Some rambling early season thoughts on the AL West / Kendry:
As I grind out the last couple of jet-lagged hours until dawn, I thought I might ramble a bit at you lot on some things I've liked / disliked so far. That's what a blog is for, right?
The rest of the AL West - I have to say that whenever I read a report banging on about how incredibly inept out division is, it does cause me to twitch - I see it as an unwarranted criticism of the Angel's success, particularly with respect to last year when we were an equal opportunity distributor of mayhem to ball clubs up and down the league. This year however, they may well be right:
Oakland GM Beane's much vaunted off-season manoeuverings have been exposed as the desperate fumblings that they so patently appeared to be to those of us without our heads duct-taped, mouths agape, to his inner thighs - the preferred position of most lazy baseball journalists. Holliday and Giambi are slugging .383 and .343 respectively, OC (gawd bless 'im) has jumped the shark and their new young dynamite rotation looks like it is populated by 14 year olds (which it pretty much is). The Emperor is running around naked. Everybody point and laugh.
Seattle, for all that their strong start promised, are reverting to type - they still can't hit for toffee and once Wash remembers it's 2009 not 2002, their rotation will be 60% Emmental. Defense alone won't help (no matter how good it is) if you can't hit or pitch. Quite like their new manager though.
The Texas Rangers are as bi-polar as ever. A wrecking ball with the bat, the condemned building on the mound. Having said that, this team is clearly on the up and the only team likely to run us close in the AL west this year. If they can ever find a pitching staff that keeps the ball on the ground, they'll be a very good team indeed. We should offer their hitting coach a King's ransom to more to Southern California for what he's done with Andruw Jones. We could use him.
I truly believe that despite our awful first month (and what Fangraphs have to say on the matter), we'll win this by 6-10 games, going away from the field - we're hitting better than expected, the starting pitching is strong and likely to improve and the 'pen cannot get any worse. Now if someone could just drag the defense back into the 21st century (or even the 20th would be an improvement), then everything will be hunky-dory.
Kendry Morales - I have to say he is growing before our eyes as a genuine major league ball player (and we should all give a quick pat on the back to his one man booster club, Acuda - there's at least one more in the club now).
His current batting average of .280 is about what was expected by most projections, as is his OBP, but he's certainly hitting for more power than most gave him credit for - and we need a 1B who can drive the ball. Hopefully that will translate into a bit more respect from pitchers and help his OBP as the season progresses. His OPS+ is 115. I'm pretty positive about his future, particularly now he's getting proper playing time. And despite the more positive spin from his metrics, I think he has plenty of upside, not just for this season but for years to come
On the down side, his glove is still a little ugly and having watched Kotchman playing for Atlanta last night in a bar after I got in (which I have to say, is far superior to watching baseball on my crappy laptop in London), I did feel a brief pang of regret.
I'll sign off here, before this turns into an unreadable wall of text, but I'm quietly confident about this team (in this division) for 2009 - we'll be there or thereabouts.
Very much looking forward to my trip to the Big A on Wednesday. It's been a while…