Tag Archives: first place

Power Shift in the AL West

Looks like we're moving again kids!

Well, I just posted about David Lee’s jump to the Warriors, so I may as well dedicate today as Lee day, and talk about the Rangers acquisition of Cliff Lee. The Rangers are already 5 1/2 games up on the competition in the standings, and the Angels continue to slide, losing four in a row, and seven of their last ten without their main man Kendry. The power in the west shifted even more today, as Texas acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle for Justin Smoak (2008 first round pick), and four other minor leaguers. The Cliff Lee sweepstakes took a surprising turn when pretty much everyone had him going to the Yankees earlier today. He instead will be heading to Texas in a deal that had to make Nolan Ryan crack a smile. It’s a good move to do it now, so they can get an extra three or four starts out of him instead of waiting all the way to the trade deadline. As a rabid A’s fan, I’m not completely against making our current division leader better, because if there was a team I wanted to win outside of the A’s, it would be the Rangers. Maybe that’s why I picked them in our predictions at the beginning of the year. Their biggest weakness was pitching, and now they have a true ace of their staff that they’ve been missing for so many years. If they get back Rich Harden from the DL after the all-star break, and he is what he used to be with Oakland, they’d have a very solid top of the rotation with Lee, Harden, and Colby Lewis. They might get rocked here and there in the home run friendly confides of Arlington during the dog days of August, but all of these guys know how to pitch when healthy. Does this make the Rangers a contender to win it all? Most would say no, and I’d agree with that, but the way their offense is set up they can beat good pitching, and now acquired one of the best pitchers in the game that will surely give them a win every fifth night. As long as Ron Washington is there, I’ll be rooting for that club to do well, and with some pitching to back up that great offense this deal couldn’t have worked out better for them. Side note, it also feels good to be a Vlad supporter again after he spent so many years on the Angels.

Two Teams that Caught Me Off Guard

Who says money buys you championships!?! Oh yeah, the Yankees, well, there’s two teams that I never would’ve thought would be in first at any point this season let alone in there at the end of June. The Padres and Reds are both in the bottom third of payrolls, and have been pleasant surprises. I doubt anyone outside of their own fan bases would’ve thought either team would be in the hunt when the season started. Okay, maybe a couple people picked the Reds, but were they really confident about those picks? I actually didn’t even expect either of them to be above .500 outside of April, which is why I’ve been so intrigued with their rises out of seemingly nowhere. Every year we have at least one team making the playoffs that didn’t make it the previous year. The way we are heading right now we could see five or six teams make it in that weren’t in the playoffs last year. I feel like we are all waiting for them to fade, and just like Tampa Bay in 2008 we will wait and assume that collapse is coming. Can they prove us all wrong? Maybe. Although I’m not an NL guy, I’ve come to appreciate these two teams for showing me that there are multiple ways to get it done without spending like a billionaire. They both have executed their respective game plans to perfection playing within their means, and sticking to what they are good at to get to the top of their divisions. Sadly only one of these teams will be able to improve at the trade deadline, and I’m preying that the other one doesn’t sell off their stock just to lower the amount going to the ex-wife. Continue reading

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