Long have we known that Jose Mijares was on his way to Boston, but now, I guess, it’s finally official.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) February 9, 2014
Mijares will get to watch another ring ceremony if he cracks the Opening Day roster, which… would you be excited to watch a ring ceremony if just about everybody but you is receiving a Champions ring? I know just being on a 25-man roster should be good enough, but that’s got to be a little awkward. Speaking of a name that always makes things a little bit awkward:
Cousins will be on his third different major league organization in three seasons, going from the Marlins, to the Angels last year where he appeared in seven games and had five plate appearances for the big league club, and now the Boston Red Sox. Entering his age 29 season, you figure if he’s not doing much now, the chances may not really be there for him later. As cruel as it may be, I know there are plenty of Giants fans (possibly some people in the organization, too) that don’t mind his lack of Major League success. Certainly a name the vast majority of Giants fans will never forget.
Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.
“It’d be good for them” Division
1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?
2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.
3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.
4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.
“I ain’t even mad” Division
5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.
6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.
7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.
8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.
9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure.
10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division
11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.
That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.
Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL East, which I am having an impossible time getting a read on, because you have so much talent on these rosters, but how does what happened last year translate to 2013? How will the players that won’t break with the club play a role with the big club in the summer? If you have an easy time predicting this division, I don’t think you’re looking at what this division’s got hard enough.
5. Boston Red Sox
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 11/2, 14/1, 28/1
Stuart sees: a team that gets to hit the “reset” button with a new field manager, and names like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez going from Red Sox to Dodger Blue. Their lineup the way it is now isn’t bad, and their rotation after Lester and Clay Buchholz is where I wonder what happens. It is definitely more of a “I don’t know what will happen” feeling than a “this team is going to tank” one. The bullpen shouldn’t be horrible, and this club could have some big mid-season call-ups in guys like Jackie Bradley, Jr., Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. If this team got a playoff spot, I can’t say I’d be surprised, and I’ll be guilty of admitting that what they did in 2012 is playing into how I’ll think they do in 2013. This is not to suggest they will be an awful 5th place team, just the team that happens to be in that spot.
4. Baltimore Orioles
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/2, 18/1, 35/1
Stuart sees: a squad that probably over-achieved in 2012 and won’t see consistent success until that crop of pitchers graduate full-time to the majors. Yes, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, I am looking at you. Manny Machado was brought up last year to the surprise of many, but he is still there, and many are expecting he’ll be a force even if he’s not calling his position of SS home. It is good to hear Brian Roberts‘ name used in the day-to-day action, as opposed to about his recovering from a concussion. The bullpen is passable, and that lineup a little better than that with guys like Matt Wieters starting to come around. To get back to the playoffs, the Orioles will need that pitching staff to do better than they are projected to do, otherwise, it’s going to be the familiar role of cellar dwellers for them.
3. New York Yankees
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 7/2, 9/1, 20/1
Stuart sees: people freaking out over the Yankees because Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Pineda are all out for a while, even the Captain has been slowed down from his season-ending ankle injury. Giants fans know that they got their championships through their pitching (and timely hitting), so knowing the Yankees have Sabathia, and Hiroki Kuroda shouldn’t scare you off too much. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps may not be the best money can buy, but you can do worse, and I think the Yanks have just enough bats to avoid getting into ALCS-bad shape. Then again, you’d have to be pretty bad to be in that shape. Again.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/2, 8/1, 16/1
Stuart sees: young, strong pitching leading the rotation, and more on the way . While Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore may not blow the doors off the scene, an improvement for Moore in 2013 would spell trouble for the AL East in getting after the Rays. If the lineup doesn’t scare you yet, that’s OK, but once Wil Myers gets penciled in, that sound you’ll hear is the American League pitchers groaning. While Myers isn’t a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, he is still a potential All-Star for the outfield, and not one of those “hey we need a guy from a team” All-Stars. The bullpen is led by archery and plantain specialist Fernando Rodney, and after that, it’s an affordable group of arms… “If only they had more financial resources and played in a market that cared,” we cry. If this team struggles and falls out of contention, the asking price for ace SP Price should be most interesting, because he’s probably taking a raise that the Rays won’t be able to offer in the offseason.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/5, 15/4, 8/1
Stuart sees: a team that saw what the AL East was putting out and decided it was time to push the chips in. Like it or not, the Blue Jays gave up some pieces to get the guys they brought in, including R.A. Dickey. Taking a risk on Melky Cabrera was probably not looked upon favorably by the public, but I like the move that was made and hope it works out, especially with the naive optimism it could spur a “maybe we don’t have the right idea about PEDs,” but that really is a pipe-dream on my part. The rotation has the potential to be lights out with the bullpen being my question mark for the team. That lineup is not going to be fun to face, but I will say this: if you hear this club made out to be some sort of Washington Nationals-level super-club, I don’t buy into that. I think they’re a tick above what the Braves put out. A short-term gamble (but not like trading Wheeler for Beltran short-term) that should see the playoffs being played again in Toronto. Milk bags for everyone!
A crazy and difficult set of predictions for the AL East, what are yours for this division (that I think could go a lot of different ways)?
If you’re a baseball fan, unless you’ve separated yourself from anyone with internet access, you’ve been hearing about this blockbuster of a deal for the last 24 hours or so. If you’re from the LA Times, you’ve actually thought about this since Thursday. We’ve had plenty of time to digest what players would be involved, and really the only thing we’re not exactly sure of is the dollar amount that the Red Sox will cover. I’ve also personally wondered how the Dodgers finances with the luxury tax would go, and luckily there are people that know how that works.
A lot of people, Giants fans especially, aren’t sure how they feel, with the emotions ranging all over the place. While I can’t tell you how to feel, let me tell you what I feel:
How the trade impacts 2012: The Dodgers won’t get these guys
until Sunday at the earliest I believe until Saturday’s game, so the Dodgers will get 36 37 games out of Gonzalez, Beckett (6-7 starts?), and Punto for this season. Carl Crawford is out due to Tommy John surgery, so we won’t see him until 2013. While Adrian Gonzalez makes the Dodger lineup more formidable all by himself, he doesn’t all of a sudden make it invincible. After the Giants got swept by a team led by Kemp, Ethier, and Hanley, they returned the favor by sweeping them in their own house with the same team in Dodger blue. While the addition is scary, we should be realistic as well. All together, these guys may add 1-2 extra wins to their lineup than what they would’ve had without them. I do not think the Dodgers win the West this year, but I think they’ll be competitive for the 2nd wild card spot.
How the trade impacts 2013-2016: This is what Giants fans should be worried about and where the Dodgers get their money’s worth out of their players. Assuming good health, you’re looking at a lineup that has Crawford, Hanley, Gonzalez, Kemp, and Ethier. This doesn’t even include guys the Dodgers might add or bring up from the farm. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants play second fiddle to the Dodgers these years a la Nationals in the NL East, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them and the Giants neck-and-neck again (Clayton Kershaw can’t do everything).
Important to note Hanley will be a FA in 2014, Clayton Kershaw in 2015, and Josh Beckett in 2015 as well. I think the Dodgers will hold on to two of the three of those guys. I’ll let you guess which two.
How the trade impacts 2017-2019: This is when the contracts are starting to end, and more importantly when some of the players start to get old. Carl Crawford (age 36, contract ends in 2017), Adrian Gonzalez (36, 2018), Andre Ethier (35, 2017), Matt Kemp (35, 2019), and probably Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez will all be in their mid-30’s (probably for CK and HR = if they’re on the LAD) and taking up from $100-$120MM of their team’s payroll. You may not be worried about guys like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw if you’re a Dodger fan, but what about Adrian Gonzalez? Carl Crawford? Even Hanley Ramirez? I’m not convinced these every one of these guys are still amazing when we’re closer to the year 2020 than we are to 2012.
I don’t know what the Giants will be these years, and the climate of the NL West could be totally different — the Rockies could be relevant! — who knows! Maybe realignment will have happened! All you need to know is that the Dodgers won’t be as great in 2017-2019 as they will be in 2013 and 2014 for sure. So until the next couple years, enjoy the pennant race of 2012.
Ok, let’s make this quick. You’ve heard LA won the waiver claim on Adrian Gonzalez. They got it on Josh Beckett, too. They could also get it on Nick Punto (shocker). Then we hear this out of Boston:
Which is totally wtf material but whatever. If it gets done, I believe this is what the Dodgers’ payroll for 2013 looks like:
Jon Morosi from FOX was saying Boston would send the Dodgers money, probably to cover some of that over-the-luxury-tax-payroll. From MLBTradeRumors.com:
This whole thing could go to ashes right away with Josh Beckett turning down a deal or something, so you never know. This could be just crazy speculation, but this would be the trade of the season if it did go down. We’ll see. Until then, we wait… until Sunday morning when the waiver expires.
So you might have heard by now that the Oakland A’s have traded Closer Andrew Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney for OF Josh Reddick, RHP Raul Alcantara and and 1B Miles Head. To which you might have heard the sound of people hitting their heads on their desks but there are those that do like the trade. But we’re not here to talk about them. We’re here to talk about what their payroll is right now:
$23MM. For 2012. At this moment. That’s one team. ONE TEAM IN 2012. Let’s remember some of the baseball players that will make that or more in 2012:
1. Alex Rodriguez ($29MM)
2. Albert Pujols ($More than 23MM)
3. CC Sabathia ($23MM)
4. Joe Mauer ($23MM)
5. Probably Prince Fielder ($TBD)
6. Possibly Tim Lincecum
Oh, by the way, Oakland’s gonna probably need somebody to play OF. So if you can cover this much ground, they’ll be lookin’ to hear from you:
Don’t worry about hitting. They won’t need that for a couple of years.