One of the great things about having XM radio is being able to hear other teams’ broadcasts, getting a general idea of what the fans in that market are thinking about (plus, of course, all the great voices!) Thanks to the internet, we can do that daily. The next couple of days, we’ll take a look at each team that doesn’t play in St. Louis. I’ll have a blog link and a newspaper link, with a little discussion tossed in there as well. Blogs, for the most part, come from the team lists at striketwo.net.
And, without further adieu, let’s look around the National League:
The Diamondbacks should be another fun team this year, especially after adding Dan Haren. They have a lot of young but talented players. Which helps explain why their fans are content with a $60 million payroll, while Cardinal fans gripe about not spending enough at $90 million.
The Braves have kept their run of successful teams going by being able to always tap into the farm system for either a starting player or trade bait. According to Sickels, that isn’t going to change anytime soon. It does underscore some of the Cardinals’ problems in that area, though. One of the defenses for the minors has been the success of the major league club, but Atlanta has proven that doesn’t have to be as much of a detriment as you might think.
So far, I think all of these blogs have been part of the SBNation network. As such, they share things, visit each others sites, etc. So the owner of BCB cheerfully admits to stealing Larry’s idea at VEB (the Cardinal list is here). Which is OK, because Larry got the idea from Joe Posnanski. Got to love blog interaction, don’t you? Anyway, #20 on the Cub list is from someone Cardinal fans will appreciate.
The Reds have been training in Sarasota, Florida for a long time. However, they can’t seem to work out a deal with the current government on rebuilding the complex, so they are taking a look at moving to Arizona. I remember when only about 8 teams trained out in Arizona. Soon, the Cactus League may become more plentiful than the Grapefruit League, if it is not already. You hate to see teams pack up and move from their traditional sites–I still can’t believe the Dodgers are leaving Dodgertown–but the communities should realize that they get a huge boost in tourism with a ST site that they wouldn’t be getting otherwise.
The run to the World Series last year was fueled by home-grown players. Holliday, Tulowitski, Atkins, Francis. You would expect a team like the Rockies, with so many high draft picks over the past few years, to start producing good players. Not surprising that fans of their team would continue to keep an eye out to see who was next in line.
That seems to be the consistent issue with the Marlins. If it’s not them cutting payroll (I see where their closer is now their highest paid player–at $2.5 million), it’s the new stadium they say they need. It looks like there may be a plan in place for new digs, but as always, there seem to be problems. The Marlins have a good young team, so you’d think they’d get some support even with a less-than-ideal stadium if they had a solid fanbase. I’m not sure even a new stadium can really help them out that much, at least in the long-term.
The Astros, of course, have made a decent-size splash this offseason, trading for Miguel Tejada (and, some would say, gutting a weak farm system in the process). There are still plenty of places that the ‘Stros could shore up, though. I don’t think there will be too many people picking them to win the division on the strength of their offseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It was a little surprising to see Don Mattingly quit as Dodger hitting coach before he even got started. That “personal issues” line is tough to hear, because it often means some turmoil is going on in a person’s off-field life and you never want anyone to have to go through that. A Yankee board reported that Mattingly and his wife of 28 years were separating–I hope that’s not true as well. Mattingly’s replacement is a name Cardinal fans might recognize–Mike Easler, who was a hitting coach under Tony for a couple of years. However, I didn’t know he’d actually sued the club over his dismissal.
I think the Brewers did pretty well getting Mike Cameron. He’s a superb defender–something the Brewers need if they are going to stay in contention. He can hit fairly well. The downside is that he won’t actually get to start playing until May due to a 25-game steroid suspension, which means you also have to wonder about his past numbers. All in all, though, a nice move for the Brew Crew.
New York Mets
We’ve heard so much about the potential Johan Santana trade that, for fans of teams not involved (and maybe some that are), we’re just ready for it to be over. It’s sad, though, that it apparently is a situation where the rich get richer. If the Mets were able to land Santana, it would almost be like the underdog had won–an underdog with the highest payroll in the National League.
While I recognize that a team has no requirement to settle outside of arbitration, I do like that the Cardinals tend to go all out to get a deal done before they head to a hearing. I don’t think they’ve gone to an actual hearing in three or four years, maybe longer. It seems like, from the outside, that Philadelphia hasn’t been the smoothest when dealing with Ryan Howard, something that could back and bite them in a couple of years.
There’s a glimmer of hope in the Steel City. After over a decade of sub-.500 finishes, the organization seems to have a new direction, determined to build up a solid team. I think it’d be nice to see the black and gold good again, though obviously since they are in the NL Central, I wish for them a perpetual second place behind the Cardinals.
San Diego Padres
From what I understand, Towers is the longest-serving GM in the game. He’s obviously had the results to justify an extension, with the Padres often making the playoffs (and, almost as often, losing the Cardinals there). They almost made the playoffs last year and are in strong position to do that again this year.
San Francisco Giants
Now that the Bonds shadow has lifted off the franchise, it really allows for some different discussion. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have a lot of optimism for next season and haven’t done a lot in this off-season to correct that save the Aaron Rowand signing.
The Nationals have a new ballpark to look forward to in 2008, which is always nice. There is some talent on the field as well. The health of the players, especially Nick Johnson, could be the biggest key.
There are a lot of SBNation blogs on here. There are a few other team blogs not on their network that you might consider, such as Ducksnorts (Padres), Loge 13 (Mets), El Lefty Malo (Giants). Also, consider looking for fan forums, such as RedsZone.
Tomorrow: The AL.