Post-Game Reaction: AL Wild Card Game- Oakland Athletics @ Kansas City Royals

Oakland Athletics' Eric Sogard, left, and Brandon Moss sit in the dugout after the Athletics lost 9-8 to the Kansas City Royals in 12 innings in the AL wild-card playoff baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Photo: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

Eric Sogard crying. That is heartbreaking, right there.

I swear that I’m working on getting that Gotham review up. It should be posted later Wednesday night, though I would have had it up sometime tonight if not for this long-ass game. What was expected to be a pitchers’ duel between A’s ace Jon Lester and the Royals’ James Shields and, indeed, it looked like the A’s were going to cruise to the win after Brandon Moss hit two homers and Jon Lester turned in a decent (If not great) start, outlasting Shields, who got chased out in the sixth. However, the Royals struck back, clobbering Lester to make it 7-6 heading into he ninth and scoring the tying run off of a sacrifice fly from Norichika Aoki.

The Relentless Royals continued to put runners on base, and took advantage of the weak defense of Derek Norris (Substituting Geovany Soto, who was knocked out with a thumb injury in the fourth inning) by wreaking absolute havoc on the basepaths, with Aoki, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Terrence Gore, Jarrod Dyson and Christian Colon stealing a base apiece. It also didn’t help that outfielder Coco Crisp also left the game with a hamstring injury. A’s relievers Sean Doolittle and Danny Otero kept the game tied long enough for Josh Reddick to walk, Jed Lowrie to bunt him over, and Alberto Callaspo, of all people, to drive the lead runner in.

Leaving Otero in to pitch the bottom of the 12th inning, the A’s promptly got Cain to ground out, but fell victim to Eric Hosmer’s triple, which probably would have been a double had Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld not crashed into each other at the wall. Bad luck then befell the A’s, as Colon hit a bouncing ball that Josh Donaldson had absolutely no chance to convert for the out, which scored the tying run. After lefty specialist Fernando Abad came in and got Gordon to pop out, he was promptly replaced with Jason Hammel, even though Salvador Perez had only hit for a measly .632 OPS against lefties this year. After Colon immediately stole second after the ball bounced out of Derek Norris’s glove, Perez, mired in a terrible game, recent slump and an all-around disappointing year,  struck a liner down the third-base glove, just past the glove of a diving Josh Donaldson and into left field. Scoring Colon, this base hit won the game for the Royals (Their first postseason win since Reagan’s first term), eliminated the A’s, and means that the Royals will face the Angels in the ALDS. It also means that I, not exactly being the biggest fan of the Angels, will have to cheer for the Royals against them, despite the fact that not only did they eliminate my second-favourite team, but their clinching of the playoff spot a few days back means that my beloved Toronto Blue Jays are now experiencing the longest playoff drought in baseball.

Fuck me, right?!?!

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

Royals Pitcher: Brandon Finnegan (2 1/3 Innings Pitched, 1 Hit, 1 Earned Run, 1 Walk, 3 Strikeouts)

And to think that just a few months ago, Finnegan was pitching for Texas Christian University. Go Horned Frogs!

Royals Hitter: Eric Hosmer (3 Hits in 4 At-Bats, 1 Triple, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, 2 Walks, 0/1 Stolen Base Attempts)

Salvador Perez may have gotten the walk-off, but without Hosmer, the game never would have been tied in the first place.

2nd Royals Hitter: Salvador Perez (1 Hit in 6 At-Bats, 1 RBI)

It’s not like I could have left him off though. Look at him! He’s adorable!

Athletics Pitcher: N/A

I wonder how much A’s fans are going to remember how tremendous Jon Lester was before this game…

Athletics Hitter: Brandon Moss (2 Hits in 5 At-bats, 2 Home runs, 2 Runs, 5 RBI, 1 Walk)

Proof that hitting two home runs in a game can only go so far if your pitching staff doesn’t back you up.

Royals Clutch Relievers: Wade Davis, Brandon Finnegan, Jason Frasor

Athletics Clutch Reliever: Fernando Abad

 

Upcoming Stuff

Way to fuck me over, Nickelodeon.

Looking for my latest Gotham review? Soon, I promise, but I need to get some blog dealings out of the way first.

Yes, I know how odd it is to pump out another post on blog news so soon after the last one but I feel I need to address the following matters:

  1. I know I said I would review the new Denzel Washington movie, and believe me, I want to, but I didn’t get a chance to go this weekend, as I was too busy having the time of m life at Comic-Con. I may do a post about that. Probably not. Anyways, if I do review The Equalizer, it will be this weekend, and if not then , maybe later this month.
  2. I still plan to see Gone Girl this coming Friday, because holy shit, how could I not!?
  3. With Nickelodeon deciding to spontaneously release the final season of Legend of Korra online on the 3rd, I need to reserve time to catch up, which unfortunately means that my limited coverage of the baseball playoffs will be pushed back until at least the beginning of the Division Series. I may still do short postgame reactions, though.
  4. TV reviews of shows like Gotham, Legend of Korra and The Flash will still take place on the day after they were released. You know, unless something comes up.

Fingers crossed…

That’s all for now! I’ll be back later tonight with the latest review of the second episode Gotham: “Selina Kyle.

In which Selina Kyle has little screen time and refuses to go by the name “Selina Kyle”. This show confuses me.

 

Upcoming TV Reviews

Huh. Look at that. They misspelt “Pamela Isley”.

I’ve really done a whole crapload of movie reviews lately, and truthfully, I ain’t gonna stop, as I’m having way too much fun with them. In fact. I’ll probably end up reviewing even more movies at some point in the near future. There’s something about bitching about visual media that just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

However, there aren’t exactly much must-see movies coming out in the fall, and that worries me, as I need something to do when I’m not at school, working or imbibing large quantities of illicit substances.

Thankfully, my family is stuck in a black hole of a cable deal with Shaw Cable, so as of late September, I will start reviewing TV shows and possibly live-blogging events such as the Oscars. The following is a shortlist of shows I plan to review in the near future.

  • Gotham (Premieres September 22, 2014)
  • Major League Baseball Playoffs (Begin some time in late September)
  • The Flash (Premieres October 7, 2014)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 5 premieres in 2015)
  • Legend of Korra (Season 4 premiere TBA when Nickelodeon gets its shit together)

If anybody has any more suggestions on shows or events I should review, then feel free to let me know. As of know, these are the things I have planned for sure.

 

 

A message of congratulations to the Toronto Blue Jays

Wow, you almost can’t tell that Sergio Santos just turned in the worst relief appearance in Blue Jays history. Almost.

Dear Toronto Blue Jays front office, management and players:

You played a fantastic pair of games yesterday. You have nothing to be ashamed about. Honest! Most teams would tremble at the thought of facing the mighty Minnesota Twins. Never mind that Joe Mauer schmuck. Most anybody would be damn near terrified to face the wrath of such perennial all-stars such as Chris Herrmann and Kurt Suzuki. No wonder you all  pitched around Josmil Pinto the way that you guy did. I would have too. Sure, he’s barely hitting .200, but it’s still early and a superstar like him is bound to break out at any time.

Seen Here: Josmil “The Destroyer of Worlds” Pinto.

It’s a wonder that you made it to the seventh inning with a lead, frankly. Even with the marvelous four innings that Dustin McGowan threw, giving up only three runs, six hits and four walks, you still held on to a pitiful 5-3 lead. Don’t get me wrong though, you should all count yourselves very lucky to hold a lead against a team that smart money has picked to finish second-last only to the Astros in the American League.

John Gibbons doesn’t need to blame himself for this. It’s not his fault that his brilliant strategy of “taking good, solid pitchers like Neil Wagner and Brett Cecil out of the game way before they’re out of gas” didn’t work out. All revolutionary actions are bound to hit a rough spot at some point,mainly due to the fact that they’re highly illogical,  but they’re also eventually recognized for the sheer brilliance that they are, no matter how much of a toll they take on your bullpen.

Or, in some cases, your life expectancy.

And could you really blame Sergio Santos for his implosion of Ricky Romero-like proportions? I’m not even gonna joke about this anymore, because there is no positive way to spin this. Three wild pitches in an inning? Are you fucking serious? I’ve seen Little Leaguers pitch better innings than that.

I’m sorry that this post is so irrelevant to my usual topics and filled with pretty mean-spirited sarcasm, but I really needed to vent about this and it was either using this creative outlet or screaming wordless cries of pain.

Final MLB Predictions

Surprise, surprise, the Blue Jays probably aren’t gonna be huge factors in the AL East this year. Bring back  Cito Gaston already!

Well, with the season starting today in a couple hours, I guess the ship has sailed on my division-by-division predictions of the upcoming Major League Baseball season. I guess the honourable thing to do would be to bang out four more 1000+ word previews, but that would also be the insane thing to do, so here’s a quick PKTM preview of the 2014 season. The Al East will be thew only division with a summary, because, well, this was the only division I had stuff written out for. I need to work on this whole “meeting deadlines” thing.

AL East 

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

Sure, the Rays may not score the most runs (Or draw the biggest crowds), but their pitching staff is deep enough to the point where it doesn’t matter if Matt Moore or Chris Archer regress, or if Jake Odorizzi doesn’t cut it in the major leagues, because they’re bound to have somebody just as good waiting in the wings. Also, you can’t go wrong with Evan Longoria. Fuck Josh Lueke though.

The Red Sox are a great team as well though, and could repeat as World Series champions, let alone division winners. However, while they may be the harder-hitting team, the Red Sox pitching staff is a lot thinner than Tampa’s, and, while he probably should have won AL Manager of the year in 2013, John Farrell is still an inferior manager to Joe Madden.

The Orioles are far from has-beens, but they’re a bit iffier, what with Nelson Cruz coming off of steroids and Ubaldo Jimenez being Ubaldo Jimenez. The rotation is solid and deep, though, and they still have stars like Adam Jones and Chris Davis, who should hold them off while Manny Machado recovers from his injury.

As for the Bronx Bombers, they will probably miss the playoffs. There are far too many question marks on this team for me to justify predicting even an 85-win season. Can they really count on not only Derek Jeter, but also Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Brian Roberts, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Pineda to stay healthy? And on C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Alfonso Soriano to not regress with age? And who knows about Masahiro Tanaka.

And as for my Blue Jays, they may be filled to the brim with talent, but with that rotation? Come on. Maybe in a lesser division, but not in the same division as the Red Sox, Rays and O’s.

AL Central

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Oakland Athletics (Wild Card)
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. New York Mets

NL Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates (Wild Card)
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies

 

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels

NL MVP: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

AL Rookie of the year: Taijuan Walker, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Reds

 

ALCS: Detroit Tigers over Tampa Bay Rays

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over St. Louis Cardinals

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit Tigers

 

Now, if ya’ll will excuse me, I’m gonna get back to binge-watching the 90’s X-Men cartoon series.

While also mentally willing Jubilee to shut her goddamn mouth.

 

American League West Predictions

(Looking for my NL West preview? Here it is!)

“Oh cool, a helicopter!” -Jose Altuve, probably

5. Houston Astros 

 2013 Record: 51-111 (5th in division)

Manager: Bo Porter (2nd season as mansger, 51-111 career record)

General manager: Jeff Luhnow

Home field: Minute Maid Park

So what’s good?: Bupkiss.

Just kidding. There isn’t any reason for Astros fans to commit mass suicide yet. While this team has absolutely no hope of a winning record, much less making the playoffs, this season, there still are reasons to head to Minute Maid Park in 2014. For one, the big league team, despite barely being better than most AAA teams, has some solid talent in young players such as Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Dexter Fowler, Chris Carter, Matt Dominguez, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and L.J. Hoes. None of these guys are superstars, obviously, but as a young core group of players, you could do worse.

And lest we forget that the Astros have the best farm system in the game, the beneficiaries of a bunch of good drafts. George Springer, Domingo Santana and Jonathan Singleton are all knocking on the door of the big league club, and Carlos Correa, Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz should all be factors way down the line.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: What could I possibly say about the Astros’ chances this year that hasn’t already been said?

Team Grade: D

Insert “99 Problems”joke here.

4. Seattle Mariners

 2013 Record: 71-91 (4th in division)

 Manager: Lloyd McClendon (6th season as manager (1st with Mariners) 336-446 career record)

 General manager: Jack Zdurienczik

 Home field: Safeco Field

 So, what’s good?: If there’s one nice thing to say about the Seattle Mariners, it’s that their rotation is very impressive. Felix Hernandez, of course is a wonderful pitcher, and should contend for the Cy Young Award, but often overlooked is Japanese hurler Hisashi Iwakuma, who was arguably even better than Hernandez last year. When you factor in the arrivals of prospects Taijuan Walker and Canadian lefty James Paxton, you have what could potentially be a great rotation on your hands.

There are some bright spots in this lineup as well, such as the highly underrated third-baseman, Kyle Seager, highly-touted catching prospect Mike Zunino and, of course, the highest profile signing of the offseason, Yankee expat Robinson Cano, probably the best second baseman in the game and a probable MVP candidate.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: Remember how I said how great the M’s rotation was? Well, that was before Walker and Iwakuma got hurt and became doubtful to not miss the start of the season and the rotation was depleted to Hernandez, Paxton and such superstars as Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan. Add what looks to be, even with the addition of Fernando Rodney, a very thin bullpen (Although Rodney’s in decline, anyways) and you have a recipe for a ton of runs allowed, at least until the starting pitching gets healthy.

And the starting lineup doesn’t inspire much confidence either. Aside from Seager and Cano, most of the hitters are either mediocre (Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley) or unproven (Zunino, Brad Miller). And holy shit, why would you pay $6 million dollars to Corey Hart? I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I’m even more sure he hasn’t played in a major league baseball game since the end of the 2012 season. And while I may not be the best judge of managers, Lloyd McClendon’s poor record with the Pirates from 2001-05 isn’t that impressive.

Team Grade: C-

Admit it. You thought Bryce Harper was gonna be the next big thing too.

 3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

 2013 record: 78-84 (3rd in division)

 Manager: Mike Scioscia (15th season as manager, 1233-1035 career record)

 General manager:Jerry Dipoto

 Home field: Angel Stadium of Anaheim

 So what’s good?: Any discussion about the strong points of the Angels has to begin and end with Mike Trout, the best all-around player in MLB bar none. He probably should have won MVP awards the last two seasons (Although it’d be hard to make an argument against Miguel Cabrera) and has to be considered the favourite to win the big prize this year, even if his team doesn’t make the playoffs.

 Another point in the Angels favour is the improved starting rotation, which was just plain rancid last year. Jered Weaver should be excellent, as long as he stays healthy, C.J. Wilson is a very good pitcher, although he is criminally overpaid, and Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago are some nice young talent. And let’s not forget about Tyler Skaggs, whom they acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: I have a feeling that Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are going to rebound a bit this year, but I’m also quite sure that a) neither are going to be elite players ever again and b) even that slight rebound will not be enough to justify the inhuman amount of money that they’re being awarded in 2014 or going to be awarded way down the line. These idiotic contracts may turn out to be the reason that the Angels may not be able to afford to lock up Mike Trout before he becomes a free agent in 2018.

Team Grade: B-

 

Just let them move to San Jose already! That’s fucking disgusting!

2. Oakland Athletics

2013 record: 96-66 (1st in division)

Manager: Bob Melvin (11th season as manager (4th with A’s) 730-694 career record (237-186 with A’s))

General manager: Billy Beane

Home field: O.co Coliseum

So what’s good?: The good news is, aside from the recent injuries to their starting rotation, the A’s don’t really have a discernible weakness. The bullpen looks great, as seems to be the norm in Oakland, even if I maintain that Jim Johnson is highly overrated, and there isn’t a single bad player on the starting lineup. Sure, one could complain that there’s no real superstar, but who could really complain about a 1-2-3-4-5 of Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss?

Sounds great, but what sucks?: The young A’s rotation has, unfortunately for my second-favourite team, fallen prey to injuries. Jarrod Parker is going to miss the season because of Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin is going to miss the first few weeks of the regular season with elbow tendinitis. I suppose you could ask for a worse rotation than Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez, but it could still cost them some serious ground.

Team grade: B+

Catcher J.P. Arencibia posing for his first Texas Rangers headshot. Or hiding from irate Blue Jays fans. Either would be applicable.

1. Texas Rangers

2013 record: 91-72 (2nd in division)

Manager: Ron Washington (8th season as manager, 611-524 career record)

General Manager: Jon Daniels

Home field: Globe Life Park in Arlington

So what’s good?: No intelligent pitching staff wouldn’t shudder in fear upon glancing at the Rangers’ lineup. It’s a nice mix of 20-20 candidates (Alex Rios, Shin-Soo Choo) elite hitters (Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder) speedsters (Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin) and even a couple of strikeout-prone sluggers (J.P. Arencibia, Mitch Moreland), you know, to lull opponents into a false sense of security until they get hot. Or something.

To compliment this beast of a lineup, the Rangers have a good bullpen, led by Joakim Soria, Alexi Ogando, Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor among others, a good rotation, once healthy, and the great management skills of Ron Washington backing them up.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: What with all the injuries to the A’s pitching staff, I would  have had Texas as the clear favourite to win the division… Until 60% of their rotation was struck down by the injury bug.

Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison are likely to miss a few starts at the beginning of the season, and Derek Holland will be out ’till mid-season.  Until they return, their rotation will likely consist of Martin Perez (A very good young starter), Tanner Scheppers (Who has a previous career high of seven starts in the minors), Robbie Ross (Hasn’t started a game since since 2011, in the minors), Joe Saunders (5.26 ERA in 2013) and Nick Martinez (Who the hell is Nick Martinez). Also, second baseman Jurickson Profar will miss a whole bunch of time in the beginning of the year. Other than that though, I don’t see why the Rangers shouldn’t compete this year.

Team Grade: A-

To be continued…

National League West Predictions

Well, it’s that time of the year again.

Time again for the seemingly endless cycle of initial excitement, heartbreak, fleeting hope and bitterness that is yet another Major League Baseball season.

Anybody feel like deducing who my favourite team is?

Since the season is starting in several hours (In the middle of March. In Australia.), I’ve decided to kick off my predictions for the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Since the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers are the first teams to play, I’ve decided to start with the West division of the National League, as they are the only teams who are going to play meaningful games. Have a problem with that? I don’t give a shit.

Teenage obnoxiousness aside, I’ll get to the other division later. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

(For anybody looking for movie reviews: Don’t worry. This isn’t becoming a baseball blog. I would sooner kill myself then write about the Jays every week. Stay tuned for more movie reviews.)

Troy Tulowitzki is, by far, the best shortstop in baseball, displaying a .876 lifetime OPS, 30+ homer power and good defense to boot. Now, if only he could stay healthy for more than a few goddamn weeks at a time.

5. Colorado Rockies

2013 Record: 74-88 (5th in division)

Manager: Walt Weiss (2nd season as manager, 74-88 career record)

General manager: Dan O’Dowd

Home field: Coors Field

So, what’s good?: Well, the Rox might have some help on the way for their oft-battered rotation. Flame-throwing right-hander  Jonathan Gray should come up sometime in 2015, while Eddie Butler should make his debut later this year. The Rockies also have a pretty decent looking middle of the order with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Michael “Hopefully not a fluke at age 34” Cuddyer, newly-acquired Justin Morneau and Wilin Rosario, the best catcher you’ve barely heard of. And, while he’s not exactly Larry Walker, Nolan Arenado is the best Mexican-sounding defensive third baseman this side of Manny Machado.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: Well, while their top three starters (Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood) all had good years, who knows if you can ever bet on pitching consistency at Coors field, especially when the bottom two rotation spots are likely to go to some combination of Juan Nicasio (5.14 ERA in 2013), Franklin Morales (4.62 ERA in 2014) and Brett Anderson (6.04 ERA and a crap-load of injuries in 2013).

And it isn’t even a given that their superstars (Namely, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez) deliver either. Tulo hasn’t managed to play over 150 games since 2009 while Gonzalez hasn’t even really come close to equaling his career high of 145 games in 2010.

Team Grade: C-

What the fuck are these two doing?

4. San Diego Padres 

 2013 Record: 76-86 (3rd in division)

 Manager: Bud Black (8th season as manager, 540-595 career record)

 General manager: Josh Byrnes

 Home field: PETCO Park

 So, what’s good?: Well, like the Rockies, the Padres have some good young talent coming up through the pipeline. Unlike the Rockies, however, the Padres have much more, and they actually have enough in the majors now that you can see a core of people like Chase Headley, Jedd Gyorko, Everth Cabrera, Yonder Alonso and Andrew Cashner establishing themselves. When you consider this and the fact that players like Max Fried, Austin Hedges and Reymond Fuentes are knocking on the door, and you could see a pretty good team emerge in a couple years or so.

In addition, I think San Diego has one of the better bullpens on the game and, going solely by their team page on mlbdepthcharts.com, I fail to see someone who could be considered a weak link, with the exception of Patrick Schuster, who hasn’t pitched above Class A. Huston Street, Joaquin Benoit, Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Alex Torres and Tim Stauffer are all names that inspire confidence in me, though.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: There are way too much question marks surrounding this team, most of them injury-related. Headley is injury-prone, as are Carlos Quentin, Alonso, Cameron Maybin (Who is already on the DL), Yasmani Grandal (Ditto) and Josh Johnson. Also, my memory of Joaquin Benoit blowing leads in the 2013 ALCS is still pretty vivid, so maybe I spoke too soon about the bullpen.

Speaking of Josh Johnson, Lord knows I’m not his biggest fan after contributing a 6.20 ERA to my Toronto Blue Jays last year. However, let’s not forget that he has a very respectable 3.40 ERA for his career and had injury problems last year. This is pretty much the epitome of a low-risk, high reward signing. However, who knows if he’ll be enough to help a rotation that will already be missing Cory Luebke and Casey Kelly.

Team Grade: C+

“Look at me! I’m Kirk Gibson and I’m gritty! Grrrrr!!!”

 3. Arizona Diamondbacks

 2013 record: 81-81 (2nd in division)

 Manager: Kirk Gibson (5th season as manager, 290-279 career  record)

 General manager: Kevin Towers

 Home field: Chase Field

 So what’s good?: Aside from their defense and their bullpen, the D’backs don’t have too much to feel bad about. They would have liked to have Patrick Corbin stay off the DL, but even with their best pitcher missing the entire season, they still have a solid, if not particularly special rotation of Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, Bronson Arroyo and Randall Delgado. This talented rotation should benefit from the eventual addition of Archie Bradley, the best pitching prospect in baseball, who is expected to debut some time this year.

I like their lineup too. Paul Goldschmidt is a wonderful young player, and as good a guy as any to build a team around. I’m a big Aaron Hill fan as long as he stays healthy, and Mark Trumbo, Martin Prado and Miguel Montero aren’t anything to sniff at either.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: I hate the D’backs management. I hate, hate, hate it.

I hate that they try to give off the image of false toughness, which always ends up looking like they’re trying too hard. I can’t believe those idiots haven’t figured out that hitting batters is not usually conducive to winning ball games.

Also, they can’t make a deal to save their lives. In recent years, they have given up Justin Upton, Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Davidson and Trevor Bauer, and are apparently still pondering how in the world they’ve finished at .500 the last two years. Trading away your future tends to lead to mediocrity, guys.

But more on that later…

Also, the bullpen does not impress me much. Oliver Perez, J.J. Putz and Brad Ziegler inspire some confidence, but beyond them, nut David Hernandez, Addison Reed and Joe Thatcher cancel that out.

Team Grade: B-

Sergio Romo, where did you get that shirt? I kinda want it.

2. San Francisco Giants

2013 record: 76-86 (3rd in division)

Manager: Bruce Bochy (20th season managing (8th with Giants), 1530-1530 career record (579-555 with Giants))

General Manager: Brian Sabean

Home field: AT&T Park

So what’s good?: I don’t really buy the Giants’ demise last year. It was pretty much the same team that won the World Series, but I guess the good luck went the other team’s way more often this year.

I can easily see the Giants being a playoff team this year. This is a damn solid team. I still have faith in Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong turning it around, and Madison Bumgarner is looking like a bona-fide ace, though I’m still iffy on Tim Hudson dominating again. Other than them (And maybe Michael Morse) there isn’t that much holes in this team. I’m a big Brandon Belt fan…

Gee, I wonder why…

… and he, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are great table-setters for Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval. Even Morse and Brandon Crawford can do some pretty serious damage to any team caught unawares.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: Like San Diego, there are a bit too much question marks surrounding this team then I’d be comfortable with if I were Bruce Bochy (Whom I believe is a hall of fame manager, by the way). For example, there are four, count ’em, FOUR starters in the rotation (Everybody besides Bumgarner) who are coming off bad or injury-filled seasons, and their lineup, while good, won’t be setting the world on fire anytime soon.

Team Grade: B+

Kneel before Puig!!!

 1. Los Angeles Dodgers

 2013 record: 92-70 (1st in division)

 Manager: Don Mattingly (4th season as manager, 260-225 career record)

 General manager: Ned Colletti

 Home field: Dodger Stadium

 So what’s good?: A better question might be “What isn’t good?”. With the exception of second base, every position is plugged up by an above -average to excellent player, and the rotation has , quite possibly the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball, with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu. Bringing in Paul Maholm and Dan Haren to round out the bottom of the rotation isn’t quite as big a splash as I thought they would make (I thought they were a shoo-in for Masahiro Tanaka, personally) but it could pay very big dividends.

Sounds great, but what sucks?: Nothing really. The only problems I foresee are at the second base position, where Cuban acquisition Alexander Guerrero (Who has previously only played shortstop) is struggling so badly defensively that he may be replaced in the early-going by a tandem of Dee Gordon and Justin Turner. Also, Josh Beckett may make the rotation and I think he’s washed up, but otherwise, I can’t really rag on the Dodgers.

Team grade: A

To be continued…