In the last two seasons, Oakland has a .586 winning percentage (190-134) and is 6 1/2 games better than the Rangers. That gap is widening. Since the game of July 1, 2012, Oakland has a .624 winning percentage (153-92) and is 19 1/2 games better than the Rangers. Head-to-head, Oakland has won the season series with the Rangers in each of the last two years. That includes the Athletics going 6-1 when facing Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish. “You’ve got to give them credit,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They’re the team to beat. It was the [Los Angeles] Angels, and then it was us. Now, it’s Oakland. Until they’re de-throned, they’re the team.”
Trying to improve their offense, the Rangers committed $268 million to first baseman Prince Fielder and left fielder Shin-Soo Choo. The brownout of the Rangers’ offense has been a factor in Oakland’s rise. From opening day 2010 through Aug. 31, 2012, the Rangers were the third-highest scoring team in the majors at 5.1 runs per game. Since then, they have dropped to eighth with 4.4 runs per game. Last year’s club averaged only 4.48 runs, fewest for a full season since 1992. “I look back on the last two years … if my offense would not have gone in the tank, it would have been a different story,” Washington said.
The Los Angeles Angels have been quieter this off-season after guaranteeing $365 million to first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Josh Hamilton in the previous two years. Seattle picked up the free-spending mantle, giving second baseman Robinson Cano a $240 million deal in hopes he can put a charge in a flat lineup. Houston continues to look to the future, with a fourth consecutive last-place finish likely this season. The Astros were a gimme for Oakland and the Rangers last season, going 6-32 against those clubs. “Our division is going to be very tough,” Washington said. “Baseball has levelled the playing field. With the way teams spend now, there’s no guarantee.” Source: Gerry Fraley at the Dallas Morning News
So they said
By the way, I am now verified on Twitter, so I have finally made it in this world. … I’d like to thank my mom, dad and Oliver Perez. From: Mike Puma at the New York Post
Chicago White Sox president Ken Williams, who previously was the first African-American general manager in Chicago sports history, said that if a team is unwilling to offer its full backing to an openly gay player, then it should not acquire him. “Are you, as a leader of your organization, prepared to provide the young man the public and private support he will need along with controlling, to the extent you can, what the behavior is in the clubhouse/locker room?” Williams asked.
“If the answer is yes, then you have an opportunity to use what some see as a distraction and use it as an individual and team character-building opportunity along the lines of what Branch Rickey did for Jackie Robinson. If the answer is no, then it is unfair to select him because like it or not, this will be a daily media/fan event and will need to be managed to keep everyone’s focus on the job at hand.” Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
[Pete] Rose has always been perplexed that — in his opinion – [Alex] Rodriguez does not have more confidence. “I never seen a guy that can make $25 to $30 million a year that has less confidence than Alex Rodriguez,” Rose said. “There are three ways you can treat a person — pat him on the butt, kick him in the butt or leave him alone. You got to pat Alex on the butt. You have to tell him how good he is on a daily basis. That’s the way I read Alex Rodriguez. He’s not very confident. All that skill he has, and the way he performed over the years, you think the guy would be a real ass-kicker. He’s kind of a non-confident guy. I thought that was kind of strange.” Source: Matt Ehalt at ESPN New York
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
If I’m the Orioles or Blue Jays and I’m serious about signing Ubaldo or Santana. I put the same offer on the table. First one to sign gets it. From: Aaron Somers at Call To The Pen
Comment From Chris: Is Santana going to the Mariners? Seems like all other teams are dropping out?
Dan Szymborski: It’s one of the better fits. The rotation is extremely top heavy and it’s a safer park for him.
I’m told Rich Harden is not retired, and that we are likely to see him pitching at some point this season. From: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish
That trip from Japan to New York can definitely be a long one: unless, like [Masahiro] Tanaka, you have enough money to book an entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner for you, your wife, a couple friends…and your dog. Tanaka, who recently signed a $155 million deal with the Yankees, reportedly slapped down 20 million yen – or about $200,000 – to make the Japan Airlines passenger jet, with all its 200 seats, into his own private charter for his Sunday flight to the States. Source: Dan Zinski at Call To The Pen
By The Numbers
Since 2011, the catchers with the most homers are Matt Wieters (64), J.P. Arencibia (61), Brian McCann (61), Russell Martin (54), and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (53). Source: The Bill Chuck Files
Joe Saunders worked as Seattle’s No. 3 starter all last season, but allowed the second-most hits in the Majors and the highest batting average against at .311, while going 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA. Source: Greg Johns at MLB
Comment From inquisitive: Coming off a shoulder injury and Tommy John surgery, and with a minimum of two years and $17.5 million left on his contract, does 27-year-old St. Louis lefthander Jaime Garcia has any trade value? Does Seattle flop Jesus Montero have any trade value? Could there be a trade match? The Cardinals might have the best shot at fixing Montero.
Dan Szymborski: Garcia’s trade value is quite limited at this point. Montero’s is non-existent.
Comment From Gila Monster: How do you best adjust projection systems from being too conservative? I find they tend to always find them significantly conservative….
Dan Szymborski: They’re not. For example, of players with 300 PA last year, ZiPS was over on something like 2 more player than under. The issue is that people are too optimistic. People *vastly* underrate the downside of established players, both in magnitude and probability
Comment From Chris: Will Nick Franklin get enough OF starts to get position eligibility?
Dan Szymborski: I imagine not.
Comment From Humble is Hard: Is it greedy of me to want a Mariners’ winning season so shortly after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl?
Dan Szymborski: Probably. They’re around .500, so it’s not unreasonable.