A New Year's Resolution for Every Major League Team
From the Windup is Matt Snyder's extended look at some aspect of America's pastime.
Once the clock strikes midnight and the calendar turns to a new year, millions of people decide they are going to change something about themselves that they could just change on their own any other day of the year. It's a good excuse to make it seem like you are improving yourself. Why should the 30 major league baseball teams be any different? We can have some fun with this. Here's my quick resolution for each of them -- some serious and some light-hearted.
The Angels should resolve to give Brandon Wood a legitimate chance at third base. He's crushed Triple-A pitching for the last three seasons, but has never gotten an extended look in the bigs. He'll be 25 this year, and Chone Figgins has left to sign with the Mariners. Give Wood at least a month at the hot corner and see how he reacts. It should be time to step up.
The Astros should resolve to build a minor league system. No more trading for Miguel Tejada or Jose Valverde. Time to start building a team from the foundation. Better late than never.
The A's should resolve to undo the Coco Crisp signing and let Rajai Davis play center everyday. It's hard to figure what the A's didn't like about Davis last year. He ended it with a .360 on-base percentage and stole 41 bases, but that was after an awful start. He hit .324 with a .378 OBP after June 2, and this was the first time anyone had ever given Davis a chance as a full-time player. Crisp's career high in OBP is .345, he's slower and he's about equal to Davis defensively in center. Plus, Davis is younger. Like I said, hard to figure.
The Blue Jays should resolve to pick five young starting pitchers by the end of the season and trade the others for help elsewhere. Sure, they've lost A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay in the past two years, but they have a stable of young arms that could develop into a force -- even in the AL East. Between Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski, Scott Richmond, David Purcey, Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil, Brad Mills and even more, the Jays have plenty of options.
The Braves should resolve to invent a time machine and take back the Derek Lowe signing. Then they wouldn't have had to trade Javier Vazquez and would have a much better (and younger) rotation.
The Brewers resolve to find a way to motivate Manny Parra. In two seasons being in the starting rotation, Parra has a 5.29 ERA and a horrifying 1.67 WHIP. He's 27 now and has a good enough minor-league track record to convince many he's got enough to be a No. 3 starter. The Brewers desperately need better pitching, so it's time for Parra to step up. Maybe they need Prince Fielder to fight him again?
The Cardinals should resolve to slip something in Albert Pujols' drink (he doesn't drink, so they have to trick him) and get him liquored up enough to sign a lifetime extension. It really does have to be scary for Cardinals fans to see him refusing to sign an extension until his contract is up. Even if you don't think he's walking, Cards' fans, you can't tell me you aren't at least a little worried.
The Cubs should resolve to win it all. Please. I'm actually begging at this point.
The Diamondbacks should resolve to give Ian Kennedy an extended chance in the rotation. The 25-year-old has a career 1.95 ERA in the minors and needs a chance to hone his craft at the big league level. If he develops into a solid starter, the Diamondbacks could have the best top four starters in the bigs.
The Dodgers should resolve to let Manny Ramirez walk when his contract expires. Please stop giving this man money. He's a clown.
The Giants should resolve to sign Tim Lincecum long term, eating up his arbitration years and a few after that -- much like the Rays did with Evan Longoria and the Brewers did with Ryan Braun. Tiny Tim is special and they can't chance losing him -- even if it's in five years.
The Indians should resolve to move Grady Sizemore down in the batting order. His on-base percentage regressed all the way down to .343 last season, but he's still a power hitter. Just because he's fast doesn't mean he should lead off. Bat him third.
The Mariners should resolve to teach Milton Bradley accountability. Just once I want to hear Bradley say, "that was my fault." Maybe his 53rd team (yes, that's an exaggeration) can teach him what the first 52 couldn't.
The Marlins should resolve to give Cameron Maybin an extended shot. He's 23 and should be ready, so sending him down the minors after a bad few weeks would be a bit hasty. He closed the season hitting .297 with an .855 OPS in his last 26 games after being a September call-up.
The Mets should resolve to stay healthy.
The Nationals should resolve to do everything perfectly correct with Stephen Strasburg. I don't know what that means, but the franchise could turn around on his shoulders (specifically his right one). Just keep him healthy and developing at the right pace.
The Orioles should resolve to be relevant again.
The Padres should resolve to make Petco Park more hitter friendly. How? I don't know. But Adrian Gonzalez hit 28 home runs on the road and just 12 at home last year. You'd have a top-3 MVP candidate if the home park didn't suck the power from him. Maybe get a bunch of high-powered fans to turn on when the Padres are on offense, which would simulate wind blowing out?
The Phillies should resolve to have Raul Ibanez hitting the whole season the way he was in the first half of 2009. Not sure that's possible for the 37-year-old, but it's worth a shot to hope.
The Pirates should resolve that this current group is their core of the future and not make anymore dumps, unless it makes sense to upgrade the current team. Count me in the camp of liking the 2009 trades for the Pirates' future. You aren't building a young team around Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth. But at some point the Pirates need to start playing for now instead of the future, and I think they are looking at 2011. That means 2010 is a development year and they can't keep shuffling the talent.
The Rangers should resolve to keep Josh Hamilton healthy, even if that means DH-ing him everyday.
The Rays should resolve to promote massive, nationwide fundraising efforts, even if that means sending collection plates around the stadium every game. If they raise enough, maybe they can keep Carl Crawford from leaving when he becomes a free agent at the conclusion of the 2010 season (and you know the Yankees are eying him).
The Red Sox should resolve to give the Padres whatever they want for Adrian Gonzalez. The pitching might be solid, but there's just not enough offense to compete with the Yankees -- especially in downgrading from Jason Bay to Mike Cameron.
The Reds should resolve to quit wasting resources. You can't whine about being a small market team and waste money on Willy Taveras and a closer (Francisco Cordero is good, but there's no reason to pay a closer so much unless you are a mega-market team). There's also no reason to trade for a washed up Scott Rolen (and then extend his contract). Oh, and Dusty Baker: please stop using starters in relief.
The Rockies should resolve to play a full season. They were 72-38 after June 3 last year, which would prorate to 106 wins over a full season. Watch out league, they are good enough to play like this all the time and there's room for improvement in the young players.
The Royals should resolve to try new motivation techniques with Alex Gordon. This dude was Albert Pujols in the minors, and he's now put together three lackluster seasons in the bigs (.746 OPS in 334 games). He'll be 26 this year and in his fourth season, so it's long past time he start hitting the ball like he can. If not, the word "bust" is on the horizon.
The Tigers should resolve to get big years from Austin Jackson, Daniel Schlereth and Max Scherzer. The fans are angry about the Curtis Granderson-Edwin Jackson trade, so the only way to convince them it wasn't a payroll dump is to have the return work out well.
The Twins should resolve to start teaching Joe Mauer third base. They don't have to play him there this year or even next, but at some point you have to start thinking about keeping his body intact for his later years (unless they are just being cheap and will let him walk via free agency -- in which case they should catch him all 162 games this year and wear him out on purpose). Why third? Because they have Justin Morneau at first and the corner infield spots are the easiest to learn on the fly.
The White Sox should resolve to put a swear jar in Ozzie Guillen's office. You know it wouldn't deter him, so think of the additional revenue it would generate for the team.
The Yankees should resolve to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen permanently. He has the makeup to take over for Mariano Rivera as closer once the best ever decides to hang up the cleats for good. Joba's career ERA as a reliever is 1.50 while it's 4.18 as a starter. With four legitimate starters in house and a few serviceable fifth starters (including Phil Hughes) it's time to end the charade. Put Joba in the eighth inning until Rivera retires.