AZSP: What are hopes for the 2013 season, both personally and more broadly?
Steve: Personally, my hope is not to screw it up! There's a very good chance you could have three playoff teams come out of this division in the National League. In the East, the Nationals with that division by 12-16 games, they win that going away. I don't believe in the Braves a ton; there's a lot of strikeouts in that line-up, the rotation is a lot thinner than people think. I see the Reds winning the Central going away; I know you can never count out the Cardinals, but too many guys are hurt. Other than Gallardo, I don't know who's going to pitch for the Brewers - I don't think they could tell you either!
I see the National League as somewhat top-heavy, and as a result of that, you could see three post-season teams from this division. It's going to be a fascinating race, those three teams, and these guys [the Rockies] can wear you out too, offensively. Holy crap, they can just bludgeon you sometimes. They can't pitch, but they're going to be a handful for pitchers. The most competitive race, by far, is the NL West, it's not even close. The Nationals could win 102 games; I like the Reds, though I think they're insane to move Chapman out of where he is. He's not just a closer, he's a weapon. There's a big difference.
AZSP: Who do you think will win the World Series? Will it be a National League team again, or will it be someone like the Angels?
Steve: The Angels, to me, are the most over-rated team in baseball. Where's the pitching? It's just not there. I get the line-up. It's sexy. But where's the pitching? And I don't understand what Texas did. You've got to do something. You lose Hamilton, you lose Napoli, you lost Michael Young. You brought in A.J. [Pierzynski]. Okay. Robbie Ross? Is that the answer? I like Robbie Ross, but not as a number three or four starter. I get why everybody loves the Angels, but look at the pitching. It's just not there.
The Tigers are going to win that division, even if Bruce Rondon is the closer. I don't get why,: maybe they figure "Our division's so lousy it won't matter." But you have the chance to be the best team in baseball, why you wouldn't shore up that closer position, why you throw it on a kid who, from day one of camp, is clearly not ready. That's been the consensus: he's going to be great, but he's just not there yet. Why you wouldn't bring in a veteran guy, just as insurance, I don't understand.
And the AL East, who knows? The Yankees, they look older every year, and now it's really becoming an issue. I think the pieces might go together okay in Toronto; Reyes, to me, plays with a lot of joy, a lot of fun, and that translates anywhere. A lot of those Marlins guys were already together anywhere. That might work: I don't know how R.A. Dickey's knuckler is going to do in that ballpark.
AZSP: I'm curious to see how those ex-Marlins do, now they're out of Miami and out from under Ozzie.
Steve: I think they got a pretty good group of young guys. I get it, they're going to be terrible, but soon they're going to be alright. [Christian] Yelich and those guys, [Adeiny] Hechavarria the shortstop: I like Rob Brantly, I know he struggles calling a game, but he's certainly a good offensive catcher. They've got good, young pieces there, and nobody's giving them credit for that. I know it's what they did with the taxes and everything, it was a massive fire-sale, they basically lied to the guys and said, "Yes, we're never going to trade you." But from a baseball standpoint, in terms of personnel, I don't think they did too badly at all, I really don't.
To me, the Diamondbacks, I look at this year's team and I see the A's last year, I see the Orioles last year. When I look at this group, that's what I see. I see pitching depth, veteran guys that will find a way to grind out at-bats and win games, and that's the model. The Giants too, work on the same kind of model. Interchangeable outfield parts, guys with center-field range, good defense up the middle and pitching depth. So I see those three teams when I look at this year's D-backs.
I can't wait to see Didi [Gregorius] play shortstop. Some of the pitchers have told me, that guy's the real deal, he's legit. What an athlete, holy cow. He's been here every day, because, as you know, he can't throw or hit right now. But he's been doing these hurdling workouts and yoga - he'll been in the hallway, and they'll be stretching him like a pretzel. All of a sudden, he's out in the yard, doing high hurdles, and he looks like an Olympic hurdler, he really does. What an athlete. Yesterday, he popped one out of here. It's going to be interesting to see where they are with him in June or July, if he's hitting enough to come up. But if he is, and he does, all of a sudden, this team's looking pretty sexy.
I look at the Dodgers. What's going to happen when, third week of June, they're .500, and Magic Johnson comes out and holds a news conference: "Okay, anything other than a World Series is unacceptable. We spent all this money, we have high expectations..." That's not going to work. They wouldn't extend Mattingly, they've got all of these pieces, some of the guys are hurt, Hanley's kinda pouting... I don't see it working, I just don't. Not this year anyway.
AZSP: One final question. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Steve: Star Wars. Just the first three though. The last three were absolute dreck. Anything that involves Jar Jar Binks... [Shakes head]