BES-BALL TALK #11

In Bes-ball Talk #7-8 I wrote about the Yankees and Mets off season progress. So, for the next few Bes-Balls I wanted to do a round up of everyone else. First, I did the East. Then, the Central. And now the finale of the roundup, the Wild Wild West!

THE WEST:

Dodgers: Can these guys finally suck it up, and sign Manny Ramirez already?! It's a joke, really. This guy was their whole team last year, and they can't go 3 years on the guy? I'm shocked and disgusted, but that's a story for another time. Otherwise, the Dodgers have had a fairly decent off season as they controversially resigned Rapheal Furcal, who almost went back to the Braves, and Casey Blake, who performed very well for Joe Torre's team. They're also bringing back starter Randy Wolf, who replaces (not really) the departed Derek Lowe. Other smaller moves like bringing in Mark Loretta, Brad Ausmus, and Guillermo Mota are all pretty sound, and should help round out the bench and bullpen, but there are a couple of important questions heading into spring training that will need to be answered. If they fail to bring back Manny, can they compete? Will Joe Torre's book mess with the way his players view and trust him? How does Jeff Kent's retirement affect them? With the Manny situation unresolved, the Hot Stove continues to burn in Dodgertown...

Angels: They lost big on Mark Teixeira, and lost their closer, K-Rod, to the Mets, so now the question is do they have enough to keep up their dominance of the AL West? Their only moves have been to resign outfielder Juan Rivera, and sign their new closer, Brian Fuentes. They also let long time Angel Garrett Anderson walk, as well as starter Jon Garland. Some think Fuentes could be better than Rodriguez was, but he's yet to prove that, and in a tougher league he may actually take a step back rather than forward. GM Tony Reagins says they are not in the Manny race at all, which, of course, is silly. They may have a lot of outfielders, but this team is in desperate need of another bat, and if not Manny, maybe Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu can fit the bill. I can totally see Abreu on this team, but Dunn, who can also play first base, would make more sense. If they don't make any other moves, I'd say this team may finally be ripe for the picking.

Giants: San Fran's team started out early signing reliever Jeremy Affeldt swiftly, and it seemed like a sign of a another high spending Hot Stove season. Well, besides the Yankees' moves, that really hasn't come to pass, now has it? Regardless, I'd say the Giants made some pretty good maneuvers. Besides Affeldt, they added Bob Howry to their bullpen, bolstering things up nicely. Edgar Renteria was signed to man the shortstop position for the next couple of years. A decent enough move, although I always considered him second fiddle to Orlando Cabrera (still on the market!), and he's aging. Most definitely, their biggest signing, so far, is that of Randy Johnson. Last year, the Big Unit proved he could recover well from another back surgery. Staying in the NL West was definitely a great move for him, and an even greater one for San Fran. He'll help the great youngsters on the staff, including Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, and maybe even help Barry Zito settle more, as he won't be viewed as the veteran. It definitely gives them one hell of a solid rotation. One last possible signing for them could be Manny, and they certainly have never shied away from a big signing. He could certainly propel this rag tag lineup to the playoffs, especially since the pitching staff is that good.

A's: Billy Beane always surprises everyone with crazy moves, and this year's was to trade for one year rental slugger Mat Holliday. An excellent move for them that was coupled with the signing of another slugger, and former A's MVP, Jason Giambi. I was kind of sad to see The Giambino leave the Yanks, but it's nice that he was able to go home again, where he had his biggest glories. Those two are huge offensive upgrades to a team that always seems to compete. Look for them to possibly sign Orlando Cabrera, and complete a pretty successful off season.

Diamondbacks: Arizona's team let a lot dudes walk this off season: Randy Johnson, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Brandon Lyon, and Juan Cruz, but they still have their young core perfectly intact, and that's their bread and butter. The loss of the Big Unit won't hurt much as their rotation is still solid, and they signed the reliable innings eater Jon Garland to fill his spot. I've always liked Garland, and he should do very well in the National League. Hudson is replaced by Felipe Lopez, an OK replacement, but not really an solid every day guy. Still, though, I think this team will be fine, and is probably getting better with more experience.

Rangers: No major moves by the slugging Texas Rangers this off season, but a flurry of minor league contracts were handed out, including the recent Andruw Jones one. That one may work out well if Jones can find himself again. It will create a log jam out there, but there are worse things to have happen, especially if Jones can produce again at a high level. They were close to signing Ben Sheets, but the oft injured pitcher's latest medical report shows he may need surgery. Ouch, I feel bad for that guy!

Rockies: Lets sum up their off season action like this: they shipped out one of the best hitters in the game, Matt Holiday, and traded for perennial 5th starter, Jason Marquis. Um....yeah. Good luck!

Mariners: With a new GM in place, the Mariners are trying to clean house, and tidy up a bit starting with a new manager, Ken Wakamatsu, and moving down the line. Unfortunately for them though, they've got a lot of contracts other teams just don't want. They traded away their closer, J.J. Putz, and others to the Mets and Indians, and there has been rumors of maybe Jarrod Washburn being traded as well. They seem to be in the market for a bat, but whether they are willing to spend any sort of money for one is a mystery. Bobby Abreu, Garrett Anderson, and Ken Griffy Jr. are the names bandied about. The latter would be a nice story. Another trade could land a bat as well, maybe Washburn or Erik Bedard for Hideki Matsui? Yankees could easily fit one of those two into the 5th spot and send Joba to the pen, but we're not talking about the Yanks, are we?

Padres: This team has seemingly hit rock bottom as their owner goes through a messy divorce. His imperative: cut costs drastically. That means trade guys away and let others go. Others like long time closer and saves leader Trevor Hoffman. Crazy! They traded away Khalil Greene, and have been trying to trade their ace, Jake Peavy. They've anointed Heath Bell their new closer, and have made some minor signings, but this team is in trouble, more so if they get a Peavy deal done. Last place is all but a certainty.

Certainly with so many free agents still unsigned, the Hot Stove still burns, and I'm sure I'll comment on any other action that may occur. Next up, though, thoughts on Torre's book and ARod and steroids. And that's Bes-Ball.