Posted on: April 1, 2009 9:43 pm
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Posted on: February 13, 2009 2:54 am
Edited on: February 13, 2009 2:58 am
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Up until a day ago, I would have said the Angels offseason was a complete failure. However, the Bobby Abreu signing changed that. Abreu brings this ballclub another player in the lineup that can be feared. Abreu usually hits for high average and is a career .315 hitter with runners in scoring position. He isn't that good of a defender, but his offense should surely make up for it. Abreu doesn't have quite the power numbers that Mark Teixeira had, but he should be a fine replacement in a lineup that desperately needed him. I applaud GM Tony Reagins for moving on past the contract that was given out to Gary Matthews. As for Fuentes, he's not as good as Rodriguez, but he's still a very good closer that can get the job done. Looking at the loss of Garland, this may or may not hurt the Angels. Garland is a good pitcher, but he just wasn't very good for the team a year ago. I have my doubts as to whether or not Dustin Moseley will last and ultimately I think the job may end up going to Nick Adenhart. However, if both of them fail, Kelvim Escobar should be back from injury by June. Escobar was one of the American League's top pitchers two seasons ago and his return should help the Halos on either offense or defense.
The addition of Abreu made this lineup so much better off than it was before. Manager Mike Scioscia is contemplating batting Abreu second as he is a high on base type player. Guerrero would then be able to provide Abreu protection in the lineup as well. The other alternative would be to have a player with a lesser on base percentage, such as Howie Kendrick, bat second and have Abreu hit 3rd behind him. Either way, this lineup should hold up against their AL West opponents. Whether or not it's good enough to win in the postseason is another topic. I'm assuming the Angels will just give Mike Napoli the starting catchers job, though he may once again platoon at the position with Jeff Mathis. Napoli isn't a good defensive catcher, but he broke out at the plater last season hitting over 20 home runs in less than 400 at bats. That's pretty impressive. Meanwhile, Mathis is known as a defensive catcher, but needs to start hitting to get any playing time.
As mentioned just above, Mathis and Napoli will battle it out for the starting catchers job, with the most likely scenario being another platoon. Maicer Izturis once again is the teams utility player that will serve as the main backup for the middle infielders and third base. Rob Quinlan will be back again as the backup on the corners, but likely might only find playing time against left handed pitchers. Meanwhile, Gary Matthews becomes the teams fourth outfielder and late inning defensive replacement for either Guerrero or Abreu. It's still up in the air whether or not Reggie Willits will be with the team after the team has signed Abreu. They may opt to go with only four reserves and add another bullpen pitcher.
Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders had breakout seasons last year which was the primary reason the Angels were able to win 100 games. Santana finally was able to win on the road, while Saunders just exceeded all expectations. However, that leaves things a little difficult when projecting the success of the team in 2009. Will Santana and Saunders continue to dominate? While both will be good ballplayers, a slight decline should be expected. Meanwhile, Weaver remains a capable 4th pitcher in the rotation. The 5th spot in the rotation will be a spring training battle between Dustin Moseley, Nick Adenhart, and Shane Loux. Moseley is the favorite for the spot entering spring, but Adenhart is the better talent. The only thing that concerns me with the Angels pitching staff is the lack of depth in the minors. Who do the Angels turn to if one of these players goes down.
Not bad.....Shields has been one of the best setup men in the league since he first came up in 2002, while Oliver is proving to be a capable one as well (though he is getting older). I doubt Justin Speier will be as bad as he was a year ago, but then again I doubt Arredondo or Loux will be as good as they were. Fuentes is an adequate replacement for Rodriguez, though he probably doesn't scare opposing hitters half as much.
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects
Spring Position Battle(s):
5th Starting Pitcher - Dustin Moseley vs. Nick Adenhart
As usual, the offseason just doesn't start until A's GM Billy Beane makes a blockbuster trade. Only this time, it's different as the A's were the team adding the superstar instead of unloading them. After a season in which the A's offense finished last in the American League in runs, team OPS, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, strikeouts, and extra base hits, the A's needed to go out and get some bats. The found them in Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi. Both Holliday and Giambi are high on base percentage players with the capability to drive plenty of balls out of the park. Couple those two with a healthy Eric Chavez back in the lineup, and the teams offense went from the worst in the league to something that looks respectable. The signing of Russ Springer and the trade for Michael Wuertz have remained under the radar, but both should help a young A's bullpen. The A's didn't really lose any impact players this offseason either. Huston Street was expenable with the emergence of Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler last season, while Carlos Gonzalez's plate approach didn't fit Billy Beane's "moneyball" philosophy. Greg Smith was decent, but the A's are stacked in the minors with pitching talent and Andrew Brown was cut only after he had to have season ending surgery on his arm.
The A's lineup is pretty interesting as it stands right now. I imagine it will change throughout the year. My guess is that at some point Travis Buck will eventually switch back to batting leadoff for the team. The 2-5 spots in this lineup are all on base machines and Suzuki's high average should follow up nicely in the sixth hole. The one thing A's fans should be watching this year is if they get any production from Bobby Crosby in the lineup. If Crosby struggles early on, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cliff Pennington replace him as the everyday shortstop. Meanwhile, A's fans need to watch the health of the players on the team. The A's used the disabled list a record 25 times last season, which only beat the previous record that was set the season before. Mark Ellis is questionable for opening day after undergoing an offseason shoulder surgery, while Chavez has missed the last season and a half with various injuries of his own. Travis Buck has been injured at various points throughout the past two seasons, while Ryan Sweeney had a minor injury as well last year that limited him to under 400 at bats on the year. Meanwhile, Bobby Crosby was one of the A's healthiest players a year ago, but his history suggests that he could go down at any point.
I'm not actually sure if Barton will be on the opening day roster or not. The A's have the option of sending him down to AAA Sacramento or platooning him with Travis Buck (with Giambi at DH and Cust in right field instead). I'm not sure if playing Barton in a platoon would be relatively healthy for Barton's production. In most cases, people platoon left handed batters because they can't hit left handed pitching well, but Barton is a different case. He couldn't hit the righties last year. At age 23, Barton can hardly be considered a bust, but if the A's aren't going to give him regular at bats, it might be best that he regains his confidence in AAA. As for Rajai Davis, he will stay on the team as a defensive replacement and pinch runner (as he did a year ago). It is possible that Jack Hannahan will find a spot on the bench this year as well, but everything I've read suggests the A's are going to go with seven bullpen pitchers. The only way Hannahan would be on the bench in that scenario would mean Barton was in AAA.
Justin Duchscherer was practically unstoppable last season and was one of the American League's best pitchers. However, Duchscherer has had health issues the past few seasons (including last year) which might leave the A's staff without a true veteran leader. Only Duchscherer and Eveland are expected to be guaranteed a spot out of spring training, while Gallagher, Braden, and Gonzalez remain the favorites to take over the other spots. The A's have a lot of young pitchers with high upside, but none have broken through at the big league level yet. Beane's general consensus this offseason was that the pitchers would probably pitch better if they had more offensive support and less pressure to throw a shutout. In the minors, the A's have a quartet of young pitchers waiting for the future in Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, and James Simmons, but none are expected to get the call early unless they are lights out this spring. If the A's are out of contention at the trade deadline, it wouldn't surprise me if Duchscherer is traded for prospects as the future of A's pitching waits for 2010.
The only one that's not a lock for the pen here is Josh Outman, but with the team still looking for lefty relief help outside of Blevins, Outman is the best internal option the A's have at this point. Also, as Outman is a starting pitcher he can eat up innnings for the A's in a long relief role if any of the A's young starters get bounced early. A's head coach Bob Geren has said that he'll enter 2009 with a closer by committee, but those never seem to work out. My guess is that Joey Devine will eventually become the everyday closer at some point during the season with Brad Ziegler setting him up. The A's bullpen was the second best in the American League a year ago and it improved with the addition of Springer and Wuertz. Look for this to be the A's strongest unit in 2009.
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:
Spring Position Battle(s):
Starting Rotation - Spots 3-5
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Mariners signing Ken Griffey Jr., yet nothing has yet to be signed. I expect the team to either bring back Junior or add Garret Anderson as spring training gets going. However, it's been a dismal offseason for the Mariners. They lost their best run producer in Raul Ibanez to free agency, while their new GM Jack Zduriencik traded J.J. Putz away for a slough of players, including outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. The team is in rebuilding mode after they saw a 118 million dollar payroll rack up 101 losses for the team a year ago. Both Adrian Beltre and Erick Bedard are in the last year of their deals and the team could look to move both at the deadline if they decide not to resign them.
Well...This is the current lineup. If the Mariners go out and sign Ken Griffey Jr. or Garret Anderson, you can expect Endy Chavez to head to the bench as the teams fourth outfielder and then the team would probably demote Wladimir Balentien back to AAA Tacoma. Griffey would probably help more than Anderson considering Anderson would be just another free swinger on a team that has plenty. Aside from Ichiro at the top of the lineup, the Mariners don't really have too many threats. Beltre knows how to hit a few out of the park, but he isn't really that patient of a hitter and with the lack of protection he'll be receiving, it doesn't look like he's in for a good year. Jeff Clement could emerge as one of the Mariners most productive hitters this seasons as he is expected to be the teams everday designated hitter. Meanwhile, Kenji Johjima needs to turn around his 2008 performance if he wants to remain the starting catcher on this team.
Burke is going to be the teams third catcher and will probably never see the light of day in a game. He is just on the roster in case of an injury to either Kenji Johjima or Jeff Clement (as you can't move the DH to a position). Ronny Cedeno was acquired as depth in the deal that sent Aaron Heilman to the Chicago Cubs. As for Mike Morse, he will be used in a number of spots as he can play both infield and outfield positions. I expect Morse to take over the role Willie Bloomquist had for the team a year ago. Looking at Balentien, the Mariners have plenty of options. If they add Grifffey or Anderson, they can send him back down to AAA to get some everyday at bats. If neither of those two is added, the team can platoon him with Endy Chavez in left. Balentien has talent, but he just hasn't converted it into anything at the major league level.
The Mariners front three in their rotation is the best in the American League West. Hernandez has been a consistent workhorse year after year and seems to be improving every year as well. Meanwhlie, Bedard is the top of the rotation pitcher he's always been, though like usual, injuries have stopped him from reaching his full potential. Speaking of potential, Brandon Morrow has plenty of it. This kid might actually be the best pitcher in this rotation. To this day, I still think it's funny an overhwelming majority of Mariners fans told me he wouldn't be ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2008. Rowland-Smith is probably a better option to start in the rotation instead of Washburn or Silva, but it's the contracts of those two players that will keep them in the rotation in the long run. However, both Washburn and Erick Bedard are good candidates to be traded at the July trade deadline.
The closer job is up for grabs this spring. The Mariners website suggests that Mark Lowe has the inside track on it, but I think Miguel Batista has a good chance at beating him out in spring training. The bullpen should be decent in 2009. There is nobody overpowering in it, but then again, there is no one that is terrible either. Garrett Olson has said he would be open to converting to a reliever if it works out best for the team, and I think it will happen as Olson is highly unlikely to make the team as a starter unless Bedard or Washburn is dealt.
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:
You know the Rangers had a bad offseason when Andruw Jones was their key signing. I had to go back two seasons to even find a picture of an Andruw Jones highlight and it looks like he broke his back hitting the ball in the process. Maybe that's why he's been bad the past year and a half? Plain and simple, the Rangers didn't accomplish anything this past offseason. They moved Laird to the Tigers for Moscoso, a move which had to be done, but it actually made the team worse (in the short run). Had the Rangers decided to trade Jarrod Saltalamachhia for pitching, they would be in much better shape, but 2009 is looking to be much like 2008...Great hitting and no pitching to speak of. On the bright side of things, the Rangers do get a healthy Brandon McCarthy back this season and have young stars in AA waiting for 2010 when they will get their first full season in the big leageus.
Initially looking at this lineup (without checking numbers), I was surprised when I saw Nelson Cruz playing right field and batting 5th. I had always assumed Marlon Byrd would get the bulk of the at bats as he's been very good since acquired two seasons ago. However, once I started to look closer at the numbers, this started to make sense. In a little over 100 at bats last season, Cruz had an OPS+ of 170. During the minor league season, Cruz batted a ridiculous .342/.429/.695 with 37 homers and 99 RBI in 380 at bats. The man obviously seems ready to take over in the big leagues. Meanwhile, looking at the rest of the Rangers lineup, it wouldn't surprise me if Elvis Andrus eventually moved up to the leadoff spot. This kid is a great talent swinging the bat and harnesses a ton of speed making him the perfect guy to set the table. Ian Kinsler isn't really a true leadoff hitter. Also, the Rangers will get a full season of Chris Davis at first base, which means Rangers fans better bring their gloves if they are going to be sitting in the bleachers.
Jones would have to put up a ridiculous spring in order to work his way into the starting lineup, though many have said Jones' has looked a lot better after losing 30 pounds in the offseason. Vizquel provides the Rangers depth in the infield and should help young Andrus develop along the way. Meanwhile, I'm not sure if their is going to be enough at bats for Marlon Byrd to be happy this year. The Rangers outfield is starting to get crowded which means a trade could happen during spring. As for Taylor Teagarden, he has the chance to overtake Salty as the everyday catcher, but it might take a while for him to do it.
Uggh....And that's pretty much all I have to say about that. There is a small chance Millwood and Padilla put together a strong season, but it's highly unlikely. McCarthy should be the Rangers best pitcher in 2009 (if he can stay healthy). The team just better make sure Millwood doesn't reach his 180 innings for his option to kick in and they need to be careful as to when they call up youngsters Neftali Feliz and Derrick Holland.
Another "make-shift" bullpen is in the works for the Rangers. Half of these guys are non-roster invites, but I figure they will still make the team. Guardado might be a bargain for the Rangers if he can perform as well as he did a year ago. Meanwhile, I expect C.J. Wilson to bounce back in some way, shape, or form. He isn't as bad as he pitched a year ago.
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects
Shortstop - Elvis Andrus vs. Omar Vizquel
Posted on: February 9, 2009 1:45 am
Tampa Bay traded away Edwin Jackson to the Tigers this offseason to make room for David Price as the 5th starter in the Rays rotation. Price is projected to be an ace by most scouts and has excellent stuff and features a very good fastball and slider. He was the number one pick by the Rays in 2007 and excelled through all three levels of the minors last season and into the pros late in the year. Price was one of the Rays postseason heroes last season as he pitched the final inning of game 7 against the Boston Red Sox to advance the Rays to their first ever World Series appearance. The kid seems poised and ready to take on major league hitters and it will be fun watching what he can do with his first full season in the majors. One of the main reasons the Rangers wanted Michael Young to make the transition from shortstop to third base was because of the young Elvis Andrus sitting in the teams farm system. Andrus was first acquired by the Rangers as part of the package the Braves sent to Texas for first basemen Mark Teixeira . He has limited power, but shows excellent bat speed along with quickness along the basepaths. Andrus is a defensive minded shortstop that could give the Rangers a legitimate leadoff hitter at the top of their lineup. He reminds me a lot of a younger Jose Reyes. Andrus will be given every opportunity to win the Rangers starting shortstop job out of spring training, but in case he still needs time in the minors, the Rangers added Omar Vizquel as a stopgap. It should be noted that Andrus has never played at AAA. Pure talent. There hasn't been a catcher I was this excited about since Joe Mauer came up for his rookie season with the Twins . Wieters was Baseball America's minor league player of the year last season and very well could be the best prospect in baseball. The 2007 first round pick of the Orioles, Wieters dominated single-A ball hitting .345/.448/.576 with 15 homers and 40 in just 230 at bats. He then was called up to double-A where he hit .365/.460/.625. That's crazy. Wieters is expected to be the Orioles starter at some point this season. The question is....when? The team brought in Greg Zaun to be the veteran catcher to help ease Wieters into the big leagues, but it remains to be seen whether or not Wieters will break camp with the team. Snider advanced through all three levels of the minors last season and was the youngest player in the majors when he was called up in September of last season. He is only going to be 21 years of age to begin next season and is likely to be the Blue Jays everyday designated hitter as the teams outfield is already set with Adam Lind , Vernon Wells , and Alex Rios . Snider has a great bat and he figures to have 25 home run power in the big leagues. Snider is prone to strike out quite a bit and he doesn't have that great of plate discipline. If it can be developed, he can become a very good baseball player. LaPorta was the top prospect that the Indians acquired from the Brewers for CC Sabathia . While in Milwaukees discipline, LaPorta was known as an extremely patient hitter that would hit for high average and have decent pop. However, after he was traded to the Indians, LaPorta started to struggle. After hitting .288/.402/.576 with 20 homeruns in Milwaukee's farm system, LaPorta hit .233/.299/.350 with 2 homeruns in 17 games. LaPorta was so bad in the Venezuelan Winter League, he was sent home. However, LaPorta is a great talent and he should be able to turn it around. I doubtt LaPorta will start the year in the Indians outfield, but he could be be up within a couple months.
Tampa Bay traded away Edwin Jackson to the Tigers this offseason to make room for David Price as the 5th starter in the Rays rotation. Price is projected to be an ace by most scouts and has excellent stuff and features a very good fastball and slider. He was the number one pick by the Rays in 2007 and excelled through all three levels of the minors last season and into the pros late in the year. Price was one of the Rays postseason heroes last season as he pitched the final inning of game 7 against the Boston Red Sox to advance the Rays to their first ever World Series appearance. The kid seems poised and ready to take on major league hitters and it will be fun watching what he can do with his first full season in the majors.
One of the main reasons the Rangers wanted Michael Young to make the transition from shortstop to third base was because of the young Elvis Andrus sitting in the teams farm system. Andrus was first acquired by the Rangers as part of the package the Braves sent to Texas for first basemen Mark Teixeira . He has limited power, but shows excellent bat speed along with quickness along the basepaths. Andrus is a defensive minded shortstop that could give the Rangers a legitimate leadoff hitter at the top of their lineup. He reminds me a lot of a younger Jose Reyes. Andrus will be given every opportunity to win the Rangers starting shortstop job out of spring training, but in case he still needs time in the minors, the Rangers added Omar Vizquel as a stopgap. It should be noted that Andrus has never played at AAA.
Pure talent. There hasn't been a catcher I was this excited about since Joe Mauer came up for his rookie season with the Twins . Wieters was Baseball America's minor league player of the year last season and very well could be the best prospect in baseball. The 2007 first round pick of the Orioles, Wieters dominated single-A ball hitting .345/.448/.576 with 15 homers and 40 in just 230 at bats. He then was called up to double-A where he hit .365/.460/.625. That's crazy. Wieters is expected to be the Orioles starter at some point this season. The question is....when? The team brought in Greg Zaun to be the veteran catcher to help ease Wieters into the big leagues, but it remains to be seen whether or not Wieters will break camp with the team.
Snider advanced through all three levels of the minors last season and was the youngest player in the majors when he was called up in September of last season. He is only going to be 21 years of age to begin next season and is likely to be the Blue Jays everyday designated hitter as the teams outfield is already set with Adam Lind , Vernon Wells , and Alex Rios . Snider has a great bat and he figures to have 25 home run power in the big leagues. Snider is prone to strike out quite a bit and he doesn't have that great of plate discipline. If it can be developed, he can become a very good baseball player.
LaPorta was the top prospect that the Indians acquired from the Brewers for CC Sabathia . While in Milwaukees discipline, LaPorta was known as an extremely patient hitter that would hit for high average and have decent pop. However, after he was traded to the Indians, LaPorta started to struggle. After hitting .288/.402/.576 with 20 homeruns in Milwaukee's farm system, LaPorta hit .233/.299/.350 with 2 homeruns in 17 games. LaPorta was so bad in the Venezuelan Winter League, he was sent home. However, LaPorta is a great talent and he should be able to turn it around. I doubtt LaPorta will start the year in the Indians outfield, but he could be be up within a couple months.
Posted on: January 20, 2009 1:57 am
It's been a little over a year since I did my last version of winter rankings (the first featured blog on CBS), but now that we are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it is time to have a look at where each team stands this season. The offseason has been a long, slow, and drawn out process. Several impact players, including Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn have yet to sign with a team. It is because of this reason, that I will be continually editing this blog entry as those players sign.
While the Phillies are the defending champions, they have remained rather complacent on the free agent market which begs to question whether or not the team can repeat last years success. Meanwhile, the Yankees have had the biggest offseason of any team, but will a team full of superstars finally get the job done? Also, the Rays were baseballs surprise team of 2008. Can they repeat the success? Who will be the surprise team in 2009?......These questions and more are answered in my latest rankings.
1. Chicago Cubs
Say all you want about the Cubs playoff misfortunes, but this team is the real deal. Milton Bradley, arguably the games best offensive player last season, joins the Cubs offense that scored the most runs in baseball last year. Couple that with the teams stable pitching staff featuring Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Rich Harden and this team should easily run away with the National League Central for the second year in a row. I'm predicting a 100 win season.
2. New York Yankees
While the team has lost both Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi in free agency, the additions of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira more than make up for it. The Yankees now have a well rounded team. They now have one of the best offenses in the league with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and the top 3 in their rotation should win them plenty of ballgames. If they can get a full season out of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, look out.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Often times one year wonders like the Rays don't return to the postseason because they remain too complacent in the offseason. However, the Rays managed to land Pat Burrell for a bargain price of 8 million a season to replace Cliff Floyd in the lineup and the teams starting rotation will naturally get better with David Price entering the rotation.
4. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a relatively quiet offseason with minor deals made. The team is still one of the best in the league, but has many questions to answer for 2009. Was Kevin Youkilis' increase in power for real? Can Jason Bay truly fill Manny's shoes in left? Will Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz be healthy and how much can they contribute? The Sox are still a talented teams, but these factors are going to determine whether or not they win baseball's best division.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks had a dissapointing 2008 season finishing 82-80, two games out of first place in the NL West. Despite losing Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Randy Johnson this offseason the D-backs get my vote of confidence as one of the NL's top teams entering 2009. They have a solid three in the rotation with Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, and Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, I'm counting on the young stars to improve.
6. Cleveland Indians
The Indians lost C.C. Sabathia this season, but it shouldn't affect the team too much as long as Fausto Carmona gets back on track. Cliff Lee's breakout season also helps alleviate that. The team is still without a starting right fielder as Franklin Gutierrez was traded away. Adam Dunn would make more sense than Matt LaPorta as LaPorta has struggled since coming over in the Sabathia deal. The bullpen has gotten a lot better as well with the addition of Kerry Wood and I expect this team to compete.
7. New York Mets
The Mets have been baseball's biggest choke artists over the past two seasons. On paper, they certainly are a much better team than anyone in their division. Whether or not they can finally get the job done, is another question. This team should win 95 games this year, but in order for that to happen, someone on the team will have to step up as a leader. If the team is in contention in August or September, a bullpen of Wagner, Putz, and Roriguez remains the scariest 7-8-9 in the league.
8. Philadelphia Phillies
Not a good offseason for the champs. First, the team overpaid for Raul Ibanez (another lefty) to replace Pat Burrell in the lineup. Second, J.C. Romero has to serve a 50 game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Third, No one outside of Cole Hamels scares me in that rotation. And lastly, Carlos Ruiz and Pedro Feliz still have starting jobs in baseball. Uggh....
9. Los Angeles Angels
The gap has certainly closed in on the Angels in the American League West. Without Mark Teixeira, Garrett Anderson, or Francisco Rodriguez, they certainly don't scare teams the way they used to. Brian Fuentes is an adequate replacement for K-Rod, but I can't understand why they didn't just pony up a few extra to keep their star in town. Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera remain questioable replacements and the team will once again rely on Vlad and the starting pitchers to win ballgames.
10. Chicago White Sox
White Sox GM Ken Williams is one GM whose moves I can never understand, but they seem to work out right in the end. The Sox still are without a centerfielder and a second basemen going into next season, and there are questions as to whether Carlos Quentin, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks can repeat their 2008 success. For now though, I'm giving the Sox the benefit of the doubt. I really like the Bartolo Colon signing, as it has the makings of a low risk, high reward type deal.
11. Detroit Tigers
Don't count out the Tigers. While the Tigers finished last place in the American League Central last season, they were still third in the league in overall offense. Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Nate Robertson all had their worst seasons as pros. The offense should remain just as good as it was and if Verlander can return to form, the team should be able to compete. Edwin Jackson and Gerald Laird were both nice, under the radar acquisitions by GM Dave Dombrowksi.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers
With this ranking, I'm assuming Manny Ramirez is going to be a Dodger. If it turns out to be different, I will change the ranking accordingly. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is about to find out what life is likek without Paul DePodesta's players. The losses of Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, and Jeff Kent will affect this team greatly. Unless the Dodgers give have Jason Schmidt go to some miracle worker, I don't know where this team is going to get a rotation that will compete.
13. Minnesota Twins
The Twins offense is their weakness. Both Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez featured low on base percentages last season which isn't helping the team at all. The teams offense really is only as good as Joe Mauer's knees as Justin Morneau can't do everything on his own. However, if the team can get similar production to 2008 from it's young pitchers in the rotation for 2009, this team will always have a chance to compete.
14. Oakland Athletics
The trades of Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Nick Swisher, and Mark Kotsay a year ago have paid off. The A's enter 2009 with one of the best minor league systems in the game and an offense that's ready to close the gap in the American League West. The acquisitions of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi give the A's a ton of power in the 3-6 spots and Eric Chavez is supposed to be fully healthy headed into next year giving the teams young pitching a better chance to win.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
While the Brewers lost both C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets this offseason, its not as if they all of a sudden have a bad team. The team didn't have Sabathia for the first half of last year anyway and they've played several seasons with Sheets on the DL multiple times. The offensive remains intact with both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way. If Yovanni Gallardo can remain healthy, I'm sure the Brewers can put together a respectable season.
16. St. Louis Cardinals
I really don't know what to think of the Cardinals. I'm not convinced that their pitching staff can hold up all season long, even if Chris Carpenter is fully healthy. Albert Pujols remains the best first basemen in the National League, but he isn't going to get much help. The Khalil Greene trade won't improve the offense that much and who knows if Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel can keep it up with their bats.
17. Atlanta Braves
What a bad offseason for Braves fans. The farm system is depleted. They missed out on both A.J. Burnett and Rafael Furcal and allowed John Smoltz to sign cheaply with the Red Sox. However, this team still remains a dark horse candidate in the NL East. The starting rotation should be pretty good still with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vasquez, and Kenshin Kawakami manning the first four spots. If they can stay in contention until August, Tim Hudson will be on his way back.
18. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays finished 2008 with a respectable 86-76 record in the American League. However, the team has lost A.J. Burnett in free agency and hasn't made any major additions. Shaun Marcum is out for the season with Tommy John Surgery and Dustin McGowan is out at least for the first month. If they can make it past the first month of the season okay, they might be considered a dark horse candidate in the tough AL East. However, don't expect much.
19. Texas Rangers
The Rangers haven't made any major additions this offseason and have let Milton Bradley walk. 2009 will be an interesting year for the team. It will most likely be the last time we see Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla in a Rangers uniform and also could feature the debuts of shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland. Also, we'll see Chris Davis mature into a solid power hitter. As always, if this team could pitch, they'd win games, but that's unlikely for 2009.
20. San Francisco Giants
With Noah Lowry coming back from injury and the addition Randy Johnson, the Giants have a pretty deep starting five heading into 2009. However, where will the offense come from? The team does not have a superstar offensive player and the market is drying up quickly. If they can't get their hands on Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu, they might once again be wasting all that good pitching, Such a shame. Giants fans deserve better.
21. Colorado Rockies
I must be crazy, because I might be the only one that thinks the team trading Matt Holliday will help the Rockies. Huston Street replaces Brian Fuentes as the teams closer and Ryan Spilborghs, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ian Stewart now battle for time in the outfield. The rotation is better with Greg Smith in it and I don't think the offense will be affected. Not in that park at least. Ryan Spilborghs might be the best player no one knows about.
22. Florida Marlins
The Marlins might have finished 84-77 last season, but I'm not a believer in them....yet. The team foolishly traded Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Nationals for nothing important. The Mike Jacobs trade will only be a good deal if Dallas McPherson can take his success from AAA last year and bring it with him to the majors. Also, there are questions as to whether this starting pitching can hold up and whether Jorge Cantu can repeat his 2008 performance.
23. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners didn't get much back in return for J.J. Putz and they haven't done anything significant to improve their lousy offense as well. The team will rely on youngsters to break through this season including Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement. Their pitching should keep them in ballgames with Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, and Brandon Morrow in the rotation, but if they are out of it early, you can expect the team to start shopping Bedard.
24. Cincinatti Reds
The Reds have a bright future ahead of them with young stars such as Jay Bruce, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto breaking through last season. Each of these youngsters are expected to continue to develop into solid ballplayers. The question remains as to whether or not this is the year the Reds finally start coming together as a team. They certainly have the foundations, but whether or not they are ready to translate that into a winning ballclub is up in the air.
25. Houston Astros
Ugggh. That's about all I can say about Astros GM Ed Wade. His trade of Brad Lidge for Michael Bourn last season looks worse and worse by the day. While the Astros finished strong last season, it was only because Wade's false sense of hope that they were somehow still in the race last year. Smart GM's would have sold. This team has no farm system and quite frankly, Mike Hampton isn't going to solve their pitching problems.
26. Baltimore Orioles
The bad news? The Orioles aren't going anywhere next season. The good news? Team President Andy MacPhail knows this and is positioning the team to develop for the future. The Felix Pie trade was a great trade for MacPhail and now the Orioles have the best outfield defense in the game. I really look forward to seeing Matt Wieters transition to the big leagues this year as well. The team has no starting pitching to speak of outside of Guthrie, but help is on the way in the minors.
27. San Diego Padres
With Jake Peavy on board, the Padres still have a respectable pitching staff and an offense led by one of the games best first basemen (Adrian Gonzalez). They could compete if things fall right offensively for them, especially considering their division, but that would require Chase Headley to stop swinging blindly and actually develop offensively. The best thing for Padres fans will be to get the sale of the team done as soon as possible.
28. Kansas City Royals
Coco Crisp? Kyle Farnsworth? Willie Bloomquist? Mike Jacobs? The Royals are going nowhere. The team has completely given up on Mark Teahen ever becoming something useful and now fans are growing impatient with both Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Zach Greinke, Joakim Soria, and Gil Meche are the few bright spots on the Royals for 2009, but it will take another two years for their farm system to catch up and replace the mismanagement of the team under former GM Allan Baird.
29. Washington Nationals
The Scott Olsen and Josh WIllingham trade with Florida was a good one for the Nats, but they need a lot of work. Austin Kearns needs to be benched, but won't because of his contract and GM Jim Bowdens obsession with his former Reds players. The team would be better off with an outfield of Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Willingham, but it probably won't happen. Meanwhile, Nick Johnson needs to be healthy for this team to have any chance.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have done NOTHING this offseason. They enter 2009 without both Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, who they had in the first half of last season. They do get a full season of Andy LaRoche at 3rd base, but this team is going absolutely nowhere and is by far the worst team in baseball heading into 2009.
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Posted on: June 30, 2008 1:40 am
The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?
American League East