In the midst of Tuesday’s post-Darvish hubbub, Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com threw out the following on Twitter:
“An All-Star team of the Rangers and Angels could beat the Red Sox and Yankees. West is the new East.”
Much as I can tell, nobody took much notice of Morosi’s declaration. Excepting me, who got to thinking. What would those teams look like and could the West legitimately be considered more stacked than the East? Could this just be reactionary hyperbole?
Lucky for you, I spent my afternoon doing the work and carefully crafting a hypothetical All-Star team for the Rangers/Angels and another for the Yankees/Red Sox.
Here’s what I came up with —
C – Mike Napoli
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Ian Kinsler
3B – Adrian Beltre
SS – Elvis Andrus
LF – Josh Hamilton
CF – Peter Bourjos
RF – Nelson Cruz
DH – Michael Young
SP – Jered Weaver
Other Pitchers – Mike Adams, Yu Darvish, Neftali Feliz, Dan Haren, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Joe Nathan, Alexi Ogando, Jordan Walden, CJ Wilson
Utility Infielder – Howie Kendrick
Pinch Runner/OF – Craig Gentry
Backup Catcher – Chris Iannetta
Manager – Ron Washington
C – Russell Martin
1B – Adrian Gonzalez
2B – Robinson Cano
3B – Kevin Youkilis
SS – Derek Jeter
LF – Carl Crawford
CF – Curtis Granderson
RF – Jacoby Ellsbury
DH – David Ortiz
SP – CC Sabathia
Other Pitchers – Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Josh Beckett, Clay Buccholz, Jon Lester, Boone Logan, Ivan Nova, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Cory Wade
Utility Infielder – Dustin Pedroia
Pinch Runner/OF – Brett Gardner
Backup Catcher – Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Manager – Joe Girardi
Some thoughts and observations —
These rosters are based on the current active rosters of each team’s parent clubs. It seems unlikely at this point that any of the four parent clubs will make any major upgrades before the 2012 season.
Each team is carrying 11 pitchers and 12 position players.
Some older guys (Jeter, Nathan, Crawford) get credit for their whole careers, as opposed to their 2011 numbers alone.
Each team has a catcher and a backup catcher. Both teams took one catcher from each of its parent clubs, which was by design.
Since the Darvish news was what spawned Morosi’s comment in the first place, it felt wrong not to include him. So, we’ll assume that 1) the Rangers are going to sign him and 2) he will be at least as good as Dan Haren, Colby Lewis.
When it came to R/A, I did my best to be objective. Based on raw talent, I believe that the Rangers have the edge in position players and bullpen, the Angels in starting pitching. The roster reflects this belief.
Elvis Andrus and Erick Aybar are very similar on the offensive side of the ball. Including Elvis was a subjective call based mostly on my familiarity with his glove and his personality.
It wasn’t easy deciding between CJ Wilson and Ervin Santana. The call was ultimately made due to the Y/RS lineup having so many left-handed hitters.
Santana loses out to Derek Holland for the same reasons he loses out to Wilson. He loses out to Colby Lewis because of Lewis’ playoff success, which I value highly in big-game situations.
Bobby Abreu might be a better choice as a pure DH-type, but Michael Young gives his team more versatility with his ability to play some infield. With Gentry listed as PR/OF, Abreu didn’t make as much sense. Young and Abreu would both work at DH, though.
Both teams have very talented, athletic outfields.
Youkilis beats out Alex Rodriguez because of last season’s numbers and the relative health of each. Ortiz beats out Rodriguez because he makes more sense as a DH.
Filling out the Y/RS pitching staff wasn’t easy. Some of the candidates are dealing with injury (Lackey, Chamberlain, Dice-K) and some I just don’t believe in (Soriano, Hughes). There is considerably more pitching depth between the Rangers & Angels.
The Y/RS have more left-handed pitchers, but the R/A only have 1 left-handed hitter (Hamilton).
The R/A have 3 closers (Walden, Nathan, Feliz) on their roster, but the Y/RS have Mariano Rivera.
Wash over Scioscia as manager because of his team’s more recent success. Scioscia would probably also refuse to play Napoli.
Girardi gets the nod because Bobby Valentine has been manager for only about 10 minutes.
Some final thoughts —
It’s interesting to note that, while the combined payroll of the Y/RS far exceeds that of the R/A, the combined talent level must be considered at least comparable. The R/A trend a little bit younger than the Y/RS, with Holland, Bourjos, Andrus, & Feliz all 25 or younger.
Based on what we’ve seen so far this winter, I think Morosi is onto something. The East seems content, while the West continues to evolve and upgrade. The East also has less flexibility due to their sizable contracts with aging players.
Even though the Yankees and Red Sox are still going to be serious contenders for the next few seasons, the balance of power in the AL is moving west. As time goes on, the oft over-hyped slug-fests between “baseball’s greatest rivals” may not be nearly as impressive as what we’re going to be seeing in Arlington and Anaheim.
At this point, I’m just about spent. Somebody else will have to figure out who would make a less impressive All-Star team, the Cubs/Astros or the Mariners/Athletics.
For the next 5 or 6 years, I do believe that we’re going to see a serious rivalry develop between the Rangers and the Angels. It seems less likely that either team will be running away with the division anytime soon and guys like Pujols and Kinsler will do nothing but add fuel to the fire.
I look forward to it. It’s going to be delicious.