Tag Archives: AL West

Angels $$ in the Outfield

Arte better not expect the second coming of Vlad with Vernon....

Did Arte Moreno ever really buy the Angels from the Disney Corporation? Are the Angels are spending all their money on outfielders in an attempt to bring back the classicly bad movie Angels in the Outfield? At the time the movie came out it was laughable that the Angels would ever win a pennant, and after a head scratching offseason it seems just as laughable right now spending more on their 30+ year old outfield than the movie grossed at the box office. Moreno is making Al Davis look sane these days.

You may or may not have heard they traded for Vernon Wells giving up Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays. Wells is a slight upgrade over Rivera, but not a $15M upgrade. Wells had a pretty good season last year, but if you look at his career numbers you will see he has one pretty good year, then a bad one, and the worst part about him is he has continually declined from his career highs he set in 04-06. I’m not saying he’ll be terrible this year, but he will never live up to his contract. Rivera was supposed to make $5M this upcoming season, while Wells is due to make $23M in 2011 with three more years of $21M left on his contract. Both Rivera and Wells are 32 years old, and without PED’s we know that their production will dwindle as time rolls along, unless some crazy undetectable strengthening drug comes along.

The Angels struck out on landing Carl Crawford, and decide to trade for a guy that the Blue Jays have been trying to get rid of for years!?! I even put him on my list of worst contracts in the MLB back in August of 2009. This move makes no sense at all, especially when the reason for them not wanting to sign Crawford was that he wanted too many years. He wanted seven, and that would’ve put him at 35 years old when his contract ran out, coincidentally that is the same age that Wells will be when his contract is done. I’ve got nothing against Vernon, but in two years which player would you rather have? Not a tough choice there right?

With their current outfield alignment, they weren’t especially bad out there, nor were they all that good, but having this be their major upgrade of the offseason seems like a joke. They are still paying for the final year of Gary Matthews Jr.’s ridiculous contract ($11.5M this year), and he’s not even playing anymore. They are spending $63M on the outfield including Matthews Jr. Yup, $63M is not a typo for (Matthews Jr, Wells, Hunter, and Abreu). That’s more than the A’s entire payroll, ok, maybe that was an exaggeration, but it’s close, and they still don’t look like a great team. I know Vernon won’t be labeled as the most overpaid fourth outfielder like Matthews Jr. was, but he could be in four years during the final year of his contract! Was it Torii Hunter’s contract working out that made them pull the trigger? I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Hunter was overpaid when they signed him, but this seems like a twice as risky scenario, since Wells hasn’t had an all-star worthy season since 2006, and Torii is known for his hard work ethic, not the same with Wells. Why wouldn’t they put in a better offer for Beltre since he obviously would’ve come to LA if the price was right since all Boras clients ever want is the most money. It would’ve sured up their worst infield position, and they wouldn’t be stuck with quite as large of a contract. They needed an upgrade at 3B much more than in the outfield. Whatever their reasons, I’m glad they are going to stick with Brandon the .200 hitter Wood at third base, and even happier they have Vernon for the next four years keeping a lot of salary tied up. Just so you know Brandon Wood makes the A’s Kevin Kouzmanoff look like a shoe in All-Star.

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Is Oakland Ready to Re-Claim The AL West?

I can’t contain my excitement anymore. This is by far the most excited I’ve been about baseball during the offseason in at least three or four years. The A’s have made a lot of moves that made sense this offseason after last year’s overachieving team went 81-81 showing that sometimes less is more. We had less recognizable names playing for us, but did better than we have for a couple of years. I still can’t quite figure out how they won as many games as they did, but we found out what needed to be addressed, and all knew going into this season that they would finally have some money to spend with expiring contracts. I was skeptical that they would in fact spend that money, but they have shown so far they aren’t scared to make some moves. If they didn’t make the moves they did, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could give them the full on support that I have over the years. Yes, I understand they need a new stadium, and would love nothing more than for them to have a billion dollar state of the art park to call home, but there’s no way that will happen when they aren’t a competitive team. As MCeezy keeps saying build a winner then build a new stadium. Another point I’ll give him credit for, is they needed even more so than years past to make some moves this year since their across the bay counterpart just won the World Series. I mean really how tough decision is it for the fair-weather fans in the bay to make? Go to the ghetto Oakland Coliseum and watch a 2nd place team, or head across the bay bridge to the amazing AT&T Park watching the defending world champs? If I was one of the transplants that overtake the area, I’d be heading to SF. Of course the devil’s advocate would say, Lew Wolffe wants to move this team, and what better way to show the need than to tank in attendance. Thankfully it’s not the latter.

Okay enough ranting and onto the real reason for this post was why I can’t wait for this MLB season to start. First off another reason I’m looking forward to it is because there won’t be a lockout, so it might be the only sport to follow unless you love the financials of CBA’s. The A’s started the offseason by trading for David Dejesus, which shouldn’t be mistaken for a huge trade, but was an upgrade in the outfield getting a career .318 hitter, and a guy that usually stays healthy. Can’t say the same for any of the other 15 outfielders we have on the roster.

Our second signing will probably get some of the Asian demographic on board getting Hideki Matsui for a reasonable price. He’s not the most exciting signing in the world, but he does bring something that we clearly lacked, a player that can hit 20+ homers without striking out 300 times a season. He’s been a workhorse throughout his career, and is the opposite of the constantly complaining Jack Cust. He’s also not completely falling apart like some of the guys we’ve signed over the years with the exception of Frank Thomas during his resurrection.

Just days after the Matsui signing we picked up Josh Willingham in a trade. I loved this move as I’ve always liked Willingham. He’s a powerful guy when he gets the atbats, and with two powerful bats in the lineup, maybe they will produce enough to avoid those 1-0 2-1 losses they seemed to frequently have last year. It also gives us a little hope in those extra inning games of a walkoff homer instead of waiting for three singles to get that run. For an A’s fan, it felt like we signed Carl Crawford and David Ortiz this offseason. Not because we think they are THAT good of players, but because they never sign or trade for guys that aren’t over the hill (sans the Holiday deal). We still have some big holes in the lineup, and I’d like to see an upgrade at SS or 3B, but if this is all we do, I’m still happy with it.

The second wave of signings were all for the bullpen, which was a great idea backing up the awesome starting pitching they already have, and possibly one of them will end up being their 5th starter. When you lead the AL in ERA, you think there must not be much that needs to be changed. That could be the farthest thing from the truth, as their bullpen wasn’t actually that strong last season. The first addition was the return of Rich Harden. A’s fans have always had a soft spot for him, and it’s really the only place he’s had any success. This time around he’s going to be in the bullpen though hopefully keeping him off of the DL. They also signed Brandon McCarthy, who I’m not sure if they are trying him out for the 5th spot in the rotation or a long reliever.

They officially signed Grant Balfour yesterday, and I thought this was a GREAT signing. No longer will we have to rely on Michael Wuertz’s roller coaster rides to set up the end of the game for Bailey. I’ve never heard a bad thing about the guy, so no reason to not like the move. He also said of the team that they remind him a lot of the 2008 Rays, hopefully he’s right about that! He struck out the most hitters of any reliever last year against the AL East, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it against the AL West. I have a feeling that Braden and Balfour are going to get this pitching staff fired up regularly.

Today they signed lefty Brian Fuentes. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Fuentes. I loved it when he was on the Angels, and every time he came in the game there was a chance they’d lose. I’m okay with Fuentes in a set up role, let’s just hope he’s our lefty specialist and not pitching full innings, because I don’t want to be on that roller-coaster regularly.

All in all, this has been a great offseason, and there’s still a few months left to make some more moves. Do you see these moves making the A’s take over the AL West? I sure do, but I’m bias as hell…


Texas Rangers Aren’t Fading For Once…

The Rangers have gotten a ton of play on the MLB network over the past month or so. I can’t remember seeing more of their games on TV at any point in my life. They’ve earned those televised games, as they are the clearly the class of the AL West, and playing as good as any team in the league right now. They usually fade during July and August when their home field turns into a launching pad, but not this year. I was hoping for an implosion from them, so maybe the A’s would be able to sneak into the playoffs, but that’s like hoping for the Raiders to show up in back to back games. Once again, I’m starting to wonder if the A’s are cursed. Not because of the numerous injuries they suffered for a third straight year, but because we let Ron Washington go. I’d much rather have Washington as the manger over Geren, but Beane was very pro Geren, so we’re stuck with the schlep. Until A’s fortunes change, I think we are still under The Curse of the Wash. Normally I’d root against the AL West winner if it wasn’t the A’s, but I found myself pulling for the Rangers to succeed this postseason.

The Rangers sweep over the Yankees showed us exactly what they’ve been doing well all year long. Come from behind to win. They came back to win two of the three games, and even made one of those comebacks while Rivera was on the mound. That kind of win can’t be understated when it comes playoff time, and just knowing that they have already beaten up the most dominant closer of all time is a feather in the cap. They also had their ace (Cliff Lee) back on the hill to close out the sweep. It was his first start in two weeks. He showed how healthy he was shutting the Yankees down for 8 innings giving up only one run. It’s only the second time all season the Yankees got swept! What made this even more impressive was that they didn’t need their MVP candidate Josh Hamilton, who is still out with a bruised up ribcage. There’s no rush to get Hamilton back, since they do have a commanding lead in the West (8 ½ games). Now that the Yankees and Rays starting to come back to earth a little, does this give the Twins and Rangers an edge? I’d probably put both of them above the TB and NY on power rankings if I made them right this moment. I’m already envisioning an ALCS matchup between Minnesota and Texas. Maybe that’s a little presumptuous, but if Morneau and Hamilton come back healthy, who’s to say that these two teams are the favorites to make it to the ALCS?

Another thing I’ve noticed about this Rangers team is their swagger factor. It’s crazy how together these guys are. Early in the season after they took out the Angels in the opener of a series in June, right after the final out of the game was recorded Ian Kinsler was out there yelling for them to “get off our field”, as the Angels were heading to the showers. At the time I thought Kinsler was just being the dickhead he is, but now months later I think it was a statement of things to come. It was like they finally believed in themselves before anyone else did, and knew they weren’t going to have a collapse when the weather got hot. They were no longer going to be a pushover and would play every game hard, just the way Wash would’ve played. They were paying attention to more details than they used to, even doing the small ball stuff that wins games utilizing their speed in Bobon and Andrus. We will see if they can continue their good play through the last 19 games. I don’t see any reason for them to slow down since they don’t have the division locked up yet, but they are in as good of a position possible for a solid postseason run, and can let guys like Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee take some extra rest if it’s needed. I’m glad my prediction of who would win the AL West is working out thus far!


Are the A’s For Real? I Like What I See So Far!

The A’s opened up their season with nearly every expert picking them to finish dead last in the AL West. I personally have VERY low expectations going into this season, and since they usually struggle out the gate, I figured this April would be just as rough as years past. Even back when they were winning the division crowns, they were always dubbed a second half team. Another reason for pessimism for my beloved A’s was that they are the youngest roster in the league, which usually calls for lots of growing pains. I’m not going to say that this 6-2 start makes them a lock to win the west or even a .500 ballclub, but I know that they have the potential to stay out of the cellar. A lot of the “experts” picked the Mariners and Angels to win the West. Most liked the M’s because of the big off season moves, and the Angels because they are always there over the last decade. They still could be right, but after watching both the first series between the two teams, I have to say I’m impressed with the grittiness that this years’ A’s squad has. If chicks dig the long ball, then there won’t be many in the A’s clubhouse, but if chicks dig good pitching and defense we could have the next Playboy mansion in the works.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably way too overly excited about the 5-2 start, but it finally got me inspired enough to write a late preview about the club. The A’s easily could’ve swept the Mariners in their opening series, if they hadn’t committed four errors in that first game they could’ve beaten Seattle’s best pitcher, King Felix. The most inspiring part about watching them so far, sans game 1, is their ability to continue to put up runs during the game. They’ve scored in nearly 30% of their innings this year, which is a good way to win. They are supposed to have a good defense, and have played pretty good aside from opening nights four error performance. Pennington and Kouzmanoff are much better defensively than I thought they were, and now that our outfield is Cust free (I’ll get back to Cust getting cut later), we don’t have to give up an out a game wherever he happened to be. This is a grind it out team, and even this early in the year it feels like they are never out of a game. They have been behind in five of their eight games and comeback to win four of them. Continue reading


Things to Look Forward to in the 2010 MLB Season

Well, Mceezy did his tribute to the excitement of the upcoming baseball season, and I felt it was only fitting that I should write about sine if the storylines that will intrigue me during the 2010 season. Now that the teams have rounded third base in spring training, they are heading back home to the “real parks” for the last few preseason games. There’s a lot to look forward to that isn’t dealing with the Yankees and Red Sox (If you’re a hater like me), so here are ten things I want to watch develop.

Tim Lincecum – Can he win back to back to back Cy Young awards? If he stays healthy, I don’t see why not. He’d probably also solidify himself as one of the most dominating pitchers of all time (or at least this era) joining Gregg Maddux and Randy Johnson as the only other two pitchers to accomplish that feat. Thankfully Cy Young voters have gone away from counting wins as one of the biggest factors in handing the award out. It makes it much more likely, since he doesn’t get much help from the unfriendly Giants offense. The problem this time around is he will have to contend with Doc Halladay! Continue reading


Is the AL West the Best Division in Baseball?

I guess it might be a stretch, since none of the four teams residing in the AL West are truly considered a threat to knock the Yankees off their thrown, but is there really anyone that looks like they can derail the Yankees besides injuries? I don’t think so… Can you name the only division that had three teams finish the season with 85 wins? Surprisingly, it’s the AL West! Sure you can argue that the AL East had three 84 win teams, but the basement is a lot worse than it is in the West.

The Yankees have pushed over the $1 billion mark in payroll a long time ago, and the Red Sox aren’t all that far behind, so we’ve been trained to see the East as far superior. Surprisingly the AL West had a great record versus the East going 95-79 in 2009. I think the best team in the West (Angels) regressed a little over the off-season losing their horse/ace in Lackey, and their versatile infielder Figgins, and that has put the division up for grabs.

I felt that Seattle made the biggest push to be a force in the west by trading for a bonafied yearly Cy Young contender, Cliff Lee, and last year’s runner up Felix Hernandez was already there setting up one of the deadliest duos in the league. They also stole Figgins away from the Angels, which should get them two guys on base if Ichiro and Figgy are hitting one and two. Milton might be able to knock them in if he’s on the field for more than 80 games, but that’s a big IF.

The Rangers bolstered their roster, but there are question marks already on the health of the players they signed. Vlad seems past his prime, but if he can be productive anywhere, it’s going to be in Arlington where careers being revived happens. They also signed the often injured Rich Harden, which could be a boost if they have a plan b for all the starts he gets scratched from each year. They were in the race for the West crown up to the last couple weeks, and have a ton of young talent that will only be better this coming season. It seems like a lot of the experts are picking them to win the west this year, but those predictions don’t seem to have much confidence behind them.

I’ll do my A’s preview a little closer to the season when I’ve gathered all my expectations of them, but honestly, all I’m hoping for from them is to stay healthy for once. We’ve used the DL more over the past two years than anytime in franchise history, and broke records two straight years in a row for DL usage. Not a good stat for a young team trying to figure out what pieces go where, and far from a recipe for success! Not sure about the offense, but the pitchers must be happy to have a true ace on the staff in Sheets. They owned a better run differential than Seattle last year, so there’s some hope!

All in all, I’d say the top teams of the AL West aren’t as good as the AL East. From top to bottom though, the West has teams that will be able to pull out wins night in and night out. You know you aren’t getting that from Toronto or Baltimore, who have both probably already given up on this year. I’d say that one distinct advantage that the West has over the East is in the farm systems. The East gets better through buying free agents that most of the time we can’t afford, and the West gets better by building up their prospects from within. I’m pretty pumped to see how it all shakes out, and one thing is for sure, the West is up for grabs this year with none of the teams completely out of the picture. Can’t say the same for the AL East.

What really defines the best division in baseball? The degree of difficulty? The balance from top to bottom? General intrigue?

Maybe I’ve been worn down from all the northeastern hype, and the YES network, but I believe there’s a solid argument that the west is the “best” division in baseball!


How to Even Out MLB’s Uneven Divisions

MLB's Divisions Make About As Much Sense As All This Japanese

Was just perusing Rob Neyer’s Chat transcript from Dec. 1, and someone posed this question….

Rob- Can you explain to me why MLB continues to have 4 AL West teams and 6 NL Central teams?

I’ve thought about this before, and the answer has always been simple in my mind. Move the Royals to the AL West, and switch the Brewers back to the AL in the Central division. Switching leagues is iffy, but the Brewers have spent the majority of their existence in the American League. As for Kansas City, the Chiefs play in the AFC West, and the Texas Rangers are stuck traveling to and from the Pacific Coast all season long. Now, every division has five teams. Here are the ones that would change….

NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis

AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota

AL West: Anaheim, Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle, Texas

If Bud doesn’t want to move his team to the AL, I’d happily welcome the Pirates into the AL West, but that makes far less sense. Anyway, if anyone can find any flaws in my realignment, please comment. If not, please forward to Mr. Selig. Thank you.


The A’s Shaky Start…

The A’s have shown signs of life the past few weeks, and I’ve wanted to write a post ripping them for this uninspired season thus far, but they just wouldn’t let me do it. The last two weeks they’ve won seven of their last twelve! So my assumption is they didn’t want me to write about how crappy their season has been going. I guess, since they are in the midst of their 2nd three game winning streak of the season, I will have to ease up on some of my feelings towards this miserable start, but for the most part it’s been about as bad as it could be…

During the first series of the year, I wanted to go to two of the four games that were in Anaheim. One of the games I went to was a come from behind win in the 9th, where they scored 3 runs in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to win the game 6-4. I was so excited that I ended up buying the MLB.com package to watch every game I could on my computer when time permitted. The second game was cancelled to the Adenhart tragedy. Little did I know that this would be their only exciting game to watch over the next month and a half. Aside from 111832Mike Ryan Sweeney’s amazing grabs in the outfield, that was about the only positive feeling I had after watching them. The offense was so bad at one point, I wouldn’t even want to look at the box score because there would be six or seven guys hitting under .200!

I WAS excited about the players that they had signed over the offseason, because it was really the first time in two years that they really seemed like they were trying to compete in the west. Many people told me that we were signing too many old players, but I didn’t really care! I was just pumped to see them actually making off-season moves that didn’t involve (insert Oakland’s best pitcher/hitter) for (three major league ready MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS)! No wonder the Rivercats are always so good… Well, here’s my understanding of what is going on with some of the players that I was convinced during the off-season would make the A’s a force in the AL West.

  1. Matt Holliday – He was acquired via trade, and is supposed to Oakland+A+s+v+Chicago+Cubs+TjPPLBLme86lbe our big bat in the middle of the order. Observing him closely through the first month of the year (probably even a little more because he was on my fantasy team) I noticed one main theme. He looked like Pedro Serrano from Major League, as he constantly swung at bad pitches that weren’t even hittable. I wonder if he ever watched video of himself, because if they kept a stat for swings at a bad pitch out of the strike zone, Holliday would have one per at bat! Holliday’s thought process when he goes to the plate must be something to the extent of, “Cmon Matt, hit a bomb! Swing as hard as you can at the next pitch no matter where he throws it! Then grimace and tap the bat barrel on your head.” It really makes me wonder how he could have ever won two out of three triple-crown categories in one season. I guess Coors is truly the ultimate hitters’ park, I am a believer! I can’t say I’ve been impressed with anything he’s done this year! Ok, Ok he has turned it around lately, and I truly hope he proves me completely wrong! I hope I praise him and he inspires me to write up an MVP ballot for him, but he’s got to prove that to me. The whole “not mind being traded thing”, nope, not getting into it today…
  2. Jason Giambi – I’m guessing that I must’ve set the bar a little too high for the Giambino, since my last glimpse of him in the green and gold was his MVP season, and well, that Giambi will Jason_Giambi-thumb-739x817-thumb-739x817never stroll to the plate again, unless he starts taking some PED’s again! During this A’s offensive struggles, he was slumping as bad as Holliday, I found myself wishing that he had never signed on again and we just had Cust hitting in his spot with whoever at first. My opinion has been swayed lately with his power coming alive a little bit. Part of his problem was the way his swing has looked this year. I guess I didn’t watch him much while he was on the Yankees (seeing him only on SC highlights). At times I’d say he looks about as good as David Ortiz this first third of the season, but at least Giambi has 800% more homers than Ortiz! Bottom Line, his bat speed must be slowing, if not, it must be his reflexes…
  3. Orlando Cabrera – This guy tried to find any way possible to not sign with Oakland, and in the end I can’t completely blame him, since they were low-balling him. It’s been hard for me to Athletics Angels Baseballroot for him watching him play for the Angels and Red Sox, but I’m slowly adjusting. One thing is for sure, he has been playing like an unhappy guy (.225 BA).  It’s probably like when I was answering customer calls for Oakley (I really hated the job), but I needed to work, so you just do what you gotta do. I just hope something snaps him out of his funk. I’ve watched way too much Angels baseball over the past few years living in Southern California, and when he was in Anaheim he always looked like he was having fun. In Oakland he’s had the someone just told me a relative died look on his face for nearly every game. If I was playing as bad as him, I’d probably have that look on my face too. I’ll tell you what O-Cab, we’re unhappy with your play so far this year, you need to step it up!
  4. Nomar Garciapara – Well, he’s played a lot so far this year… I guess he came to Oakland to take Chavez’s place when he’s hurt, er, uhh, I guess now Nomar is just competing with Chavez for who can spend the most time on the DL this season…
  5. Our Pitching – I’ve been excited at times, and shrugged my shoulders at times. What can you expect from a bunch of guys making their first dip in the major leagues!?! I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. If their offense wasn’t ranked 12th out of the 14 teams in the AL we’d probably be close to .500. Ok, maybe that’s a bit hasty, but they’ve pitched plenty of games that the offense could have won if they could have scored a 9380502_36_3couple! Oh yeah, have to mention Mazzaro’s first gem in his first career start going 6 1/3 shutout innings only giving up two hits on Tuesday. Anderson and Cahill, the other two of the “big three” young guys, have pitched well on and off. Our bullpen has a lot of “live arms”. I really do like our pen, we’re full of guys with closer stuff. Between Bailey, Ziegler, Casilla, and Wuertz (even Breslow) we should be able to hold a lot of leads, if we can actually get them!

I feel at this point there’s no way to go but up! I’m finally content with the way the A’s are playing as winning will cure everything. I’m crossing my fingers that the team on the field over the last two weeks is what people were making a big fuss over during the off-season. They need to be within 5 games of first by the All-Star break or it’s going to be time for this year’s fire sale! First on the block, (Matt Holliday) for (Three major league ready minor league players). I hope this day doesn’t happen too soon, as I’m just starting to get into it again!