Ok, the season has started. So here is my quick write-up on the AL West, along with very quick predictions for the remaining divisions.
LA Angels of Anaheim: 86-76: The one thing that I am not sold on is
that a team like the Angels are solely summed up in their run
differential. However, I agree with anyone that believes they don’t
stray all that far from it, in terms of the quality within.
there were actually other teams that warranted having faith in, then I would
definitely select another team to win this division. But, there
The Angels do not get on base much, and they haven’t
hit for all that much power of late. I am a stat-guy. So I believe that an offense
needs to do these things to score enough runs. There is only so much
that can happen as a result of “hit and runs” and taking the extra
base. Now, taking the extra base is great, and often overlooked–as is
baserunning in general. But a team must get on base enough, in order to score
The Abreu acquisition was great. For that amount of
money, the team put aside their philosophy of having only players who
can play defense, and sacrificed “it” for a little offense. There is
no risk in signing Abreu, and he should still hit for average, get on
base, and flash enough power to make him a quality all-around player.
they do have a slight problem in the outfield. Vlad Guerrero is aging,
and having him DH is the best possible thing, at least most of the
time. Gary Matthews’ contract is an albatross at this point. Reggie
Willits hits for zero power. Torii Hunter is really the only guy they
want running around out there. So there may be defensive issues at the
corners, but the outfield should hit enough to make up for it (with Juan Rivera out there as well).
lot of their reliance, on two young players in particular, is how they
will hope to score runs. I mean if Howie Kendrick flashes that batting
title ability, and if Brandon Wood all of a sudden lives up to
expectations, the offense will be decent enough. But Kendrick has had
health problems, and Wood has struggled, already in their young careers.
So that “reliance” isn’t necessarily a good thing, or may not be. Kendry Morales must
hit some too.
Basically, their infield will be very
questionable in their offensive abilities, especially if Mathis gets
any real time behind the plate.
The pitching. Ah, the
pitching. Who knows? Keith Law mentioned some very important aspects
to how much they can expect from what has been a very strong unit in
past seasons. John Lackey is hurting, which is huge. Ervin Santana is
hurting too, as he is on the DL.
What to expect out of Kelvim
Escobar once he returns? Don’t ask me. If healthy, Escobar is a good
pitcher. But how long will it take to get him back in sync after he returns?
for the first month or two, the rotation will be anchored by Joe
Saunders and Jered Weaver. Weaver is decent, but is not a top-flight
starter. And as Law points out, Saunders inability to strike out
hitters may catch up to him. Although, every once in a while there
comes along a pitcher, that, well, knows how to “pitch.”
bullpen should be capable enough with the addition of Brian Fuentes.
So they have four pretty good arms at least in; Fuentes, Arredondo,
Shields, and Speier.
The problem will be health, which is a
rather large question mark right now. And the other problem will be
scoring runs, which too, is a question mark. They aren’t a very good team, but maybe Scioscia gets a few more runs out of that offense than the projection systems think he will.
Oakland Athletics: 83-79:
Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to the Athletics, I can be persuaded
toward a few more wins. But much of projecting the A’s to do well,
hinges on a bunch of young, unproven, no-name pitchers.
that inspires confidence. “Duch” should be back sometime fairly soon,
however their hopes revolve around too many uncertainties. And those
uncertainties may translate into quality, it is just too difficult to
project that to actually happen.
The offense has leapt
forward after a miserable season. The additions of Holliday, Giambi,
and Nomar definitely help. Giambi will get on base and hit with
power. Holliday will be great if Colorado isn’t the only reason that
he has been in the past. And Nomar will help, whether that be as a
utility player or what, he should help.
Orlando Cabrera is a
step-up at SS, although his bat is not worth much these days. His
defense was worth bringing him in. And of course with having players
like Crosby and Chavez, that don’t do much at all, players that will play most days is a positive.
team has some serious unknowns, mostly because of inexperience, however
they have some definite upside in a weak division. And that may just
The Texas Rangers of Arlington: 79-81:
Next year, these Rangers may leap into contention. And who knows, in a
low-quality division, they may come closer than we think. But the farm
needs to be tended to. Once it is, they should compete. But until
then, a rotation where Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla still stick out at the top, they will continue to be a below-average at preventing runs.
maybe Brandon McCarthy gets it together. MAYBE, Kris Benson can do
something positive. I just don’t see it. If the rotation is healthy,
then things may break right to contend, mildly. But Millwood at the top? That isn’t
impressive, at all.
The offense will score runs. Milton Bradley
is no longer. But Kinsler is healthy again. Hank Blalock is healthy,
if that matters any. And they have two young catchers that can both
hit. They have enough firepower on offense.
…However, not enough overall.
Seattle Mariners: 77-85: They might end up
having the best pitcher in baseball this season in King Felix. And in
a contract year, Erik Bedard might all of a sudden stay healthy.
Carlos Silva might be OK. Washburn might be good enough to warrant a
rotation slot, maybe.
The bullpen might stink, might be “serviceable.” Who knows?
the offense will most definitely be pretty horrendous. Just look at
their 1B, their non-Ichiro OF’s and their catcher. Who will hit?
Ichiro is already on the DL, and even HE is getting older. I wouldn’t
be surprised if Griffey hit 20 bombs this season if he plays enough,
but his average will be low, his OBP will be low, and his slugging will
be closer to average (or bad) than it will be good.
I overlooked their lack of talent last season, and I am not doing it again.
NL Central (in order of predicted finish)