I’m back to posting email conversations between my former blog compatriots but instead of putting them back in the sports blog that no one but me updates I’ll keep them here for now. Winter baseball fun is upon us and the big moves already have begun including that crazy block-buster trade between the Jays and Miami. The parts in italics are from my conversational contributors.
Being a bombers fan it is frightening to see a reinvigorated ALE. Obviously my vested interest as a fan is a bit derided by my swooning love of the Nats who’ve finally seen the fruits of their development labors succeed, however, with AROID now having another surgery on his ailing hip and probably missing a third to half the season it opens some huge questions that now need to be addressed beyond the plethora of 1-year contracts they’ve just shelled out… meaning:
1. Who starts at 3rd with ARoid out? If you use an existing utility player, then who backs up the center/left side of the infield??
2. Who starts at Catcher with Martin gone and furthermore and who backs them up?
3. Who starts Right Field if Swish doesn’t come back? Similarly, who backs up 1st base too?
4. Who sets up / backs up Mo Rivera with Soriano departed now that Mo is back from his injury?
5. Is this really a starting rotation: Sabbathia; Kuroda; Pettite; Hughs; Nova with Pinera, etc as potential fill in pieces
6. How do get out of the old fogies joke with Kuroda, Pettite, Jeter, etc already signed? Similarly, now that Cano is an established player, how is the next young gun to come out of a system that’s been slow to develop as of late??
7. What does this do to the other ‘powerhouse’ teams egos?
Need more consistent hitting
Nobody get Halladay, Howard, Utley a like
I’m a little concerned for Halladay he’s been one of my favorites for years especially since he loved fucking with the Red Sox and yanks for years but… Hopefully they monitor him and his notorious workouts more closely
Need a consistent hitting outfield – Also I want them to try Darren Ruf out in left field he tore the minors up had 30 homers in one month… Something like that… Got called up in September and was great would like to see how he is great prospect
Other than that I’m hoping uncle Charlie goes bye bye so Ryan sandberg can manage the team in 2014 that would be an awesome site
I’d consider anything that allows the Phils to outperform the Marlins and Mets next year a success, if you can manage to bump Atlanta that’s gravy, but I find it difficult to see the Phils unseating the Nats next season short of a huge Washington collapse (which, for that city’s sports history, isn’t necessarily an impossibility). I definitely see your points on some of the Phils needs, it’s a laundry list that only teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox probably trump
Starting rotation was a core component to last year’s failure. I do agree, the 1-8 was streaky and putting together a consistent lineup was a challenge sometimes, but I expect that out of a power team especially with the maturity (read: age) that it sported, however, nearly everyone has that as an ailment if you look league wide, it’s the nature of building a lineup, either it’s deep by streaky or it’s swiss cheese, rarely is it solid top to bottom consistently. Some depth in the OF would certainly go a long way in plugging up the defense and providing a bat, but with a much weaker NLE and a pretty medocre group competing for the two wild card spots right now it wouldn’t take much to be competitive. Two longer term holes I worry about are the corner infield, although that’s not a “this season” worry, yet.
But, the problems within what was slated to be among the leagues best 1-4 SP staff were detrimental, for even when you were hitting the pitching was giving up way too many games. A few big nights here and there might salvage the pitcher reputation but as a staff it was a bunch of paper tigers. That, in conjunction with what I felt was no depth in the middle relief and a big name but wholly suspect closer (never, every liked Papps, he’s slow, he’s deomonstrative, he’s unpredictable and he’s aging which makes him the new B-Lidge, remembering the B stands for Blow-save – he’s retiring this year BTW). On paper, there’s plenty of system depth to plug in both SP and MR holes, or use it as trade bait to rebuild the staff, but the team is heavily reliant on the Yankees 1990’s mantra of starting pitching drives team success and right now pitching is an Achilles heal with no clear determination of how to really align that rotation to be competitive, particularly if you’re still relying on a comeback of
You did hear Dan Haren is headed to the Nats too, right?? That’s joining a 1-4 of Strasburg, Gonzales, Zimmerman, Detwieter – yikes. I wouldn’t call that the best 1-4 in the league (three guys with under three years experience) but I would say that’s easily one of the most well rounded and difficult to maneuver 1-5 if Haren comes back even partially to form and finds a reason to thrive at the back end of that rotation. Add in the addition of a decent IF and power OF and they again have a pretty solid lineup on paper 1-8 and some positional depth for matchups. If they didn’t make a run into the playoffs again it would be a surprise. Are they ready to unseat the Giants or any of the other NL powerhouses? I don’t know but my hopes are they stack up with experience in making the playoffs for the first time last season much better and have a staff that includes Harper, Span, Desmond, a crop of rookie catchers and their young pitching that should propelle them for several seasons to come.
I haven’t followed much of Big D’s offseason so I can’t speak much to that but the ALC seems like it’ll once again be a bit of a void after Detroit even if that team makes absolutely no improvements in the off season
The Yanks on the other hand have to hope that it takes a while for the revamped version of Toronto to gel, that the Orioles caught lightening in a bottle last season and aren’t actually on a rebuilt to success tragectory, that the Rays dont’ bounce back and that the Sox are indeed the cluster-eff that they still appear to be
Perhaps I’m lucky right now and my Tigers are competitive and maybe I’m on a bandwagon. I guess I can simplify my feeling for baseball like this: I get home from work on Mondays at 1:30pm and at 3pm the Tigers play a day game. I turn the radio on REAL loud. Yes, the radio. Radio for me is the best way to absorb the game of baseball. The sound is so rich, the play by play so very…. banterish. Something about first thaw and spring and then heat and then deep heat… cicadas and birds… mosquitoes and moths… spring peepers and August bats overhead… and baseball on the radio. Tigers baseball on the radio as I work in the yard, dig… plant… harvest from our garden. The crack of a bat as light creeps away and I throw some burgers… or steaks… chicken or something on the propane grill. Or the game on as I sit around the heat with a beer and a dressed pork shoulder on the smoker.
I’m just thankful at this time that I get to listen to players like Justin Verlander and Fister pitch. Verlander is simply amazing. I’m geeked by his every appearance on the mound. He didn’t have a great year last year. I think he comes back pissed. Fister was hampered by injury. I pray for better health. Still, he set the NL record for consecutive strike-outs… and I don’t view him as a strike out pitcher. But Fister’s mind, when his body is able, is SO good. Max Scherzer started last year as classic Mad Max… inconsistent and unfocused. Sparkles of awesome followed by a 3rd inning hook. Then the man’s father dies and somehow, some way, he returns as a focused monster that challenges JV all year for the lead in strike outs. I pray he returns with focus. Anibal Sanchez comes to the team and starts soft then starts feeling it in the clubhouse and finishes very well. Hope the Tigs spent Mr. Illitch’s money well.
I hope Victor Martinez returns with some form. So excited about Jackson-Torre-Cabrera-Fielder-Martinez as 1 through 5. Still so worried about 6 through 9. I hope Rick Porcello gets traded to a team that can field. Rick’s a good ground ball pitcher… he’d do really well for a team that can field. I hope the Tiger’s fielding can improve somehow. Magic? Perhaps, but doubtful. And still, we play in the Central division… laughing stock of the league. That’s okay.
Tigers are building for post-season success and are in the perfect division for it. Like I’ve said already, I’m new to baseball. I suppose I’m lucky ’cause I get to simply be a fan right now as I learn. I dunno that I’ll ever care about another team like I care all about hockey. I want to watch the Kings play, I love watching Toronto on Saturday Night CBC broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, I watch the Caps whenever they’re televised… I’m invested in the Plymouth Whalers, Grand Rapids Griffins, Frozen Four…. HOCKEY! I don’t see myself ever being invested in the Nationals, the Red Sox, the Dodgers… et. al. I guess I’m just a Tiger’s guy, for now. But I do know that no matter how good or bad they are, I think they’ve become very much a part of the sound of my spring/summer and that’s interesting.
1) the best way to enjoy a game is with a great AM radio broadcast, a beer and someone to yell at the radio with … so I agree with your assessment 100%
2) it’s nice to think for some that the ALC is the laughing stock now, I was tired of it being the NLE, though, seems like the Mets and Miami are determined to help bring the title back with the Phils in tow
The WS have a LOT of youth to work with and I think that could prove interesting to watch in the dynamic of that division, KC really, really is finally trying to be competitive for the first time since the 80s (funny enough so it Pitt, which for years both looked more like HS teams than the big leagues). The Twins I still think are a sleeper team, they aren’t really as bad as they seem and should it congeal they could do well, not contend for a pennant but certainly not be a sub.400 team like they were pushing for last year. nothing I can say about the Indians is useful. They are simply the KC replacement in the basement (hey, that rhymed)
3) If the NHL doesn’t completely implode … we can get back to hockey conversations when there’s something more to be had. Hershey was one of the few teams I followed down in the minors and they’re certainly not blowing anyone away this year for the first time in a long time, so between that and the lack of connection to the big club during the lock it’s really waned my interest with only Holts, Orlov and Gailev playing there (everyone else is spread across Europe!) as notables without stretching to deep roll player prospects like Kundratek & Shilling
4) Verlander started 33 with 230 innings and a league leading 6 completes turning in a 17-8 record, #3 in the league for ERA w/ 2.64; #5 in the league WHIP; #4 in the league for BAA and among the highest WAR you can have as a SP along with second in tallies for the ALE Cy Young. If that’s a bad year I’m shocked.
The rest of that starting staff is pudding too with Sanchez, Fister and Schurzer it’s probably one of the most solid top fours you can buy with some wiggle room on #5. Pen could use work, sure, but with three 200+ inning workhorses as long as you can find a stable closer there’s not a worry to be had. Just don’t have a multiple starter injury situation like the Yanks, BoSox or Phils did last year and you should be fine. Heck, the Yanks even figured it out despite the injuries.
5) To say your defense is suspect is an understatement but the bats it produces are tight. I don’t think you’re giving Avila enough credit as a catcher, from a defensive standpoint he seems like one of the few bright spots on the team, on offense his numbers don’t sparkle compared to the top of the order but as a catcher it’s respectable.
Middle IF is dainty but honestly good hitting SS are are to find, right now it’s like Andrus, Reyes, Cabrera, Jeter, Desmond and then whooooooof it’s a big drop and 2B is kind of the same story, Cano then Hill and Pedrioa and then it gets messy and as for OF, those guys are a dime a dozen. Assuming you can move someone like Porcello and don’t overspend on relief pitching getting a quality OF (switch hitter would be good) you round out nicely. Having watched Torii Hunter in Anaheim for years he WAY over-performed last season and I think might not be enough if he revers back to a .260 hitter showcasing a sub.800 OPS which he is entirely capable of. If you can cobble together a 1-5 or 1-6 you’re automatically a dangerous team and you easily have that particularly if Martinez can recover at all to a .285-.300 average with modest power (still below his career averages but that’s to be expected) even if Hunter shits the bed.