By Daniel Torres / Asst. Sports Editor
By Daniel Torres / Asst. Sports Editor
Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd. It’s time for another titillating season of major league ball.
A lot has happened during the offseason. Big names were signed to big teams; even bigger names were traded to true championship contenders.
The first came when the reigning champion New York Yankees received center fielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers in a three team deal.
Granderson is an addition to the powerhouse of all-stars that is the Yankees. Granderson, who batted in 71 runs and hit 30 home runs last season, is a definite plus on the offensive end, but is in New York mainly for defensive purposes.
His speed and awareness in center field quickly fills the void for a position facetiously played by Melky Cabrera last season.
The Yankees appear as favorites to win it all once again this season. Help though is still needed in the pitching department, especially relievers to cover the seventh and eighth innings leading up to legendary closer Mariano Rivera.
Another prominent offseason trade, probably the biggest, is the exceptionally skilled Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies.
An outstanding job by the Phillies in acquiring Halladay, arguably one of the best pitchers of this era, but an asinine choice by the team to trade their ace Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for tenuous players who will hardly make a difference this year.
Having both Halladay and Lee would have certainly balanced the scale should the Yankees and the Phillies meet once again in the World Series.
Down here on the home front not much seems to have changed. The Los Angeles Dodgers, and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim remained in a state of inertia this offseason. The Angels signed an aging Hideki Matsui to take the place of Vladimir Guerrero, who signed with the Texas Rangers this offseason.
The Angels also lost Shortstop Chone Figgins to division rival Seattle, but the biggest loss came when John Lackey, the long-time Angels’ ace, signed with the Boston Red Sox, a team the Angels have met in the playoffs the past three seasons.
The Dodgers haven’t done much to help their cause either.
The re-signing of Vicente Padilla gives the team some relief in their rotation. Padilla will probably end up a number three pitcher behind the on and off again Chad Billingsley and the young novice, Clayton Kershaw. A reason behind the Dodgers’ penny-pinching offseason has to be the incessant divorce process occurring between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his soon to be ex-wife, the financially insatiable Jamie McCourt.
Their constant strife, disingenuously slandering statements and clandestine affairs have definitely diluted the excitement for the team and its fans.
Causing angst and ire, The McCourts have easily turned themselves into a galling pair of pariahs throughout Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers will once again have to rely on their two young emerging stars, the docile Matt Kemp, who can be standing on first base one minute, then be halfway to second before the catcher even realizes what’s just happened, and Andre Ethier, the young Dodger left fielder with a voracious appetite for walk-off hits.
The American League East looks the most robust with the Yankees winning the division and the Red Sox easily taking the wild card, albeit the loss of slugger Jason Bay.
In the AL Central, the Twins appear to be the clear cut favorites because of the addition of experienced veteran players like Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson.
The AL West title has go to Seattle this year. Lee and Figgins may be the two biggest additions but it should be enough to conquer this floundering division.
The Phillies appear as the team to beat in the National League East for the next couple of years.
In the NL Central, the Cardinals are too good and every other team in that division is headed for a dreadful season.
The Dodgers still have ample talent to retain their NL West title, despite the loss of eminent pitcher Randy Wolf.
The Giants have the best chance at taking the wildcard spot this year, mainly because of their dominant pitching and young prospects, which should be blooming anytime soon.
Don’t sleep on the small teams either because baseball does have its many surprises. Recall the Rockies of the 2007 season and the Tampa Bay Rays of the 2008 season.
You do not want to miss a beat because it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.