Thursday, March 5, 2009

Preview/Prediction: A.L. West

Much to the surprise of nobody, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the American League West division crown last year.

No other team finished above .500 in the division, as the Mariners were as big of a bust as the Detroit Tigers. Seattle finished 61-101, largely due to an overhyped starting rotation that ended up being beaten down with injuries.

The Angels had injuries of their own, losing John Lackey for a good portion of time and Kelvim Escobar for the full season, if not forever. Other starters picked up the slack and stepped up in a big way, proving their worth to the team.

The A's made some big moves in the offseason, but I still like the Angels.

1) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (93-69)

Brian Fuentes will replace K-Rod as the closer, Bobby Abreu will replace Garret Anderson in left field, and Kendry Morales will replace Mark Teixeira at first base.

How are the Angels still going to win the division? Pitching.

Jon Garland is no longer the Angels' problem, John Lackey is healthy (knock on wood), and Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, and Joe Saunders all have less pressure on them this season.

Vlad is a year older and has less help around him, but the Angels have the best manager in the American League sitting on their bench. Mike Scioscia knows how to make puzzle pieces fit.

2) Oakland Athletics (84-78)

The A's exchanged Frank Thomas for Jason Giambi, don't have any starting pitchers you would recognize, and as a matter of fact, don't have anybody in the bullpen you would know, either.

The pickup of Matt Holliday was huge, as was the signing of Orlando Cabrera. They went out and grabbed Nomar Garciaparra, which makes me wonder what the hell Billy Beane is thinking. It's the complete opposite of what he normally does, unless he plans on folding this year with plans of trading whoever has a decent first half to make the team younger again.

The A's usually tend to make it work. They'll have great chemistry and will have fun playing the game. Some of the starters may surprise us. Or they'll just have a terrible, terrible year, finishing in last place.

3) Texas Rangers (75-87)

Arlington natives should get ready for another year of bashing the hell out of the ball but not being able to keep your opponents from doing the same thing.

Nobody scored more runs than the Rangers last year (901), but nobody gave up more, either (967). Not much has changed this time around.

The lineup is still as scary as ever, featuring Michael Young, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, and Josh Hamilton, but it's tough to say whether any of these guys will have repeat performances after very successful 2008 campaigns.

The most interesting thing to look for will be to see how Young fares at third base while youngster Elvis Andrus hits the bigs.

The Rangers have a couple of starting pitchers who can hit double-digit wins, but their bullpen is really going to be interesting. Frank Francisco is the closer, with three ex-closers settting him up: Derrick Turnbow, C.J. Wilson, and Eddie Guardado.

The bullpen might actually be a huge strength for the Rangers. Look for them to retain big leads and maybe even pull off a few come-from-behind victories.

4) Seattle Mariners (71-91)

Something's gotta give soon for the Mariners. They can't stay healthy, and can't get solid returns on their investments.

Raul Ibanez hit the road, and Ken Griffey, Jr. came back into the lives of the Mariner-faithful. Which senior citizen will have a bigger year, Griffey or Giambi? I honestly think Giambi, though I'd love for the answer to be Griffey. He only deserves the best.

King Felix and Erik Bedard, when healthy, provide a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Everything else is a question mark when it comes to pitching, especially with J.J. Putz in the eastern time zone.

Next on tap: N.L. West


Eric said...

Spot on. Pretty humorous too.

Travis Miller said...

When was the last time I blogged twice in one day? Manny really lit a fire under my ass.

Eric said...

Tell me about it. When was the last time you blogged, period?