Quick, who’s going to win the American League West in 2013?
“Los Angeles, they have Hamilton, Pujols and Trout!” I’m amenable to that rather obvious choice. Texas? Their kids (Olt, Profar, Felix, Ogando) will have to help Beltre carry the load, so I envision them battling with reigning champion Oakland for second place and potentially a wild card. The safe bet though, even with the financially hamstrung Yankees and the reloading Red Sox, is that BOTH wild cards will come from the AL East. (GO RAYS!)
Next question. Who’s going to finish LAST in the West.
“Easy, Seattle.” Eh, wrong. That was your Pavlovian response, so no demerits for you. Remember, The Astros have transferred to the AL West, and since I’m as certain as Santa is jolly and heavy, you can’t name a single Astro, I think they’re the surefire bet to own last place in that division until some of their prospects, like Jonathan Singleton and Jarrad Cosart emerge as contributors. If they don’t, then maybe the Texas League is looking to expand.
If your deductive abilities have led you to predicting a fourth place finish for Seattle, then I think we’ve created a reasonable pecking order for the AL West in 2013.
If I recall correctly, the Mariners started terribly in 2012 (what else is new!?), then had a sniff (they had a big nose ) of the wild card mid-summer before ultimately finishing 19 games behind Oakland for the West and 18 games behind Wild Cards Baltimore and Texas with a 75-87 record. It’s not far fetched to think that the Mariners, who lack any significant star productivity behind Felix Hernandez, will once again see their postseason hopes evaporate somewhere around the 100 game mark.
If you’re agreeable to that forecast, then you’ll offer me the opportunity to pitch you on a potential landing spot for the Tigers Rick Porcello; who seems to be the expensive-ish odd man out of the Detroit rotation.
At this very moment – yes, roughly three solid months before Opening Day – the Tigers seem intent to go to battle with the bullpen as is, which means they could be fashioning a closer with zero Major League experience. For those unfamiliar with my tastes, I’m not very keen on that Tigers blueprint, especially when this is VERY much a World Series (WIN) or bust type of business that Mike Ilitch has underwritten.
So if I were GM-ing the Tigers, I’d call Seattle and gauge their interest in Rick Porcello. Look, in the situation the Mariners are in they may have little desire to take on a four million dollar (or so) pitcher. But, even with Safeco being shrunk a bit in ’13, perhaps they see a pitcher, in Porcello, who can thrive in their park with a sturdy defense behind him, which is what the Mariners will provide.
We have to come to terms that Porcello’s trade equity is increased substantially by finding a team that can offer him half his starts in a big park. Some of the teams housed in those stadiums don’t need another starter such as the Giants or Dodgers. San Diego probably doesn’t want the four million bucks tacked on to their payroll, perhaps the same with the Mets. Seattle seems to be a good fit. Though I won’t deny that there could be a half dozen ways to move Porcello OR even hold onto him and stash Drew Smyly away for the inevitable injuries the Tigers rotation will endure.
The Mariners traded away former closer Brandon League in the middle of last year and gave those duties to someone we’ve never heard. Seriously. I had no clue who Tom Wilhemsen was. All he did was save 29 games with an ERA of 2.50 and struck out more than a batter per inning for a team that had a nice second half after they dumped League and Ichiro. You can have that type of success when you throw 96 and have a ground ball percentage four points above league average, and limit your line drives (he’s four points above league average there too). I won’t get real SABR-y with you, but his numbers would tell that the guy’s tough to hit.
Seattle may have zero interest in giving up a quality performer such as Wilhemsen who’s not even eligible for arbitration for two more years. Though it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s not crazy to think they couldn’t find another pitcher to replicate most of what Wilhemsen accomplished last year, and in return they receive something that’s much harder to acquire; a relatively (you’ve seen the price of starters these days, right?) inexpensive 24 year old veteran starting pitcher whose fastball velocity was up by 2 mph last year, and is deserving of his reputation as a ground ball hurler. When he’s not getting smacked around that is. That’s for the Mariners to work out though, if they were to have interest in this swap I’m proposing.
If I was too wordy, my apologies.
Porcello for Wilhemsen.
And I, I mean the Tigers finally get a cheese throwin’, veteran reliever without much wear and tear who could start the season as closer and allow Bruce Rondon to work his way into that role.
**Post posting update**
Came across this from Joel Sheehan’s (bold?) MLB predictions for 2013.
4. Surprise! Yay! — Last year, the Orioles and A’s were considered among the worst teams in baseball headed into the season, then rode strong pitching to 90-win seasons and the ALDS. This year, the team to watch is the Padres. San Diego went 42-33 in the second half last year, led by MVP candidate Chase Headley and rookies Logan Forsythe, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal.
Grandal will miss 50 games to start the season (testosterone), but the rest of the team returns and could be bolstered by rookie raker Jedd Gyorko and a step forward by centerfielder Cameron Maybin. The real question is the pitching, which could rise or fall on the health of Andrew Cashner and Cory Luebke. There’s no parallel for the Padres in the AL — only the Mariners, if all their young pitching arrives quickly, are a potential surprise, and even that is a longshot in the deadly AL West.
OK, so maybe the Padres WOULD add Porcello to the payroll, if they think the Dodgers big spending isn’t going to buy them victories, and the Giants can’t possibly do THAT again.
You can snicker at their projected ’13 rotation here.
In a park the size of Petco, I can buy Porcello being the third best starter in that Padres rotation.
What should the Tigers get in return for this type of potential swap? Would the Tigers swallow the 7 million for a proven closer in the form of Huston Street? The arbitration eligible (but cheaper than Porcello) veteran setter upper Luke Gregerson would work as well. How that guy can throw his slider over 80% of the time and dodge elbow surgery is one of MLB’s great mysteries. He’s the anti-Zumaya.
I should’ve listened to myself. There are too many deals to speculate on revolving around Porcello for my brain matter to handle. I think that’ll be it, for now.