It’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.
Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.
Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.
Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:
Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.
Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money – Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?
Oakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.
Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.
Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?
Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.
Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.
Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.
Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong – Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.
Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn, family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.
New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.
Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.
Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.
Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.
Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!
San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.
Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.
San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.
Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.
St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.
Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!
Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.
Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.
Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.
Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient – This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.
New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.
Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
I won’t lie – I have a soft spot for the Mariners. That seems a bit strange because I live near Oakland and root for the A’s in my free time. Let me explain: I went to Washington State University and spent four years surrounded by sad, wandering M’s fans.
There’s that, and the fact that they have an awesome stadium, badass jerseys, and a slew of fan-favorite heroes (A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, etc.). Anyway, it’s been disappointing to see GM Jack Zduriencik not really pull the trigger on any big moves in which Seattle was set up perfectly to do so.
The Mariners have a decently sized payroll, plenty of minor league depth, and a desperate need for hitters. Despite a lack of offensive punch, the Mariners managed to finish just a handful of games short of .500 in 2012, albeit still in fourth place.
With Hernandez leading the rotation, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Triple-A, the Mariners have the pieces to move to acquire a big bat. Today, this theory finally came to fruition. They went out and traded 14-game winner Jason Vargas to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.
Let’s break this thing down:
SP Jason Vargas
1B/DH Kendrys Morales
It’s hard to decide who wins this trade, but my gut tells me both teams come out pretty hot. The Angels, with the losses of Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter were in dire need of a pitching upgrade (and no, Joe Blanton doesn’t count). They made a nifty move in acquiring Tommy Hanson from Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough.
I’m not sure if you can say Vargas is the final piece they need, but it surely won’t hurt. This gives the Angels a pair of very good lefty starters in Vargas and C.J. Wilson to pair with Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. We know Los Angeles added Josh Hamilton to the lineup, making Morales expendable.
But is it enough? Can the Angels improve on a 90-win ball club and return to A.L. West supremacy? Having Vargas in the third spot in that rotation will help them inch closer. And you have to expect a full season of Mike Trout, plus Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, that they will be a better team.
For the Mariners, who are chasing the Angels (and everyone else for that matter) in the division, this should spell the end of the long-drawn out Justin Smoak experiment. Morales is an instant upgrade in all departments over Smoak, and will provide a good source of punch to the lineup.
With the emergence of Kyle Seager and a likely improvement next season from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, the Mariners could be a sneaky dangerous team in 2013. As long as the rotation can pick up the slack left by Vargas, I expect an improvement for Seattle, though I don’t think they are quite ready to be a contender yet.
That being said, Zduriencik knows he needs another bat or two, and may be chasing an Andre Ethier or Michael Bourn-type player as the winter evolves. If they can pair one more veteran power bat like Ethier’s, or a good top-of-the-order guy like Bourn, without giving up too much pitching, I see no reason why the Mariners can’t make like the 2012 A’s and take the league by surprise.
As for grading this trade, I’m giving a slightly higher mark to the Mariners, simply for going out and being aggressive in adding a bat to a flat lineup. They have pitching depth and are on the right track with getting some power in there with Morales and Jason Bay (well…you know…maybe). Mariners Grade: B+
The Angels got an underrated starting pitcher, but still haven’t made up for lost talent in the rotation. Not to mention, Morales was as good a hitter as they could ask for in that DH/1B slot. The offense did downgrade with the loss of Morales and Torii Hunter, even after the Hamilton signing. Overall, it’s a good move, but they better make a World Series run before 2014 when Vargas is a free agent or be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty extension. Angels Grade: B
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We’re 11 days from the trade deadline, and the only move of any significance that has been made is Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins. Yawn.
That doesn’t bode well for our brilliant, new, yet under-utilized blog segment, “Grade That Trade!” But seeing as how there are so many potential trades just knocking on the door right now, baseball fans should be excited about the wheeling and dealing that’s bound to go down in the next week or so.
For the purpose of this blog, I’ll stay away from big fish like Cole Hamels, Zach Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Josh Willingham. These are the lesser-known guys who I think will be on the move.
Here are five players I guarantee will be traded before the deadline ends:
Rodriguez failed his latest audition miserably, giving up five earned runs in four innings against the Padres, and dropping his record below .500 (7-8). He has been one of the more consistent under-the-radar starters in MLB for a while now, and with the ‘Stros in full-on rebuilding mode, this should be the year he is moved. Rodriguez would be a great middle-of-the-rotation addition for a team desperate for a late-season run at the playoffs.
Jeremy’s Prediction: Rodriguez goes to the Orioles for Jake Arrieta and a minor league pitcher. Though the contract is a bit hefty, the O’s add a 3rd solid starter behind Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel to try and regain a lead in the Wild Card.
Another lefty on the market here has started gaining a lot of attention among contenders, based on superb performances recently. Liriano has certainly had his ups and downs, but the last two starts especially have shown teams he still has something to give. He struck out 25 batters combined in those starts, and if not for two bad pitches (a grand slam to Jonny Gomes and a two-run homer to Adam Jones), he would have had an unblemished ERA.
Jeremy’s Prediction: The Yankees scoop up Liriano in a deal for two minor league pitchers. The Twins get a couple starters to develop, and the Yanks get immediate help that they need with Andy Pettitte shelved and Freddy Garcia struggling.
Apparently, no potential trade piece is demanding of a higher price than Headley. It makes sense. He’s just entering his prime, has a lot of power from both sides of the plate, and is still under team control until 2015. But Padres’ GM Josh Byrnes might stop playing hard to get as the deadline gets closer. A lot of teams still in the hunt could use an extra bat in the middle of the lineup.
Jeremy’s Prediction: The Pirates, desperate to add a bat, put together a good package of prospects that doesn’t include Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, or Starling Marte to land Headley. Inserted into a lineup with Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, the Buccos suddenly look even more dangerous down the stretch.
The Jays are convinced that Adeiny Hechavarria is ready to make the leap to the Majors, so Escobar is expendable. I have to assume Toronto is in the market for young pitching, considering the unfortunate Tommy John epidemic that has hit their staff this season. The best fits for a trade for Escobar are probably Pittsburgh, Seattle and Oakland. All three have good pitching prospects and gaping holes at shortstop.
Jeremy’s Prediction: Billy Beane decides to capitalize on his surprisingly successful 2012 roster and make a run at the Wild Card (the A’s are only a 1/2 game back as of July 20th) by trading two pitching prospects to Canada for Escobar. The A’s add a little more pop to the lineup, the Jays have some more talent down on the farm to develop and *hopefully* keep healthy.
This is an interesting option. The M’s are less likely to give up Vargas without a fight, now that they’ve gotten interest from a number of playoff contenders in need of pitching. My thought is that Seattle is overflowing with minor league pitching talent, but still hurting for some hitting. They have a ton of pieces, but a Vargas-for-AAA-hitter swap would do wonders for the Mariners’ future.
Jeremy’s Prediction: In somewhat of a surprise, the Cardinals jump head first back into the NL Central race by acquiring Vargas for slugger Matt Adams. St. Louis can afford to give away a high-potential first baseman for two reasons: He struggled in his call-up this year, and they have Allen Craig. If Adams pans out, the Mariners are sitting pretty in a couple years.
– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!