Outside of non-rookie Todd Greene and spring training monster Troy Glaus, the
Angels aren’t going to be the beneficiaries of significant help from their farm
system. Glaus is a defensive whiz with legitimate bat speed and the potential
to develop a ton of power. He won’t be developing it in Anaheim, where half
the team plays out of position, and Matt Perisho is randomly traded at the top
of every hour.
Contrary to Lisa Winston‘s pre-expansion draft assertion that the Oakland farm
system is ‘barren’, the A’s have the deepest and richest bunch of position
players around, many of whom will be in UMAX Coliseum to start the season.
Catcher A.J. Hinch and right fielder Ben Grieve have definitely won starting
jobs, and are the two leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year (ROY).
Grieve hits for average and power, plays
solid defense, and draws walks like Tony Phillips facing Brad Pennington.
Hinch is a weak-armed catcher with a great bat and a great deal of poise.
His defense will get better. If the ROY doesn’t come from one of those
two, it could come from potential teammate center fielder Ryan Christenson, a
Dave Dellucci look alike who has a Hendersonesque batting eye, a quick powerful
bat, and covers a lot of ground in center. At the start of camp, GM Billy
Beane had Christenson slated for Edmonton. As of Thursday, Christenson is even
money with Jason McDonald to win the opening day CF job in Oakland. As if that
wasn’t enough, shortstop Miguel Tejada, currently out with a broken finger, is
held at bay by the defensive prowess of recent re-addition Kurt Abbott. Tejada
shouldn’t have to wait for too many groundball singles to take the job away
from Abbott. “Another one just beyond his reach, Ray!” Offensively, Abbott
and Tejada are similar players — solid pop, batting eye a weakness. IF Mark
Bellhorn will begin the season at AAA, presumably because 2B Scott Spiezio has
a voodoo doll of Art Howe. All quiet on the pitching front; Chris Enochs could
be a late season callup, and Jay Witasick could help out as a role player.
All eyes are upon young LF Jose Cruz. Cruz can do it all. He’ll hit for
average and power, has a great batting eye, is a borderline CF or excellent LF,
and he should be a fixture in Seattle for years to come; he’s the ideal #2
hitter in front of ARod, Griffey, Martinez, and Buhner. What an offense! (ed.
note: We’ve worked hard not to tell Gary about all that unpleasantness…) IF
Brian Regan could help out if Cora falters, and Ken Cloude, although not a
rookie, could be one of the best 20 pitchers in the AL by the end of August.
Long term, Regan looks like a very solid prospect. Ryan Anderson is not yet
the best pitcher in history, but we’ll keep you posted. With Lou Piniella
managing, it’s unlikely that we’ll see that many rookies on this squad any time
3B Fernando Tatis, although technically not a rookie, looks like a much
improved player, particularly with the glove. If his batting eye comes around,
he could be a very good long term option for the Rangers. Lefty pitcher Matt
Perisho, acquired from Anaheim for Mike Bell, could fill in and surprise should
the rotation chew up and spit out a starter or two. Cesar
King could step up in the case of an injury to Ivan Rodriguez, but otherwise,
he’ll spend the year in the minors, and eventually end up in some other