TMS MLB Preview '08 - AL West

1:19 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Just like last season, TMS is previewing the upcoming 2008 baseball season division by division. So strap in and get ready for some of the worst analysis and lack of insight that only we can provide. As we wrap up the American League, we now take a gander at the AL West division. Giving you a peek at these four teams are Lingering Bursitis, Brant Brown, Daft Funk, and special guest E-Claire, who was happy to lend a hand and cover her beloved Athletics.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1. LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM by Brant Brown
2007: 94-68 (1st)

So Long: SS Orlando Cabrera, P Bartolo Colon, 3B Dallas McPherson

Welcome: P Jon Garland, OF Torii Hunter

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Chone Figgins 3B
2. Gary Matthews RF
3. Vladimir Guerrero DH
4. Torii Hunter CF
5. Garret Anderson LF
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Casey Kotchman 1B
8. Mike Napoli C
9. Erick Aybar SS

Starting Rotation - John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana
Setup - Justin Speier, Scot Shields
Closer - Francisco Rodriguez

While the prospects for the season, particularly considering the state of the division, are good, there is mild discontent in Angel camp. Vlad, Hunter, Anderson, and Sarge, Jr. all want to play the field, but someone is going to have to DH. The likely pick will be Anderson for most games, as Matthews and Hunter have the defensive tools. If Vlad wants to play in the field, Scioscia will have to allow him, with the occasional spell for all involved. You have to make Vlad happy. Sure, Anderson has been with the club since the Donnie Moore incident, but he's a shell of the player who won the home run derby in 2003.

Bartolo Colon's bloated carcass is finally gone. If Hideki Irabu was the Japanese fat toad, Colon was the Mexican version. Or is he Dominican? Venezuelan? They all look the same. He's replaced by Jon Garland. Ugh, Jon Garland. Fortunately for all of the Angel fans that love whining ever so much, the club has retained Ervin Santana's services. Perhaps this year Scioscia will decide to only start Santana in home games. Seriously, look at his home and away splits. The Halos will also be throwing out the two-headed catching monster of Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis. When is the last time a club that split catching duties made it to the World Series? Was it pre or post Great War? While Erick Aybar looks at a substantial chunk of playing time, it appears that perennial phenom Brandon Wood will once again wallow on the bench or in AAA, further deteriorating any trade value he has. At least Bill Stoneman is finally out the door as GM.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: OF Torii Hunter - He has a lot to live up to, but he's totally qualified. The Angels have needed an extra bat for years. He may not be the slugger everyone has envisioned, but he's as solid of a package as Angel fans could have hoped for. The stellar defense and baserunning will make up for a few less homers that a Jason Giambi would have given you.

The Elijah Price (Mr. Glass) Award: 2B Howie Kendrick - Howie Kendrick. For the love of all that is holy, let this kid play a season without a fluke injury. I swear he will hit if his fingers remain unbroken.

The John Wooden "Yep, I'm Still Alive" Award:
P Darren Oliver - Still gainfully employed, at 37 ripe years of age. He's just one of those guys that lingers, like a pedophile at a playground. He also probably belongs in the Reggie Cleveland Hall of Fame.

FOR MORE READING
Halos Heaven
Big 'A' Baseball


2. SEATTLE MARINERS by Lingering Bursitis
2007: 88-74 (2nd)

SO LONG: OF Jose Guillen, OF Adam Jones, P John Parrish, P George Sherrill

WELCOME: P Erik Bedard, 2B Miguel Cairo, 1B Greg Norton, P Carlos Silva, OF Brad Wilkerson

PROJECTED ORDER
1. Ichiro Suzuki CF
2. Jose Vidro DH
3. Adrian Beltre 3B
4. Raul Ibanez LF
5. Richie Sexson 1B
6. Kenji Johjima C
7. Brad Wilkerson RF
8. Jose Lopez 2B
9. Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Starting Rotation - Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista, Jarrod Washburn
Setup - Sean White? Cha Seung Baek? Eric O'Flaherty? Horacio Ramirez?
Closer - J.J. Putz

Well, it's Seattle. The rainiest place on earth, but there are several rays of sunshine for this middle-of-the-road franchise. As they continue to squander Ichiro's best years, we sit back and wonder when this ragtag bunch will finally wake up and make the playoffs. They came close last year, but the damp reality is the fact that it's been 6 rather damp squib years since they saw October.

They have tons of room for optimism: they caught a big fish in Erik Bedard who will compliment Hernandez well at the top of the rotation, and they do have some decent power in the lineup. Vidro, Wilkerson, Ibanez and Beltre can still hit [although not for average], and the Asian duo of Suzuki and Johjima are not to be overlooked either. Far from it. Their defense is young and solid up the middle with Lopez and Betancourt, and they play generally well in the field.

This team will live and die like so many: in the bullpen. Half of them I've never fucking heard of, and the other half aren't worth a toss. Carlos Silva, Batista and Washburn are passable but unpredictable, so even if they do get to the 6th or 7th with a lead, who knows if O'Flaherty and co can hold it long enough for Putz to get warmed up.

Let's be honest: all this promise doth not a playoff berth make. They'll slip up in the wake of Anaheim grabbing Torii Hunter, and even though Oakland pawned off their stars-for-prospects, they won't be as unlucky with injuries this season and will probably finish 2nd.

Seattle will finish 3rd, rain will keep falling, Kelsey Grammar will keep trying to recapture his Frasier glory days, and the world will continue to turn.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Felix Hernandez - It's a no-brainer. The guy is 21 years old, he outdueled the Red Sox in Dice-K's first start for Boston, and he's got a nasty array of pitches that have been baffling the league for 2 1/2 seasons. While his career 30-25 record might not tell the tale, his whopping 418 K in 465 2/3 career innings says it all. His K/BB is almost 4/1, and he's able to throw 200+ innings per season.

Hernandez holds the key for Seattle. If his arm holds up in 2008, they'll be a force to be reckoned with. He did see some injury problems creeping in last season, so they'll need to be careful.

Suck a cock, you bastard: 3B Adrian Beltre - I hate this guy so much. Not only did he poison my fantasy team in 2005, after I foolishly took drafted him high after his near-MVP season the year before, but he's a member of the worst group in baseball: those that overachieve during a contract year. I fucking hate those bastards.... they pull one magical summer out of their puckered assholes, parlay it into big money and fame, and then proceed to shit the bed [relatively speaking] since donning the Mariners' uniform.

Seriously though, from a .334 BA, 48 HR, 121 RBI season in 2004 to .255/19/87 the next? Go fuck yourself, Beltre. Admit you did the juice, and work on raising your batting average.

What the Fuck?: 2B Miguel Cairo - They signed him to a one-year deal in January as infield cover. The guy's played for almost everyone (I love hyperbole, so what?), including two tours of duty with the Cubs, Cardinals and Yankees.
What I find hilarious about Cairo, besides his mediocrity, is that he's the ultimate mercenary. He cares not for allegiances and rivalries and histories, he just plays for whoever the fuck will pay him a couple of million and play him in 50 games a season.

Three teams in the AL East, both New York teams and the Cubs/Cardinals? That's some impressive whoring.

Sure, he'll do nothing for the M's, but he'll have a fun time doing it, and I'll have a fun time making fun of him.

FOR MORE READING
Lookout Landing
U.S.S. Mariner


3. OAKLAND ATHLETICS by E-Claire
2007: 76-86 (3rd)

SO LONG: C Jeremy Brown, OF Jeff DaVanon, P Dan Haren OF Shannon Stewart, OF Nick Swisher, OF Mark Kotsay, INF Marco Scutaro, DH Mike Piazza

WELCOME: OF Emil Brown, P Dana Eveland, P Keith Foulke, C Matt LeCroy, DH Mike Sweeney, OF Carlos Gonzalez

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Mark Ellis 2B
2. Travis Buck RF
3. Daric Barton 1B
4. Jack Cust DH
5. Eric Chavez 3B
6. Emil Brown LF
7. Bobby Crosby SS
8. Chris Denorfia CF
9. Kurt Suzuki C

Starting Rotation - Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin, Justin Duchscherer, Lenny DiNardo, Dallas Braden, Dana Eveland
Setup - Kiko Calero, Keith Foulke, Alan Embree
Closer - Huston Street

2007 was an injury-riddled year for the A's (They used the DL over 20 times), and things were looking iffy for 2008 - 3/5 of the projected starting rotation (Harden, Duke, and Gaudin) were coming back from injuries/surgeries, Chavez had 3 offseason surgeries, and Bobby Crosby is...well...Bobby Crosby. So Billy Beane decided to pull the trigger and "rebuild," trading Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, and Marco Scutaro for a grip of young prospects. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if more trades were made before the deadline (Blanton and Street could go, along with Ellis, and Chavez if he gets healthy). The majority of opinions seem to say that with all the prospects the A's acquired (Carloz and Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, etc), it'll probably be a year or two before they start to get good. But if the A's keep their current roster, they could have a decent 2008. Harden is lights out when he's healthy (granted, that's not very often, but whatever. We'll go with it), and Blanton is solid. If Duke makes a good transition to the starting rotation, and Gaudin pitches like he did during the first half of last year, I'd say the A's have a pretty good starting rotation. And if Chavez has a good year, Barton lives up to the hype, Buck can go 10 minutes without spraining something, and Jack Cust proves last year wasn't just a fluke, you've got some pretty decent bats in the lineup. So I wouldn't completely count the A's out this year. On the other hand, everyone could get injured again, the rotation could suck, and Beane could trade all the prospects away for Single A players so he can rebuild the rebuilding project. We'll see what happens.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Stomper Ele Phant - There have been a lot of players to come and go through the Athletics organization over the past decade or so, but you can always count on the familiar face of Stomper. According to his homepage, Stomper enjoys vacationing at the All-Star game, likes peanuts, and he can beat box. I bet the damn Rally Monkey can't beat box...

The "If You Don't Stay Healthy I'll Beat Your Ass" Award
: SS Bobby Crosby - Seriously. Stop. Getting. Hurt.

The "If You Don't Stay Healthy I'll Beat Your Ass" Award, Part 2
: SP Rich Harden - (see above)

The "Most Entertaining Quote of the Offseason" Award:
Billy Beane - During the Winter Meetings, a rumor spread about the A's, the Twins, and the Mets being involved in a 3-way trade that would send Jose Reyes (and some other prospect) to the A's. It wasn't true, and Beane responded to the rumor by saying "There's a better chance of me breeding unicorns than there is of that deal happening." I dunno Billy, if the A's have a crappy first half and you need a way to keep the fans coming to games, unicorn breeding might be something you'd want to consider. Especially if the unicorns can play defense and have a good OBP.

FOR MORE READING
Athletics Nation
Athletic Supporters


4. TEXAS RANGERS by Daft Funk
2007: 75-87 (4th)

SO LONG: OF Nick Gorneault, OF Freddy Guzman, OF Jerry Hairston Jr., P Edinson Volquez, OF Brad Wilkerson

WELCOME: OF Milton Bradley, 1B Ben Broussard, P Kazuo Fukumori, P Eddie Guardado, OF Josh Hamilton, P Jason Jennings, OF Kevin Mench, 1B Chris Shelton

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Frank Catalanotto DH
2. Josh Hamilton CF
3. Michael Young SS
4. Milton Bradley RF
5. Hank Blalock 3B
6. Marlon Byrd LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
8. Ian Kinsler 2B
9. Ben Broussard 1B

Starting Rotation - Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy, Jason Jennings, Kason Gabbard, Kameron Loe
Setup - Joaquin Benoit, Frank Francisco
Closer - Eddie Guardado, C.J. Wilson

There really isn't much to say about the Texas Rangers that hasn't been said for the last 6 or 7 years: all hitting, no pitching. But this year, the Rangers are changing things up. Instead of a fantastic offense, the Rangers are now fielding a mediocre offense. And instead of a terrible pitching staff, this year's Texas squad is packing...a really terrible pitching staff. Seriously, this staff is the absolute worst. This staff is the 'Little Nicky' of pitching staffs. Take a look at those starters one by one? Would it really come as a shock if Kevin Millwood lost 15 games this year? Doesn't seem like such a stretch, does it? Now ask the same thing about Padilla. And Jennings. And McCarthy. What can you possibly say about a starting rotation that could lose 75 games all on its own? Another reason you know it's going to be a long season? When your best bullpen pitcher is known best for throwing a chair at an lady in the crowd during an altercation. I think it's time for them to call Rick Helling and John Wetteland and see if they can come out of retirement.

The offense is serviceable, but they'll really miss Teixeira this season. Then again, they missed him for the first 2 months of 2007 too when his bat was pretty much missing from the face of the Earth. I look over the Texas lineup and it's pretty much filled with Fantasy Baseball flash-in-the-pan players. If you've played Fantasy Baseball over the last 3-4 years, chances are you've owned a few of these guys. Hank Blalock? Didn't he used to be good a few years ago? Michael Young? He used to be good, right? Frank Catalanotto? He was ok that one year, right? If you got to hand pick a single season from each of the players in the Texas lineup from 2002-2007, this lineup would be pretty fearsome. But most of them are a few years off their prime. It doesn't matter. With their pitching staff, they could score 1,000 runs and still lose 90 games.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: OF Milton Bradley - Look, some of you may say that there are much better candidates to be Mr. Sexy Time than Milton Bradley. But if those people show up tomorrow with broken kneecaps and black eyes delivered by one Mr. Bradley, I would not be surprised. Sure, Milton Bradley's lack of effort and general surliness got him kicked out of Montreal. And Cleveland. And Los Angeles. And Oakland. And San Diego. The point is, he's poised for a big year. If an angry loose cannon who shoots first and doesn't bother asking questions at all can't succeed in the grand state of Texas, where can he succeed?

Alright, now that I've written that, can you please let my family go, Mr. Bradley?

How Did I Wind Up Drafting Gerald Laird?: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Most people know Saltalamacchia as the hotshot catching prospect that was the crown jewel of the Mark Teixeira trade last season. That still leaves a lot of people that don't really know how to pronounce this guy's name, as Jarrod follows in the footsteps of the greats to come before him, such as Andres Galarraga and TJ Houshmandzadeh. This will most likely lead to a bunch of people accidentally drafting Gerald Laird in Fantasy Baseball drafts when they can't pronounce "Saltalamacchia" and just say they want to pick "That guy that catches for the Rangers". Adding "You know, that Jarrod guy" won't help much either, since Jarrod and Gerald sound pretty much the same when said out loud.

Please Let Them Have Lockers Next To Each Other: Frank Francisco and Milton Bradley - Frank Francisco gets his kicks by chucking chairs at people in the stands. Milton Bradley gets his kicks throwing everything that's not bolted down in the dugout at anyone that crosses his path. Further reading of their profiles over at Baseball Prospectus shows that they both enjoy throwing orphans under passing trains, beating up old people and peeing on sidewalks. Putting the both of them in the same clubhouse will be nothing short of genius.

FOR MORE READING
Baseball Time in Arlington

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