Well, where do I begin? The AL West is considered to be the weakest division in baseball among many baseball experts and fans alike. This division is the smallest in baseball, having only four teams (which is probably four to many), and only one team finished above .500 last year.
However, that team was the Texas Rangers, who represented the American League in the World Series last year. If that make you think this division is relevant, you’re wrong. This division still sucks and is probably worse than the NFC West.
Unfortunately the teams in this division actually have to play games, so here is what I think the standings will look like in October.
The Texas Rangers were the only team in the AL West to finish above .500 last season and rode AL MVP Josh Hamilton and then starting pitcher Cliff Lee all the way to the World Series. The Rangers were dismantled by the San Francisco Giants in five games in the World Series, and lost their ace Cliff Lee to our Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers offseason has also been filled with distractions because of trade rumors about an unhappy Michael Young who gets moved to a different position every day
However, the Rangers still have key pieces Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young (for now) and Nelson Cruz on their team. They also added third basemen Adrian Beltre this offseason who batted .321 last season and knocked in 102 RBI’s, so the offense should still be great. Despite losing Cliff Lee, starting pitcher C.J. Wilson and the rest of their staff should still be good enough to help this team survive in this feeble division. I expect these guys to take this division fairly easily, but not go very far in the postseason.
The Oakland Athletics ended last season with a record not below .500 for the first time in four years, finishing 81-81. Their pitching staff was the best last year, posting a league leading 3.47 ERA. Unfortunately for the A’s, you need to score runs to win baseball games. The A’s failed to do that, and that prevented them from having a serious shot at the playoffs.
This offseason the A’s addressed their weakness and got some bats to hopefully help out their stellar pitching staff. The A’s added Designated Hitter Hideki Matsui to the lineup to help give them some much needed RBI’s. Last year he batted .274 with 21 home runs and batted in 84 runs. Right Fielder David DeJesus also signed with the team over the winter. Last year he batted .318, but his season was cut short because of a thumb injury. With these offense additions, I will go out on a limb and say they will be over .500 this year. They are my “sleeper” team, if you will. With that said, I don’t think they will reach the wild card because I expect the AL East to send two teams to the playoffs.
Anaheim Angels (they play in Anaheim, screw that LA crap)
The Angels last year failed to win the AL West for the first time since 2006, finishing 80-82. After such a disappointing season, the Angels failed to get any big free agents, most notably losing out on the bidding war for Carl Crawford. In fact, the biggest move for these guys was trading for Vernon Wells, which if you consider the fact he STILL has $86 million on his contract, the move isn’t that great. Yes, he hit 31 homeruns last year, but frankly the Angels just settled on this guy because they failed to get Crawford.
With very little improvement, and the fact that the other teams in their division are getting better, (besides the Mariners, of course) I don’t expect this season to be any different for the Angels. This team has a lot of notable names, (Kazmir, Abreu, Haren, etc.) but just as the Mets know, names don’t win baseball games. They didn’t get substantially worse this offseason, but didn’t get better either, so I’ll call it a push and give them the same record as last year.
The Mariners had high hopes before last year. The team acquired ace Cliff Lee, and had future CY Young winner Felix Hernandez. They were going to win because of good pitching and good defense said a few “experts.”
But then the worst possible thing happened.
The season started.
The Mariners went on to reach 101 losses and make a little history. That’s right, the Mariners became the first team with a payroll over $100 million to reach 100 losses. Congrats guys. Luckily for us, these guys are only on national tv once every 165 years when the planets and moons line up, so most of us did not have to witness this train wreck they call a baseball team. This offense scored the fewest runs by any team since 1972, so GM Jack Zduriencik went out and made a big splash this off season and acquired DH Jack Crust. The “big splash” part was sarcasm.
Not much else to say here. My brain is telling me this team should lose every game this season, but I’m a generous guy, so I’ll go on record and say this team will defy all odds, and lose LESS than 100 games. Way to go boys.