Friday, February 29, 2008

AL West Preview

Los Angeles Angels
2007 W-L:
2007 pW-pL: 90-72
Strengths: Pitching staff, Vlad Guerrero
Weaknesses: Overpaid $50 million+ outfield, lack of offensive punch
Biggest Change from '07: Torii Hunter and Jon Garland
One Reason:

One reason the Angels will win in '08 is that no team in the division is within 10 wins of them.

One reason the Angels will lose in '08 is if they change divisions.
The $50 million outfield referred to above is Torii Hunter ($16MM), Vladimir Guerrero ($14.5MM), Garret Anderson ($12MM) and Gary Matthews, Jr. ($9MM). Hunter is signed for 4 more years, Matthews for 3 more, and Guerrero and Anderson have 1-year club options for 2009. This pretty pickle means that somebody (Anderson and/or Guerrero) will play DH, sharing time with Juan Rivera (who's making just a little more than $2MM). Here's how these guys did last year, listed with their age in the forthcoming 2008 season:

AL Central Preview

Chicago White Sox
2007 W-L: 72-90
2007 pW-pL: 67-95
Strengths: Star Power
Weaknesses: Age, Contrition, Wrong Division
Biggest Change from '07: Shuffling of some names, but not enough to matter
One Reason:
One reason the White Sox will win in '08 is that there is some upside here. The lineup has some holes, but it's not hard to imagine Jim Thome, Nick Swisher and Paul Konerko putting up good numbers. And maybe Bobby Jenks, Jermaine Dye, A.J. Pierzynski, Orlando Cabrera, and young Carlos Quentin can, too. The rotation is still solid, headed by Mark Buehrle and Javier Vazquez, but it got much thinner with the departure of Jon Garland.
One reason the White Sox will lose in '08 is I'm not very optimistic about most of those names. Thome and Swisher are the only ones that are pretty much a lock for All-Star production, although keeping Thome healthy is an issue. Konerko is still strong, but is on a slippery slope towards becoming offensively average at first. Pierzynski is -- and has been -- average for years, and I wouldn't expect much more than that from Dye, who's getting older (34) and farther removed from a career year in 2006. And I'm not buying Bobby Jenks as the next big thing -- he's as volatile a closer commodity as there is, meaning his ERA is just as apt to be 4.00 as 2.50.

Monday, February 25, 2008

AL East Preview

Baltimore Orioles
2007 W-L Record:
2007 pW-pL Record: 71-91
Strengths: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts**-- if they don't trade him
Weaknesses: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching ... and the rest of the offense
Biggest Change from '07: Bye-Bye Bedard
One Reason:
One reason the Orioles will win in '07 is an act of God.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NL West Preview


2007 W-L Record: 90-72
2007 pW-pL Record: 79-83
Strengths: Maturing young blue-chippers, Brandon Webb
Weaknesses: Inconsistent offense, tough division
Biggest Change from '07: Dan Haren
One Reason:

Monday, February 18, 2008

NL Central Preview

2007 W-L Record: 85-77
2007 pW-pL Record: 87-75
Strengths: Strong Offense, Solid Pitching
Weaknesses: OBP, Depth
Biggest Change from '07: Fukudome and his .400+ OBP

One Reason:
One reason the Cubs will win in '08 is that the best is set low in the NL Central. The Cubs won the division last year, have managed to improve over the offseason (without spending $1 billion), and aren't facing any rivals presenting serious challenges. They're not absolutely safe from Milwaukee or even possibly Cincinnati, but they're easy favorites.
One reason the Cubs will lose in '08 is that a lot of their production is precarious. The best-case scenario for their lineup is good, but if Fukudome struggles in his first U.S. season, or if Aramis Ramirez and/or Alfonso Soriano take a step back to mediocrity, the Cubs will be hard-pressed to replace them. There aren't a lot of backup plans for the lineup, and the same could be said for the rotation, where an inordinate amount of pressure rests on Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly. The Cubs do have some backups here in Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall, but neither of them can replace an injured or ineffective Zambrano.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Lesson in Hyperbole

I've kept up with the Roger Clemens fiasco only enough to have a sense of what is going on. Unlike the rest of the mainstream media, I take no delight in crucifying an ex-hero for "letting us all down," especially since the media never really liked him in the first place, which matters more than any PED accusation. I also have no interest in watching someone aggressively and obnoxiously try to force back the tides of suspicion, as if the truth can be defeated by sneers, press releases, and unbelievably inappropriate taped phone conversations. The offensive cult of celebrity and empty controversy is attracting all of the scavengers and hangers-on to be expected where free publicity is to be given away.
So it was with some dismay that I read Howard Bryant's column today. 

Friday, February 08, 2008

My baseball bookshelf

Often after I've read a baseball book, I'll share a few thoughts about it in my blog. But because I often have so much to say, and I try to read as many baseball books as possible, I decided to write an actual review of each baseball book I read in this space to help give my readers an idea of what's out there, good and bad.
My first review will be the book I just finished, Weaver on Strategy by Earl Weaver with Terry Pluto. That will come later. But first, here's a quick look at my baseball bookshelf. I value my shelf very much, except that my baseball-only shelf has started to spill over elsewhere. But I love them all. So here is, in no particular order, my personal baseball library:

Total Ballclubs: The Ultimate Look at Baseball Teams by Donald Dewey & Nicholas Acocella. This is one of the best baseball books I've ever read, and it's also one of the foremost references I've ever come across. It focuses more on the behind-the-scenes activity among owners, executives, and the public, dealing with every single major league baseball team. It's a great source of historical reference and fabulous anecdotes. I used this book extensively for my blog series on the history of expansion teams.


First off, greetings from never-never land. After a much-too-long hiatus, I have returned to the land of Whizdom. My time away from baseball was against my will, as I've had a pile-up of medical problems over the past six weeks, including being diagnosed with diabetes. A lot has changed since then, and I've found it difficult to generate the energy to pursue my former hobbies, among them this website. But I have returned to start my full-scale preview of the 2008 season. I'll blog again soon to cover all the news I missed while I was gone (something about Roger Clemens).

Before I open up my 2008 preview with a close look at the Alanta Braves, two quick notes: