Major League Baseball’s spring training began the week of Feb. 20. It has been four months since the St. Louis Cardinals stunned fans when they defeated the Texas Rangers in the World Series. In those four months, baseball did not lay dormant and Californian teams made some big moves.
Those who saw the movie “Moneyball” last fall may have gotten the impression that the A’s are still a championship team, or that General Manager Billy Beane looks like Brad Pitt. The A’s have not been to the playoffs or had a winning season since 2006, and the team looks unlikely to reverse this trend in 2012.
Having such a small payroll, the A’s can develop talent as easily as any other franchise, but as soon as that talent proves itself in the majors, it becomes expensive, and the A’s can’t afford to hold onto it. For this reason, the talented starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Capitals, respectively.
The A’s signed promising Cuban prospect Yoenis Cespedes for four years.
On Feb. 20, the A’s signed Manny Ramirez. Ramirez is known for being a good hitter, but will have to serve a 50-game suspension to start the season due a positive test for performance enhancing drugs.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
What would you do if your division rivals, the Texas Rangers, had gone to the World Series for two consecutive years and you were entering the ten-year anniversary of your first and only World Series victory? If you said, “Sign the Rangers’ best pitcher along with, arguably, baseball’s finest player of the last decade,” then you’re thinking like the Angels.
That thought process led the Angels to sign starting pitcher CJ Wilson and first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols signed on for $254 million over the next ten years.
With these acquisitions and already stellar pitching, the Angels look to be serious playoff contenders in 2012.
Los Angeles Dodgers
For any interested parties, the Dodgers are for sale. Ownership problems over the last few years have distracted the baseball team from the most important thing: baseball.
The Dodgers still have one of the best pitchers in the MLB, Clayton Kershaw, and one of the best hitters, Matt Kemp. Yet, the rest of the team is a question mark. Another struggle for a winning season is to be expected in 2012.
The Dodgers likely won’t be serious contenders until its ownership troubles are resolved.
San Francisco Giants
Though the Giants did what they could to defend their World Series title in 2011, they were saddled with injuries and poor run production. The team ended up scoring the fewest runs in the National League.
2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey and second baseman Freddy Sanchez were injured early in the 2011 season. Their return in 2012 will help cure the Giants’ offensive woes, but this off-season the Giants shook up their roster in order to further boost their offense.
The Giants released or traded the following players: pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Ramon Ramirez along with outfielders Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, and Andres Torres.
The Giants signed outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Both players are hoped to be strong offensively.
This spring training, the Giants’ largest dilemma will be who is on first. They do have three players: veteran and incumbent Aubrey Huff and rookies Brandon Belt and Brett Pill.