Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Assorted Loose Brainwaves
2006-01-06 13:08
by Mark T.R. Donohue

You can only break down the 2006 Rockies so many times before realizing they're basically the same team as last year. ESPN's chart of the National League's starting lineups bears this out. (Interesting note: For a while, they had Jose Mesa listed as the Colorado closer. This is the sort of thing you have to deal with all the time out here in baseball's flyover country. It's been fixed, at least.) There's only so much you can say about potential additions like Willie Harris and Eli Marrero. So, might be slow for a while. You've been warned.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles are well on their way to becoming the worst-run organization in baseball. It's one thing entirely to ruin your own franchise, but how many other pro sports teams are also dedicating thousands of lawyer-hours to make sure an entire other team (in this case, the Nationals) will never be competitive either? You've got your Tejada issues. You've got Jeromy Burnitz deciding less guaranteed money in Pittsburgh was a better deal than signing with the O's. And Corey Patterson? You've got to be kidding me. Perhaps they can take Chicago's biggest problem off their hands three years running next season by bringing Dusty Baker on board. That would be pretty funny.

If Major League Baseball was a TV series, you could spin the whole AL East off to its own hour. Here you have your Yankees putting a price tag on spiting Boston. There you have Boston attemtping to fill an entire 25-man roster with corner infielders. Here you have Toronto seemingly borrowing the Diamondbacks' fabled Secret Money Press to conquer the exchange rate. There you have Tampa Bay. Make up your own punchline. I have no idea who the favorite is, and anyone who knows me will tell you that my preseason picks are annual surefire failures, but if Manny is really staying and the bullpen is more concrete than theoretical, I like Boston. No, wait! I like New York! I can't decide.

The White Sox brain trust has said from the start that it will take two or three championships to ever usurp the Cubs' place in Chicago culture, and bully for them that they're going for the gusto. I think they'll miss Aaron Rowand, and I'm not totally sure it wouldn't have been more cost-effective to just re-sign Frank Thomas rather than trade for Jim Thome. Still, you have to love the way Kenny Williams has aggressively moved for outside talent while making sure his own guys (Garland, Konerko) get properly paid. Not many people are talking about the Twins, but they've made some intelligent moves, and the Indians will probably weather the loss of Kevin Millwood. The Tigers are a joke. The Royals are a joke that's not funny anymore.

Surprisingly it's been the A's who have been the most active AL West team this offseason. The Milton Bradley and Esteban Loaiza moves seemed uncharacteristic, but maybe Oakland is tired of just being the favorite team of various nerdy webloggers. The Angels have lost a couple of pitchers and haven't yet found the bat they've needed, but every time I pick against them I end up looking stupid. The Rangers did well for themselves with the Alfonso Soriano deal but their attempts to rebuild a pitching staff on the fly very much resemble a net push. The Mariners, I believe, plan to kidnap the Japanese World Baseball Classic team in March and field them as their Opening Day lineup.

Thoughts on the NL tomorrow. Perhaps.

Update: I spoke too soon. Byung-Hyun Kim is going to re-sign with Colorado, which is reassuring. No numbers on that deal yet, although it's apparently just for one year. More when I hear it.

2006-01-08 13:41:36
1.   Voxter
I'd say that the Bradley acquisition is exactly characteristic of the A's -- Bradley's skills (good defense, moderate power, the ability to play center field if neccessary) have been devalued because of his "character", which has very little to do with his ability to help a team win baseball games. The A's took a good player with chinks in his armor rather than go after something more expensive but not actually any better.

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