Posted Under: Johanna's View
The Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says that it is his pitching moves this off-season which should make the biggest improvement to the team. While Josh Hamilton was the biggest signing, that move was less about filling a hole than it was a defensive move to take Hamilton away from the division rival Rangers. The enemy got weaker, so the Angels got stronger. But as Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher, it is the pitching to watch, especially Ryan Madson this spring. On paper, the Angels are the team to beat in the West, but the A’s have shown that they aren’t ready to back down just yet. The Angels need Madson and their bullpen to be strong throughout the season.
Jim Leyland is thinking about stolen bases in camp this month. Both in how his pitchers can prevent them and how his players with wheels can create them. The Tigers have brought in a coach specifically to help some of their players, namely Austin Jackson, steal more bases. That should help the Tiger’s make their opponents pitchers more uncomfortable at the plate. But he will also be focusing on how long it takes the Tigers hurlers to get the ball to catcher Alex Avilla. The shorter time it takes from first move to get the ball to the catcher, the easier time Avilla will have to throw out the runners. And while the Tigers are strong, they must look at the areas where they were weak and continue to improve if they want to stay on top of the AL Central. For more info, read this John Lowe piece.
The Toronto Blue Jays made some splashy splashy moves this off-season, but the most important one is the re-hiring of John Gibbons as manager. Whether this highly talented team turns into a strong contender or has the infighting of the 1977 Yankees (or the 2012 Red Sox) might depend on how Gibbons gels with them. And while he gives some of his most mundane answers to Baltimore’s Dan Connelly about the upcoming season, how Toronto’s spring goes will tell everyone a lot about how their season will go. But remember, it is not just about wins and losses in looking at the spring. In fact, that means nothing. It is about how the work gets done and what the players are saying as the team gets ready. How many innings are the pitchers going near the end? How are the players carrying themselves as they enter the season? That is what we need to watch to know that the Jays are more than just a good team on paper.