Wednesday, November 11, 2009

20/20 Hindsight---American League West

  • My predictions in retrospect----American League West:

This is what happens when you let outside influences creep in, consciously or not.

American League West, Paul's Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Oakland Athletics
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Seattle Mariners

American League West, Actual Order of Finish:

  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Oakland Athletics

Los Angeles Angels:

Paul's Predicted Record: 87-75

Actual Record: 97-65

What the Angels were trying to do in 2009 was what eluded both the Cubs and Mets in recent years----go for it all; get close; look like they're the team to beat; get bounced in the playoffs; and come back the next year and get back where they were to achieve a different result.

After winning 100 games in 2008 and making a major off-season move for Mark Teixeira, the Angels were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Red Sox. Logic dictated that their refusal to alter their offensive approach after they acquired Teixeira and that they lost him to the Yankees as a free agent would cause a fallback in their on-field success. The only thing saving them and kept them a playoff contender was the weakness of the AL West overall and their history.

I was unsold on Kendry Morales as a replacement first baseman and he had a massive year. The Angels have always been notoriously over-aggressive on the bases and at the plate and it's cost them in the playoffs.

There are certain things for which no one can realistically take credit for being right about with the Angels. Bobby Abreu puts the same numbers up year-after-year, so by now it's a matter of plugging them in and waiting until age begins to catch up with him----it's a guess as to when that will happen. The Angels strength isn't a secret as they stockpile pitching. No one could've accounted for Scot Shields getting hurt. While Brian Fuentes is shaky, with that team and their consistent formula, he led the league in saves. I expected him to struggle at times and he did. As they lament Francisco Rodriguez's departure and Fuentes's playoff failure, people conveniently forget that K-Rod wasn't exactly money in the playoffs either.

Technically, I was right in my statement that the Angels wouldn't win 100 games again.

They didn't.

They won 97.

I had the Angels losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Yankees and they lost to the Yankees in the ALCS.

One aspect that brings sadness and reality into everything is my assessment of Nick Adenhart. I mentioned how he had a great curveball, needed to improve his command and that he might need some more minor league seasoning before taking the next step in the majors. Around two monthsafter I wrote those words, Adenhart was dead.

That puts things into perspective with the force of a swinging sledgehammer.

Texas Rangers:

Paul Predicted Record: 78-84

Actual Record: 87-75

Okay. Not only did I have Ron Washington fired almost before the season got underway, but I had inter-organizational turf wars possibly getting GM Jon Daniels (who's done a great job after a rotten and overmatched start as a young GM) bounced as Nolan Ryan took control. I saw their pitching as short, their bullpen questionable and their ballpark a detriment to developing any of their young arms into anything more than grunts in the war of attrition that a bandbox park creates.

There was no way for Josh Hamilton to repeat his massive season in 2008, but I certainly didn't expect him to get caught falling off the wagon, nor that he would be so injured that he gave the Rangers almost nothing. I had Elvis Andrus pegged as Rookie of the Year; he had a solid enough year for a 20-year-old----especially defensively----but he has a distance to travel before he's the hitter he can be.

I don't know anyone who could've expected Scott Feldman to copy Roy Halladay's motion and doggedness to a stunning 17-win year.

I agreed with GM Daniels's strangely honest projection that his club probably wouldn't show drastic improvement until the second half of the season and it turned out we were both wrong. The Rangers had a fine year due in part to Ryan's and Mike Maddux's decision to push their pitchers past the absurd pitch counts that have become vogue. Even with their questions surrounding Tom Hicks's finances, the Rangers have enough good young talent to continue to rise.

Seattle Mariners:

Paul's Predicted Record: 73-89

Actual Record: 85-77

The Mariners were the epitome of a team that lost 100 games in 2008 due to everything going wrong. There are 100-loss teams and there are teams that happen to lose 100 games; the Mariners were the latter. There was no way for everything to go as wrong as it did for them in 2009. Expecting a team to improve by over 20 games without making big money drastic changes is absurd in any case, but GM Jack Zduriencik's aggressive maneuvers to improve the defense paid off.

Considering the way they jerked Brandon Morrow around (it's a less-publicized version of the Joba Rules/JOBA RUINATION the Yankees are perpetrating with Joba Chamberlain), they're lucky he didn't blow out his arm. I still think Morrow has ace potential and he's a guy who should be a starter. I was right about Erik Bedard, who at this point is so down in value because of his fragile anatomy and contentious personality (he makes Kevin Brown look as affable as George Foreman) that he's going to have to settle for a short-term, short-money deal to prove himself. Watch him wind up with the Marlins next year.

I've never been a Jarrod Washburn fan, but he had a fine year for the Mariners and yielded some value when they traded him to the Tigers (where he promptly fell on his face). Their bullpen was a group of converted starters and journeymen relievers; their offense was a question, but they had an excellent year from where they'd been at the end of 2008.

I thought the Mariners would improve, but not to the degree that they did.

Oakland Athletics:

Paul's Predicted Record: 84-78

Actual Record: 75-87

This is what happens when outside influences and man-crushes enter your brain and sabotage the system.

Everyone was lusting over the A's (even though most had them contending in a weak division with a win total in the 80s) after GM Billy Beane's aggressive attempts to beef up the offense with Matt Holliday; and the signing of reliable veteran relievers like Russ Springer among others.

On paper, the A's shouldn't have been as bad as they were early in the season and their record was only dressed up by a late-season hot streak. They looked like they were going to lose 95 games at mid-season. In fairness, the one thing that screwed them royally was Justin Duchscherer's injury/personal problems that cost him the whole season. They needed that veteran anchor in the rotation to give their young starters a little bit of wiggle-room not to be relied on as much as they were. It's a roll of the dice to trust young pitchers for a team that has designs on contending and it didn't work for the A's.

I had no clue who Andew Bailey even was before the season started and he was an All Star. I thought Beane might make some drastic deals to go for it if the A's were hovering around contention; instead, he cleaned house of the likes of Holliday and the shot Jason Giambi.

I was right about the offense being shaky; wrong about their young pitching coming through well enough to keep them respectable.

  • ZOMBIES!!!!!!!

I didn't do nothin' this time and I somehow wound up in the crossfire in a war (W.A.R.) on Baseball Think Factory----click here and scroll down to comment 30 to see your Prince dragged unwillingly into the conflict. (I shouldn't say "unwillingly" because I'm not all that bothered one way or the other; I love a good scrap.) Much like the U.S. military cannot be the world's policemen, I can't be taking sides in stuff like this as neither side in the conflict benefits me.

Darren Repoz posted the following comment when I was being blamed for starting the skirmish:

Fun-lovin' Paul Lebowitz is the "stat zombie" guy.

I am fun lovin', but I'm not simply "fun-lovin", I bring the fun with me. And I'm not the "stat zombie guy"; I'm the stat zombie destroyer and the ultimate weapon to that end----and my taking over control of the universe----is nearing completion.

I have to give Repoz props because I haven't the faintest clue as to what he thinks of me, if anything at all. Most of the time, I can gauge whether people love me (26%); tolerate me (27%); grudgingly acknowledge my skillz to pay the billz (18%); hate/goof on/or are petrified of me (29%).

Although it's never personal, people know where they stand with me (see DePodesta, Paul); it's a subtle and unappreciated skill to be or to seem indifferent; and I'm extremely grateful when I get mentioned anywhere, positively or negatively----any promotion is good promotion!!!

  • Viewer Mail 11.11.2009:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Indians:

How about those Cleveland Indians. I think I would have predicted the Twins for first place, because they always seem to do better than people expect them to, but I never would have predicted the Indians to fall off the face of the earth. Awful season.

Ugh. Can we just forget about the Indians? Theirs was the case of injuries and everything falling apart all at once. On paper, they looked good enough to compete in a flawed division; the wheels all fell off at once. What can you do?

Gabriel writes the Blue Jays and Milton Bradley:

If the Blue Jays get Milton Bradley I'll personally go to the office and slap Alex Anthopolous and Paul Beeston.

You'll have to climb over the people holding torches and truncheons trying to do a bit more than "slap" them. Lucky for you (and unlucky for me in my Met hopes to get Lyle Overbay and get Luis Castillo out of here in favor of a better bat at second base----Orlando Hudson/Dan Uggla), the Blue Jays have said they have no interest in Bradley.

Truth be told, the rumors were a little outrageous to start with; why would they want to do such a deal to get rid of a useful player like Overbay when they could get Bradley without paying him if they gave the Cubs a halfway decent prospect? They could get him literally for nothing if they really want him.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Milton Bradley:

At this point, because the Cubs will be paying the majority of Milton Bradley's contract the next two years (one would assume) I am surprised that more teams aren't jumping at him. At such a low price, why wouldn't you take the risk? And when he DOES blow a gasket, it won't cost ya anything anyway. Personally, I hope the Cubs keep him because I spend so much of my time ripping the guy and getting cheap laughs. Yeah, I'm not ashamed.

The problem is that it's not a situation where he's an "if" to blow up at some point. Players like that who've had issues for one reason or another (I'm thinking Corey Dillon with the Bengals and when he went to the Patriots; and even Gary Sheffield) have had reasons to blow up. With Bradley, if someone says good morning to him wrong, it could set off a chain reaction of Bradley-stuff.

I briefly mulled the possibility of Castillo straight up for Bradley, but if I were the Mets, forget it. Bradley in New York? No way. And it wouldn't simply be New York; Bradley's reached the toxic status where you could replace any city short of the set of the upcoming film version of The Road and say no way to that as well.

David writes:

Prince: This is my favorite part of your blogging season; The "hindsight 20/20" section. It's like Christmas waiting for the NL west and your retrospective / present / future outlook for my boys in blue. Next year is our year!* *if McCourt get his divorce crap worked out and we make better decisions in acquiring quality pitching...

The Dodgers big screw up this year wasn't until the playoffs. Joe Torre was crazy to put Clayton Kershaw in that position by starting him the in the first game of the NLCS (I think Kershaw might win the Cy Young Award next year); and Jonathan Broxton/George Sherrill's blowups cost them two games.

I wouldn't worry about the composition of the club. Although this divorce is one of those public splits that's going to go on for yeaaaaars and get very, very ugly, that could wind up being a positive because they'll try to do big things to overcome the implication of disarray. Don't be surprised to see Roy Halladay in a Dodgers uniform next year.


Gabriel said...

I'd have led the angry mob. And I'm a gentleman, I'd have slapped them, then throw them to the mob.

Roy Halladay as a Dodger it's something I'd like to see, because I like LA, and I like all the prospects they might be willing to give. In all fairness, I just hope he ends up far away from both leagues' east coasts, except for the Mets and the Marlins.

Jeff said...

Oooooh.... YUM-YUM... Errrrggghh... LOVE WAR... Mmmm... W.A.R. v. PECOTA PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM OF BRAINS v. WHIP.... Mmmmmm... y-y-y-y-yeeees... Likey Like... grrrr... CHOMP CHOMP... WHERE IS WILSON BETEMIT... MMM... CHAD B-B-B-Bradford SUBMARINE... BRAINS!!!!!!

She-Fan said...

So you love a good scrap or a good scrape? Hmm.

Gabriel said...

Adam Lind and Aaron Hill should win their respective Silver Slugger awards. They had stronger years than all contenders at their respective positions.

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