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

30 Teams in 30 Days – Seattle Mariners

Welcome to the 6th edition of 30 Teams in 30 Days. Sorry we missed a day, we had a bit of an issue, but we’ll try to get two articles out tonight. The first team of the day is the one, the only…….. Seattle Mariners, oh sorry, we’re you expecting someone better?
Seattle Mariners
Record: 67-95
Finish: 4th AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Felix Hernandez 14-14, 3.47 ERA, 222 SO
Top Hitter: Ichiro .272 AVG, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 40 SB
Manager: Eric Wedge
Important Acquisitions: Geoge Sherril, Aaron Heilman,  Jesus Montero, Kevin Millwood, Brian Sweeney, Shawn Camp, Hong-Chih Kuo
Important Losses: Adam Kennedy LAD, Jamey Wright LAD, Josh Bard LAD, Greg Halman Death, Michael Pineda NYY

The nicest thing I can say about the Mariners is that they’re young. They are the second youngest team in the league with an average age of just 26.5, so you could say they have potential. Unfortunately, they’re last 2 seasons have been disappointing, being way under .500 in both seasons, and if you wanted to be picky you could call the last 10 seasons disappointing, as they haven’t made the playoffs since 2001 (Ichiro’s rookie season). Last season didn’t actually start out that bad, as they were 37-35 at the near halfway point of the season, but a 17 game losing streak in July ended any chance at a competitive season. After having an amazing, terrific, unbelievable, Cy Young winning season in 2010, King Felix struggled at times in 2011, but still had a pretty solid year. However the biggest shocker of the year had to be Chone Figgins, who had by far the worst season of his career, hitting just .188. ON the flip side, one of my favorite young pitchers to watch last year was Michael Pineda, he threw hard, he threw lots of K’s and he had a mean changeup. Disappointingly, the Mariners dealt him to the Dark Lord, New York Yankees in the off-season, it sucks, but they did get Jesus Montero out of the deal, a very good 22 year old catcher who hit .328 in 18 games with the aforementioned Yankees, Montero’s also currently hitting .417 in his first 4 spring training games with the Mariners, it’s not much of a sample, but it could be foreshadowing a strong 2012 campaign for the young catcher. The Mariners also added veteran righty Kevin Millwood to take Pineda’s place in the rotation, he should add some solid starts, but I think the 37 year old is more there to mentor the young arms and to add a veteran presence in the dugout. What do I expect from the Mariners this season? Not too much, an improvement from last season would be nice but not necessary. I predict King Felix will have a good year, but not 2010 good, and I think Ichiro will do better than last year, but will miss the .300 plateau for the second straight season and just the second time in his career. The best thing for the Mariners to do at this point is make sure they’re developing their young players properly, even if that means risking a few W’s by keeping them in the minors.

Prediction
Record: 69-93
Finish: 4th in AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Felix Hernandez 14-11, 3.22 ERA, 237 SO
Top Hitter: Ichiro .296 AVG, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 42 SB
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-Vernon Smells

30 Teams in 30 Days – Baltimore Orioles

I think we can all agree that the 2012 Baltimore Orioles will be, without a doubt, the greatest team in MLB history. With a lineup, rivaling that of the 1927 Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles will storm into their 2012 campaign with fire in their eyes. But before we see how the Orioles stack up in 2012, let’s see how the Birds stacked up in 2011.
Baltimore Orioles
Record: 69-93
Finished: 5th in the AL East
Top Pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie, 9-17, 4.33 ERA, 130 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Reynolds, .221 AVG , 27 HR, 86 RBI
Important Acquisitions: Nick Johnson 1B, Luis Ayala RHP, Jason Hammel RHP, Matt Lindstrom RHP, Ronny Paulino C, Armando Galarraga SP (yeah that dude who almost threw the perfect game), Pat Neshek RHP, Wilson Betemit IF, Darren O’Day RHP
Important Losses: Vladimir Guerrero FA, Jeremy Guthrie COL

Ok we all know the question that’s lurking at the back of everyone’s mind. And it’s not whether the O’s will make it to the World Series but how badly they will beat the NL champion by. The Baltimore Orioles are truly a baseball powerhouse. A star-studded lineup with arguably 11 Hall-of-Famers, a rotation filled with the likes of those only matched by history’s greats such as Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan, and a coach who is just flat out a friggin’ bad@$$. I mean really who wouldn’t want to be Buck Showalter? That guy is a flat out beast. I’m not even going to go in depth about the Orioles pitching rotation and lineup… because in all honestly no one knows how deep that thing actually is. I mean, this team is truly of legendary proportions… one that has not been matched in over a century of baseball and almost certainly won’t be matched for another century. If nine Jesus’ returned for their second-comings, they still would not match the status of this unbelievable Orioles team. I’m sorry, I’ve reached my sarcastic limit for one article, I have to stop now. Anyway, the O’s are a terrible disgrace of a baseball team and do not deserve more than two legitimate sentences about them. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If the Orioles’ front office gets their act together they may be able to lay the foundation for a successful young team around their current core. 2012, however, will not be the Year of the Birds. There you go.

Prediction
Record: 59-103
Finished: 5th in the AL East
Playoffs: Obviously none
Top Pitcher: Armando Galarraga 8-15, 4.16 ERA, 188 SO
Top Hitter: Nick Markakis .303 AVG, 19 HR, 73 RBI
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-Simple Jack

 

30 Teams in 30 Days – Detroit Tigers

Hello everyone, and welcome to our first installment of 30 Teams in 30 Days. Everyday, a new one of us here, at Critics From The Couch will be doing a full report on a different MLB Team, we’re going to get it started with one of the most exciting teams, The Detroit Tigers.
Detroit Tigers
Record: 95-67
Finish: 1st AL Central
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALCS
Top Pitcher: Justin Verlander 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 250 SO
Top Hitter: Miguel Cabrera .344 AVG, 30 HR, 105 RBI
Manager: Jim Leyland
Important Acquisitions: Prince Fielder, Octavio Dotel, Collin Balester, Eric Patterson
Important Losses: Magglio Ordonez FA, Carlos Guillen SEA, Joel Zumaya MIN, Brad Penny Japan, Wilson Betemit BAL, Ryan Perry WAS, Victor Martinez Injury

Last Year, the Detroit Tigers came out of nowhere to capture the AL Central. They were eliminated in the ALCS by the Texas Rangers, but nonetheless, it was a very impressive year for the Detroit Tigers. They were led by 2011 AL Cy Young and AL MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Verlander really had an amazing season, easily the best of his career. Leading the way on offense was the always dangerous, Miguel Cabrera. Then in the off-season they signed one of the best home-run hitters in the league, Prince Fielder. So, as you can imagine, expectations are high this year . Can they live up to these expectations? To be honest, I’m a little skeptical. Justin Verlander will probably have another great season, but I think it’s unrealistic that he repeats what he did last season, he has a career 3.54 ERA, which is great, but nothing compared to last year. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Prince Fielder deal either, he is most known around the league for his ability to hit the long ball, yes he can hit for average (career .282), but his biggest asset is the Home Run ball, and Comerica park is certainly not a power friendly ballpark. They’ve lost Victor Martinez to injury, who had an absolutely incredible season last year, they still have yet to re-sign Ordonez, they’ve lost Penny to japan, and have lost Guillen and Betemit to free Agency. I just don’t see this team being as successful as last year. They should still take the division, but they should watch out for the White Sox, who underachieved last campaign, but still have a good team, and could come on strong with a new bench boss.

Prediction
Record: 88- 74
Finish: 1st in AL Central
Playoffs: Eliminated in ALDS
Top Pitcher: Justin Verlander 19-8, 2.96 ERA, 224 SO
Top Hittter: Miguel Cabrera .336 AVG, 34 HR, 111 RBI
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- Vernon Smells