I think the biggest April takeaway is that the new core for beyond ‘23 looks stronger now than it did prior to the season.
Yoshida being very legitimate while adjusting to the league: Verdugo taking the next steps: Wong looking like a very viable two way catcher: Duran emerging….
I said before the season that while of course I’d like to win a ton of game, the underlying players under control are much more important than the difference between winning 82 or 85 games.
I agree entirely with this. Bravo.
For me the entire success / failure of this season (and 2024) hangs in terms of establishing and retaining a solid core to build upon for the 2025-2030 window. Devers was obviously the biggest factor here (extending him) but then the biggest things were how Yoshida looked (really good so far) and finding some more key middle of the line up pieces because we looked pretty devoid of them starting the season. I'm not going to in any way hold Story's injury against Bloom as the guy had played pretty much 160 games his entire career and looked for all the world like a core piece, and he might still be, but I don't think it would have been fair to expect Bloom to see his injury coming.
Verdugo looks like a he's made a leap (there was some talk of him wanting an extension in the off-season, and hopefully something can get done here). Casas has really struggled, but that's been mitigated by the emergence of Duran looking like a totally different player (albeit for two weeks), but the entire season has been about 4 weeks, so SSS applies across the board.
I remain exactly where I was on the pitching (it's not good, and there are too many questions marks to assume it'll be good) but the line up is looking more and more like something that could be sustainable with pieces of the long term core.
I'll also say this, the team appears to - if nothing else - have some huevos, which always make a team more fun to watch / root for, even if this is ancillary or difficult to quantify beyond "come from behind wins". Of which there will be a lot of opportunities for with this pitching staff, but they're doing it and that is a credit to the line up and make up of the team.
If the season continues on this trend and we get close to the deadline and are still a few games over .500 (even if out of the playoffs at the time AND 11th in terms of odds, as we appear to be now) AND it's because of the performance of pieces that could be here for the long term (ie Devers, Yoshida, Verdugo, Duran, Casas, Valdez, Bello, Whitlock) then I'd like to see a move made for landing (and extending) a legitimate long term starting pitcher to front the rotation, kind of like Seattle did last year with Castillo or Toronto did two years ago with Berrios (just to give an example of a situation that has worked our really well short term and not so well, but I like the idea).
No idea whom that is just yet, obviously, but I think there is a difference to investing in a team just outside the playoffs that is being led by a young core and a team that is just outside the playoffs, but because a lot of short term contracts giving you juuuuuuust enough.