— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) July 12, 2015
In a rivalry, both teams need to win for it to be considered a rivalry. The Astros won on Tuesday night… Check that box. So it’s a rivalry, now I’m able to write about it.
The Mariners are a good team who should be a dark-horse contender for a wildcard spot. The Astros are a bad team who should be a contender for the number-one overall pick.
The Astros are a transitional team, littered with former top prospects who have yet to make the jump to being established big leaguers but still show potential. Plus there are some veterans on short-term deals looking to reestablish their major league careers.
The Astros stink. There are no two ways around it.
Seattle is much too good for Houston. The Mariners aren’t going to become world-beaters; they aren’t going to be one of the Yankees teams of old. They’re going to be the Mariners. One of the upsides to that is that they will play the newest member of the AL, the aforementioned Houston Astros.
The Astros are really bad…(Wait didn’t I just write this? That’s how bad Houston is folks; they cause brief short-term memory loss. Take that to the bank!)
The Mariners are much more talented than Houston (Doing it again, sorry. Slaps forehead. I guess Houston is that horrible?)
What I’m really trying to say is that if Houston and Seattle play 20 times, it wouldn’t shock anyone, even Emerald City haters (yes, apparently some people hate the lovely city of Seattle, oh the horror) to see the M’s win 15-17 times out of 20 against the ‘Stros.
The term “rivalry” is being brought into play not just for the sake of making this piece hold water, but also because it will be a rivalry.
Houston is where Seattle was as recently as a few years ago. (Fun fact, both teams have Erik Bedard! Look out, if the Angels flame out and have a fire sale in the next three years, Erik Bedard will be there.) The Astros have their one solid piece to build around (Jose Altuve), and they’re trying to figure it all out. The Astros will definitely be better over the long term. They may serve to bolster the win column for Seattle nowadays, but in a few years with some shrewd moves, Houston will be back to relevancy.
(Another fun fact I forgot to mention, Ronny Cedeno was/is on the really-bad-now-good-later Mariners of a few years yonder and the current Astros. He might be on the ashes of an Angels’ team after that fire sale with Bedard.)
I guess the most comparable situation here in recent memory is that of the Blue Jays of the late 2000’s and the Orioles of that time period. One team is a good team stuck in a tough division, and the other team, while stuck in the same tough division, is horrendous.
Seattle will win most of its games with Houston, but give it some patience (a few years) and the Astros will be providing you with bang for your buck at the old Safeco Field.
Last year the M’s were left in the cold.
The A’s, Rangers and Angels all got to fight over the AL West crown, and while the Mariners had that opportunity, they didn’t exactly take it. This year will be different.
The first difference is that the Astros are part of the division. Houston isn’t going to be a doormat for the rest of the division, but they probably won’t factor in to the playoff race with the exception of playing spoiler for a week in the fall.
Which leaves the old guard as the likely contenders. I’m talking A’s, Rangers, Halos and M’s.
M’s. That’s right, Seattle is going to contend this year. Continue reading
The Oakland Athletics had an extremely successful season last year. Maybe you didn’t notice. In a discussion where the A’s were probably relegated to the kiddy table, while big-boys Texas and Anaheim were supposed to contend for the division, the A’s won it. LA of Anaheim missed the playoffs all together, and Texas went out in a pretty unceremonious way against Baltimore in the new-fangled one-game playoff.
The team’s supposed strengths going into the season were pitching and, well, pitching. Albeit in an enormously large ball park where a game of cricket can be played down the right field and left field foul territories.
Oakland’s strength ended up being not only pitching, but also a tendency to hit home runs. And lots of them. The A’s were one of the better teams at the art of the long ball (7th in baseball last year.)
Last year as well, the A’s got the bulk of their power from their first base/ corner outfield/DH spots from a mix-matched group of role players and journeymen.
(Sensing a theme?) Continue reading