Continuing on with season previews, I’m going to tackle the AL West all in one post.
1.) LA Angels 97-65 (Swept Boston in ALDS; Lost ALCS to Yankees)
2.) Texas Rangers 87-75
3.) Seattle Mariners 85-77
4.) Oakland A’s 75-87
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Key Losses: John Lakey-P (free agent); Chone Figgins-2B (free agent); Vladamir Guerrero-OF/DH (free agent);
Key Additions: Hideki Matsui-DH (free agent);
The Angels have a great coach in Mike Scioscia and have been a traditional powerhouse for most of the last decade, but this season appears to be the first the team fails to make the postseason in quite some time. The team lost three “A-Quality” players and added one “B” player. Their lineup will score runs but mostly only to try to keep up with the runs their pitching staff will allow. Outside of Ace Jered Weaver, who has the potential to be a 20-game winner, and Brian Fuentes who was one of the top three closers in the game last season, the pitching staff is underwhelming.
The team let Ace John Lackey leave for the Red Sox, leadoff man Chone Figgins go to the Mariners and slugger Vladimir Guerrero go to the Rangers and made virtually no effort to replace them. Hideki Matsui is a great guy and a clutch hitter, but I still think I take Guerrero. Even if the Angels are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, they won’t make it past the divisional series.
2010 Prediction: 87-75, 3rd AL West
Key Additions: Chone Figgins-2B (free agent);Cliff Lee-P (trade); Milton Bradley-OF;
This team looks very strong, especially with the additions of Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins. I like the 1-2 combination of Lee and Felix Hernandez, who is probably the best pitcher in the league under 25 years old. The runner-up for the 2009 AL CY Young was 19-5 last season with an astonishing 2.49 ERA. Expect him to be better this year.
The rest of the rotation is sketchy at best, but the rest of the division isn’t that strong and if one other starter steps up, the Mariner’s might have what they need to make the postseason. I like the first five hitters in their lineup, Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey,Jr. Junior is looking stronger this spring after off-season knee surgery and this might well be his last season. Expect Ichiro to continue his dominance at the plate and in center and if Bradley can keep his positive attitude, he could have a phenomenal year at the plate.
2010 Prediction: 90-72, 2nd AL West
Key Losses: Hank Blalok-DH
Key Additions: Vladimir Guerrero-OF/DH (free agent); Rich Harden-P
This scrappy little team really seems to represent the underdog team really well. The Rangers haven’t made it to the postseason since ’99 and they have pretty much had a lock on the bottom of the division for most of that time. After a great start to the 2009 season, the team faltered down the homestretch amid a plague of injuries, allowing the Angels to capture the division.
Team president Nolan Ryan really appears to have done well with this team. He has gotten involved with the pitching, implementing some intriguing strategies that may well make this rotation exceed expectations. I also like the addition of Rich Harden to an already decent rotation.
Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, and Nelson Cruz are a great 2-5 in the opening day lineup and will have to be responsible for most of the runs generated. Ian Kinsler starts the season on the DL but could add a potent sixth hitter to that lineup. I think the Rangers have enough this season to take the division and challenge in the playoffs. As long as everyone stays healthy.
2010 Prediction: 91-71, 1st AL West
Key Additions: Ben Sheets-P (free agent/injury);
It’s hard for the whole moneyball concept to work when your players are constantly on the disabled list. The A’s have unfortunately gone from contenders year-in and year-out to divisional bottom feeders. Outside of Ben Sheets and Eric Chavez, I don’t really like anyone on the team.
I’m not saying this team won’t build back to greatness, in fact this may be a part of that path. Unfortunately, this team does not have the lineup or pitching to challenge in even this division.
2010 Prediction: 71-91, 4th AL West