2015 Southern California MLB Review (Padres, Angels and Dodgers)

Posted: March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

First the Padres.

Ramble:  Quality off-season.  Completely unexpected.  The Padres spending money is as rare as bad beer in San Diego.  Look for club records in home runs and rbi this year.  Padres fans actually have legitimate hope entering the 2015 season.  Buy tickets!

Outfield:  Justin Upton, Will Myers and Matt Kemp make for an average defense, but offense is the attraction.  A substantial challenge for opposing pitching.  Carlos Quentin should be traded to an A.L. team (Carlos in the outfield is similar to a guy on crutches attempting to run.  Well intentioned, but without reason).  Will Venable returns to the bench . . . where he belongs.

Infield:  Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica share the bag at first.  Both these two will benefit mightily from the presence of Kemp, Upton and Myers in the lineup.  Is Cory Spangenberg ready for the Bigs?  He skipped AAA ball when called up to the Padres last year.  Not a good move.  Jed Gyorko is developing nicely.  If Jed could become a leadoff hitter with a better than .375 obp, that would be swell.  Will Middlebrooks is looking at last chance saloon this year.  He either hits major league pitching or he bounces around AAA from one organization to another.  Yangervis Solarte is a better  choice at the moment.  Is Alexi Amarista a long term solution to the shortstop position?  No.  But, Diego Goris will arrive in 2016/17.

Catching:  Rock solid with Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz.

Starting Pitching.  Signing James Shields was as exciting for Padres fans as the Kemp moment.  Shields will do for starting pitching what Kemp will do for the offense.  Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy have a heavy load lifted from their shoulders via Shields, but deliver they must.

Bullpen:  Always a San Diego strength.  Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush (though his ip/bb ratio is a concern), Alex Torres, Frank Garces and Joaquin Benoit will give Bud Black few worries in 2015.

AAA/AA Help:  Cory Spangenberg (2b), Casey McElroy (2b.  Watch out, Cory), Alex Dickerson (of), Rymer Lirano (of), Jake Goebbert (of), Matt Wisler (starting), Joe Ross (starting) and Jerry Sullivan (relief).

Prediction:  The N.L. West will be a dogfight from Opening Day until the last day of the season.  The Padres finish second, make the playoffs as a Wild Card, win the first round, lose the second.


The Angels

Ramble:  The Josh Hamilton development is the last place to start a new season.  Good luck to him.  By and large, while acknowledging his personal challenge, Josh was not money well spent.  Alas, baseball owners, even Arte Moreno, rarely learn.  Speaking of rarely learning, on behalf of Angel fans, may C.J. Wilson win more than he loses.  Not a given by any stretch.  Howie Kendrick is gone.  Or simply a freeway or two to the north.  Drive by and say “Hi.”

Outfield:  Acquiring Matt Joyce was smart (though, my inner conspiracist says DiPoto knew that Josh had, in one sense or another, fallen from the wagon of sobriety).  And, honestly, when you have the best player in not only the game today, but one of the greatest ever, in Mike Trout, how much do you worry about the other two spots?  Yes, that was a rhetorical question.   Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill will, just as last year, serve well.  Those two are dirt dogs.  They play hard and want to play more.  Amen.

Infield:  Pujols (backed by a very capable Efren Navarro looking for at bats.  An interesting July 31 acquisition, if you ask me), the mystery man at second (I’m guessing Grant Green sticks), David Freese and Erick Aybar form a serviceable infield. Somewhere between “wow” and “meh”.

Catching:  While a fan of Mike Scioscia’s managing, I feel the pain of any and all system catchers finally making the big club.  Scioscia is demanding and maddening as far as rookie catchers are concerned.  Log two or three years with him, then the biting lessens, but remains sadly plentiful and painful.  Thus, look for Hank Conger to prosper in Houston.  As for Chris Ianetta, he has the experience to keep managerial critique to a minimum.  After Ianetta, the spot is thin, thus weak, especially in the Dog Days.

DH:  C.J. Cron needs to offer the team a big year if the post-season awaits.  If Pujols falls to injury again, he is the dh while first base becomes Navarro’s.

Starting Pitching:  Jared Weaver has become the Pedro Martinez of his generation.  Jared is a pleasure to watch.  He thinks as much as pitches to his benefit.  C.J. Wilson was plain old bad in 2014.  A repeat makes the playoffs very difficult for the Angels.   However, if Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs (this kid could be awesome) win at least forty-five games as a duo, coupled with the healthy return of Garrett Richards, then C.J. can have a lousy year.  As for the much ballyhooed Andrew Heaney, we shall see.

Bullpen:  Houston Street is a stud, yet the Angels hem and haw about a contract.  Dumb.  Joe Smith is a top 5 eighth inning guy.  Mike Morin was as much a surprise to the ‘pen as Shoemaker was to the starters.  Fernando Salas, Nick Tropeano, Cory Rasmus, Cam Bedrosian and Cesar Ramos are the most likely to experience Opening Day in a big league park.

AAA/AA Help:  As a side note, the Angels’ development system is awful (tied for 10th in the A.L. per me).  Jeff Bandy (c), Brian Hernandez (1b, especially if Navarro is traded 7/31), Vance Albitz (2b), Ryan Wheeler (3b), Shawn O’Malley (ss), Jairo Diaz (relief).

Prediction:  Third in the A.L. West.


The Dodgers

Ramble:  The lack of a television broadcast deal is pathetic.  Really bad.  Shame on both TWC and the Dodgers.  However, you make Arte Moreno a happy man.  Trading Kemp was, um, I will be impolite, ballsy.  He will beat the living snot out the Dodgers’ pitching staff this year.  I thought Ethier was the most likely to be traded.  Alas, given the current cast, he may be.

Outfield:  Amazingly, post-Kemp, not enough room.  The Joc Pedersen assumptions are unwise.  Hit major league pitching, then talk about starting.  Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are the likely starting three.  I continue to await Puig severely injuring Ethier in pursuit of a gap fly ball.  Scott Van Slyke, while nothing like the old man, at least determined he could hit in the bigs last year.  Frankly, Scott in the A.L. as a dh is the true Scott.

Infield:  Jimmy Rollins at short and Howie Kendrick at second firm the middle as compared to last year.  Dodger pitchers should be quite pleased.  Adrian Gonzalez is a nice guy who plays an exceptional first base.  Oh yeah, he can hit as well.  Juan Uribe is a tribute to bad diet and lack of exercise (Pablo Sandoval is a disciple).  How he continues to play effectively is beyond me.  Justin Turner and Alex Guerrero provide quality depth.  Darwin Barney is bound for elsewhere.

Catching:  A.J. Ellis is the ultimate lunch-bucket-hard-hat-working-man catcher in MLB.   Yasmani Grandal will hopefully learn a lot.

Starting Pitching:  Clayton Kershaw is to starting pitching as Mike Trout is to the offensive side of the ball.  Mark Greinke is weird, but a quality #2 starter (#1 on most teams).  Hyun-Jin Ryu eats innings.  His value shines in August and September.  As for the last two spots, I’m guessing Joe Wieland (healthy, at last) and Zach Lee.  Just a guess.

Bullpen:  Kenley Jansen must be healthy or this is a weak point on exponents (sorry for the math reference).  Joel Peralta, Brandon League (most likely closer in waiting), J.P. Howell and Brett Anderson form a shallow bullpen waiting for a call from the dugout.

AAA/AA Help:  Chris O’Brien (c), O’Koyea Dickson (1b), Ryan Adams (2b), Miguel Rojas (ss), Erisbel Arruebarrena (ss) and Corey Seager (ss, and given Miguel and Erisbel, his ascension is anything but guaranteed).  What?  No pitching!  Indeed.  If you want to scout, draft, sign and not develop either starting or relief pitching, the Dodgers are your squad.

Prediction:  First in the N.L. West.  A stunning playoff loss to a team not from St. Louis.  Mattingly is fired.




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