Expectations: The Rangers ditch all of their Braves’ World Series tapes that they’ve studied from the past two years.
Key Addition: SP Yu Darvish (signed from Nippon of the Japanese League)
Key Loss: SP C.J. Wilson (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 93-69
Summary: The Rangers, coming off of their second straight World Series appearance, have one of the best lineups in baseball.
They had four players with 25+ HRs (Adrien Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton). Beltre, Hamilton and Michael Young all hit over .295 while Kinsler and Elvis Andrus added the speed (30 or more steals each).
They lost starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, their best pitcher, but hope that rookie phenomenon Yu Darvish (18-6, 1.44 ERA, 276 K in Japan) can fill that hole and complement a solid rotation led by Colby Lewis and Derek Holland. The team hopes that new closer Joe Nathan can be effective so that they can keep last year’s closer Neftali Perez back to a starter, where he hasn’t pitched since the minor leagues.
Expectations: Albert Pujols starts the season on the DL, which is later found out to mean “Disneyland.”
Key Addition: 1B Albert Pujols (signed from St. Louis)
Key Loss: RP Fernando Rodney (sighed with Tampa Bay)
Projected Record: 92-70
Summary: The Angels picked up the biggest free agent fish, signing Pujols to a 10-year contract. He’ll join a solid lineup that boasts Torii Hunter (.262, 23 HR, 82 RBI) and Vernon Wells (.218, 25 HR, 66 RBI). Mark Trumbo should give the Angels a power quad (29 HR last season).
They also added to their deep rotation (already with Jared Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana), picking up C.J. Wilson from the rival Rangers. Weaver finished second in Cy Young voting, cementing his place as one of baseball’s best young pitchers.
The race between Texas and LA is going to be incredibly exciting, creating a new rivalry to rival the Boston/New York battles in the east.
Expectations: Felix Hernandez wins his second Cy Young in three years, prompting people to ask, “Seattle still has a team?”
Key Addition: C Jesus Montero (acquired from NY Yankees)
Key Loss: SP Michael Pineda (traded to NY Yankees)
Projected Record: 75-87
Summary: Seattle was a decent team last season until a 17 game losing streak knocked them from contention. The worst offensive team in the league (.233 batting average, 556 runs) should get a boost from Jesus Montero, a full season from second baseman Dustin Ackley and the continued development of first baseman Justin Smoak.
Ichiro is still around, but failed to hit .300 or get 200 hits for the first time in his MLB career. Chone Figgins needs a bounceback year (.188) in order for Seattle to improve.
Despite trading Michael Pineda, they still have King Felix who should be in contention for the Cy Young award once again. The depth after Hernandez, though, is a huge question mark.
Expectations: Instead of watching live games, fans decide to watch the DVD of Moneyball in an attempt to relive the ‘glory’ days.
Key Addition: CF Yoenis Cespedes (signed from the Cuban League)
Key Loss: SP Trevor Cahill (traded to Arizona)
Projected Record: 73-89
Summary: Yoenis Cespedes was a big prize in the offseason as a Cuban defector. He’ll be a big name in a Oakland lineup who lacks star power. His addition will force Coco Crisp to move to left field.
The A’s pitching leaves something to be desired. Their whole rotation is full of unknowns or players with injury concerns. Grant Balfour gives the team a solid closer, but how often will he be needed?