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 toriihunter.jpgafter 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 joeblanton.jpgJoe 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.

6 Responses to “What They Still Need: AL West”

  1. Paul, I was just reading this post. It’s fantastic. Though, I was surprised to read that Jim Thome was one of the least gritty players ever. He strikes me as a guy who isn’t afraid to get his uni dirty.

  2. Coley, Thome is “grizzled”, not “gritty”. He was way too good a power bat to be classified as such. He’s currently 9th on the list of active players with the most intentional walks, he’s hit a ton of extra-base hits, etc.

    PS: It’s great that we can actually debate these kinds of things as a result of a study that’s 50% a joke.

  3. Paul, quit talking about my boy Thome in the past tense. He’s STILL grizzled.

    And while we’re talking about big Jim, what do you think…is he a hall of famer?

    I say yes.

  4. Sorry, Coley. Didn’t realize he was your boy. Plus, you’re right. I shouldn’t have used the past tense since he can still hit the ball a long ways.

    As for his Hall candidacy, I haven’t looked at his numbers all too closely but my initial reaction to your question was “most likely”. The guy’s got over 500HRs and counting. His career OBP is over .400. Even in the PED-era, his career numbers put him among the elite.

    The only things that could prevent him really is number of hits and (if you’re really nitpicking) the fact that he played much of his career in hitter’s parks. Regarding the low (for a HOF-er) career hits, for one, he’s been a bit injury-prone (and still hit over 500 HRs. Go figure) so for a guy with that many years of service, he doesn’t have a lot of ABs. Besides, other HR hitters like Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey didn’t get that many hits either. And Thome should get his 2000th sometime this year.

    We’re not sure if Thome or Frank Thomas retires first, but they’ll be rooting for each other on those HOF ballots. They’ve had pretty similar careers and if one gets in, then the other probably will too.

  5. The Mariners don’t need Erik Bedard at the price that the O’s are asking. Of course they could use a stud like Bedard, but trading Adam Jones (who is under control for like a million years at 400k) would be a massive downgrade the defense. Run prevention is what the Mariners need and defense is significantly undervalued when talking about this.

    The Mariners aren’t one player away from making a run, so this deal doesn’t make sense. Looking at the roster, this team cannot beat the Angels, Indians, Red Sox or Yankees with or without Bedard, so why hemorrhage the future for him?

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