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Monday, February 23, 2004

Why I Think Seattle Should be the Best Team in the West in 2004 

Maybe I've completely lost it, but I'm starting to think the Mariners really are the team to beat in the AL West this year. Yes, I have noticed the convoy of All Stars headed toward Anaheim this offseason, and yes, I know you're never supposed to underestimate Billy Beane's Baseball Machine. But let's keep a few things in mind here.

1. The Angels finished four games below .500 in 2003.
2. The players they signed are hardly sure-things.
3. Oakland has gotten SERIOUSLY worse this time around.
4. Seattle should have won the division by five games last year.

Now, I have no idea why Anaheim was so bad last year, just as I had no idea why they were so good the year before. They are a crazy team, full of players who can be the best or the worst on any given week. And they haven't done much to change that by signing two of the flightiest, most inconsistent players in the game, Jose Guillen and Bartolo Colon.

Granted, they got Guerrero, and that hurts. Now they have TWO hitters who you know will be good, if they stay healthy (the other being Garrett Anderson, obviously). Then there's Glaus and Salmon. They're both capable of being very good, but Glaus has been in serious decline since his great 2000 season, and Salmon is getting older and less worthy of the DH slot. Everyone else in the lineup--the other FIVE GUYS--have all had multiple full seasons with OPSes below .700. That's not just bad. That's terrible. As Gary Barnett would say, that's rape-worthy.

As for this supposedly great rotation they've assembled, give me a break! They have one starting pitcher (Colon) who posted an ERA below 4.29 last year. And Colon's was an unspectacular 3.87. Which is about what you should expect from him next year. Don't get me wrong, he's good. But that's all he is. He's had exactly one really good season and a whole bunch of pretty good ones. But he gets a lot of attention and money for throwing 100 mph.

So while it's definitely possible that the Angels will just tear it up this year, it's also possible that they'll be such a disappointment by July that they'll have to pare some of that bloated payroll.

As for Oakland, their time in the sun just MUST be over now. Right? I mean, for God's sake! They lost Tejada, replacing him with a rookie who's batting .000 in 12 major league at bats. They lost Kieth Foulke and Replaced him with Arthur Rhodes, who's never been a closer and struggled badly in the second half last year. They lost Ramon Hernandez and replaced him with another golden oldie, Damien Miller. I mean, where is the offense supposed to come from? I just don't see it.

Then there's Seattle. They haven't really gotten any better, but they haven't gotten worse either. Their pitching isn't as good as Oakland's, but it's not that much worse. Their lineup isn't as good as Anaheim's COULD be, but it's still very good.

I don't know. Maybe I've completely lost it.

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