Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Spring Training Thoughts

Now we are heading into the last week of spring training, it’s time to take a closer look at the teams.

With the season only a week or so away, some AL West teams still have question marks.

Ill tell you what I think below.The Rangers have a much better team than last year on the field. Kevin Mench has a side muscle pull which may put him out of the opening day outfield. This opens up a spot for one of the sweetest swingers in Arizona, Mark Texeira (pronounced Tuh-Shera). Infielder-outfielder Hank Blalock is on the block and may be traded for a starting pitcher. Whoever ends up with Blalock will have one hard swinger, but I’m not sure what his true upside is. Blalock is what I call a maximum swinger in that every swing is at full force instead of hitting the ball where it is pitched.

The Rangers have below average starting pitching will eventually be their undoing. Ismael Valdes is really a four or five starter, Chan Ho Park spends most of his time looking at videotape with pitching coach Orel Hershiser who can’t figure out what is holding the 65 million dollar pitcher back. Former Rockie and Met John Thomson never has been able to put it together. Doug Davis, Joaquin Benoit, Colby Lewis, and CJ Nitkowski are trying for the fourth and fifth spots, so you get the picture.

Juan Gonzalez, Raffy, A Rod (if healthy), Ruben Sierra, and Mike Young can pound the ball. The bull pen has Ugeth Urbina, Todd Van Poppel, and Esteban Yan, a little better than last year, but still not there.

Buck Showalter will get the most out of his team, they’ll win 77 games or so unless a miracle happens.

Seattle is showing signs that this season may be their last gasp before truly rebuilding. Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, Dan Wilson (on the DL with the dreaded oblique pull), Bret Boone, Jamie Moyer and Kaz Sasaki are all susceptible to down years.

Gil Meche has looked great and may become a number two starter on this team if he is healthy. Ryan Franklin and Joel Piniero are still learning, while the Mariners are not worried about Freddy Garcia, it has been a while since he has pitched a good game including all of his starts in Arizona.

Rookie manager Bob Melvin has his hands full with this team.

The Angels are slowly rounding into shape. Tim Salmon and Darren Erstad both seem fine after winter surgeries. Jarrod Washburn fell in a spring drill and probably won’t be ready until the first weekend of the season. Francisco Rodriguez is giving up some runs in Arizona, but no one seems concerned about the rookie who carried the Angels through October.

At some point Kevin Appier has to throw the ball over the plate. When he does watch out, that’s how much I think he has fallen. The Angels are counting on John Lackey to become a capable number two or three guy, he may, his make up is outstanding.

The Angels are for real and may start slowly, but they can hit, play as a team and they are the World Champions.

A’s-Angels games will be terrific this season.

Ted Lilly has been the talk of the A’s camp. Rick Peterson has extended the lefty’s stride and worked on his curve ball. The result is a different looking pitcher on the mound. He still gives up too many fly balls, but the hitter is off stride and Lilly is very together on the mound. Forget about what you saw last year, Lilly looks like a new pitcher, literally, on the mound.

Mark Ellis has gained about fifteen pounds, his bat is faster (the scouts rave about Ellis), and I think he will hit with surprising power this year. Terrence Long is so much more relaxed than last year. Not being in center field agrees with him. He is sounding much more mature and is dedicated to improving his game. Long’s poor season last year was an eye opener for Long who may be a real force for the A’s this year.

Jermaine Dye has lost a step, no doubt about it, it would be nice to see him drive the ball on a more consistent basis. He will see good pitches to hit with Erubiel Durazo hitting behind him. The A’s offense is the best I’ve seen since in Oakland since the early 90’s.

Ken Macha worries about everything, which isn’t unusual for a rookie manager. For his sake, the A’s need to get off to a good start or else he’ll be having meetings every week which will get old for the free spirited A’s very quickly.

This is one division which will be a fight from opening day.

It may be the best in baseball.


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