Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

AL West Just Took A Turn For the Better

It was a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Guerrero did not want to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. The powerful rightfielder continuously looked the other way as the O’s waved 65 million dollars under his nose.

Art Moreno the new owner of the Angels has nerve and vision, and more importantly money.

When I wrote last month that Moreno owned about one million acres of real estate in Goodyear Arizona and he was moving the Angels spring training facility to a soon to be developed new complex in Goodyear, I realized that Moreno was a big time money man who would not be intimidated by the salaries paid to the brightest stars in the game.

Goodyear will be the home to the spring Angels as well as a new burgeoning community in the desert, all of which will make Moreno one of the wealthiest owners in the game.

Now with Tom Hicks in Texas, the Nintendo folks in Seattle, and Moreno in Anaheim, the A’s will be hard pressed to keep up with the Jonses of AL West baseball.

So, just what does the Guerrero signing do to the West?

Click below for more!One thing is for sure, the Angels and the A’s will be very interested in the condition of Guerrero’s and Mark Kotsay’s back this season, both come in to 2004 with a slight cloud hovering over their back x rays.

The key words will be bulging disks, back spasms, and sore backs. If the A’s and the Angels avoid problems with their two key acquisitions all will be well in both cities.

The Angels, to me, are the team with the biggest upside in 2004. I thought so even before Guerrero came aboard.

Anaheim can throw Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, and John Lackey at you for seven innings, then come in with the heat. Meaning Derrick Turnbow, Francisco Rodriguez, Brenden Donnelly, and Troy Percival, who needs a lefty with that crowd.

The Angels can score runs. They won a world series that way. The key will be bounce back seasons for Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Darrin Erstad, Adam Kennedy, and David Eckstein. After the 2002 series I thought Glaus would be the next dominant star in the league, it didn’t happen because Glaus was not healthy all season.

Now with Jose Guillen and Garrett Anderson in the middle of the lineup with Guerrero and company, if the Angels stay healthy, I think they are the team to beat in the West.

Needless to say, the A’s throw the best five starters in baseball at you day after day, but the offense will have to pick it up to compete with Anaheim.

The pressure is on Jermaine Dye, Eric Chavez, and Erubiel Durazo to match the firepower of Anaheim, at least to the tune of five runs per game.

Seattle will be about the same as last season. Excellent fundamental play even though the outfield defense won’t be the same without Mike Cameron. Raul Ibanez, Ichiro, and Randy Winn will cover some ground, but trust me the Mariners will miss Cameron in center.

Rich Aurilia can hit, but doesn’t cover enough ground at short for me. Aurilia does have the potential to hit .300 which would give Bret Boone and Edgar big time help in the lineup.

The Mariners may not be as inept late in the season as they were last year because Ibanez, Aurilia, and Scott Spiezio will help the aging John Olerud when summer ends.

Seattle’s strength will be on the mound. Freddy Garcia, Joel Pineiro, Jamie Moyer, Ryan Franklin, and Gil Meche with Rafael Soriano in the wings are one tough group if they put it together. Combine those starters with a deep bullpen (Everyday Eddie and Hasagawa are fine) and the Mariners become another potential division winner.

Only the sad sack Rangers will give the big three a breather, but you know what it is like playing in Texas during mid summer in the heat, not fun. After watching the Angels load up I wonder how long A Rod will last in Texas before he puts more pressure on the owner to move his contract to some other team (who knows maybe the Dodgers will get in the mix).

Don’t overlook Anaheim making a push for Nomar Garciaparra if the Red Sox don’t resign him this year. The Angels have the money and the motivation from the owner to be the beasts of the west.

The one achilles heel for the Mariners is their bench. If any of their big players go down, there is virtually nothing on the bench to replace them. Come to think of it, that applies to the A’s as well (after Eric Byrnes give me another potential starter on the A’s bench, not McMillon or Melhuse, please).

Injuries may very well have a large impact in the west this season.

Notable free agents still out there.

Jose Lima: he can help someone as a fourth starter, only injuries held him back in KC, he still has something left. Possible destination: Mets.

Ugueth Urbina: World Series winner even though it was dicey with him on the mound. Braves could use him to set up Smoltz since the bullpen is always a mystery for Atlanta.

Pudge Rodriguez: If the Cubs don’t sign him, then it’s back to the Marlins in May. The Orioles could still look to him and make Javy Lopez a DH.

Ron Villone: Can help somebody, gives six innings and is a lefty so that means he has about fifteen years left.

They say Garrett Stephenson, Jeff Fassero, and Turk Wendell are heading to Colorado along with Pedro Astacio, I’m not sure that is good news.

Arizona should take a look at Shawn Estes, his late season shutout of the Reds showed he still has the arm.

Darren Oliver better look around since the Giants are gambling on bad boy Brett Tomko to pitch 180 innings for them. Tomko was run out of Cincinnati and St. Louis because he couldn’t get along with his managers or pitching coaches. Good luck Dave Righetti.

Greg Maddux has to pitch somewhere…LA perhaps? He would fit their age group for starting pitching.

I have the feeling Roger Clemens is going to give it a go in Houston.

White Sox could use Jeff Nelson as a set up man. Looks like a fun guy in the bullpen, just ask the security guards at Fenway. How about his buddy Karim Garcia, I thought he played very well at the end of the season. He would be a good addition to Seattle’s weak bench.

Angels should pick up Travis Lee to spell Darrin Erstad who rarely lasts a full season.

Wil Cordero can hit and would help a contender off the bench too. How about the Phillies who had trouble scoring runs last year?

The balance of power has shifted in the AL West with Glad Vlad now in Anaheim, this race just got very interesting with one signature.

I like the action!


1 Anonymous { 01.11.04 at 9:14 pm }

Good article Marty.

The Angels signing of Guerrero hastens the need for the A’s to get at least one more bat (preferably RH).

Even then, things need to fall in place healthwise (Dye, Kotsay) and Chavez, in particular, needs to step up, for the A’s to contend.

Also, good point on the benches of the AL West. The A’s could use one.

You might add to your FA list: Karros, Burkes, and McLemore. One or more could be of help in Oaktown.

Reno Bill

2 marty { 01.11.04 at 11:00 pm }

I like the versatility of McLemore, but I don’t see the A’s in his future. If Dye could be moved Ellis Burks would be a terrific DH and good clubhouse influence too. Eric Karros seems more like an Angel to me.

3 Anonymous { 01.12.04 at 1:15 am }

Billy Beane has said in the past that adding pitching offsets a lack of offense. Obviously, that was his approach by acquiring Redman. And let’s face it, our rotation is pretty much unreal. He has also said the current lineup is the one he’ll go with to open the year.
But still, after seeing Anaheim and Seattle put together solid lineups for ’04, I am going to say BB just might be re-opening the “who’s who in MLB yellow pages” and reving up those wheels in his head for a significant move before spring training. I just can’t see him sittting on this lineup, while Anaheim and Seattle continue building theirs.

4 Anonymous { 01.12.04 at 2:25 pm }

Great article, Marty.
Wow. What a treat for Angels fans to get Guerrero. There’s a owner that wants fan support from day one. What a statement he has made. Now we all know that money doesn’t insure you a playoff team. But it certainly helps. And with a team that already has talent like the Angels, these moves, as the teams stand right now, absolutely put them as the favorites in the division. The A’s are obviously planning on riding their starting pitching to the playoffs again this season. Well, last season showed the dangers. A weak offense took it’s toll on the starting staff and injuries were a factor. Granted, the starting rotation is much deeper, but close games will still take too much of a toll on the overall health of the team in the course of a season. A’s are going to need to acquire more offensive help if they want to contend this season. Time to pony up a little more dough, Schott. Your wish for a new stadium is a pipe dream. Increasing your fan base every year with a competitive team is not.

5 Anonymous { 01.12.04 at 7:29 pm }

Is Al Moreno going to be the George Steinbrenner of the AL West? Pretty scary for the other teams in the division. $111 million payroll for this year. Wow–only $50 million more than the A’s.

I don’t look for many other changes for the A’s since Schott is the original skinflint. He looks at baseball as a way to make money and could care less about making the fans happy. Oh, well.

Interesting that the Padres are looking to send Ramon to the Pirates. How about we trade Miller to the Pirates and get Ramon back. Now that will make many of the A’s fans and the pitching staff very happy.

6 Anonymous { 01.13.04 at 11:25 am }

my computer has been sick for the last few days.
The angels have the firepower to win it all and with
the pitching improvements they may run away and hide from the a’s and mariners. saw that kenny
rogers and jeff nelson are heading to texas. that will help them a little but they wull still be a bottom
feeder. the a’s need more offense. I still have
doubts about the outfielders producing big time
and there is a big question mark at shortstop.
The a’s will make money but I don’t see them winning more than 80 to 85 games in 2004

jerry f

7 Anonymous { 01.14.04 at 3:01 am }

For those saying Anaheim will “run away and hide” in the division, I’ll urge you to re-assess.

Their offense is now deadly indeed, but their rotation, while improved, isn’t quite so scary. Colon is definetely solid…if healthy. And that’s a big if. But number 2 is Escobar, who at this point, is unproven and overrated. He’s been in that “potential to be great” place for so long now, and yes, has begun to perform. But I’ll be interested to see how he does for a whole season.
Washburn, if he’s still on the team come spring, has a lot to prove after a let down of a 2003.
And then what? Not too impressive after all.

Yet, as each day passes I’m beginning to wonder if Billy Beane is not practicing for a side career in stand-up comedy, as I had originally assumed when he said the current lineup was the one he’d take into spring training. And that scares me.

Last I checked Jermaine Dye is still on the team… slotted to bat 4th?! And that scares me.

Lastly, look for Rich Harden to struggle this year, as most phenom prospects do as rookies. And that doesn’t scare me. I’m fine with that.

The A’s will be okay this year because of a killer rotation. But Beane will need to boost the offense considerably. If he does this before the All-Star break the A’s will see the post season for a fifth consecutive year. If not…well he will…think positive.

8 glenpark { 01.14.04 at 9:10 pm }

One aspect of this off season to consider:

The A’s lost Foulke and Tejada. top level free agents — this should lead to added first and third round draft picks — and Guillen should also bring a draft pick

Losing Rick Peterson could be a killer, best of luck to Curt Young. And it will be terrific to see Alameda’s own Chris Speir in and A’s uniform, replacing Francona.

9 Anonymous { 01.15.04 at 12:34 am }

Marty, what is the story with the A’s received draft picks anyway? Do we get the Orioles’ tenth overall pick for Miggy? Boston’s first rounder? Anaheim’s ? What about compensation rounders?

10 Anonymous { 01.15.04 at 3:30 pm }

Could somone explain Billy Beane’s freakish obsession with Scott Hatteberg. And why he doesn’t get Graham Koonce in there. Yeah, Scott takes a lot of pitches, BUT WHO CARES ALREADY. Is that all that matters to Billy Beane? If so, sign me up. I could do that, as could a hand full of parking lot attendants I know.
At some point taking a lot of pitches just doesn’t mean you’re a stud. And let’s face it, Hatteberg is solid, but he’s no stud. I think Koonce, if given a chance has proven he could be the much more productive option.

11 Anonymous { 01.15.04 at 9:59 pm }

About the draft picks… The A’s will pick five times in the first 49 picks. They will receive a draft pick for Tejada and Foulke, but not for Guillen and Sparks. They will select 24th (from the Red Sox: compensation for Foulke), 26th (A’s first rounder), 31st (compensation pick: Foulke), 35th (compensation pick: Tejada), and 49th (from the Orioles: compensation for Tejada).
In case you’re wondering, yes I just spent 20 minutes trying to figure this out. Thank god the owners have voted to get rid of the stupid teams from alternate leagues pick rule.

12 Dave { 01.15.04 at 10:00 pm }

Oops — forgot I wasn’t logged in.

13 Anonymous { 01.15.04 at 10:49 pm }

It seems odd that the A’s aren’t getting the Orioles first round (10th overall) pick for Tejada. All they get is two compensation picks? Why?

14 Dave { 01.15.04 at 11:47 pm }

The rule is that if the team’s draft pick is in the top 15, then the pick cannot be taken away. The team forfeits their second round pick (to the team who lost their player), and the league creates an additional sandwich pick inbetween the first and second rounds.

15 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

16 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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