finish: 94-68, World Series Champion
of note: Two Cy Young awards… two World Series titles…
and Tim Lincecum is virtually an afterthought for the Giants.
changes: Not much… which is fine. Biggest change might
be last year’s acquisition of Marco Scutaro. In 2013, they get
to have him for the full season.
the sun shining and calm seas: The Giants are once again
a title contender.
in paradise: They can still struggle on offense. Don’t
get me wrong… things actually look a bit better. Hunter Pence
and Pablo Sandoval are around, and Buster Posey showed in 2012
that he is back to form. So this isn’t the club that was pitching-or-bust
in 2010. They do have some pop.
it’s hard to argue the results of their design… maybe it was different
rosters, it’s still two of the last three titles.
they’ve been winning (and winning) because the pitching is so
amazingly good. People that claim it isn’t the same -- and during
the regular season, it hasn’t been (see also: Tim Lincecum, 2012)
-- aren’t applying what Zito and Lincecum did in the 2013 playoffs.
And with clubs like the Nationals gaining experience and growing
up while possessing what appears to be significantly more depth
and balance, the Giants may need more than stellar pitching to
win it all in 2013.
expectations: The difference between very good and great
could come down to Tim Lincecum. And that’s saying something.
Cain and Madison Bumgarner… and Ryan Vogelsong… are at the front
of the rotation. Barry Zito continues to hang around. (Oh come
on… Zito has been inconsistent, and sure, not good. Still, he
had moments in 2012 that showed he isn’t completely lost. Too
expensive… has not lived up to the contract… but as a fifth starter,
it’s not bad.) They have scary pitching talent all over. So if
Lincecum is just good… wow.
have a good defensive lineup. So they don’t need to score a tone
trick is… on-base numbers need to stay up, since they are not
a huge threat for displays of power.
of that said… watch the starting rotation. Once again, the Giants
go as far as their starters can take them.
of note: Could be me. Maybe I’m just hesitant having
watched the Red Sox crash and burn in 2011, and then follow it
up with a simply horrendous 2012.
am hesitant about anointing the Blue Jays this year as well… since
they have several of the players that were part of Florida’s roster
Hanley Ramirez is injured. Zack Greinke had some elbow issues
during spring training. So maybe it’s me… but I see what could
potentially be a fragile team that does not handle things well
if the boat starts rocking in rough waters.
changes: Wow… between the trades during the 2012 season,
and then signings like Greinke… this club has completely remodeled
have zero clue what kind of stability or depth they have in the
minors… this club has done everything they can to put an all-star
at every position with the parent club. (Have they got an all-star
everyplace? No. They’ve added one great player… Adrian Gonzalez…
and lots of aging veterans that could flip to either side of the
coin -- one-last-grasp-of-brilliance or complete-has-been. (Seriously…
Ramirez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. It sounds impressive.
It might very well be impressive. (Provided they are off the golf
course and disabled list, and on the field.) Then you remember
what made all of them available to the Dodgers.))
the sun shining and calm seas: World Series.
for a second forget some of the other names here. Clayton Kershaw
is one of the best pitchers in the game. They still have Andre
Either and Matt Kemp… despite years of rumors about those two
without any tinkering, this club could win it all.
in paradise: Time will tell… the organization certainly
has amazing resources right now, and likely will have the highest
payroll in baseball for 2013 and beyond. But…
I believe that people that don’t get it, don’t get that they don’t
other words, there’s a very good reason why Beckett would order
take-out for the Red Sox clubhouse, and then while trying to recover
from the firestorm that followed that story and a historic collapse,
would go play a round or two of golf after being scratched from
a start. It’s nice that the attitude in LA-LA land has supposedly
improved things so much for some of these guys. I would 100% agree
with ex-Boston players that the media attention in Boston can
be a negative to a degree that cannot be measured. And yet, the
media isn’t pulling a five-iron out of their bag on a day when
they were getting rested for early-season health concerns.
second, these are big splashes and spending for the major league
roster. It takes time and wise decisions to create a strong farm
combine those thoughts.
None of it guarantees results. None of it guarantees quality.
You can buy a Bugatti Veyron… it doesn’t mean you know how to
drive it… it doesn’t mean you have it in the right place to get
it to its top speed.
has an amazing record as a postseason pitcher… he’s never been
a regular season ace (although he has been mistaken for one).
And is Hanley Ramirez still a shortstop? We’re supposed to find
if the stars don’t align… well… there aren’t lots of options in
place yet to draw upon in roster depth or the minors.
expectations: I have to admit, I do think players like
Carl Crawford could turn into impressive acquisitions. I think
players like Gonzalez and Ramirez might be motivated to prove
some things. There are some amazing pieces in place… and with
Kershaw leading the staff, those pieces could pay off very quickly.
think this club could make the playoffs… heck, I’ve got them in
the playoffs. But once they get there, I’ll need to see their
“superstars” actually be superstars before I’ll believe they can
take a postseason set from Washington, Atlanta, Cincinnati or
San Francisco. (And by set… I don’t mean one game. Clayton Kershaw
can win a wild card play-in game on his own.)
be lulled to sleep by the Dodgers. The roster is loaded with talent.
The organization has the resources to make moves. This is simply
the classic debate between the differences of on paper and actually
playing the games.
of note: Until Adam Eaton gets back on the field, I think
predicting things for Arizona is tough. Count them out… they win
the division. Expect big things… they’re fighting to get out of
the basement of the NL West.
changes: Heath Bell.
the thing that has me confused.
away Justin Upton? Well... you know… I like Upton. If Atlanta
figures out how to get past Washington in the next year or two
(or three or more), chances are really good Justin Upton will
be the league MVP when it happens. But having watched the trade
market swirl around Upton’s name for several seasons, I actually
believe this is a case where he was worth more to the Diamondbacks
in what he could return than he was worth wearing their uniform.
question becomes whether or not Kevin Towers, in all his moves,
actually ever did get more in return. Which sends me right back
to where I started this section.
it’s more like this… Heath Bell?
Bell wasn’t part of the Upton package. I know that. I just mean
I’m not sure I understand some of the moves made by the club,
and they made several in the offseason. If Heath Bell is an answer
in one of them, then I think there may be reasons to think they
didn’t get enough for Upton.
the sun shining and calm seas: Well… I suppose second
in the division. The problem is… ok… next section…
in paradise: I can see this club getting to the mid-80s.
I wouldn’t call you crazy for even saying 87 or 88.
I can see a team (the Dodgers) not working as a group and sliding
down the standings.
there is nothing that the Diamondbacks do that I don’t see several
other teams doing better.
like how Ian Kennedy has done in Arizona and what Wade Miley did
last year? Great. The Nationals brought in Dan Haren to be their
fifth starter. (Their fifth starter.)
about Martin Prado and Adam Eaton? Sure. But… Eaton’s on the DL
right now. And the Reds have Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
things are just wonderful… a step or two behind everyone else.
go read about Cain and Bumgarner… and consider Kemp and Ethier
and Gonzalez and Kershaw… and explain to me how the Diamondbacks
manage to get into the postseason race based on their divisional
expectations: Good pitching from the starters… potentially
great pitching from the relievers… likely good defense and decent
thing is… I picked on them by comparing them to Washington and
Cincinnati a moment ago. And then I asked to just consider their
their pitching rotation match up to San Francisco’s? I say no…
and that’s a no with Tim Lincecum not even considered.
their regular lineup compete with what Los Angeles has assembled?
That’s to be determined, but odds are good that the Dodgers will
get seasons from three or four players that no Arizona regular
club. Not a very good club. (Yet.)
of note: The Padres played better ball… over .500 ball…
to finish the year after a simply brutal start in 2012.
changes: Am I missing something?
mean… you may be surprised to see that Jason Marquis and Edison
Volquez are here in San Diego. But Marquis was released by Minnesota
and joined San Diego last year in May. And the reason the Reds
have Mat Latos is because of a December 2011 trade that sent Volquez
(and, by the way, also Yonder Alonzo) to the Padres.
isn’t much that changed between seasons. Most of the moves had
already been made… you just might not have noticed.
the sun shining and calm seas: Chase Headley looks like
a great player. And I happen to think Alonzo has been good, and
could be great. (He’s about to turn 26 in April.)
is not a bad team. It’s just not yet a good team either. (The
thing is… there are some interesting young players here. Catcher
Yasmani Grandel is 24. Last year in 60 games he hit .297 with
8 homers and 36 RBIs. Yeah… yeah… those are the classic three
numbers that need a bit more. His on-base percentage was .397,
and over 162 games his numbers projected out to 22 home runs and
97 RBIs. I told he’s 24, right? So the Padres are a true sleeper.
There’s talent here.)
they can keep the band together… those talented youngsters… the
Padres will be fighting for the division in the next two or three
years. They have some good players here, and more coming through
in paradise: The Padres of late generally trade great
players. Their timing is off… and they haven’t joined in the flurry
of spending other teams have enjoyed recently. So when players
like Peavy or Latos or Adrian Gonzalez begin to perform well,
it’s usually nearing time for free agency. So they get traded
rather than re-signed, and the process begins again.
a shame… San Diego is such an incredible place to live that it
should attract several players just from location.
expectations: I got none.
the roster looks very similar to last year’s, I’m going to give
some credit to the last 100 or so games from 2012 and place them
right around where they finished last year. I don’t think they’ll
play as good as they did to end 2012… but I also don’t think they’ll
be as bad to start the 2013 season as they were beginning 2012
of note: I got nothing. You look at the roster -- Troy
Tulowitzki… Michael Cuddyear… Carlos Gonzalez… Todd Helton --
and you want to think capable, reliable, steady, and other decent
then you realize that the same old problems sink this team. Like…
for instance… pitching. Their home field burns out pitchers.
where are the 2013 Rockies the weakest? Go figure. Pitching.
changes: Zippo. (At least nothing worth really spending
the sun shining and calm seas: Well I just mentioned
it -- Tulowitzki… Cuddyear… Gonzalez -- the club has the ability
to score and has a nice foundation. They just can’t seem to build
in paradise: This team has one of the weakest pitching
staffs in all of baseball… and easily the worst staff in every
way in their division. Not good when you will be playing slightly
less than half of your games against the division.
Gonzalez… there’s a lot to like there. But his home and road numbers
are alarmingly different, and his contract may be untradeable.
(Home – .337 batting average, .394 on-base percentage, with basically
twice as many home runs and RBIs as he has on the road. And road?
Ok – .260 batting average and .314 on-base.)
expectations: They should end up being one of the worst
teams in baseball in 2013.