
wouldn’t have been a bad 3-year risk for them. And with Hamilton
already signed, even with compensation attached the draft pick
sacrifice wouldn’t have been hideous.
I mention that because of what I mentioned before. Hanson has
had some recent arm troubles, and Madson is still recovering from
surgery. In other words… the questions about pitching depth for
the rotation and the bullpen remain.
expectations: I really do try to stay away from discussing
injuries when I can. And honestly, with Jerod Weaver in place
and Mike Trout ahead of Hamilton and Pujols in the batting order,
this team is about as good as any in the American League. But
they can’t have Weaver start 120-plus games, and the guys they
have lined up do come with history or concerns.
see them leaning heavily to the offensive output and defensive
play (solid lineup that will score plenty, and a loaded outfield
that should be beyond brilliant). Unfortunately, the playoffs
come down to pitching. Weaver… C.J. Wilson… Jason Vargas… Hanson…
we shall see.
finish: 93-69, playoff wild card
of note: Really stayed in place as both Oakland and California
added. Can’t help but think they’re a weaker team without Hamilton
and no major additions, which leads to…
changes: Want to see a club that thinks it’s staring
at a window of opportunity? (And a closing window at that.) Ok…
brought in Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski, and took a risk
(though all relievers were risks of some fashion this winter,
given history, price, and other factors) on Joakim Soria. No contracts
for free agents were for any real length of time… this year or
away Michael Young.
lost Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster.
said… I’ll give them credit, because they also never added any
long-term, potentially strangling contracts. And they do have
some young pieces. (Elvis Andrus is 24… and they already have
a young shortstop on the verge of joining the team in Jurickson
Profar. I doubt they get rid of either… instead moving one to
second and Ian Kinsler to first. But still… point is… next good
Rangers team is already being assembled as this one begins its
point is… I wonder if they think they have a lot of time to win
with the roster designed like this. And the short-term acquisitions
seems to show they are trying to take a chance now while they
have an opportunity while also not giving away tomorrow’s quality.
That is a tough balancing act.
the sun shining and calm seas: The window isn’t closing
Adrian Beltre has been performing at a high level, and he solidifies
an offense that will be called upon possibly more than at any
point over the past three seasons.
I like the way the organization is moving and positioned in general.
There are good things here. And while California may have overpaid
to take away Hamilton… while Los Angeles may have overpaid to
land Greinke… while Atlanta may have overpaid to trade for Upton…
Texas might just find that often the best moves are the ones you
is still a very talented club with the playoffs directly in their
in paradise: Pitching. It’s a patchwork of pitching.
Injuries have smashed apart the rotation and drained the bullpen.
you can tell me whatever you want… when Hamilton is in the MVP
conversation every year, you don’t watch him go to a division
rival and replace him smoothly in your lineup.
expectations: The wild card in Texas is Yu Darvish. If…
and for me, I think this might be a big “if”… he becomes a pitcher
that opponents fear (yup… on a level of Verlander), then the Rangers
could be one of the top two clubs in the AL when the season is
winding down and the postseason is taking shape. My guess is he’s
good. But a step below Weaver good. Not dominant and carry the
now the Rangers don’t have Verlander or Price… they don’t have
Martinez-Fielder-Cabrera or Trout-Hamilton-Pujols… and I think
they are very, very good, but outside that category of exceptional
in the American League as the year begins.
think the A’s played over their heads last year. Because of that,
I believe the Rangers will have enough to stay in the playoff
hunt and earn a wild card slot.
the reality is, they could be fighting for a .500 record. They
are not as deep as other clubs… and they lack the dominant two
or three superstars that teams like California, Detroit and Tampa
finish: 94-68, division winner
of note: Easy to underestimate this group. For instance…
their starting rotation on Opening Day is likely to have five
guys that are 25 or younger. (And if not… then the oldest will
likely be 26 or 27.) And just about all of them could be a top
everyone should be able to appreciate Yoenis Cespedes.
changes: Added Jed Lowrie by trade… and used the trade
option to also bring in John Jaso and Chris Young.
me, the biggest piece may be adding Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki
Nakajima. Lowrie is nice… but never has panned out in my eyes
as an everyday shortstop. (Heck… he hasn’t panned out simply to
be reliable as everyday.) So if Nakajima makes the club as the
shortstop, Lowrie can be positioned in a place where the physical
demand may be less. Perhaps reducing the stress on an injury-filled
career to date gets Lowrie into the lineup 130-145 times. Plus
Nakajima joins as a potential solid to very good player at low
the sun shining and calm seas: The beauty in Oakland
is found in three words… balance… depth… consistency.
are better than average in almost all areas. There is very little
drop off between their starters and their bench. And they show
up to play every day of the season.
out the Yankees right now… entering the season without Jeter,
Teixeira, Granderson and Rodriguez… and you suddenly realize how
important it is to be young with plenty of depth on your roster.
in paradise: Jed Lowrie has never played 100 games in
a season. I would not be surprised in the least to see him finally
cross the mark in an Oakland uniform. Until he does though… in
the past both Boston and Houston have also written glowing things
during the preseason about their expectations of him. He’s never
fulfilled on the promise.
like the A’s. I do. I just don’t think they’re one of the two
best teams in their division.
expectations: I could very easily see the A’s bringing
both wild cards to the AL West. Wouldn’t stun me to see them outplay
Chicago and Toronto for that fifth playoff spot.
trouble is… there is a clear line between their best and the best
of other clubs. 94 wins in 2012 has to be remembered and respected…
I just think it was a bit above where they actually are, especially
heading into a new season.
of note: Not much. The best details for Seattle are the
ones you’ll hear about tomorrow… not today.
changes: Ok… sure… the names are interesting or at least
sound familiar… Joe Saunders, Kelly Shoppach, Oliver Perez and
Jason Bay. But let’s face it, all of them are in Seattle because
there were few (if any) alternatives for their services.
the Morales trade earlier in this column. That was a good pickup.
And so was the trade that brought in Mike Morse. But things in
Seattle are not what they are in California, Texas and Oakland.
They are an ok club, that won’t chase a winning record, and are
out of the basement only because of the addition to the division
the sun shining and calm seas: Felix Hernandez. A move
to more youth. A plan to not rush things.
nice in Seattle, and even looks promising.
in paradise: Still having troubles scoring runs. Morales
and Morse will help change that dynamic, but I’m not certain they
will score enough to win the majority of games when Felix Hernandez
note of interest… the majors are still waiting on the potential
of Jesus Montero. (Which is kind of funny. Because remember my
joke back when discussing the Angels… I was talking about 1B/DH
types? Yeah… apparently Seattle has decided that the way to score
runs is by bringing in players that can only play first. And now
they have Jason Bay, who may not be the best of options in the
expectations: Here’s the funny thing… if you were in
a division with Texas, Oakland and California right now, spending
big money for the next two seasons would be beyond foolish. You
need to gear up for the next three to five seasons… to be really
good when that cycle breaks.
like what Seattle is beginning to assemble. They could even do
in 2014 what Baltimore did in 2012… use a few breaks and solid
play to shock the division and maybe enter the playoff hunt.
it’s way too early to expect that in 2013.
finish: 55-107, played in National League Central
of note: 54 wins? These guys might not crack 50. In this
division… especially if Seattle plays well and Oakland is threatening
90-wins… the Houston Astros could set a record for worst season
changes: I don’t know… are we still at a point where
a Carlos Pena sighting is exciting and news-worthy? Heck… I like
the guy. But I think we can move on.
yet… that’s the 2013 Houston Astros. Don’t know… and a bunch of
people that had been names. 107 losses in 2012… Erik Bedard and
Rick Ankiel and Carlos Pena as the interesting signings… and suddenly
tossed from the overloaded six-team NL Central into the heat of
the California-Texas-Oakland AL West.
thing of note… they traded Lowrie for Chris Carter and two other
prospects. So things aren’t all bad.
it’s not a club built at the major league level for long-term
the sun shining and calm seas: Iron Man 3 comes
out this summer. May actually. And Star Trek Into Darkness
will also be out in May.
of Steel is getting good buzz, and that comes out in June.
Anyone want to see World War Z? June for that one too.
see… July… you’ve got Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger,
The Wolverine, and Smurfs 2.
Houston… cheer up… should still be a good summer for adults and
kids. (And with Thor and Smaug and other fun characters in the
cards for November and December, you won’t even need to worry
about the hot stove offseason either. You’re entertainment dollar
has a workable alternative to baseball for the rest of the year.)
in paradise: The Astros are so bad there is no trouble.
Why? Because there isn’t room for anything bad to happen. You
know… except that worst record ever idea.
out Carlos Pena. He hasn’t hit above .227 since his .247 of 2008.
He hit 39 home runs in 2009… then 28, 28 and 19 since. (And in
2009 he had the fewest plate appearances of any of those four
years.) His career-high in strikeouts came last year.
if Carlos can give you .225 and 25 home runs or more, he’ll have
done quite well. And if he doesn’t, few will notice (and those
that do will shrug their shoulders).
expectations: None. There are no expectations to have.
If you go to a game… enjoy the experience. But there is nothing
to look forward to here.