The tenure of former Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who took over part way through 2009 and managed the maligned club through the end of last season, the Rockies win total fell steadily every year. From 92 wins to 83 to 73 all the way down to 64 last season — the fewest in franchise history. Entering their 20th year of existence, the Rockies are yet to figure out exactly how to build a suitable pitching staff for the high altitude of Coors Field. Last year, amidst their worst season ever, they went a little bonkers trying.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Colorado Rockies, Preview, Troy Tulowitzki on Mar 12, 2013
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Arizona Diamondbacks, Preview on Mar 11, 2013
Significant Acquisitions: 3B Martin Prado, RHP Brandon McCarthy, OF Cody Ross, SS Cliff Pennington, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Tony Sipp, LHP Matt Reynolds, 3B/1B Eric Chavez, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, RHP Randall Delgado, SS Didi Gregorius
Going into the offseason, forward-thinking baseball people seemed to have a decent opinion of Arizona Diamondbacks’ General Manager Kevin Towers. Sure, he’s an old school guy, but going back to his time as the GM of the Padres, he seemed to have a decent grasp on how to intelligently run a baseball team. Then, in a matter of a few wintery months, that opinion changed.
Right from the beginning of the offseason, Towers and his crew made questionable decision after questionable decision. First he acquired overpaid and overrated reliever Heath Bell from the Marlins in a three-team trade that saw him jettison talented centerfielder Chris Young; then he dealt another high-upside player in former third-overall pick Trevor Bauer. The right-hander had been in the organization for only a little over a year and had already skyrocketed to the Majors, but he apparently didn’t gel with the coaching staff and he was sent to Cleveland in another three-way trade that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius over from Cincinnati.
Finally, Towers capped off his talent-purge by trading his most talented player in rightfielder Justin Upton to Atlanta for a package of players centered around third baseman Martin Prado.
Towers and his brass ostensibly acquired an overpaid reliever, two middling glove-first shortstops, a decent pitching prospect and Martin Prado for one of the game’s most talented outfielders, one of the game’s most highly-touted pitching prospects and an above-average centerfielder. He told the media that he wanted to build a team in manager Kirk Gibson’s image—tough, gritty and leadershippy. That means fans in Arizona are going to see a lot more Willie Bloomquist-types than Justin Upton-types from here on out.
Having said all that, the D’Backs are still a very good team. You could make the argument that even if they made themselves worse in the long run by trading away Bauer and Upton, et al, they might still have made themselves better for 2013. Whether or not you think that’s a good strategy is up to your philosophy on contention.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Preview, Toronto Blue Jays on Mar 08, 2013
Significant Acquisitions: SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, RHP R.A. Dickey, LF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Esmil Rogers, UT Emilio Bonifacio, C Josh Thole, C Henry Blanco, IF Maicer Izturis, UT Mark DeRosa, RHP Michael Schwimer, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP Mickey Storey, RHP Justin Germano
Significant Departures: SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Henderson Alvarez, LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Jason Frasor, RHP Brandon Lyon, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel, SS Adeiny Hechavarria
Watching the 2012 Blue Jays was a bit like watching the third season of HBO’s Six Feet Under. For those unfamiliar with the show’s ebb and flow, the third season starts off oddly happy. For the first few episodes, you get the impression that things might turn out alright for this down-on-their-luck funeral-home-owning family. Something is still amiss—some of the characters are merely pretending to be happy, but for the most part, things are humming along about as well as could be expected.
Then…disaster. Every character seems to enter a sort of crisis and suddenly within a few episodes all the happiness — unsustainable though it might have been — evaporates and the viewer is left with a complicated tapestry of death and misery.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Preview, Tampa Bay Rays on Mar 07, 2013
Despite the fact that they won 90 games and finished only three games behind both the Rangers and Orioles for a wild card berth, the Rays never really felt “in” the AL playoff picture last season. Part of the reason might have been that they had to win 12 of their final 14 games to even be that close, but it’s not like they were ever that far out of it. Regardless, the Rays were one of the unluckiest teams in baseball last season finishing a full five wins below their Pythagorean record which sat tied with the Yankees for the best mark in the American League.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under New York Yankees, Preview on Mar 06, 2013
We keep predicting (let’s face it, wishing for) their downfall and they keep on going. No matter how old they get, no matter how much we think their aging core is going to suddenly stop performing, they continue to put up 95-win seasons and march into the playoffs. Since 1995, the New York Yankees have missed the playoffs once…once.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Boston Red Sox, Preview on Mar 05, 2013
Significant Departures: OF Cody Ross, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP Aaron Cook, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Vicente Padilla, IF Mike Aviles, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Matt Albers, LHP Rich Hill, OF Scott Podsednik
It’s still hard to fathom that the Boston Red Sox were the best team in baseball in early September 2011. After four months of absolute dominance, the Red Sox fell off a cliff and had the worst collapse in baseball history to end that year. The hangover carried over into 2012 and they had their worst season since 1965 finishing in last place in the AL East.
After the 2011 collapse, ownership decided not to renew manager Terry Francona’s contract and after General Manager Theo Epstein took over the Cubs, ownership stepped in again and hired Bobby Valentine as the new manager. New GM Ben Cherington wanted Dale Sveum—who eventually went to the Cubs—but he appeared to be overridden.
Valentine ended up being nothing short of an unmitigated disaster in his return to managing. He publicly called out players, alienated his entire team and certainly was no help in righting the Red Sox wayward ship.
By August, the front office cashed in its chips and unloaded $261-million in salary commitments by trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for a package of players. That package included high-upside pitching prospects such as Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster which is a nice bonus to go along with a lot of financial flexibility. Hopefully there’ll be less drama around the Red Sox this season with the return of former pitching coach John Farrell who was acquired from the Blue Jays for Mike Aviles in November to be the new manager.
Despite all of their problems, the Red Sox still finished fifth in the AL in runs scored. Their problem was their pitching, which ranked among the worst in the league. Cherington had a lot of work to do in the offseason and went about making small additions with short-term deals. He brought in the likes of Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster and did not commit more than three years to any of them. Looking at the complexion of the roster, it’s hard not to see an improvement for 2013.
Posted by Travis Reitsma under Baltimore Orioles, Preview on Mar 04, 2013
The Baltimore Orioles had one of the most remarkable seasons in recent memory. After 14 years of losing and coming off a 69-93 season with a top-heavy-but-thin farm system, Baltimore and their new General Manager Dan Duquette appeared to be in for a long re-rebuilding project. Then, that elusive vagabond Lady Luck decided the Orioles were due for a little good fortune.