Friday High Fives
Coming off a week where we showed we can shoot fish in a barrel just as well as the next saber site, we asked our writers to share their thoughts on which team will improve the most over the next five years. Now, you can probably chalk some improvement up to dead cat bounce, but there really is significant hope for many of these teams. Here are the top five vote-getters:
Paul Cousineau: Signs of the coming success are already apparent in the nation's capital. Among teams that are at rock-bottom right now (meaning that there's nowhere to go but up), Cleveland and Baltimore have the most young talent. That being said, their success is probably going to come closer to the end of the 5-year window indicated.
J-Doug: The Nationals are already better than most people think they are.
Michael: The Nationals are likely to end up with two "generational" talents in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper helping at the major league level in the next two years. Similarly, the hard work of Andy MacPhail to rebuild the Orioles' farm system should pay off in the next year or two.
Tommy: I like the front office additions of Pittsburgh and Cleveland. You can't go wrong with all those smart people.
Lar: The Nats are already showing that they can be a decent team with the personnel they have, and adding Strasburg and Harper over the next couple of years (to go along with Zimmerman) will be big.
Matt: Regarding the Mariners, I've backed off my all-in enthusiasm for Jack Z. I still think he's very good, I just think many of us (including me) got overly excited after the first group of moves (always the easiest part of being a new GM). That said, he's smart, he has a great record of player development in Milwaukee, the team has money, and given how bad they've been, they have plenty of room to grow.
Full list of results and author-by-author comments after the jump. As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
Jeff Z: Pirates, Rangers and Rays are all headed/heading in the right direction, its just that the Pirates are so far down they have the most run for improvement, followed by the Rangers and then the Rays.
Brewers, some good things I like being done there, but some I don't. Could really caught fire some year and win it all.
Royals - With Dayton in charge, they are destined to be bad. They should start improving once he is gone in 3 years.
Justin (jinaz): Pirates--I really like their front office. I think they're doing what they can, though they have a long way to go. They'll have trouble succeeding in the current market environment, but I think they're exploiting every option they can. The good news is that they don't have to win it all to be a massive improvement.... :) As long as ownership sticks with this front office, they have a great shot at improving significantly.
Reds--This is my team, but I'm pretty optimistic about the future. Even after Arroyo and Harang walk, they have a very good young rotation in place with Volquez, Cueto, Leake, Bailey, and Chapman, with some other good options if those guys falter. Votto is an All-Star, and Bruce is showing signs of living up to his potential. The only real source of concern is that most of the best talent in the young talent is either at or close to graduating. Not that I'm complaining--part of the reason is that Leake went straight to the majors this year, with good results so far.
Cubs--The Cubs have the third-highest opening day payroll this year at $149 M. Surely a team spending that much money is bound to at least be respectable, right? And they're out from under Alfonso Soriano's contract in 2015! (What?! He has a .434 wOBA?!)
J-Doug: The Mariners because we all though they'd be better this year, and they will be if they can start slapping the ball. The Royals because their farm system is excellent, and all they need is a change in management. The Cubs because they're not really this bad, and because I have hope for the new ownership. The Yankees, because Sky told me not to write the Yankees.
Michael: The Braves will lose Chipper Jones, but gain an improved Jason Heyward, which must be scary to the rest of the National League. The Reds are already competing for the NL Central, and not all of their puzzle pieces have contributed yet. Texas' top farm system should help keep the major league team in contention for years to come as well.
Dan: With Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, et al,. the Nats will be a force to be reckoned with. The Rangers have the young talent to control the AL West for years. The Reds are already outperforming expectations and should challenge for the division title most seasons. The Pirates finally seems to be turning the ship around, and hey, it can't get much worse. The Mets have way too much money to be this bad. Regression to the mean has to kick in sometime, right?
Adam: Baltimore tops the list because there's so far to come back from. With Wieters, Matusz, & Co. rolling in, they can't stay down too much longer. Can they? I always think Cleveland is going to be good. Why stop now? Pittsburgh? Man, the fans deserve something. I hope things start going right over there.
Daniel: I basically just went with the teams that are losing now that I think will have a strong chances of contending in the future, with the O's bumped up a space or two based on home town bias and acknowledgment of how far they are in a hole right now (so .500 would be a big improvement).
Lar: I threw the Twins in at #5 because, with Mauer and Morneau, they're always close to winning 95 games. They may be a top team in the AL Central, but that hasn't translated to a whole lot of wins. That could change in the next few years.
Matt Klaassen: Oakland has the right combination of a) having been pretty lousy recently, so there is plenty of "headroom"; b) plenty of young (and cost-controlled) talent in the minors and majors; and c) a good front office. The money situation will hold them back, but like I said, they don't have to do much to improve a lot. I thought they had a chance to contend in 2010, and so far they are doing so.
So, where do you agree? Where'd we go wrong?