At Today’s Knuckleball, the wonderful baseball site that is part of the FanRag Sports Network, where I have the absolute privilege of being a columnist – a handful of the staff were directed to write New Year’s Resolutions for our regular division. Of course I’m the resident A’s and AL West expert so below you will see one resolution for each AL West team.
*(Being more candid, as I am on my blog – what’s the point of a blog if not to be slightly biased and be able to express yourself ? Right?- I think the A’s will compete in the AL West this season. Yet in my resolutions I say that the division title will likely come down to a Texas showdown – and it very well might but I can’t root against my A’s!!)
Anyway, here are my five resolutions, one per team … enjoy and please feel free to comment! I really wanted to use a resolution I read prior to this assignment on SI.com, but I wouldn’t just copy it – so instead I’ll quote Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated here –
Even as one who didn’t the the Donaldson trade was THAT bad (it was premature by a few years but he’d have ended up leaving anyway) or that Addison Russell is the end all, be all of shortstops. In fact, it is my opinion that Marcus Semien could be as good.
He’s got power, finishing SECOND among ALL American League shortstops in home runs. Plus, prior to last season Semien had only played in 83 TOTAL MLB games over the course of TWO seasons with the Chicago White Sox, most of which were not played at the shortstop position. He was a rookie shortstop who needed Ron Washington to help him learn his position. He went from 12 errors in the month of May to just two in September. I like him at shortstop for Oakland!
But all that aside I loved Corcoran’s resolution for the A’s. Mine, as you will notice, is not the same … so, finally here ya go:
My 2016 AL West New Year’s Resolutions
Houston Astros: Resolve to stay the course and continue to bring up prospects to fill any remaining holes.
The Houston Astros New Years resolution should be to fill their biggest needs, which are first and third base. However, instead to looking to make a trade or picking up a free agent the Astros resolution should be to continue to look at what they already have. They need to stick with bringing up prospects. The strategy worked quite well with starting pitcher Lance McCullers and shortstop phenom Carlos Correa in 2015. McCullers ended up starting 22 games for the Astros in 2015. He posted a 3.22 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Correa of course took the entire league by storm. He was voted the American League Rookie of the Year, hitting more home runs than any other AL shortstop and playing sparkling defense.
The Astros should rely on their prospects as they have been doing. Trading for closer Ken Giles was a good move but they need to look inside their organization and continue on the path they were taking last season. Collin Moran would be a good choice at third base while there are touted prospects A.J. Reed and Matt Duffy (not the one from San Francisco so, yes, there are two Matt Duffys) to back up Jonathan Singleton at first base.
Los Angeles Angels: Resolve to not sign a big-name free agent to a long, expensive deal
What the Angels New Year’s Resolution is should be is so blatantly obvious it’s surprising that they haven’t yet fixed the hole in left field. So far they have acquired Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry. If the two platoon in left they will be no kind of upgrade from last season. Gentry spent the majority of last season on the A’s Triple-A club in Nashville and Nava hit .194 with just one home run and 12 RBI between playing for the Red Sox and then the Tampa Bay Rays. The combination of those two players will not get the job done. What the Angels need to do is perhaps see if they can make a trade. Yes, there are plenty of outfielders still on the free agent market and they are said to have an interest in Yoenis Cespedes.
However, the last thing the Angels need to do is sign another player to a giant contract like they did with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. While Pujols hasn’t backfired, he is getting older and his contract runs through his age 41 season. Cespedes, 30, is seeking a six-year deal worth approximately $100 million. The Angels resolution needs to be filling the gaping hole in left field but not by signing an expensive free agent.
Oakland Athletics: Resolve to win one-run games by staying healthy
By July of the 2015 regular season the Oakland Athletics had already lost 22 one-run games. They would either be ahead for most of the game only to have the bullpen blow the game or they’d stage a late innings offensive comeback and just always seem to end up one-run short. The A’s must start winning these oh-so-close games.
This ties into a resolution to remain healthy. Their inability to do so is one of the main reasons the A’s had such a poor season in 2015. However, now that they have spruced up their bullpen and closer Sean Doolittle should be healthy, the A’s shouldn’t be giving up as many runs just to fall one short. The same goes for the starting rotation, with the exception of Sonny Gray, who finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
The second half of the season was a virtual merry-go-round of starting pitchers. Scott Kazmir was traded to Houston, Jesse Hahn missed the entire second half with a shoulder injury, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman both missed starts and Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin were not healthy enough to even throw a single pitch.
Now they’ve reinforced not only the bullpen but have added starting pitching depth to the predicted five-man rotation of Gray, Hahn, Graveman, Bassitt and Rich Hill. Jarrod Parker is looking to make a comeback as is newly added Henderson Alvarez and the A’s also have Aaron Brooks who pitched a couple games near the end of the season. The A’s will have to be healthy to win those one-run games that killed them in 2015.
Seattle Mariners: Resolve to quickly mesh as a team
Seattle Mariners’ new general manager Jerry Dipoto has turned over almost 50 percent of the team’s roster from last season. He’s done a good job operating under a budget as well as having a poor farm system to pull prospects from. He’s made upgrades almost everywhere they were deficient in 2015. However, his upgrades also means new faces and new names. The players need to get to know each other quickly during spring training.
Besides learning the nuances of how to work together as a collective team and know each other’s different styles of play and building team chemistry, with almost half the roster being faces new to the club the Mariners are going to have to start with the basics, like learning each other’s names and move quickly if they are going to build the team chemistry needed to succeed.
Texas Rangers: Resolve to beat up on the Houston Astros
Beating the Astros sounds easy enough as Texas came back from a slow start last year to win the division over the season’s final games so it technically should be easy for them to repeat winning the AL West crown. Plus, the Rangers will be healthier with starters Derek Holland and Yu Darvish both returning from injuries. Also not to be forgotten is their mid-season addition of left-hander Cole Hamels as the team’s ace. Their bullpen should comeback in 2016 also come back stronger, as guys like Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson will be there to pitch full seasons.
So what in the world could the Rangers have to worry about in the Houston Astros? The Astros are younger and hungrier than the Rangers. They came within six outs of moving on to the American League Championship Series. The rivalry of who will be the best team in the state has already begun heating up and both teams want to be the first to bring home a World Series trophy to Texas. One can only imagine how hot that rivalry will become as both teams continue to improve.
If you would like to see what the other writers decided that the teams in their respective divisions should resolve to do in 2016, just follow the link below: