3 reasons for hope
1. The King. Felix was pretty inconsistent last year, but some of his underlying numbers were still pretty good. Most importantly, he seems to have a new focus and is ready to take the hill tomorrow. And he's only 21. We could see him develop into the top 5 pitcher that we all hope he can be.
2. Infield defense. No, seriously. The M's management took the approach of signing groundball pitchers this offseason. The reason? One of the best defensive infields in all of baseball. Beltre and Betancourt just may be the best left side of the infield in the land. If those groundball pitchers (Felix included) can keep the ball on the ground, there could be a lot of easy outs this year.
3. A pretty solid lineup. If that sentence doesn't tell you why I'm having a hard time getting excited about this team then nothing will. The lineup is what it is, but what that is is pretty good. How about that sentence? Dave from USS Mariner puts it nicely when he says,
The opening day line-up is going to have Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt batting 8th and 9th in some order. Both are projected to be nearly league average hitters, and they’re filling out the last two spots in the batting order. What the offense lacks in thump, it attempts to make up for in balance.
3 reasons you'll be counting down the days until football season
1. The gruesome foursome. After Felix, the rest of the rotation is.....uh....suspect. I didn't want the M's to join in the spending madness that was this offseason, and I'm glad they didn't sign Meche, but Washburn, Ramirez, Batista, and Weaver are all back of the rotation starters at best. If the M's had a more potent offense or top-notch bullpen, they may be able to survive with that. But, methinks no.
2. Mike Hargrove and Bill Bavasi. Hargrove for everything he does that sucks, and Bavasi because is either extremely unlucky or a poor evaluator of talent. Now that Jeremy Reed has been sent to AAA, it seems the Freddy Garcia trade was a complete bust. Not to mention Jesse Foppert being released, making the Randy Winn trade worthless. Plus the Vidro and Ramirez trades, the Batista signing, Beltre, and, you get the point. I've been pretty patient with Bavasi because I think he was handed a crappy situation when Gillick left, but that patience is wearing thin.
3. Jose. All three of them. Vidro as a DH? Guillen as a teammate? Lopez's second half? Those three could make or break a lot of 2007.
Overall, I don't really know what to think. They don't look awful, but they don't look amazing either. The AL West isn't much of a division, and I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that if a lot of things break a certain way, the M's could be playing meaningful baseball in September. Let's hope that's true.
Other (aka better) previews:
Also, read this hilarious tribute to Dave Henderson at Lookout Landing.