HI GUYS! It’s Alyssa here!.
As you can see I'm just a dressed down t-shirt and jeans kinda girl, but a few weeks ago I got an awesome email from one of the devoted readers of my blog, Touch 'em All ;-)
His name is Allen and he’s this awesome baseball fan and such a sweet guy! His email was so, so sweet and he asked me if I would mind writing a preview of the NL West for your blog at Red Sox Reporter. Would I mind ?!! Uh….FUN!!! Obviously, I said yes right away via my fabulous publicist, Candice.
Now you guys are in luck because I love baseball and especially baseball players and especially baseball players in the NL West. They are something I know A LOT about. Biblically, even. Now, although the Angels again won my division handily in 2008, the major story coming out of my division was the emergence of the Texas Rangers as a legitimate force to be reckoned with, if not submitted to and spanked playfully. As I look forward to 2009, the Angels and Rangers appear to be the top two teams, but each team in the West has pretty obvious limitations once you get down to the bare-ass essentials. The safe money is still on the Angels, but I'm telling you they can be had!
Ok. First off, I’m going to let you guys in on a huuuuge secret. One that you can’t even find in my new book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic. Curious? Okay, here goes, I totally have a "thang" for the A’s. To quote the Beatles, I can’t explain it. But be assured that it’s waaay intense and almost erotic. I’m a really passionate person by nature, especially when it comes to staying politically active, so it might have something to do with the color green in the A’s uniforms. That really speaks to me. I’m someone who is totally committed to making our world a safer place economically. And, with (no) apologies to all those backwards netherlanders out there, I believe that promoting the use of safe, renewable greenhouse gases is a major part being responsible custodians of our world. So my motto for 2009 is "THICK Green!" That’s why an A’s jersey is the only thing you’ll catch me in other than Dodger Blue…
Okay, I’ll get off my bandbox now!!
The A’s suffered their second straight losing season in a row right after one another in tandem, while under the hot, clammy stewardship of Big Bob Geren. Those of you in the bay area may be interested to know that Geren is an old catcher. He and his family made it onto Family Feud while he was still on the Yankee’s roster in the ‘80s. "Get on down!" (RIP Pat Sajek). Baseball fans might be interested to know that Geren actually sucked enough to be Don Slaught’s backup in the ‘89 and ‘90 seasons.
GM Billy Beane’s biggest off season move was trading for LF slugger Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies. Holliday will add instant power credentials to a team that struggled to score runs in 2008, and he’ll prove a defensive upgrade over the A’s Cust-Cunningham LF tandem. If the Holliday move seems a little against type for Beane’s A’s, four other off-season acquisitions saw Beane go after veterans with marquee status. He signed Orlando Cabrera to play SS and added Russ Springer to bolster the bullpen. The two more interesting acquisitions feature aging stars trying to get their swagger back: Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra. The last one still hurts :(. Like everyone else, I will always think of Nomar as a Dodger.
Newcomer Matt Holliday will obviously take over the reins as the A’s preeminent slugger. Look for him to kick-start an offense that had only two regular starters hitting for an UPS of over .730 last season. Only one of those starters is returning – look for Jack Cust to pick up where he left off last year. He’ll be the primary DH. Other than those two swinging dicks in the middle however, Oakland may have a tough time finding a top that can work it deep into counts or a power bottom to their line-up.
Even though Oakland’s pitching was improved in 2008, Beane basically threw the competition wide open for four of the rotation spots this spring. Dallas Braden is the only starter assured of his spot. Unfortunately for the A’s, injuries have influenced this competition more than anything else. Wonderkid Justin "The Duke" Duchsherer will start the season in the DL and will probably be worked back in via the bullpen. Gio Gonzalez is also hurt. At this point the rotation looks to be Braden, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher, Brett Anderson, and Trevor Cahill. Out of the bullpen, both Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler will both get a chance to save games.
Were you one of those wondering what the fuck happened to the offensive production of A’s right fielder Travis Buck last year? More like who the fuck happened! That’s right, I was nailing him. That bitch Shannon Dougherty was running away with our keeper league, so I tied him to my headboard three nights a week and strapped it on for some major major league pegging. Expect him to revert to proper form this season. Except on the nights he catches sight of a thunderstick.
The Chico Harlan Memorial "Story Lines for Beat Reporters Who Don’t Like Sports"
Thanks, A1. LYL! :0) A’s fans should expect to get hammered repeatedly by a big, veiny sheath of stories about Jason Giambi’s return to Oakland. Such weighty questions? Will he feel reborn when he dons the uniform that first brought him fame, fortune and a neighborhood Winstrol dispensary? Will he recapture that boyish innocence which caused millions to grin forgivingly when he failed to FUCKING SLIDE. IN AN IMPORTANT PLAYOFF GAME. AGAINST THE HATED YANKEES. SO NOW EVERY GREASED UP TOLLWORKER IN A BAR TALKS MY GODDAMN EAR OFF ABOUT DE-RICK JEETAH’S CLUTCHNESS? And, most importantly, will Giambi dare to grow out his dapper mustache again in a city that sports more leather bars than day cares?
(2008 Record: 100-62, 1st place)
As I read in my new book Safe at Home: Confessions of Torching Carl Pavano's Car I am possibly Dodgers fan through and through. And living in LA, I know I’m supposed to hate the Angels passionately…hate that they "fail to capture the imagination" of the city… hate that caring about them is the first step down a dark and lonely path…hate their bad-boy, devil-may-care attitude about run matrices…hate that they’ll slip into your bedroom at night, take anything and everything they might desire from you, only to leave you breathless and dazed and craving a deep draw on a marlboro red. Oh Forbidden Fruit! Why must I always have a taste? Why must it feel so good to be so bad….
Mike Scioscia has been filling out the lineup cards for the Angels now for ten straight seasons, setting a new record for continuous employment by an Italian American. That no good double crossing wop spent his entire playing career (1980-1992) behind the dish for the Dodgers. Not surprisingly, his active years coincided exactly with the popularity of the Cheverolet IROC-Z Camaro.
With the loss of Francisco Rodriquez, the Angels went and grabbed Brian Fuentes from the Rockies to be their closer. They also picked up the reanimated corpse of Torii Hunter to take over CF after losing the unanimated corpse of Garret Anderson.
The Angels lost their best offensive weapon when Mark Teixeira signed his 27-year, 12.6 bajillion dollar contract with the Yankees. Still the Angels will have a regular outfield rotation of Vlad Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews, Jr., four of whom can hit for power and all of whom will be going pro in something other than sports. All are in their mid-thirties except Rivera, so the Angels brass have to be concerned about injuries. Defensively, of course, they’re fucked. The infielders are sort of an uninspiring bunch. There’s an Izturis involved.
You’re going to hear a lot about how the Angels will win the West because of their superior pitching. Which is probably true, but not as straightforward as all that. John Lackey and Ervin Santana are a solid one two punch, but both have missed significant time this spring due to injuries. Santana will start the season on the DL. And although Lackey will start the season on the active list, he’s currently listed as the 5th starter to go. As it stands now the Angels are matching the Reds H-A-V-O-C ball with S-M-A-W-L ball: Joe Saunders, Dustin Moseley, Nick Adenhart, Jered Weaver, and John Lackey. Of those, I expect Weaver to have the best year. As is always the case with the Angel’s the bullpen is solid even with the loss of Francisco Rodriguez to the Mets.
If I’d written this a week earlier, I actually wouldn’t have been able to name one Angel that I've nailed. I tried to seduce Garret Anderson once, but all he wanted to do was comb the hair of his My Little Pony collection. Then he left for ATL. Luckily, however, Reggie Willits was sent down to Triple A just before the Angels broke camp. To make him feel better, I invited him over to my house and sent him down again.
The Angels, frankly, always fail to capture the imagination of Angelenos. So, expect a lot of tidbits about whether Rex Hudler thinks Rihanna should ever trust Chris Brown again.
(2008: 61-101, 4th place)
Many of you probably didn’t know that Mariner is another term for a seaman, and I am FASCINATED by seamen. Always have been. I just can’t get enough. I’m hooked on that one show about those crab fisherman in the arctic who brave through incredible conditions to give the gift of crabs to the world. Truly inspiring. In fact, the potency of these seamen and their crabs was one of the inspirations for my new book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fantastic. Here I am lost in thought in my special serious writer uniform:
2008 skippers John McLaren and Jim Riggleman managed to pilot the Goodship Mariner right onto the rocks, weathering its stormiest season since 1983. Mutiny was brewing and that meant only thing: trade in those tired blanched timbers for the bright yellow sail of a thorough-going Chinese junk, Dan "Wok" Wakamatsu. Wok is the first Asian American manager in the major leagues and is the son of a man born in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. He’s also half Irish which means that if this baseball thing doesn’t work out, he can still go on to fulfill his dynastic destiny as a 19th century railway laborer.
New GM Jack Zdtyskjdhjfhnik did as Jesus commanded and cast his net to the other side of the boat and became a catcher of men. Using J.J. Putz as bait, he was able to net Mets prospect Mike Carp and Indians RF Franklin Gutierrez. Unfortunately, Endy Chavez was caught in the net as well. But don’t worry consumers, the Mariners have readied warning labels to use for all games in which pieces of Endy are likely to appear. The biggest signing, of course, was the return of Mariner great Ken Griffey, Jr., to be first mate. He will soon, of course, get drunk, break his left knee on the captain’s trunk, and the constable will have to come and take him away.
The Mariners offense looks to be as revolting as bung-hole full of bilge rats. Ichiro Suzuki and Adrian Beltre are the only returning starters that can be a factor at the plate. Keep your one good eye on Franklin Gutierrez to have a good year as well.
Healthy, productive seasons out of both Erik the Bed and Pirate King Felix Hernandez are the Mariners only hope for success. But I don’t see both guys making over 45 starts collectively. After them, the deluge: Brandon Tomorrow We Die, Ryan Heads-Rowland-Smithy, Carlos Pieces of Silva, San Miguel Batista and Jarrod Washedupburn, Waka waka wakamatsu.
If you're looking for a productive fantasy out of the Mariners, I would just stick with plain old Jakubauskas. Last season I made the mistake of getting Feierabent over in the backseat of a Mariners’s Cedeno and Beltre’d right in the Endy by MikeSweeney only to wind up with an irritating Ichiro in my LaHair. Not to mention quite a bit of Pena. Thankfully, it was nothing that a little topical Vidro and some sudsy Balentien Tiuiasasopo couldn’t clear up.
All Mariners will read with surprise that Ken Griffey, Jr was considered a first order mope while in Cincinnati. They will then turn back to their Macbooks and continue working on their Morrisey fan fiction site while the raindrops pad softly outside.
(2008 Record 79-83, 2nd place)
As I pointed out in my new book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic Who Uses it as a Crutch to Remain Relevant, I have never understood the way the Texas Rangers front office has managed to get away with poor roster construction and poor system depth for so many years. Well, that ended last year because there’s a new sheriff in town and her ass looks scrumptious in leather chaps. Oh yes, I’ve added a pair of spurs to match my new Manolo Blahnik Black Crocodile Alligator Boots and brought back the cowboy hat I wore in Commando. That’s right. I’ve taken over the Texas Rangers!
Ron Washington has always preached the virtues of keeping a clean and well-trimmed infield, but his Spartacus-like reputation as a cultivator of young talent was confirmed recently when it emerged that A’s third baseman Eric Chavez gave one of his Gold Glove trophies to Washington with the added inscription "Wash Not Without You." Indeed.
My off-season moves were savvier than a one-eyed possum on jet skis. I added three major leaguers looking to restart their careers – Omar Vizquel, Kris Benson, and Andruw Jones – all on minor league contracts. I then giddy-reupped with Jason Jennings and Eddie Guardado. Yee haw!
The Texas Rangers have been synonymous with explosive firepower ever since they emptied 130 rounds into Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1934. This season they have the potential to match that impressive feat. Everywhere you look on this roster there are hitters. The outfield will feature reigning Home Run Derby Champion and storied Breaker of Horses and Drug Habits Josh Hamilton. Beside him will be Nelson Cruz and Marlon Byrd, who each had a fucktastic good year at the dish in ’08. Joining mainstays Michael Young and Ian Kinsler in the infield will be young studs Chris Davis at 1B and Elvis Andrus at SS. Behind the dish the Rangers have the fabled two-headed power hitting monster of Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia with catching stud Max Ramirez waiting in Triple A-OKC should they want trade either catcher for pitching mid-season. Which brings us to…
Pitching has long been the saddle sore for the Rangers, and this year it still projects to be a pain with Kevin Millwood marshalling a posse of has-beens and unproven kids. But there is reason to be optimistic. Nolan Ryan is taking on a more visible and influential role with the day to day operation of the team and has challenged the Rangers pitchers to rise to the occasion. Expect starters Vicente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy, Kris Benson, and Matt Harrison to be better than they have any right to be. If not, we’re allowed to take care of them Ol’ Yeller style in Big Tex. The back of the bullpen is set with Frankie Francisco taking full control of the closer’s duties.
Look out OctoMom!! I’ve got me a stable full of sharpshooters ready to stud and none of them are shooting blanks (except Julio Borbon). All my fantasy slots are already filled up!
After gaining 500 lbs in the anorexia capital of the world, will being blocked out at the Ryan’s Steakhouse buffet by panting cow-eyed land orka’s inspire Andruw Jones to shed the weight and return to his All-Star form in the Rangers outfield? Will Nolan Ryan put Ron Washington in his patented headlocks if Washington pulls one of those panties-wearing, sissy boy starters before he’s thrown a real man’s 215 pitches? Back to you, Lissy!
Thanks for all your help, Chico darling!!!
ZOMG! I’m so looking forward to the race in the NL West this season and I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my body of work. Remember to check out my blog Touch 'em All and buy my new book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Shameless Jock Jumper. And if you need one more reason why, look for your answer here.