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Posts Tagged ‘Kendry Morales’

The AL West shapes up as a showdown of pitching vs. offense, with the team that used to set the standard now entrenched as an also-ran and a rebuilding effort in the Great Northwest. In what should be essentially a two-team race, the nod goes to the A’s and their young guns.

Oakland surprised many by posting the best rotation ERA in the league last season. Despite trading Vin Mazzaro to Kansas City this offseason, the A’s still look to have easily the best rotation in their division, while adding Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes to what was an already impressive bullpen may give the team the best top-to-bottom staff in the league. Given their ages, one can only expect the rotation, led by Brett Anderson and strike-out machine Gio Gonzalez to continue to improve. While the offense is still underwhelming, adding Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to the under-rated Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki should provide enough punch to lead the A’s to their first division title since 2006.

The defending league champions will miss the departed Vladimir Guerrero‘s bat, but that’s not the piece that looks to derail the Texas Rangers bid to repeat. Losing Cliff Lee and not replacing him with anyone has led them to scramble to find starters from their relief corps and a few reclamation projects, such as Brandon Webb. The Rangers will still hit – any team that includes Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler will score runs. Adding Mike Napoli should help, but the Adrian Beltre signing is one of those “buyer beware” type deals: Beltre’s bat has a history of coming alive only in contract years, although his glove work remains impeccable. Expect Texas to be involved in a lot of 10-8 type games.

The Angels once were considered the standard of excellence in the division, making the playoffs 6 times in an 8 year span from 2002 – 2009. Last year, the team finished below .500 and they’ll struggle to reach that mark again this year. Provided Scott Kazmir can recapture some lost magic and Joel Piniero can continue to wiggle out of jams, the rotation looks to be better than average. But the once-feared bullpen is no longer a sure thing, now led by the erratic Fernando Rodney as the closer. The line-up is ill-suited to playing manager Mike Scioscia‘s style, featuring aging players now playing out of position – with the curious addition of Vernon Wells joining former stars Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, as well as rookie Peter Bourjos in the outfield rotation. The Angels will be further hampered by 1B Kendry Morales uncertain status; reports suggest he may not return until May from last season’s freakish broken leg.

Finally, there’s the Mariners. Last year’s pre-season Cinderella pick collapsed by April 30th and went downhill from there. At least, this season doesn’t bring those types of expectations to Seattle – which is a good thing. If Erik Bedard is healthy again, he could prove a nice one-two pairing with reigning Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. CF Franklin Gutierrez seemed to regress last year, but the talent is still there and he may have experienced the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Seattle fans will also be able to root for Ichiro Suzuki to make it 11 consecutive seasons with 200+ hits and 25+ steals, a feat never before accomplished in major league baseball.

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The Pitching

Let’s be honest, AJ didn’t have his best stuff tonight. With him, it’s either hit or miss and at the beginning it was ‘miss.’ However, it seemed as the game went on, he borrowed some of Pettitte and his grit. After allowing 3 runs in the 3rd inning, AJ seemed to be able to take care of business when he had to. David Robertson came in and was able to record the last two outs in the 7th before giving way to Joba in the 8th inning. Joba proceeded to give up a single to Matsui and then a 2 run homerun to Kendry Morales. While Joba didn’t allow another run to score, the Angels seemed to get solid hits against Joba. If it was me, I would have left Robertson in, poor kid in 6 appearances has pitched less than an inning 4 times.

The Offense

The offense wasn’t bad tonight, however it could have done better, but Erwin Santana was able to prevent the Yankees from running away with it. The bulk of the scoring came in the 3rd inning when Gardner and Jeter doubled up on doubles followed by A-Rod driving in Jeter. What happened next will likely be something I, and maybe most Yankees fans remember about Teixeira. Cano singled to right and Tex tried to score from second on the single and a play at the plate ensued. Tex bowled (and scored) over Bobby Wilson and inflicted a concussion and an ankle injury as he was relieved on the spot by Mike Napoli. You can see the clip of it here. Unfortunately, after the 4th inning, the Yankees were kept off the scoreboard and they went quietly into the night. (more…)

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