Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

2004: American League West

The only thing not Wild about this
“Wild West” Division is the Texas
Rangers. We can all agree they
are the solid pick for last, but
for the other three teams ?

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezOakland A’S, Anaheim Angels, Seattle
Mariners. Or, Anaheim Angels, Oakland
Athletics and Seattle Mariners. Or Seattle
Mariners,Anaheim Angels and Oakland A’S.

So here we have the only Division in
the Major Leagues with only four teams,
but three of those four can beat anybody
in baseball with regularity.

The Oakland Athletics lost second baseman
Mark Ellis (torn labrum)in collision with
shortstop Bobby Crosby during a Spring
Training game. Some teams have a
hard time finding a solid player that
can play on same position for years,
for the A’S it has been second base.

I just revisited the 2004 A’S Media
Guide and others and took a look
at the second basemen that have played
for the A’S (none has played more than
7 years with the A’S like Dick Green
which is the record)
Phil Garner, Mike Edwards,
Dave McKay,Shooty Babitt,
Davey Lopes,Joe Morgan,
Donnie Hill,Tony Phillips,
Tony Bernazard, Glenn Hubbard,
Mike Gallego,Willie Randolph,
Mike Bordick,Brent Gates,
Rafael Bournigal,Tony Batista,
Scott Spiezio,Lance Blankenship,
Randy Velarde,Frank Menechino
and Mark Ellis.

This year at the end of
Spring Training there were
two contending for second
base(Menechino is also hurt)
so it is: Marco Scutaro,Esteban
Germán, at least until Frank
Menechino can come back
and be the perennial utility
infielder. Unless Billy
Bean can swing a deal
with some other team like
the Chicago Cubs who have
a surplus of second baseman
and infielders with Todd Walker,
Mark Grudzielanek, Alex González
and the ex-Giant Ramón Martínez
or the Seattle Mariners who
will start with All Star
Brett Boone at second base but
have seen great Springs from
Hiram Bocachica and Ramón
Santiago, who came from
Detroit in the Carlos Guillén

Mark Ellis is one of those
quiet but very hard working
and durable players that
could be missed more than
people think. At the time,
most people say, “well it is
not like Eric Chávez is out”
but with this 2004 A’S team
than has a very much
different look than 2003
a regular like Ellis could
not be easy to replace.

The A’S still have the best
pitching in the West. There is
no doubt about it. Hudson-Zito-
Mulder-Redman and maybe
Harden in the 5th spot.
A solid rotation. Their bullpen
is another story, but the
Oakland bullpen is a different
story just about each year.
and now ex Mariners lefty
Arthur Rhodes. The problem
with Rhodes is that he has
never been a closer and when
he pitches two days in a row
in relief he is not as efective.
I saw it the whole year in
2003 in Seattle. But maybe the
A’S can make Rhodes an effective
closer. I remember when
Dennis Eckersley came to
Oakland under LaRussa-Duncan
Administration and he didn’t
wanted to be a closer. Yes, that
is the same dude that this year
will be inducted in July into the
Baseball Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown. Before I forget
and everybody get’s excited;
— Rhodes is no Eck.

But I still think the Athletics
strongest department is their
pitching. In 2003 the A’S
had the best ERA in the
league with a 3.63 with
16 complete games, the most
in both leagues. Mulder completed
9, most in the league in a tie
with Bartolo Colón(Anaheim)
and Cy Young Award winner
Roy Halladay(Toronto). So I
am not going to dwell on the
bullpen/closers which at the
conclusion of Spring Training
looks like one of their weaknesses.

Their hitting could be
a problem. Let’s look at it
this way. If Dye really comes
back(he had a good Spring)
that would help this offense
that lost Tejada-Hernández
and Long during the winter.
This is the year when Eric
Chávez has the opportunity
to show us his leadership,
his pocketbook is set with
a $66 million contract,
which is largest in A’S history.

The two new outfielders are
Bobby Kielty who combined
last season with Minnesota
and Toronto to .244 13 home runs
and 57 runs batted in. Also,
Mark Kotsay who with
San Diego hit for .266 with
7 home runs and 38 runs
batted in. Ken Macha will
have to manage his outfielders
to the maximun, Billy McMillon
and Eric Byrnes are also in
the mix with Dye who is
their veteran outfielder.

The Athletics lost power and
run production. Even with
Tejada, Hernández and
Long the were 12 in hitting
among the 14 teams in
the league. Last season
the A’S stole 48 bases
as a team, only Toronto
with 37 steals showed less
speed. The A’S are going
to have to manufacture
runs this season and Macha
might have to manage his
very best.

Eric Karros is a veteran player
who still holds the record for
most home runs in the history
of the Dodgers, but he will
be used as that right handed
pinch hitter that can always
win you a game or two with
a home run. Erubiel Durazo
.259 21 home runs 77 RBI
needs to increase those
numbers as he will be the
DH most of the season with
Hatteberg .253 12 home runs
61 RBI playing at first again.

Oakland is not going to
scare anybody with their
offense, but their pitching
should be enough to keep
them in contention all year.

The Anaheim Angels were
purchased by Arturo Moreno
last year for $184 million but
during this past winter he
spent $150 million in free
agents. Vladimir Guerrero,
José Guillén, Bartolo Colón
and Kelvim Escobar are very
important new players in
the land of Disney and they
are a serious contender to
return to the World Series
for the first time since….
….2002. Anaheim bullpen
still one of the best. Seattle
Mariners got Raul Ibañez
from K.C.(back to his original
team)closer Eddie Guardado
from Minnesota and veteran
shortstop Rich Aurlia from the
Giants. The Mariners were the
only team last year in baseball
to have the same 5 starting
pitchers all season: Moyer-Garcia-
Piñeiro-Meche-Franklin. They
are hoping Venezuelan Freedy
García comes back to his
form of 2 or 3 years ago.
Mariners also established new
fielding record with just 65 errors
in 162 games, Ichiro,Boone,Wynn,
Olerud,Wilson all great defensive
players with Ichiro the best leadoff
in baseball. If Ichiro gets 200 or more
hits this season he will be the first
ever player in MLB history to have
200 hits season in his first 4 years.

Prediction: Anaheim is the team
to beat. Might have the best defensive
outfield in baseball with Anderson,
Guillén and Guerrero. Good balanced
hitting team, solid starters and excellent
bullpen. I have to position the A’S in
second just because of the strenght
of their starting pitching, but If Dye can
have a great year together with Chávez
that might inspire the team to win it.
Mariners have to be in third place, they
also have a lot of “ifs”. And the
Texas Rangers for the cellar.



1 Anonymous { 03.31.04 at 12:42 pm }

I like Amaury’s analysis of the AL west. The interesting
thing about the Angels is that they are becoming the
darlings of the Los Angeles area. The Dodgers have seemingly appeared to have lost their magic and have
turned off the fans.Not making the playoffs has taken a toll. Turmoil under the Fox ownership and now uncertainty as the McCourt era has begun.
The fair weather LA fans are jumping on the Angel
bandwagon. Just amazing.

Jerry F

2 Anonymous { 03.31.04 at 1:20 pm }

It also helps that there is a huge Latino population in LA. The new Angels owner is being a smart businessman. He consciously went after great Latino players
Amaury’s view on the A’s offense is sound. The A’s haven’t seem to have done much to improve in that department. But the offense is not going to be as bad as people think. They can’t do any worse and the acquisition of Kotsay and Kielty should help take pressure off the three important players who all should have better years: Dye, Durazo and Chavez. These factors should become mutually reinforcing too.
-Mike E.

3 Anonymous { 05.12.06 at 4:50 am }
4 Anonymous { 05.28.06 at 6:38 am }
5 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

6 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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