Tuesday, April 01, 2008


2008 AL West Predictions

With a little luck and a fire under my ass, I'll have all the divisions out before the end of the week. Here's my projected finish for MLB's short-stack division.

1. Los Angeles Angels

The funny thing about this year’s version of the Baseball Prospectus book is that in the section on the Angels, they just clearly were scratching for things to say. The Halos section is easily the shortest in the book, and their breakdown of the team basically boils down to: the Angels are good enough to make the playoffs, but need to make moves to take that next step to win the World Series.

Keep in mind, this is coming from a group of some of the same analysts who have repeatedly hammered in our brains that the playoffs themselves are a crapshoot and the only thing a front office can control is making the team good enough to get there. I guess it’s understandable that they didn’t have much else to say because the Angels are sort of a vanilla franchise, like the Spurs in basketball. They’re extremely well run, they’re good year after year, but they aren’t particularly exciting and in being good they come across as sort of blah. In a weak division, they should bore us right to another playoff berth.

2. Oakland Athletics

Damn Billy Beane for rendering my Nick Swisher A’s jersey obsolete. Damn him also for trading Dan Haren to one of the best hitter’s parks in the league, possibly screwing over my fantasy squad. Hey, Bill, my man, I loved you in Moneyball (especially the chair throwing part), but this jettisoning of my favorite red-ass and best fantasy pitcher, respectively, is a step towards breaking my A’s hatred cease-fire. I laid down arms on my childhood dislike of Oakland in 2001. You wouldn’t want me to rekindle my underground army would you?

Um, yeah. Back in reality, everybody is predicting the A’s will sink into a pre-Fremont hell this season, but I think they have enough walks-and-pop offense and pitching to at least make a run at .500. Guys like Travis Buck, Emil Brown, Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, and Mark Ellis aren’t stars, but collectively they can plate some runs and I think the A’s will shock everybody by winning 81 games. Which I guess still wouldn’t be too much of an accomplishment.

3. Seattle Mariners

Like the Diamondbacks, the Mariners grossly outperformed their Pythagorean Record to turn in a surprisingly competitive season. Unlike the Dbacks, the M’s are going to watch as Pythagoras opens a can of karma whoop-ass and they fall back to the pack behind an aging roster, some really awful regulars, and their usual trade deadline hand-wringing. Adding Erik Bedard helps, but they had to give up a future star to get him and Bedard is expensive and seems like a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen. I could be wrong, but good ol’ Pythagoras rarely lies, unless you’re Shaq.

4. Texas Rangers

Ah, another year, another comically fruitless search for starting pitching. Every offseason it seems the Rangers make it a priority to upgrade their starting pitching, but then every April there they are, throwing the Kason Gabbards and Vincente Padillas out to act as cannon fodder for drooling AL hitters looking to beef up the numbers on the backs of their baseball cards. At least they’ll be more exciting this season, with an offense that should be pretty good if Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley can stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Expect more 11-10 losses and added incentive for Mike Shropshire to write another book.


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