|1. Texas Rangers
|2. Los Angeles Angels*
|3. Seattle Mariners
|4. Oakland Athletics
* Denotes predicted Wild Card winner.
The Rangers lose starting pitching (Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson), but find innovative ways of replenishing it.
They lost Lee after 2010 and inserted Alexi Ogando into the rotation and he made the All-Star team.
They lost Wilson after 2011 and finally shifted Neftali Feliz into the rotation permanently and signed Joe Nathan to take his place as closer. Then they won the bidding for Yu Darvish.
They can hit, they can field, they can run, they can pitch, they’re willing to make bold trades in-season, and they’re not constrained by contemporary orthodoxies that are circular in nature and taken as fact because “everyone is doing it”.
If everyone is doing it, it’s probably as good a reason as any to do something else.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels were never the team to spend lavishly on the biggest of the big name free agents, but after losing out on Carl Crawford last year and taking on the toxic contract of Vernon Wells, GM Tony Reagins was fired and replaced by Jerry DiPoto. DiPoto was handed what amounted to a blank check to make the team better, they signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and traded for Chris Iannetta.
The bullpen is still a question mark, but they trot out four ace-quality starters and have more bats than they know what to do with.
The balance of power has shifted West and the days of the Yankees and Red Sox being anointed playoff spots as a rite of spring are over.
Jack Zduriencik supporters are leaping from his ship like it’s the Hindenburg.
Not every negative thing that’s happened with the Mariners is his fault—I find it hard to believe he wanted to bring Ken Griffey Jr. back for a second season in 2010 and if he has a brain in his head, he’d love to be rid of Ichiro Suzuki—but he got the credit, he gets the blame.
Chone Figgins has been a disaster. They’re trying again to give him a starting job at third base and are batting him leadoff.
That won’t last.
The trade Zduriencik made in getting Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi is going to be terrific.
The Mariners are still offensively challenged, are relying on a patched together bullpen with upside, have good starting pitching and defense.
The division is a nightmare and support of this regime is crumbling. They’d better overachieve or Zduriencik is going to be in serious trouble by the waning days of the season.
Is the intense study of sabermetrics undertaken by Brandon McCarthy going to repair his constant injuries? He’s the darling of the stat guys because he implemented numbers to improve his results—and it worked—but it’s all a bit over-the-top thinking he’s turned a corner, never to return to what he was.
Their number two starter is Bartolo Colon; their bullpen is gutted; the offense is woeful; the defense is questionable.
But ignore the facts. Billy Beane is a genius because a book and a movie said so.
It’s Hollywood and creative non-fiction!! You can believe it if you want…if you’re an indoctrinated, agenda-driven moron.
Far more in depth analysis is in my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2012 Baseball Guide, now available.
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