Wednesday, January 15, 2014

If I Were a Free Agent (American League)

This is the 2nd part of my hypothetical thought exercise, but this time with AL teams.  For the reasoning and scoring rubric, check out the first post.

15.  Oakland (8 points)
       OWN (2) -- Lou Wolff is actively trying to get out of Oakland and move to San Jose, to the point of supporting a mayoral candidate in the most recent election who would be in favor of not building the A's a new stadium.  He routinely gives miserly budgets to Billy Beane, who is the reason this category is not a 1.
        COMP (4) -- Because Beane is a dark wizard, the A's are going to be competitive for the foreseeable future, even without a stellar farm at the moment.
        QOL (1) -- Oakland is a ghetto and completely crime-ridden.  There is no earthly reason that I would live in this city.
        STAD (1) -- The A's stadium had sewage backups in the locker room and main areas last year.  It's an ugly multi-purpose stadium and the fans are sparse.  Plus...hooligans.

14.  Houston (8 points)
       OWN (1) -- But for the disgrace of Jeffrey Loria goes Jim Crane, an equally detestable human being who has already not endeared himself to the fans.  He also seems to have wandered into a streetfight with the regional sports network, which is going to hamper the team's financial outputs to salary.
       COMP (2) -- I love what GM Jeff Luhnow has done and their farm is top of the line, but I don't see much of an existing base to build off of.  There doesn't appear to be a transformational McCutchen-type of player (maybe George Springer if you squint) and the farm is still 2-3 years from bringing up the waves of talent.  Plus, when it comes, you're still in with LAA, TEX, OAK, and maybe SEA.
       QOL (2) -- Houston is a sprawled out metropolis that seems hot, dusty, and full of ignorant oil-soaked Texans.  I can't think of any interesting feature about Houston that someone has every mentioned.
       STAD (3) -- Minute Maid is a quirky stadium that does have some charms.  If I'm a free agent hitter, it would be a paradise.  The fans have seemed supportive of the Astros when they were competent in the past, especially towards stars like Bagwell and Biggio.

13.  Tampa Bay (10 points)
       OWN (3) -- Stuart Sternberg and the front office are extremely competent people and well ahead of the curve.  The stadium situation, though, seems untenable, and the Rays are on shoestring budgets because of it.  They are constantly looking to flip players for prospects, short of Evan Longoria who is going to be "their guy".
       COMP (4) -- Andrew Friedman is the best GM in the game and masterfully flips his stars for new potential stars.  Their own homegrown farm has really dried up, due to drafting later and missing badly on some picks.
       QOL (2) -- My friend Asian Rob lived in Tampa for many years and I would visit him a few times.  Tampa, like most of Florida, is kind of skeevy (cue 5'ish comment).  However, being on the Bay is nice and Ybor City (although dangerous) is pretty cool.  I just wouldn't want to live here and raise a family.
       STAD (1) -- The Trop is, perhaps, the worst park in baseball.  It has no charm and the fans don't show up because it is in an inconvenient location.

12.  Baltimore (13 points - tie)
       OWN (2) -- I have a lot of family in Baltimore.  It's kind of my second city, so when I say that Peter Angelos is despised by the city, it's true.  He's difficult to deal with and is a notorious micro-manager.  They should be spending more than they do on payroll.
      COMP (3) -- Baltimore has a solid team and some promising young arms on the farm (Bundy, Gausman), but they're in a tough division.  Their farm after Bundy/Gausman thins out quickly.  They always seem to be 1-2 players short.
       QOL (3) -- There's a reason people said 'The Wire' was so realistic.  Downtown Baltimore is sketchy and filled with drug-soaked areas.  There's some cool areas and some areas that are being redeveloped that wouldn't be bad to live in, though.  Surprisingly, aside from Little Italy, the food scene isn't that dynamic and the arts are just middle of the road.  But...they got crabs!
       STAD (5) -- Camden Yards is where all the neo-retro stadiums started from and it still holds up.  That warehouse backdrop is pretty sweet.

11.  Chicago (13 points - tie)
       OWN (3) -- Jerry Reinsdorf has always struck me as being a rich cheapskate with the Sox, even though he plowed a lot of money into them in recent years.  I don't know...just a bad vibe off of him.
       COMP (3) -- The Sox are in the midst of a rebuild.  They made some good bridge moves this past offseason and have the makings of a decent team, but the farm lacks impact talent at the moment (they have the #2 pick in the 2014 draft).
       QOL (5) -- Much like with the Cubs in the NL piece (who were my #1 choice), the City of Chicago has everything I would want in a city if I were living downtown.
       STAD (2) -- Built in the same era as Camden, US Cellular Field went the bland route over the neo-retro.  Big mistake.  It is a soulless ball park and the fans are rough around the edges on the South Side.  The tiebreaker with BAL is that I would rather live in Chicago than Baltimore.

10.  Detroit (14 points - tie)
       OWN (5) -- Mike Illitch, he of the world's worst toupee, is bound and determined to get a World Series championship to DET, even if he has to spend every dime of his kids' inheritances.  That's pretty much what you want from an owner.
       COMP (4) -- Because of their large-market payroll in a mid-market, they'll be right there for the next 5 years.  GM Dave Dombrowski is historically very good at his job on the major league trade and free agency level, which makes up for their terrible farm system.
       QOL (1) -- Detroit is a bankrupt, burned-out husk of what used to be a great American city.  You could not pay me money to live in downtown Detroit, no matter how cool some hipsters are trying to make it by renovating old buildings.  Anthony Bourdain's recent Parts Unknown episode to Detroit was one hour of solid "ruin porn".
       STAD (4) -- Comerica seems like a pretty cool stadium.  The fans really support the Olde English D, too, which is great.

9.   Los Angeles (14 points - tie)
      OWN (5) -- Arte Moreno dumps a ton of money into this team and is relentless in trying to get a winner.  He may meddle a little too much, but he's persistent in funding the team.
      COMP (3) -- The Angels have a huge payroll and the best player in baseball, but also have some real bloated contracts and albatrosses.  Their farm system is scorched-earth bleak.  There is nothing...and I mean nothing...on the farm.
      QOL (3) -- I gave LA a "2" in the Dodgers writeup, but technically the Angels are in Anaheim, which is a little more family-friendly (Disney!), so it gets a bonus point.
      STAD (3) -- Angels Stadium seems very cromulent, especially with those rocks behind the outfield wall.

8.   New York (14 points - tie)
      OWN (4) -- Obviously, aside from Plan 189 going into 2014, the Yankees will spend whatever needs to be spent to try and bring home a winner.  I docked them a point because I couldn't stomach working for the Steinbrenners.
      COMP (3) -- The Yanks have some really bloated contracts and their farm is awful.  They'll be on the edges of the race, especially after 2014's potentially bleak season, but I'm not sure if they will be on the short list of WS Winners in the next 5 years.
      QOL (3) -- Same as the writeup on NY from the NL side of things.  It's just too big of a city for me, even with all the amenities.
      STAD (4) -- It's a gorgeous and opulent stadium, but it seems too rich for my blood.  All of the fans have been squeezed out by the ridiculous ticket prices, in favor of corporate types.

7.   Kansas City (14 points - tie)
      OWN (3) -- David Glass has billionaire money, but has kept KC on the small-market budget for years.  He's opened up a little lately, but like the Pirates I don't think they will retain top talent consistently.
      COMP (3) -- They have a nice core on the team and some intriguing pieces on the farm.  I think they'll be a challenge to DET in the AL Central this year, but MIN is coming on strong, too.  I don't like their GM, at all.
      QOL (4) -- Kansas City seems hearty.  Midwestern.  Solid.  Boring.  Should be a '3', but they get a bonus point for all of the mouth watering BBQ (Arthur Bryant's et al).
      STAD (4) -- Kaufmann Stadium is a cool stadium that is becoming an "old" stadium, just because everyone is getting a new stadium.  I've always like the waterfall feature.  It comes down to the way of life (and BBQ) for this 4-way tiebreaker.

6.   Cleveland (15 points - tie)
      OWN (4) -- The Dolans have been kind of cheap in the past, but they pre-spent on their new local TV contract last year and brought in some talent.  They aren't going to go hog wild to retain or attract new talent, but I think things turned the corner.
      COMP (3) -- DET is the better team and will be for a while, but CLE is very solid.  Their farm, aside from SS Francisco Lindor, is not good at all.
      QOL (3) -- Cleveland gets a bad rap from Pittsburghers, but it's a pretty cool spot, with a growing food scene.  The downtown itself is riddled with potholes and seems like they have no money, but I could live in the immediate area (especially across the river in Ohio City).  The winters here are brutal, though.
       STAD (5) -- I love Progressive Field.  Good setting, easy access.  But where are the fans?  I know CLE loves their sports.

5.   Minnesota (15 points - tie)
      OWN (4) -- The Pohlad sons are not miserly like their deceased father.  They have spent big money to retain talent in recent years, including on franchise icon Joe Mauer.  They addressed pitching this offseason with some decent money, too.
      COMP (4) -- They are presently bad, but their extremely loaded farm system will start in 2015 to supply high-end talent like Buxton, Sano, and Meyer.  They can easily be back on top in 2016.
      QOL (3) -- I'm sure Minneapolis is very wholesome and good for raising a family, but those winters must be a fit-throwing hell ride.
      STAD (4) -- Target Field is kind of on our short list of places to go, as DB~ (for whatever reason) has mentioned how cool it looks.  Their fans are patient and loyal, too.

4.   Toronto (15 points - tie)
      OWN (4) -- The Rogers Media group seems to treat the Jays like a tax write-off at times, but they are willing to make a stab at winning with an increased payroll in recent years.
      COMP (3) -- Alex Anthopoulos may be a madman or a genius, depending on the day, but he's always looking to improve.  Like BAL, they're stuck in a tough division with BOS and NYY spending and TB in terms of talent and GM genius.
      QOL (5) -- The Chicago of Canada.  I love Toronto and am willing to overlook how nasty the winters are.  I would immediately get season tickets for the Leafs and a heavy parka and deal with it.
      STAD (3) -- Rogers Centre is a bland dome, but it's an offensive environment and the fans are Canadian-polite and passionate.

3.   Seattle (15 points - tie)
      OWN (3) -- There's the Nintendo corporation behind this team, ready to put money in to get Robinson Cano and retain Felix Hernandez, if needed.  But man, they're upper management seems to be rough to deal with and despised by the fans.
      COMP (3) -- There's some present talent here and the farm is supplying a steady flow for the next few years, but TEX and OAK (plus a lurking LAA) will make this a tough road.  They may be on the fringe of the playoffs once, maybe twice, in the next 5 years.
      QOL (4) -- I don't drink coffee, but I suppose I would have to start.  Outdoorsy, great food scene, lot of culture.  I've never been, but I really want to go.  Docked a point for the rain and clouds.
      STAD (5) -- DB~ has been here and raved about it.  The retractable roof is 'eh', but I'm overlooking it here.  The tiebreaker is that SEA combines a good city with an up-and-coming team.

2.   Texas (17 points)
      OWN (5) -- The Rangers have plowed ample amounts of money into the team.
      COMP (5) -- Jon Daniels is a great, great GM.  They have a steady farm system and the best on-paper team in the division for the foreseeable future.
      QOL (3) -- I spent a month in Dallas one weekend.  By the end, I was thinking JFK got off easy.  Maybe it would be better if I went back.  It's way better than Houston, for sure.
      STAD (4) -- It's a clean and fancy stadium, but it was some fashion when I was there.  Too much of a bandbox, maybe, but the fans were very passionate.

1.   Boston (19 points) 
      OWN (5) -- John Henry and company plow unbelievable money into the payroll.  If they want a FA, they'll be in the mix.
      COMP (5) -- Great GM, team is coming off a WS win, fantastic farm system.  This is the perfect storm of present and future talent.
      QOL (4) -- Boston has a ton of things to do, recreationally and culturally.  Food there is great.  I just felt like it was a little too insular, too 'you're not from here' for my taste when I was there.
      STAD (5) -- Next to Wrigley, this is THE place as a baseball fan.  I imagine it would be very cool as a player with those fans, too.

19 out of 20, Boston.  Just nobody tell my Boston Red Sox-loving sister-in-law they scored this high.


  1. You really need to go to Seattle. You'd like it.

    My bride and I want to move there in a bad, bad way.

    1. Yeah, I actually want to go to Vancouver even more, so maybe a 2-fer trip.

  2. Sorry...I have to do it