Previously in the Recap series, I discussed some of the trades that occurred in early-mid July. As the trade deadline loomed on the horizon, GMs became more aggressive and went after the more coveted players that were being shopped on the block.
07/23/12: (NYY-SEA) Yankees get I. Suzuki (OF), Mariners get D.J. Mitchell (SP), and Danny Farquhar (RP)
Another superstar has entered the fold in New York. Ichiro (38) will merely serve as another insurance OF for the Yankees. Yes, he had 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons. Yes, he batted above .300 for 9 of them. However he is on the decline. In 2011, he had career lows in hits (184), BA (.272), and OBP (.310). While he is still racking the SB count (and those will go down soon as well), he cannot beat out the infield single as easily as he used to. His biggest asset was his quickness, but his second was his gold glove. He still is a premier defender and will provide a nice defensive substitute down the stretch. Until Gardner returns, Ichiro will most likely get the nod. If he does well, Manager Joe Girardi will stick him somewhere else (depending on the FA this offseason). On the other side of the trade, Seattle is clearly making a break from the Suzuki-era; they are trying to rebuild and create a new face to the franchise. These two 2008 draftees will help out one way or another. Of the two, Mitchell has greater potential but Farquhar will make the quicker impact at the major league level.
Conclusion – This was more or less a dump by Seattle in order to transition to an Ichiro-less future.
Previously in the Predictions series, we discussed both the National League (as a whole) and American League East post-All-Star break predictions. It is time to move westward and look into what will happen throughout the hot summer heat in the A.L. West.
American League West
Overview: At the top of this division lies the Texas Rangers. Sitting with a comfortable 5.5 game lead over the Angels, the two-time reigning A.L. champions are vengefully seeking a World Series win. They have an elite and well rounded pitching staff. Yu Darvish has been a more than pleasant surprise, becoming the Rangers ace in one fell swoop. The rookie pitching phenom from Japan has a 10-6 record with a 3.96 ERA and 121 Ks. The rest of the rotation features several talented young arms (and Roy Oswalt) who have proven that they can get the job done. Joe Nathan has come back to Minnesota-form and found his All-Star groove with Texas. The offense features run scoring potential throughout (well, except for the C spot), and makes any opposing pitcher shudder with just a glance at the lineup card. While there is no doubt this team is stacked in both pitching and hitting, there is always room to improve. In order to distance themselves from Oakland and LA, the Rangers must remain healthy. While Feliz, Lewis, and Moreland are all on the DL for 15 days or more, they had the backups necessary to keep the Wins coming. However, they will not be looking too fly if another starter gets hurt. They need to move Napoli back to the C spot once Mitch Moreland returns to provide more pop from 1B. GM Ron Washington will also need to step it up. His managerial decisions come playoff time have come into question several times during the past two years. To sum it all up, their Key to Victory is staying healthy.