Cokin’s Corner, Thursday 3/30/17
It’s the AL West preview today, as I heard toward the finish line with the capsules just in time for the start of the 2017 MLB season. I’ll cover the NL West tomorrow.
I already covered the Angels earlier in the week, so that leaves the other four AL West teams. I’ll start at the bottom with the Oakland Athletics. The A’s appear to be a bit improved from last season, but they’re still likely to be at the bottom of the division. I like Ryon Healy wherever the A’s choose to utilize him, be it first base, third base or DH. Left fielder Khris Davis will never hit for a big average, but his power is ridiculous. Yonder Alonso has added more loft to his swing this spring and has enjoyed a terrific camp. Marcus Semien is never be in the Gold Glove convo at shortstop, but he can hit the ball out of the park. Stephen Vogt is solid enough at catcher. But center and right field are being manned by platoon types, I really don’t see Jed Lowrie as an everyday guy anymore, and Trevor Plouffe is not a premier third baseman. The starting pitching is shaky, particularly with some real questions about Sonny Gray’s health. Sean Manaea has to solve his command issues, Kendall Graveman is ideally a #4 starter, Jharel Cotton has a great changeup but not much experience and Andrew Triggs also lacks veteran savvy. I don’t like the Oakland bullpen. I can’t see this team escaping the cellar.
The Astros are hit the ball all over the place. I actually don’t see any weaknesses with their attack. But the pitching is another story entirely. I said at the time it took place that Dallas Keuchel’s Cy Young campaign was a a huge outlier. I really don’t see Keuchel as more than a solid #3 starter. Lance McCullers has ace potential but he can’t stay healthy. I’m not as high as some on Joe Musgrove. Mike Fiers is just a guy, I’m not buying Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh is starting the season unhealthy. The bullpen looks acceptable but the Astros are going to have to outscore opponents to win. The good news is they are so potent they might actually win 90 just on their offense. I think the Astros should be on the prowl right away for a strong starting pitching commodity. If I’m in charge, I’m going to put together the right package to lure Jose Quintana from the White Sox. But I’m not in charge.
The Texas Rangers are a very hot Under play among plenty of baseball win prop wagerers. I understand why based on so many factors from last season. But while I agree they almost have to regress considering the insane one-run record last season, I also happen to think Texas is improved on paper. Not that there aren’t some holes here. The outfield is not a sure thing as I/m not convinced the Carlos Gomez decline is going to go away. I really like the front of the Rangers rotation with Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. Beyond that, this is a very questionable rotation. I see the Rangers bullpen as a big asset. In fact, I expect a short leash on the starters not named Darvish or Hamels, as with this pen. Texas needs just five or six adequate innings to have a good chance to win.
The Mariners are catching lots of buzz as a team ready to finally get back to the playoffs. I understand the excitement. The M’s have a fearsome middle of the order with Cano, Cruz, Seager and newly acquired Segura. The rest of the lineup will determine whether this is a premier attack, and I do see some questions there, especially in the outfield. As for the pitching, I’d love to see Felix Hernandez rebound to his prior form, but if he does so, it will be with less dominating stuff than in the past. Hisashi Iwakuma is a potential decliner as well, as he’s not getting any younger. James Paxton has filthy stuff but his durability is extremely questionable, especially with his motion. Drew Smyly is again having arm issues, so he’s no sure thing. Sorry, but I don’t have any faith in Yovani Gallardo anymore, even as the back of the rotation guy. Edwin Diaz has dominant closer stuff but he faded late last season and overwork needs to be avoided. I’m iffy on the setup bullpen guys.
I’m going with the Astros to win the division. I think the next three spots are up for grabs, as I’m not counting out the Angels as an 83 or so win team if they keep their arms healthy. Oakland brings up the rear. This should be an action division with the possibility of a race that is tight all the way to the finish line.
I ended up losing slightly more than one unit on Wednesday. The culprits were the Braves ending up as a push thanks to a contra, breakdown in the ninth inning, and a really bad showing by the Flames in the NHL. I missed that one about as badly as I can miss one. St. Peter’s and the Clippers saved the day.
Two more days left on the March Madness special. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the vitals if you don’t know them already.
I simply got it flat out wrong on the Wednesday free play. I thought Calgary would come out fired up and would handle a fading and weary Kings squad. Total whiff as it was the Flames that looked dead in the water all night and the Kings completely outplayed them. Undaunted, I will try another NHL side tonight. But please note, as of now I have no personal plays on Thursday, so this is presently just an added opinion.
67 SHARKS at 68 OILERS
Take: SHARKS +115
This will be a quick analysis.
I like the fact the Sharks snapped their slump and found some offense in the process in their rally to top the Rangers on Tuesday night. This San Jose team needed a momentum building win and I won’t be at all surprised if the Sharks now put together a bit of a surge.
As for Edmonton, this is still a big game as far as the divisional race is concerned. But it’s also the first game for the Oilers since clinching their first playoff entry in a decade. That makes this game potential letdown material. I’m certainly not going ot shocked if that’s not the case as this is a well coached team and this is an important game. However, I can make a better case for San Jose and the underdog price is somewhat of an added attraction. I’ll go with the Sharks for the Thursday night free play.
UPDATE: I HAVE ADDED THIS AS A HALF UNIT PERSONAL SERVICE PLAY FOR THIS EVENING.