Miami had its 15 minutes of fame. Jose Reyes? Oooooooh. Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle? Ahhhhh. New stadium? Ooooh. Federal investigation? Ahhhhh. And then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — or as I like to call them: “The Anaheim Angels,” come in and take CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols almost at the same time. Holy moly, we all thought. But are they better than the Rangers yet? I don’t think so, but I know the bandwagon in the Orange County side of town has a lot more members now for a reason. This division is going to get interesting. Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez could be traded to just about any team needing prospects as the A’s gear up for the 2014 season and no, that’s not a joke. They’ll fit right in with the Houston Astros. The Seattle Mariners are up to a load of nothing but the reigning back-to-back AL Champions have been busy adding more pieces to their bullpen because they’re freakin’ loaded with cash. Oh and that stud in Japan everyone’s talking about? They just won the bid to have exclusive contract negotiations with him at a cool $51.7MM. Even though only 2 teams have done some big-league-ready additions, the focus of baseball fans are shifting west a bit to watch some big names play. We don’t even know where Prince Fielder will go. Just imagine if he lands in that West division somewhere.
Think of the matchups you’ll see: Darvish vs. Ichiro, Feliz vs. Pujols, Hernandez vs. Fielder (maybe). That just sounds cool.
And then here we have the NL West. You liked it in 2010 when two offensively challenged teams fought for the title in Game 162. In 2011 Arizona used its offense and up-and-comers to take over the division from the crowned champions. So naturally every team goes into the offseason thinking, “We have to get better. How do we do that without signing a big name?” Every team has done their due diligence. One has done a great job doing it in one trade, and that was the Padres in trading Mat Latos to the Reds. The Giants have improved their offense in my opinion with Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan but the health and the back end of the rotation along with Brian Wilson’s elbow remain question marks for me. The Rockies were convinced Michael Cuddyer should be overpaid, especially after Josh Willingham was given a fair 3/$21MM deal. The DBacks did do a good job of getting Takashi Saito to a 1/$1.25MM but then trade for Cahill and then sign Jason Kubel? Confusing considering they’re considering platooning a Gold Glove defender (I understand that these awards may not be the best, but still a testament to Gerardo Parra being a better defender). And then there’s the Dodgers, who are adding every AAAA middle infielder known to man and signed Capuano and Aaron Harang and those AAAA all to 2 year deals just about.
Now imagine these matchups you could see in the NL West in 2012: Aaron Harang vs. Melky Cabrera, Edinson Volquez vs. Jason Kubel, Huston Street (as a Padre) vs. Michael Cuddyer. Doesn’t exactly have the same ring the AL West does, now does it?
So excuse MLB Network and ESPN when you see an overhaul of AL West games, especially involving the Angels and Rangers or both over games involving the teams in the NL West. Things are about to get exciting in the AL West, while in the NL West we’re left scratching our heads wondering what’s to come.
The sun is shining on the West, for sure. Just not in the parks that have the pitcher batting 9th.