30 Teams In 30 Days- San Diego Padres

My dear San Dieagons, San Diegites, San Diegans (Anchorman reference) or whatever you call yourselves, I can’t say I bring good news. Last season your Padres finished last in the NL West, and I don’t expect much improvement. So let’s see how your Padres finished last season.
San Diego Padres
Record: 71-91
Finish: Last in AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Aaron Hang, 14-9, 3.64 ERA, 124 SO
Top Hitter: Camerin Maybin, 9 HR, 44 RBI, .264 AVG, 40 SB
Manager: Bud Black
Offseason Acquisitions: Houston Street, John Baker, Ryan Kelly, Cory Burns
Offseason Losses: Aaron Hang, Ryan Ludwick (Both of their top players),  Pedro Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, Nick Schmidt

Los Padres are not looking too shabby this season. They finished last in their division last season, and I can’t see them improving beyond that. With the Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers all either improving, or relatively staying the same, the Padres don’t have a great chance. Their pitching and batting is still sub par and I can’t see their record improving.  The Padres are in a division that is filled with teams that are all going to be competing for a playoff spot. The NL West may easily become the most competitive division in the MLB. With this all being said the Padres are not looking like they stand a chance. This once was a team that was a late season collapse away from making the playoffs. For the people of San Diego, at least you have the Chargers…. HA! I feel as if I should send you all my condolences, first Manning to Denver and now your stuck in one of the best divisions in the NL.

Prediction
Record: 69-93
Finish: Last in AL West
Playoff:N/A
Top Hitter: Carlos Quentin .249 AVG, 29 HR, 91 RBI
Top Pitcher: Cory Luebke 10-11, 3.23 ERA, 184 SO
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-McFultz

30 Teams in 30 Days – Atlanta Braves

Atlanta completely collapsed in September last year, losing their Wild Card spot to the Cardinals on the final day of the season. Luckily for them, it was completely overshadowed by the Red Sox collapse. You start to wonder, who would have won the World Series if Hotlanta had of been able to play just average in September, and were able to cruise their way to a playoff spot? Let’s see how they looked overall last year.
Atlanta Braves
Record: 89-73
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Top Hitter: Brian McCann .270 AVG, 24 HR, 71 RBI
Manger: Not Bobby Cox (Fredi Gonzalez)
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Adam Russell, Josh Wilson, Robert Fish (he’s not really important, I just enjoy his name),
Imortant Offseason Losses: Derek Lowe CLE, Nate McLouth PIT, Alex Gonzalez MIL, Scott Linebrink STL, George Sherrill SEA

On August 28th, 2011, the Atlanta Braves led the Cardinals in the Wild Card race by 10 games. I want to put this in perspective here, the Braves were just 6 games back of the Phillies at this time, the Tigers were only 6.5 games ahead of the Indians, and the Giants only trailed the D’Backs by 3 games, at that time, it would have made more sense  for one of those teams (Braves, Indians, Giants) to have have caught their division leaders  
instead of the Cardinals catching the Braves. Apart from September, the Braves had a terrific season, despite struggling offensively from time to time, their pitching more than made up for it, finishing top 4 in the league in ERA(3.48), WHIP(1.25), SO(1332), Opponent’s Average(.240), Home Runs allowed(125), Runs allowed(605) and Saves(52). They also did a great job defensively, finishing 4th in the league in Fielding Percentage(.987). Unfortunately, they struggled offensively, finishing in the bottom 8 of the league in AVG(.243), R(641), RBI(606) and SB(77), they do have some pop in their bats as they hit 173 Home Runs, but they will need to improve their offense this season. The Braves have some AMAZING young talent, for whatever reason, I find a lot of people thinking the Braves have an old team, this may be because of Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson, but they’re the 6th youngest team in the league. Examples:
Freddie Freeman 1B
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 157 G, .282 AVG, 21 HR, 76 RBI
Brandon Beachy RHP
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 25 GS, 7-3, 3.68 ERA, 169 SO
Craig Kimbrel
Age: 23
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 79 G, 77 IP, 46 SV, 2.10 ERA, 127 SO
Eric O’Flaherty
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2007
2011 Stats: 78 G, 73.2 IP, 0.98 ERA, 67 SO
Jason Heyward
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2010
2011 Stats: 128 G, .227 AVG, 14 HR, 42 RBI
Jair Jurrjens
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2008
2011 Stas: 23 GS, 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Tommy Hanson
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2009
2011 Stas: 22 GS, 11-7, 3.60 ERA, 142 SO

It’s pretty clear that the Braves have tons of young talent on their team, and even some of their established players like Brian McCann and Miguel Prado are still fairly young, as their each only 28 years old, and their star reliever Jonny Venters just turned 27 yesterday. The team didn’t make many moves in the Offseason, nor should they have. If Uggla (who hit .296 and 21 of his 36 HR post All-Star break last year) and Heyward have bounce back years, and the rest of their players can keep up what they did last year (not including September), this team should have no problem nailing one of the two Wild Card spots, even with the improved Marlins. I even have them winninng the World Series, but I’m kinda crazy. Their bullpen might be a bit worse (but still amazing), but their offense will improve and their Starting pitching should be just as good, and having Bourn for the entire year should help them tremendously on the base paths. I expect good things from the Braves this year, but there’s still one question left to be asked, would the Braves have collapsed if they still had Bobby Cox as their bench boss? Too many what ifs, let’s just see how they play this year.

Prediction
Record: 92-70
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: World Series Win (I have this strange gut feeling about the Braves this year, I don’t know why)
Top Pitcher: Brandon Beachy 17-8 3.16 ERA, 204 SO
Top Hitter: Dan Uggla .284 AVG, 36 HR, 108 RBI
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-Vernon Smells

 

 

 

30 Teams in 30 Days – Chicago Cubs

The one major question that’s been lurking on everyone’s minds since 1908, how long will it take this God-forsaken team to win another World Series? I mean for Pete’s sake it’s been 104 years since the North side has last wrapped up a world championship. In 1908, the laughing stocks of the league were the Boston Doves, the New York Highlanders, and the Brooklyn Superbas.. I mean come on the Yankees weren’t even an MLB team yet, and since then the Yanks have won 27 championships! Well after an abysmal 2011, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cubs will have to wait another 104 years until their next championship. (That’s just hilarious! A 208 year winless streak! America is barely 208 years old.) Well let’s see how ‘dem Northsiders stocked up during their 2011 campaign.
Chicago Cubs
Record: 71-91 I mean that was even worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates (see below)
Finish: 5th in the NL Central
Manager: Dale Sveum (Nope it’s no longer that old dude! I loved that guy..)
Top Pitcher: Matt Garza 10-10, 3.32 ERA, 197 SO
Top Hitter: Aramis Ramirez .361 AVG, 26 HR, 93 RBI
Important Offseason Acquisitions: David DeJesus RF
Important Offseason Losses: Aramis Ramirez MIL, Carlos Zambrano MIA, Carlos Pena  TB

I’m not going to go very in depth about the Cubs in this article, I neither think they will make the playoffs let alone have a, in any aspect, successful 2012 campaign, nor do I believe they have a bright future in store for them. Sorry about that Cub’s fans, I’ve made fun of your team enough already. Aramis Ramirez had an exceptional 2012, he is an exceptional player, batting a career high .361. However, Aramis left the team in the offseason (I don’t blame him) to join the division rival Brewers. Along with Ramirez, the Cubbies also lost their haughty and often controversial long-time starting pitcher, Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins. Along with Ramirez and Zambrano, the Cubs lost another one of their top players in slugger Carlos Pena, who posted a solid 2011 campaign. The Cubs starting 8: Alfonso Soriano LF, Marlon Byrd CF, David DeJesus RF, Ian Stewart 3B, Starlin Castro SS (this kid actually has some potential), Darwin Barney 2B, Bryan LaHair 1B, and Geovany Soto C, sounds decent on paper, however most of these players have not performed up to par recently or are past their prime (Soriano). Their starting rotation doesn’t get that much better. I mean they do have names like Ryan Dempster (Canadian), Matt Garza, and Paul Maholm, but again these guys look good on paper, but their performance, and their team’s performance has not lived up to expectations recently. And with the Cubs LOSING tremendous depth in both their lineup and starting rotation I would not want to be a Cubs fan in 2012.

Prediction
Record: 68-94
Finish: 4th in NL Central
Top Pitcher: Ryan Dempster (Canadian) 12-14, 3.86 ERA, 173 SO
Top Hitter: Starlin Castro, 0.328, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 38 SB
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-Simple Jack

30 Teams in 30 Days – Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A’s, the Oakland A’s.. you know I’m really not sure where to start. Probably the most historically storied franchises (who has knotted 9 World Series titles and 15 AL pennants, which gets overlooked), the Oakland Athletics had a 2011 in which they surely will not forget too soon. Posting a deplorable record of 74-88, the A’s weren’t ever in the hunt for a playoff spot during the entire 2011 season, the highlight of which was the release of a popular feature film about their general manager (who is apparently doing quite a $h177ty job lately). Let’s see how ‘dem A’s stacked up during their 2011 campaign.
Oakland Athletics
Record: 74-88 (7 games worse than 2010)
Finished: 3rd in AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez 16-12, 3.12 ERA, 197 SO
Top Hitter: Josh Willingham .246 AVG, 29 HR, 98 RBI
Manager: Bob Melvin
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Bartolo Colon SP, Jonny Gomes OF, Manny Ramirez LF, Ryan Sweeney OF
Important Offseason Losses: Gio Gonzalez WAS, Hideki Matsui (probable retirement), Josh Willingham MIN, Mark Ellis LAD

Ahh remember the good ol’ days of the Oakland A’s, with the Big Three (Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder). Well for those of you who don’t remember, from 2000-04 the Oakland A’s arguably had the best pitching tandem in the league, before well, all three of those guys descended in diaspora. A lot has changed since those days, and the Athletic faithful should seriously be worrying. The 2011 Oakland Athletics were horrendous, in their pitching game (aside from their ace Gio Gonzalez.. oh wait he’s not even on the team anymore, he was traded to the Nationals this offseason for some prospects you haven’t heard of), and in their offensesive game. I mean seriously, the highest batting average on the team came from Cliff Pennington who hit .264 in barely 550 plate appearances. Josh Willingham, who was leaps and bounds above the majority of the A’s offense, posted a solid 2011… oh wait, he’s not on the A’s anymore either, awkward (Twins). I mean the A’s still have some good sounding names in their lineup including Hideki Matsui (who is still undecided about coming back), Mark Ellis (oh wait he went to the Dodgers!), and Kurt Suzuki. And the one who is actually coming back out of that group, Kurt Suzuki, batted a career low .237 to go along with 14 homeruns, and he really hasn’t improved as a player, as many people thought he would. But have no fear A’s fans! The A’s signed Jonny Gomes and Manny Ramirez (to a minor league contract! Oh wait he’s also suspended). These two guys will surely take them places, and definitely revitalize this dying A’s offense….. yeah right. I will not go as in-depth in their pitching but they acquired Bartolo Colon in the offseason, but as stated earlier, they lost their #1 pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Besides Colon their starting pitching has very little depth. It includes Brandon McCarthy, who had a decent season, but really hasn’t thrown enough innings to be considered a solid starter, Dallas Braden (perfect game guy), who had an injury riddled 2011, and a couple of other for lack of a better word “scrubs”. Well A’s fans you better look forward to seeing your Athletics in 2012! That is, if you would be excited to see your A’s scratch together 65 wins, because I don’t foresee the Green and the Gold winning more than 70 games in 2012.
Prediction:
Record: 69-93
Finish: 3rd in AL West
Playoffs: None
Best Pitcher: None
Best Hitter: Coco Crisp, 0.274, 14 HR, 75 RBI
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-Simple Jack

 

30 Teams in 30 Days – New York Yankees

The Dark Lord New York Yankees, they’re one of the most hated teams in all of baseball. Most of the reason for this is because, I hate to say it, but they’re good. People will argue that it’s because they have the highest payroll, but if they didn’t win, I doubt anyone would complain. Let’s see how they did in 2011.
New York Yankees
Record: 97-65
Finished: 1st in the AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS by the Tigers
Top Pitcher: C.C. Sabbathia 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 SO
Top Hitter: Curtis Granderson .262 AVG, 41 HR, 119 RBI
Manager: Joe Girardi
Important Off-season acquisitions: Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Russel Branyan, Bill Hall, Raul Ibanez, David Aardsma,
Important Off-season Losses: Jesus Montero SEA, Jorge Posada Retired, A.J Burnett PIT, Scott Proctor FA, Luis Ayala BAL, Bartoro Colon OAK, Damaso Marte FA, Sergio Mitre FA, Hector Noesi SEA

After being in a battle all year with the Red Sox for the AL East Title, the Yankees won the battle after a September collapse by the Red Sox. So, for a lot of teams in the MLB, it would be considered a successful season, but when it comes to the Yankees, success is measured by championships, and after being eliminated in the ALDS by the Tigers, that marked the 11th year that the Yankees have gone with just 1 championship (2009). Expectations are high for a reason, the Yankees have had the highest payroll in the league for a long time now. With the amount of money they spend on players, they should pretty much be given the World Series before the season even starts, but year after year they find a way not to win it. Their problem seems to be pretty consistent from year-to-year, starting pitching, it seems like every year people are talking about the Starters of the Yankees in a negative way. For good reason, however as of their 6 starters to start at least 14 games last season, 3 of them had an ERA of 4.00 or more, and 2 of those 3 had an ERA of 5.00 or more, for a team spending 200 MIL+/yr, it needs to be better. However, they’re rotation has promise this year, despite losing Burnett and Colon, they’ve added Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, who posted a 3.07 ERA last year, got very little offensive support, playing on the Dodgers, however, this year, he should get nothing but offensive support  playing with the always talented offensive unit of the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Michael Pineda showed great promise in his rookie campaign with the Mariners last year, posting a 3.74 ERA, to go along with a whopping 9.1 Strikeouts per nine innings, after showing off his great changeup in spring training, he’s already got Yankee nation in a buzz. Those two will be added in to the rotation along with consistent Cy Young candidate and one-time winner, C.C Sabathia and Ivan Nova, who’s coming off a stellar rookie campaign, finishing with a 16-4 record. The fifth spot seems to be between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes, Garcia pitched pretty well for the Yanks last year, going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. While Hughes pitched terribly in an injury-filled season . That being said, Hughes is still young (25), with lots of potential, he also had a pretty good year for the pinstripes in 2010, going 18-8. So the job will ultimately be decided in Spring Training. The Yankees bullpen has lost a couple key pieces, which the signing of Hideki Okajima was supposed to resolve, but after a failed physical due to an undisclosed injury, the Yankees released him, 6 days later they signed David Aardsma, who isn’t a terrible consolation prize, yet their bullpen will still be worse than last year. The lineup, despite being a bit on the older side, will still be deadly, especially with the signing of probable DH, Raul Ibanez, and a few very good veteran acquisitions for their bench in Bill Hall, Russel Branyan, Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix, with these signins, the Yankees can really cement themselves as the best offensive team in the league. With their big improvement to their Starting Pitching, their small improvement to their offense and a slight decline to their bullpen, I see the Yankees taking the AL East once again, but they’re going to have to do better than 6-12 against the Red Sox this time around.
Prediction
Record: 99-63
Finish: 1st in AL East
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALCS
Top Pitcher: C.C Sabathia 22-7, 2.91 ERA, 236 SO
Top Hitter: Robinson Cano .309 AVG, 31 HR, 129 RBI
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-Kipling Ronald & Vernon Smells

30 Teams in 30 Days – Texas Rangers

The last 2 seasons for Rangers fans have to have been the most heart-breaking seasons to have ever existed. Losing in the World Series to the Giants in 2010, and to the Cardinals in 2011. I’ll let you know how I think they’ll do this year, but first, let’s recap 2011.
Texas Rangers
Record: 96-66
Finished: 1st in AL West
Playoffs: Lost in World Series……… again
Top Pitcher: C.J Wilson 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 206 SO
Top Hitter: Mike Napoli .320 AVG, 30 HR, 75 RBI, in just 113 games
Manager: Ron Washington
Important Acquisitions: Joe Nathan, Yu Darvish, Brad Hawpe
Important Losses: C.J Wilson LAA, Michael Gonzalez FA, Darren Oliver TOR, Matt Treanor LAD, Darren O’Day BAL

“In to right, well hit, back at the wall, it’s off the wall. 1 Run scores, Here comes Berkman. Freese has tied it. 7-7!!! Unbelievable” That moment still gives me chills, and it is probably one of the greatest sports moments in a long while, but Rangers fans don’t feel that way. It was their second straight trip to the World Series, and in 2011 it looked like they had it won…..twice. Right up until Freese hit a 2 out, 2 strike 2 run triple in the 9th to tie up the game. Then in the 10th the Rangers put up 2 more runs, but the Cards came back, including a 2 out, 2 strike, RBI single from Lance Berkman to tie up the game. In the next inning, the 11th, David Freese hit a walk-off home run to force a game 7, which the Cardinals promptly won. I cannot imagine the pain that Rangers fans must have felt. However, apart from those moments, last year was a great season for the Rangers. They won the AL West by 10 games, they made it to the World Series and they probably shoud have won it.  They had unbelievable production from the bats, they had a good bullpen and a lot of their young starters played surprisingly well. This season will be a much bigger question mark and will depend on a lot of things. They lost their star pitcher to the rival Angels, along with a few key pieces to their bullpen. The talent they gained has mystery written all over it. Starting with Yu Darvish, the Rangers paid a hefty sum for this Japanese pitcher, who has never played a game in the MLB, no one has any idea how effectively he’ll be able to pitch in the MLB. They also signed an aging Joe Nathan, after being one of the best closers in the league year after year, Nathan had Tommy John surgery, and missed the entire 2010 season, he then struggled in 2011, posting just 14 saves and a 4.84 ERA. I assume he was brought in to take over the closer role so that they can finally move Netali Feliz to the Starting rotation, something they’ve been talking about doing since he took over the closer role in 2010. That move right there adds 2 BIG questions: Will Nathan be able to regain his form? and how will Netali Feliz fare as a starter?  Their bullpen has lost some major pieces and I don’t expect it to be nearly as good then in years past, plus their rotation is still very young and missing it’s star (C.J Wilson), so we have no clue how good it will be. We also don’t know how they’ll be with the bats. We know they’ll be good, but how good? Can Hamilton rebound after an injury plagued season? Mike Napoli, who if he had of played the whole season was on pace for 43 Home Runs and 107 RBI, to go along with a .320 AVG. However, this came out of nowhere, so how do we know that he can repeat? Michael Young, who’s now 35 years old, hit a whopping .338 last season (the highest of his career), can he come even close to putting up the same numbers this year? Not to mention, the Angels now have a very good team and will be competing with the Rangers for the AL West. This is by far the hardest prediction I’ve had to make so far. I feel they could range anywhere from 80 Wins to 100, so I guess I’ll go smack dab in the middle and say they’ll be a 90 Win ball club, sacrificing the Division, but still taking one of the two Wild Card spots.

Prediction
Record: 90-72
Finish: 2nd in AL West, 1st in Wild Card Race
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS
Top Pitcher: Yu Darvish 16-8 3.14 ERA, 226 SO
Top Hitter: Josh Hamilton .318 AVG 31 HR 109 RBI
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-Vernon Smells

The End of An Era

Although it is not official…yet. It is rumoured that the Indianapolis Colts will release  star quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning was drafted in 1998 by the Colts with the first overall pick, his first season he went 3-13, but in his second season he went 13-3. He brought the Colts to 9 consecutive playoff appearances, before missing last season. With the Colts, Manning won 4 MVP awards (an NFL record), he won one Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP award. He is 3rd in every major passing category and he’s face of the franchise… or was. With Manning gone, the Andrew Luck era shall begin, pending the Colts draft Luck. The best situation to happen for the Colts is that Luck goes 3-13 (like his predecessor) and gets the Colts another first overall pick so they can build a team around Luck.

Now for Manning, he now has the option to sign wherever he pleases. The top four teams I can see Manning go to are as follows.

1) The New York Jets, the Jets have a great defence and a great run game. The one thing they’ve been missing is a consistent QB, Mark Sanchez has been less then stellar in his time with New York. Manning’s father Archie during an interview a few months ago almost hinted that Peyton could end up there. If Peyton were to land in New York it would really heat up the Manning-Brady rivalry, as well there would be two Mannings’ in New York.

2) The Arizona Cardinals, the Cardinals have been one of the teams that are consistently mentioned. Arizona is a very stable environment (which Manning likes), they also are the city that took in an old Kurt Warner.  Arizona also has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald. A Manning-Fitzgerald combo would be killer, as well the Cardinals are in the NFC West, a division that has been the weakest division in the NFL in recent years. With that being said the 49ers were stellar last season but Manning could easily dissect the 49ers defense. Also the Cardinals hired Manning’s ex QB coach Frank Reich.

3) The Washington Redskins, the Redskins are a team that have been known to sign older players and have always been willing to pay top dollar. The Redskins have been known to look for the quick fix and if your looking for a quick fix, Peyton Manning is your man. The Redskins also hold the 6th pick, with that pick they could possibly draft Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. With Manning and Blackmon the ‘Skins could tear up almost any defense. Now their main competition would be the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who are led by non other than Peyton’s younger brother Eli. The Giants made the playoffs with a 9-7 record, Peyton hasn’t won less then 10 games since 2001. Now, even if the Giants were once again to finish first in the division, it’s safe to say that Manning would lead the Redskins to a  wild card spot

4) Last but not least, the Miami Dolphins, The ‘Fins have been a team always in the mix of the “where will Peyton end up talks”. Although the ‘Fins had a pretty bad season at 6-10, they were not actually as bad as their record suggests, they finished the season 6-3. The ‘Fins also hold the 8th pick, with that they can improve an already pretty solid o-line, fix up some of their defensive problems or if around, draft WR Michael Floyd from Notre Dame or Kendall Wright from Baylor, with one of these  two start wide receivers plus Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins could torch any opposing defense.

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-McFultz

30 Teams in 30 Days – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This article was written by Simple Jack, not Vernon Smells, as the web site may suggest. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…..Wait are they still called that? I don’t even know anymore. Well anyway the LA Angels will be one of the most interesting teams to watch going into the 2012 season (if you know what I mean. Ahem, Albert Pujols). Anyway here’s how they stacked up in 2011.
Los Angeles Angels 
Record: 86-76 (6 game improvement from 2010)
Finish: 2nd AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jared Weaver, 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Trumbo (Seriously?), .254 AVG, 29 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Mike Scioscia
Important Acquisitions: Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, Albert Pujols, Jorge Cantu, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen, Jorge Cantu and of course Albert Pujols
Important Losses: Jeff Mathis TOR, Tyler Chatwood COL and not Albert Pujols

The Los Angeles Angels had a disappointing season in 2011. The once perennial power of the 2000s failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year and watched their division rival Texas Rangers make it to the World Series two consecutive years. It’s been 10 years exactly since the Angels knotted their last and only World Series title, and based on the moves they have made during this free agency it looks like they’re determined on making another title run. The Angels finished the 2011 season struggling, 11 games before the season ended they were only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. Throughout much of the second half of 2011 they were within striking distance of the Rangers, most of the time within 2 games or less, however the Angels just couldn’t get over that hump and capture the division title. But 2012 will be a new era for the Los Angeles Angels and will be a year for them to most definitely assert themselves a powerhouse in the league and a force to be reckoned with. With arguably the strongest starting rotation in the majors which includes Jered Weaver (a competitor for the Cy Young in 2011), Dan Haren, newly acquired CJ Wilson, Ervin Santana, with Jerome William most likely assuming the role as the fifth starter. To put this rotation in perspective, in 2011 none of these pitchers had an ERA above 3.70 , four were below a 3.40 ERA, and two were below a 3.00 ERA. Together they post a combined record of 65-37 in 2011. The Angels starting pitching core is most certainly stronger and has more depth than any other aspect of their team (which considering their addition of you know who is saying a lot). The Angels pulled off the biggest free agent acquisition of the 2011 offseason and probably the biggest one since Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers back in 2000, with their signing of Albert Pujols. There really isn’t anything more to say. Along with signing Pujols the Angels were able to retain their core of strong hitters, despite most of whom posting a poor 2011, still have potential to return to prominence in 2012, who include Howie Kendrick 2B, Alberto Callapso 3B, Vernon Wells OF, Torii Hunter OF, Erick Ayber SS, Mark Trumbo 1B, Kendrys Morales 1B and even Bobby Abreu OF (well maybe not so much him). The only weakness that may be in store for the Angels is their bullpen. Without an established closer or setup man and some new faces such as LaTroy Hawkins the Angels bullpen has a lot of adjusting to do (but hey, who needs a bullpen anyway when you have 3 guys who can go 8 innings?). Anyway, I foresee the Angels will be a powerhouse in 2012 and in years to come and most certainly post one of the best records in the league.
Prediction
Record: 98-64
Finish: 1st in AL West
Playoffs: World Series Appearance
Top Pitcher: Jered Weaver, 21-6, 2.63 ERA 214 SO (Cy Young Winner)
Top Hitter: Albert Pujols, .314 AVG, 41 HR, 126 RBI (MVP candidate)
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-Simple Jack

30 Teams in 30 Days – Boston Red Sox

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second installment of 30 teams in 30 days. Today’s team was one of the biggest discussion last year and the most interesting story. The Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 90-72
Finish: 3rd in the AL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: John Lester 13-6, 3.16 ERA, 146 SO
Top Hitter: Adrian Gonzalez .343 AVG, 18 HR, 94 RBI
Manager: Bobby Valentine
Important Acquisitions: Cody Ross, Mark Melancon, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach,
Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney
Important Losses: Liquor, Jonathan Papelbon PHI, Marco Scutaro COL, Josh Reddick OAK

Last season, the Boston Red Sox were on the verge of making the playoffs but then all hell broke loose. In September, the Red Sox had a 96% chance of making the playoffs. The Red Sox would go on to lose 18 of their final 24 games. In their last game of the season,  against the Baltimore Orioles, they blew their lead and lost their shot to make the playoffs, as The Tampa Bay Rays came back to win their last game in extra innings against the Yankees. Now the 2012 Red Sox have a lot to over come. Their pitching rotation (which was their achilles heel last season) hasn’t been drastically changed, they lost Papelbon who was their star closer and they are still stuck with “wild card” type pitcher John Lackey, who they need to produce to help their team. The BoSox also have a lot of interior problems. Their GM Theo Epstein resigned and Manager Terry Francona was relieved of his duties. They also lost their ability to drink in the clubhouse after their new Manager Bobby Valentine, banned all alcohol from the clubhouse. Now this will prove to be pivotal as last season the Red Sox had one of best records in baseball going into September, they did this with alcohol in the clubhouse, so it will be interesting to see how they do without it. Also the BoSox are lacking in a power hitter, their best option as one is an aging David Ortiz. I do believe though, that Carl Crawford will be the silver lining for the BoSox. I think unlike last season he will produce heavily. With the Rays, Yankees and Jays all getting better and the Red Sox getting worse and with the turmoil in the system at the moment I can’t see them doing any better then 3rd in the AL East.

Prediction
Record: 85-77
Finish: 3rd in AL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Josh Beckett, 17-11, 3.26 ERA, 220 SO
Top Hitter: Carl Crawford, .327 AVG, 24 HR, 97 RBI, 35 SB
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-McFultz