No matter who you root for this coming baseball season, more than likely you will be cheering for a minor league caliber team. The New York Yankees signing of Tanaka, giving them a powerful starting pitching lineup along with one of the best catchers in the game, gives them a battery no one else can match. Even with the loss of Cano and Granderson, they will be overwhelming favorites to win the American League pennant. Across the country, the Los Angeles Dodgers have similar talent. Powerful pitching wins games and pennants.
What does talent do to a team? If we are judging baseball teams, talent is everything, especially when you consider pitching. So if you are not a Yankee, Dodger, Nationals, Cardinals, Tigers, Rangers and perhaps a Giant fan, you are an also-ran fan. At least, at the very best, you are an always-hopeful fan. If you are an A’s fan, you are always hopeful. If you are a Pirates fan, you are hopeful another miracle can happen. If you are a Rays’ fan, you have talent and a manager. If you are a Red Sox fan, hope is a built-in principal of life. If you are a White Sox fan you are hopeful the new guy can do what that Dodger kid did last season. To the rest of baseball, there is no hope.
Consider the Brewers. Pitching you have Vonnie and the rest. That’s a 12 win season. They were still playing the buyer’s remorse game with Garza on Sunday morning. But, as of 2P on Sunday, the Brewers signed Garza (for details go to: The Brewers signed Garza. http://www.facebook.com/overtheshouldermedia
). Thus pitching would have been same-ol, same-ol if he hadn’t signed. That’s one hole filled. At catcher you have Lucroy. He is a very good craftsman with a good bat. But his arm is not there. At first you have nothing but the largest group of has-beens and wannabe’s in the history of first base. At second, you have a young hopeful. At shortstop, you have a legit All-Star. At third, there is a tiring veteran player on his way out of the game in the last of his contact years. In left you have a young hopeful…untested but a young hopeful. In center, you have a gifted defensive player who you hope can hit like he did in the first half of last year’s season all of this season. In right you have a guy who one will have to hope he can play without his meds. Watching a fallen star will be brutal in opposing ballparks. Watching in Miller Park will be a lot of shaking of heads and wondering what would have been. You don’t know what his season will be like . How long has it been since he didn’t play with some assistance? That’s on the field. In the dugout the Brewers have average managerial talent and the worst third base coach in baseball. If they get hot at the early part of the season, then perhaps the owner will give the GM the monies to pull off a bold move. Let’s hope it is not for one of their young pitchers or their shortstop. That’s a lot of hope.
Consider the Cubs. Here is an ownership family that says all the right things but simply are very conservative when it comes to spending their money. They have a new ballpark in Mesa for Spring Training. They have a good starting pitcher. They have a hopefully good first baseman. They have an erratic but hopefully improved shortstop who is All-Star quality. Yikes! Its been a long time since Gabby took the Cubbies to the land of dreams.
Consider the Mariners. They have Cano. They have one of the best pitchers in the game. They have an unknown in Cory Hart. They have, however, missed out on one guy who could have put thrill back into the Northwest. Tanaka. They have a new President. When will this management learn not to give up on their great players? When are they going to stop letting ‘The Kid’ go away? A-Rod escape? Johnson let go? And the idol, arguably the best player in the first decade of this Century traded away to the Yankees…Ichiro? Hey…how about another manager? It is time this management stops playing Nintendo and begins understanding that baseball is a game of professionals. Welcome to Peoria this spring.
Consider the Angels. Tanaka was simply too young for them to acquire. They want to give the Arte billions to old, over-the-hill players. Understand A.J. is available for behind the plate duties. Isn’t it time to trade the best young player in the game to the Yankees? He may be too young to keep around those gray hairs who pack the halo’s lineup.
Consider the Padres.
Consider the Rockies. Talk about tight. This ownership’s idea of building a team is in building a party deck in right field. They have a 40-year-old relief pitcher in LaTroy. Doesn’t he understand that the air is thin up there in Denver? Pitchers can’t throw curves in that atmosphere. To win they need to have hammers…big hitters who can win the game 15 to 14 in nine innings.
Consider the Diamondbacks. It is just too bad they couldn’t pull off the deal with Tanaka. They brought in Goldy to assist in convincing the young Japanese star to make the Valley of the Sun his home. It could have given new hope to a team that has disappointed many during the past season or two. Here was a team on the verge of dominance with one of the best coaching staffs in baseball. Now there is no great young outfielder to chastise. Two great coaches in Baylor and Williams have left. They have overpaid an underperforming catcher. And they still have no #1 pitcher. Bullpen? What bullpen?
Consider the Braves. No catcher. No money. Could be a decade of doom for the transplanted Milwaukee nine.
Consider the Orioles. Their manager has done what he has always done in the past. He takes nothing and pushes them to the almost-near the top. He is there again. Can he finally do what he has never done before and win the pennant and World Series? Davis and Hardy need more pitching.
Consider the Indians. Wow! When you get Axford and call that an improvement, I have a bridge I want to sell you. Back to the minors.
Consider the Reds. Why is this team located near one of the biggest package goods manufacturers in the world without funds to rebuild their incredible past? P&G…buy this team and give them some money to make they one of the greats again. Baseball needs it. This is the team who really started it all in the city where pro baseball began. Goodyear will be a terrible place to watch this Spring Training.
Consider the Royals. George Brett must be put into a position to do what John Elway has done in Denver. Ownership has to unload its pockets and provide Brett the monies that can rebuild a once proud franchise. Aoki is a monumental trade improvement. Watch him hit against Darvish and Tanaka. There is hope in KC. Surprise will be a great place to watch baseball this spring.
Consider the Astros. It is a few years off before they will be a power. But will they be able to compete without being paid for their television contract. It seems Comcast owes them monies from last July, August and September. The local Comcast is declaring bankruptcy. The Astro’s are saying Comcast is doing a slight-of-hand. No money…no power. They have the money to improve. We all know they have the city to attract top players.
Consider the White Sox. Money? They have it in spades as they are part owner of the same cable network that carries the Cubs. They are making money hand over fist but can’t seem to do anything to improve their team except to extend their manager’s contract. Yet they did add one key player from Cuba, first baseman Jose Abreu who may be the next big thing in baseball. By sharing Camelback Ranch with the Dodgers this spring, the crowds should be large and boisterous. Unfortunately, there is little shade at Camelback Ranch.
We are only a couple of weeks away before the pitchers and catchers report. Arizona is going to be a great place to begin the season to find out what’s shaking for 2014. Besides, the first games are only a month away in AUSTRALIA. Yep. The D’Backs and Dodgers open the Major League Baseball season Down Under.
Thanks Commish. Great job. Do you have any idea what that gate would draw in LA or Phoenix?