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The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Giants, A’s are going in different directions

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Spectators watch a Braves game at Truist Park in Atlanta. The MLB season opens today.

This 2023-2024 MLB offseason was one of the busiest and most entertaining yet.
With mega star Shohei Ohtani signing with the already powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers, it looked like it was going to be another long season for Bay Area fans.
But some late free agent signing by the Giants (not to mention Ohtani’s recent scandal involving his interpreter’s $4.5 million gambling debt) has given San Franciscans more hope than the deflated Oakland fans on the other side of the bay.
Looking at Bay Area baseball, the two teams are headed in vastly different directions.
The Giants have had a few very disappointing seasons since their historic miracle season in 2021 with 107 wins, so there was a demand for the front office to make much needed moves.
They added Jordan Hicks and Robbie Ray, who will come back in the second half of the season for rotational help.
But on March 18, the Giants finally landed their big free agent fish by signing two time Cy Young award winner Blake Snell to create a fantastic duo with Logan Webb.
Snell signed a two-year, $62 million contract with and opt out after the first year. Snell is known as a four-pitch guy with an electric fastball in the upper 90’s, a wipeout slider, a great changeup and a curveball to add.
The only gripes Giants fans can have on the Snell signing, is that he’s never pitched more than 180 innings in a season and walks almost five batters per nine innings. Throwing more than 200 innings in a season is a true sign of an ace, and Snell is known for not being able to go deep into games.
Another need for the Giants was power bats, so they added slugger DH Jorge Soler, who made the All-Star team last year and hit 36 home runs for the Marlins in a pitcher friendly Loan Depot park.
During his time with the Royals, Soler hit 48 home runs in 2019, which is impressive in a cavernous Kauffman stadium. Although Oracle is not a sluggers dream, with the wind and deep dimensions, Soler should make the park look small and hit more than 30 home runs for the Giants, which will be a first since Barry Bonds’ days.
The Giants also added outfielder Jung Hoo Lee, known as the “grandson of the wind” who will be patrolling center field. Lee was the 2022 KBO MVP and a five time gold glove winner, who has shown great flashes in spring training.
The last piece to the Giants offseason puzzle was the addition of third baseman Matt Chapman, a two time platinum glove winner, who should provide excellent defense at the hot corner and hopefully add more thump in the lineup. Chapman has had some recent struggles, hitting only 17 home runs last season, but he usually hovers around the 30 home run mark.
All these additions might not be nearly enough as the obvious point to address is the Dodgers, who are heavy world series favorites. Adding Ohtani and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to an already stacked team makes this potentially one of the greatest squads in recent history.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the NL pennant last season, create another stiff challenge for the Giants.
Arizona added starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a team that features Zac Gallen and Merril Kelly. Former Giants DH Joc Pederson joins the productive lineup with Ketel Marte and Corbin Carroll.
On the other side of the bay, the Oakland A’s have one foot out the door as they prepare to move to Las Vegas in a few years. Because of this, and a roster resembling a triple A team, the A’s are in one of the worst situations in baseball history.
The A’s have lost so many stars over the years because of their cheap ownership trying to play “Moneyball”. One bright spot for the A’s is second baseman Zack Gelof, who hit .267, with 14 home runs in only 69 games last season. He looks like a pure hitter, but the sad reality is he will probably end up being traded.
Adding to an already bad situation is the fact that the AL West is very top heavy with the powerhouse Texas Rangers and Houston Astros winning the last two world series titles.
The defending champions are looking to make another run with the same core plus Hall of Famer Jacob deGrom, who is coming back into the fold after being injured for most of last season.
From top to bottom, the Rangers are stacked with Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, and future stars Evan Carter and Josh Jung.
With that type of lineup and a dominant rotation headlined by two Hall of Famers, expect Texas to take the division from the Astros this year.
The Astros lost both the ALCS last year and Hall of Fame manager Dusty Baker in the offseason. But, they still have Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker. This core and rotation led by Framber Valdez will dominate. The Mariners are up and coming and have guys that can make it happen. Center Fielder Julio Rodriguez is looking like Ken Griffey Jr. reincarnated. Their rotation is elite with Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert.

Here’s how the rest of MLB divisions should shake out this year.

AL East

The AL East is one of if not the most competitive divisions in baseball from top to bottom. In the past six seasons, four teams have won the division title. The two powerhouses at the top of this division this year are the Yankees and the Orioles.

The Yankees just added superstar outfielder Juan Soto, who should thrive in the Bronx, and former Red Sox rival outfielder Alex Verdugo, who will be trying to help them try to make it past the AL Championship Game,  after dropping it three in the past seven years. Former Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole was expected to be a  workhorse again, but he’s out until at least late May with an elbow injury. 

The Orioles made some noise in the offseason too by trading for 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, and they still have young guys like generational catching talent Adley Rutschman and breakout shortstop Gunnar Henderson. There’s more to be excited about with the top prospect in baseball Jackson Holliday on the rise and just got called up.  .All of this should ending a second straight AL East title for the Orioles

The Blue Jays are bound to have another great season behind a powerful lineup led by slugging first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is looking to bounce back from a down year and return to his 2021 form where he finished second in MVP voting. Shortstop Bo Bichette is a hit machine and keeps looking better and better each year, but he still needs his offense to improve. The Jays also have one of the best rotations in the league headlined by Kevin Gausman. But the Blue Jays don’t seem to have all the pieces yet to go deep in the playoffs.

The Rays have been ballin’ on a budget for a long time, but this season they could regress because they traded their ace Tyler Glasnow to the Dodgers, and their young shortstop Wander Franco, who was looking like a perennial All Star for years to come, has gotten in some legal trouble and will not be playing this season.

The Red Sox are in shambles because of their poor management and their only guy left from that world series winning team is Rafael Devers, who is still a franchise cornerstone. Triston Casas is an absolute stud and is going to be one of the best first baseman in the game going forward.

AL Central

The AL Central is one of the weaker divisions in the league, but these teams have things to look forward to in the future. The White Sox used to be one of the brighter, young teams in the league but the wheels are starting to fall off and this team has some turmoil on and off the field. Recently, the White Sox also traded away their ace Dylan Cease to the San Diego Padres.

The Guardians have been consistently average for a long time, but they have some talent. Third baseman Jose Ramirez is one of the most valuable players in the league and when he gets hot, he puts the team on his back. Out of the pen they have a lights out closer with Emmanuel Clase, so if they get a lead they most likely won’t give it up. Like the White Sox, the team were involved in multiple conversations to trade their top pitcher 2020 Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, who is undergoing Tommy John surgery and is now out for the season

The Tigers are extremely underwhelming and they have been in a lengthy rebuilding process with no end in sight. Their only bright spot is first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick in the 2020 draft,who should have a great year and hit more than 30 home runs. Another young guy the Tigers have is 23 year old outfielder Riley Greene, who will provide some help in the lineup for Torkelson. 

 The Twins were last year’s division title winner, but  I don’t know how this team gets it done. They have some solid names like Royce Lewis,Max Kepler, and Byron Buxton, who is amazing when healthy. Besides those guys, their lineup doesn’t really pack a punch. Their ace Pablo Lopez is very dependable and is shaping out to be another top pitcher this year, and closing games for them is the terrifying Jhoan Duran, who shocked the league last year throwing his electric fastball averaging at 102 MPH and the most unique splitter we have ever seen averaging at 98. 

Finally ,who I have winning the division as a breakout team is the Royals. They have some great young names like Cole Ragans, Bobby Witt Jr., and Mj Melendez to pair with  some older veterans, such as Salvador Perez and Hunter Renfroe,who should be some help This division is up for grabs for everyone, but the Royals should take it.

NL East

In the past 10 years, this division has been a battle between the Phillies and the Braves, and this year will be more of the same. The Phillies just have a certain magic to them. They usually start the season slowly, then really catch fire. Philadelphia is one of the most electric environments in sports and that adds to their magic. Bryce Harper and Trea Turner are a great duo and a perfect fit for Philly. With a rotation consisting of Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler and Ranger Suarez they are a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. 

The Mets are a weird team in the sense that they are teetering on the edge of being a deep playoff threat and missing the postseason entirely. They have slugger Pete Alonso, who’s probably going to hit more than 40 home runs this year, and added outfielder Harrison Bader. Their rotation is depleted, with Kodai Senga being their guy who will be their only reliable starter. 

The Marlins are a very middle of the pack team led by the young flashy transitioned second baseman turned outfielder Jazz Chisholm. Their bullpen is solid and they have starters Eury Perez, Sandy Alcantara and Jesus Luzardo, who is a rumored trade target. They can make a run in the future if they build around Chisholm. 

The Nationals are laughably bad, but they have James Wood coming through their system who hits the ball very, very hard and will be exciting to watch going forward. Pitcher Josiah Gray, who the Nats received in the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, deal showed some promise making last year’s All-Star Game.

NL Central

The NL Central has always been one of those divisions that are always up for grabs. In the past four years, three different teams have won the division. The Cardinals are becoming somewhat of a retirement home, signing longtime San Francisco Giant Brandon Crawford, Cardinals legend Matt Carpenter, three-time All Star Sonny Gray, another Cardinal legend Lance Lynn, and former All Star Kyle Gibson. Between all these players, the Cards have an average age of 36 years old. Their two stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are getting older and I don’t think this team is going anywhere.

 The Reds and the Pirates are two teams with bright young stars. Elly De La Cruz and Oneil Cruz look like almost identical five-tool players, and this will be a rivalry to watch for years to come. The Pirates also have Temarr Johnson, who is on the rise. Don’t forget about Paul Skenes, one of the most dominant college pitchers ever at LSU who was drafted first overall last year and will definitely be on the big league roster at some point.

 The Brewers lost ace Corbin Burnes in a trade to the Orioles,  and longtime manager Craig Counsell to the rival Cubs. Shortstop Willy Adames will probably also be traded, so Milwaukee is trending toward a rebuild.

The Cubs re-signed their guy Cody Bellinger to a three year $80 million deal and they are looking to do damage. Seiya Suzuki and young Christopher Morel will help Bellinger, while their newfound ace Justin Steele will keep them in games. I have Chicago taking the division.

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About the Contributor
Carson Pfotenhauer
Carson Pfotenhauer, Sports Editor
Carson Pfotenhauer is a junior at Cal High, and this is his first year being an editor. He likes to watch the 49ers and Giants on TV and to learn the ins and outs of both teams. In his free time he likes to hang out with friends or go for runs.

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