Tag:John Lackey
Posted on: June 30, 2008 1:40 am
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American League Midseason Report Cards

The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
Record:
41-39, 4th Place in the AL East
Grade: A -

The Orioles made the right moves during the off-season by trading both Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Those two trades brought the team some quality players in return that the team can build upon. While many people wrote the Orioles off this season--some going as far as predicting the team would have 100 losses--the O's have remained competitive all year long. The only step left for GM Andy MacPhail is to continue the firesale and trade off the remaining veterans for prospects. With the team having a top 3 relief pitching staff, there will be quite a bit of demand for veteran relievers like Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, and George Sherrill. Trading them would make the team much better in the long run.


Boston Red Sox
Record:
50-34, 2nd Place in the AL East
Grade: A

The Red Sox have played very well this season. Despite the fact that David Ortiz started out slow, Curt Schilling is done for the year, and multiple players have spent time on the DL, they still have one of the best records in baseball. However, because they play in baseball's best division, they are finding themselves in the middle of what should be a three team race for the American League East. With regards to that, I give the team an "A" for overall performance. However, because Schilling is out with injury, I don't trust anyone on their team other than Josh Beckett to start in the playoffs. Despite Tim Wakefield having his best season since 2002, he has never been a good postseason pitcher. The young guys--Lester, Buchholz, & Masterson--have only one playoff start between them and lack longevity in the regular season. Meanwhile, Daisuke's walk totals are increasing and his performance in the postseason last year was terrible. It will be interesting to see if the team pursues a veteran starter at the deadline.


New York Yankees
Record:
44-38, 3rd Place in the AL East
Grade: B

The Yankees haven't exactly been playing their best ball, yet they haven't played bad baseball either. The team has consistently remained around .500 and have just recently made a run above it. In my opinion, the Yankees can't get much worse, but they have the potential to be much better than they are playing. With Joba finally making the transition to the rotation, if the Yankees can add one more starter, they'll be right in the thick of it. The teams offense is potent, especially with the return of Jason Giambi to the lineup and the bullpen has been holding its own so far. The Yankees were my prediction to win the division and I still think they will do it.


Tampa Bay Rays
Record:
49-32, 1st Place in the AL East
Grade: A

Wow. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have been in first place in the American League East at the halfway point? I certainly didn't. This team has been loaded with talent, but it never fully developed until now. The off-season trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza has payed dividends as well and given the team a formidable front three of Scott Kazmir, Garza, and James Shields. In addition, Evan Longoria is showing that he will be a true superstar in this league for years to come. What the team really needs going forward is one more bat, perhaps in right field or DH, to solidify the lineup. Other than that, the Rays will stay competitive until the very end. You can be assured of that.


Toronto Blue Jays
Record:
40-43, Last Place in the AL East
Grade: D

Everyone's favorite preseason pick is in last place in the division right now. The Blue Jays haven't played bad baseball, but they just haven't been given a commitment to winning by their management. The early season release of Frank Thomas (who is hitting .319 with the A's) is a perfect example. The team has the pitching staff to be a good team and they could make a 2nd half run, but it might be too little too late in the toughest division in baseball. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need to make a trade for an impact bat. You can't expect to win too many games with Matt Stairs, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, and Shannon Stewart in your lineup. It just doesn't happen.



American League Central

Chicago White Sox
Record:
45-35, 1st Place in the AL Central
Grade: A

Maybe we were a bit too harsh on GM Kenny Williams this offseason as many of his signings have proven to work out great. The additions of Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink have shored up the bullpen problems the team has been having for years. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is among the league leaders in home runs this season, while Alexei Ramirez is batting over .300 and has shored up the the 2nd base spot for the team. Even the decision to keep Joe Crede is looking brilliant now. The only move that isn't looking great is the Nick Swisher deal as Ryan Sweeney is outperforming him in Oakland. However, Swisher is batting .302 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in the month of June so he might be on the verge of turning it around.


Cleveland Indians
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in AL the Central
Grade: F

I don't understand how a team this talented could perform so poorly all year long. The Indians aren't even putting themselves anywhere close to contention which is making the decision to trade C.C. Sabathia easier by the day. The more and more I see of Travis Hafner, the uglier that 6 year extension is looking that he signed a year ago as well. The only two Indians ballplayers that are performing are Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake and Blake is as good as gone at the seasons end. The Indians better hope that Sabathia brings them back players that will help them in the immediate future, because the Indians window of opportunity is closing.


Detroit Tigers
Record:
41-40, 3rd Place in the AL Central
Grade: C

Well, it isn't what we expected, but to be a game above .500 and only 4.5 back of the division leaders at the halfway sign is good for the Tigers who started the season off poorly. The pitching staff is starting to come around--though Dontrelle Willis may be done as a pro--and the team should get better in the bullpen when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney start to come around. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tigers overtook the White Sox in the American League Central by the end of the year. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me if the team remained mediocre for the rest of the season. Much like the Yankees, the offense will be there for this team. EVERYTHING relies on the pitching staff down the stretch. I would suggest the team making a trade, but after the deals with Florida and Atlanta, they can't have much left in their farm system.


Kansas City Royals
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in the AL Central
Grade: D

We knew the Royals were going to be bad to start the year, so the fact that they have a higher grade than the Indians is because the Indians failed to meet anywhere close to their expectations. However, I still don't understand how many of these players on the Royals have jobs. I mean, how long is it going to be until Tony Pena, who has a .142 batting average and an OPS of -2 (yeah...negative two) is sent down? I mean, he can't be in their for his defense either as he has the 2nd worse. Their other alternative, Angel Berroa, was recently traded away to the Dodgers which made no sense at all. At least Berroa could hit the ball out of the infield. This team has some talented players, but they are nowhere near turning into a good ballclub.


Minnesota Twins
Record:
45-37, 2nd Place in the AL Central
Grade: B+

The Twins lost both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter this offseason and are still in contention. How you may ask? For one, Hunter has always been overrated and is just an average ballplayer. Secondly, Joe Mauer has been able to stay healthy this season which has given the offense a spark. And third, the bullpen (as usual) has been outstanding. The Twins really don't deserve to be where they are with the performance of the offense (as a whole) and the poor starting pitching they've had. However, they'd remained in the hunt the entire time and had tons of success against the National League this season. I gave them a B+ because of their record, however, I think both the White Sox and Tigers will finish ahead of them by the end of the year.



American League West

Los Angeles Angels
Record:
49-33, 1st Place in the AL West
Grade: A -

The Angels got exceptional performances from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana while John Lackey was out, and now that he's back, the team has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the majors. However, the offense of the Halos has been a huge disappointment this season as the team is 2nd to last in the American League in team OPS. Only two players on the team have double digit home run numbers and one of them (Mike Napoli) is just a part time player. The Angels most obvious need for the second half is an impact bat, preferably at shortstop. The Angels should be able to keep pace in the west as the A's and Rangers aren't much of a real threat, but if they want to avoid another October disappointment, they'll have to make some changes.


Oakland Athletics
Record:
44-37. 2nd Place in the AL West
Grade: B+

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to doubt Billy Beane. He's the only guy that can make his team better the next season by trading his best pitcher and his best hitter. Many people had the A's predicted as the last place finishers in the west this season, but the A's have continued to succeed with their foundation of strong pitching. The team is on pace to set another record for most people on the disabled list in a season. Much like the division rival Angels, the A's offense has been terrible this season. However, I don't think it can get much worse than it already is. Daric Barton has struggled all year long, but the A's have no other options at the position now that Dan Johnson is gone and it's probably best to let Barton swing his way out of it. Carlos Gonzalez has finally arrived at the major league level and his swing is amazing. He is only 21 and you can tell that he'll be a great ballplayer in the future. The team has a lot of potential and was initially geared up to compete in 2010-2011. Anything they do now is just a bonus.


Texas Rangers
Record:
42-41, 3rd Place in the AL West
Grade: B

Nolan Ryan......."Take That!" At least, that's what I'd be saying if I were Rangers manager Ron Washington. After feeling the heat much of the first half, Ron Washington has the Rangers maintaining a respectable winning percentage. He is getting the most out of the players he has and it's turning into wins for the ballclub. Milton Bradley might just be the best offseason signing for the Rangers as he has continued to crush the ball. Now all the team needs to do is to finally get some decent pitchers to the big league level instead of trading their best talent away (i.e. Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, John Danks). If I were GM Jon Daniels, I know my team doesn't stand much of a chance at the postseason this year, so I'd look to see if I could trade Vincente Padilla (and his contract) to a contender.


Seattle Mariners
Record:
31-50, Last Place in the AL West
Grade: F

What a joke. I think I was the only person here to question how good the Seattle Mariners would be this season. I KNEW they weren't as good as everyone has been saying and they only proved me right by having the worst record in baseball. It's about time they fired Bill Bavasi as he did nothing good for the team. I don't even know what to say about the Mariners right now other than a firesale should be about to begin (with everyone except for Ichiro). The Mariners have a lot of rebuilding to do and now that Bavasi damaged the teams future, who knows how long it's going to take.

Posted on: March 20, 2008 7:54 pm
 

2008 Los Angeles Angels Season Preview

Los Angeles Angels

2007 Record: 94-68, 1st Place in AL West, Lost to Boston in ALDS
Abedi's 2008 Projection: 93-69, 1st Place in AL West




Key Additions:
Key Departures:
Projected Lineup:
  1. 3B Chone Figgins
  2. LF Gary Matthews Jr.
  3. RF Vladimir Guerrero
  4. CF Torii Hunter
  5. LF Garret Anderson
  6. 2B Howie Kendrick
  7. 1B Casey Kotchman
  8. C Mike Napoli
  9. SS Erick Aybar
For the second straight offseason, the Angels have invested big money in a centerfielder. This time, they landed former Minnesota Twin, Torii Hunter. Hunter was brought in for the sole purpose of protecting Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup, which is something the Angels have lacked for years. The loss of Orlando Cabrera in the lineup is nothing significant. The Angels were deep at the shortstop position and were able to replace him easily. It's nice to see the team finally use some of the talent that they've been building in the farm system. Erick Aybar should fill in nicely, yet even if he struggles, the team can always turn to Maicer Izturis.The Angels lineup is very well balanced. The team has a good mix of speed, power and average. Coupled with their pitching, there is no doubt that this offense is good enough to get them back to the postseason.

The Bench
  • C Jeff Mathis
  • IF Maicer Izturis
  • 1B/3B Rob Quinlan
  • OF Juan Rivera
The teams bench is pretty solid. Jeff Mathis was once regarded as one of the top catching prospects in the game, but hasn't been given much of a shot by the Angels. If Mike Napoli struggles at any point during the season, it wouldn't surprise me if Mathis eventually took over as the everyday catcher. The kid is only 24 and could excel with constant playing time. Meanwhile, Izturis should be the Angels supersub in the infield and has shown in the past that he can come through in some clutch situations. As for Rivera, it seems stupid that the Angels have him on the bench while giving Matthews Jr. everyday playing time in left. Rivera is the far superior hitter an belongs in the lineup. The fact that two of the Angles starters are hurt to begin the season makes it more likely that the team will go with 12 pitchers instead of 11. This ensures Reggie Willits, who had a breakout year in 2007, to start the season in AAA.

The Starting Rotation
  1. RHP John Lackey*
  2. RHP Kelvim Escobar*
  3. RHP Jon Garland
  4. RHP Jered Weaver
  5. LHP Joe Saunders
* = out until mid-may

With both John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar sidelined until May, the Jon Garland deal is looking very good for the Halos right now. The absence of Lackey and Escobar will create openings for both Ervin Santana and Dustin Moseley at the start of the season. Santana started 2007 in the rotation, but was sent down to the minors after failing to win road ballgames. Meanwhile, Moseley came up through the farm system as a starter, but was mainly delegated to a middle relief role last season. Both players should get around half a dozen starts before the Angels decide what to do with them. At full strength, the Angels rotation is the best in the American League, but because of their injuries, the team is likely to have a rough April.

The Bullpen
Like the starting rotation, the Angels bullpen remains one of the strongest in the league. While the team only has one left handed pitcher (oliver), many of the teams right handed relievers have succeeded at getting lefties out. With the team set to go with Justin Speier in the 7th, Scot Shields in the 8th, and Francisco Rodriguez in the 9th, teams will have a hard time coming back on the Halos if they hold a lead late in the game.

Abedi's Take:

Earlier this offseason, I considered the Angels the only team that was a guaranteed lock to win their division. I'm still sticking by that. The rebuilding Oakland A's and the Texas Rangers have no shot at competing. The Mariners chances have increased with the injuries to Lackey and Escobar, but even with those two down, the Halos still have the better offense, defense, and bullpen. The Angels are a team with depth. If anyone of their starters go down, the team has a solid replacement that can step in and get the job done. I'm predicting the Halos to finish with 93 wins and have a 7 game lead on the Mariners by seasons end.
 
 
 
 
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