The Seattle Mariners – Erik Bedard
The good folks over at the USS Mariner wrote a post this week suggesting that the Mariners’ pursuit of Erik Bedard is foolhardy and what they actually need is more offense, not more pitching.
But I disagree.
The Mariners actually had the sixth highest OPS in the American League last season, behind only the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, and Devil Rays – all teams full of real mashers. Four of those five teams were legitimate playoff contenders, and the Rays would have been if they had had even league average starting pitching.
No, what was really the Mariners’ downfall last season was pitching, specifically starting pitching. The Mariners were 10th out of 14 AL teams in ERA last season, and even that mark was only that high thanks to a passable showing by the bullpen – the Mariners starting pitchers were actually 12th out of 14 in ERA, ahead of only the execrable Baltimore and Tampa Bay squads.
What the M’s really need is starters who can put up quality innings, and replacing Horacio Ramirez and his 7.16 ERA with Erik Bedard and his 3.16 ERA would go far toward addressing this need.
Anaheim Angels of Anaheim – A power hitter
The Endless Quest Continues. The Angels have been searching for a legitimate power hitter to pair with Vlad Guerrero for years now – the piece which many feel is the only thing keeping them from another World Series title. Last year they threw offers at everyone they could, but the best they could come up with was Gary Matthews, Jr. This year they chased hard after Miguel Cabrerra, only to have the Tigers pull the rug out, and then panicked and overpaid for Torii Hunter despite already having 5 other Major League quality outfielders on the roster. Hunter does have a bit of power, but he’s not really quite the piece the Angels were looking for, and they continue to search for better options such as exploring a trade for Paul Konerko.
Ultimately, the answer may come from within if Juan Rivera can return to his 2006 form after battling through a broken leg last year, or if Casey Kotchman continues to blossom at the plate. But even without that power hitter they are still questing after, the Angels are otherwise totally stacked up and down the lineup, in the rotation, and in the bullpen, and should continue to dominate the AL West standings for years to come.
Oakland A’s – Takers for Joe Blanton and Huston Street
It wouldn’t really be fair to evaluate Billy Beane on what he’s not trying to do, which is win this year, so I’m going to evaluate him on what he obviously is trying to do, which is build a team which can contend in 2010, having already shipped out Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, and Mark Kotsay. So with that in mind, what the A’s need to do is find teams who are willing to overpay for middle-of-the-road starter Joe Blanton and upper-tier closer Huston Street.
Waiting until 2010, or perhaps more realistically 2011, is going to eat up the prime years of Blanton and Street, so even though they are cheap there is no real reason to keep them around if Beane can swing a trade on a down year for free agents while their value is uber-high due to how cheap they are and how many years away from free agency they are.
Some commentators (including myself), have wondered if Beane couldn’t have gotten a bit more for Haren and/or Swisher, but in any case if Beane can move Blanton and Street for some more high-grade prospects, he is going to have a truly monstrous stash of talented young players set to be ready for the big time by 2010 or 2011.
Texas Rangers – Surprise, Surprise, Starting Pitching
It seems like the Texas Rangers have been in desperate need of some real starting pitchers since the formation of the Earth. Yeah, I know there wasn’t technically any baseball back then, but even so the Rangers somehow still found a way to be last in the league in ERA.
This team has a lot of other holes, but there is nothing like the black hole that is the starting staff, a black hole which seems to grow bigger every year. I almost didn’t have to look, but I did anyway, and sure enough, the Rangers’ starting staff was dead last in the American League with a horrific 5.50 ERA last season (even worse than the Devil Rays!), and the team has done absolutely nothing to address this need.
This year, the Rangers will run out the exact same staff that compiled that record last season. Just to give you an idea, Brandon McCarthy led all Rangers starters with a 4.87 ERA. Ooof.