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Thursday, March 20, 2008

American League West Preview

1st Place, Seattle Mariners
RF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
3B Adrian Beltre
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
CF Brad Wilkerson
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuneski Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez

LHP Erik Bedard
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Miguel Bautista
LHP Jarrod Washburn
RHP Carlos Silva
SU: Brandon Morrow
CL: J.J. Putz

I really like the Mariners coming into this year. Anytime you have a fifth starter that won 13 games the previous season (Silva), you know you got some pitching. They made the Erik Bedard deal thinking that this is their time to win and they should be right. Their bullpen features one of the best closers in the game in J.J. Putz. I don't think they can overtake the current Angels' squad to win the division, but playing in a weak AL West will only boost their wild card chances. I'm just not sold on their overall lineup yet. Richie Sexson has to be more of the 30 hr-100 rbi type than the 20-60 type he was last year. Also they would love to see Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro to revert back to their Montreal Expo form. Young outfielder Wladimer Balentin is waiting in the wings and he's shown this spring that he's ready to play. The M's should certainly be better than average and should win 95+ games in a weak division.

2nd Place, Los Angeles Angels

3B Chone Figgens
2B Howie Kendrick
CF Torii Hunter
RF Vladimer Guerrero
DH Garret Anderson
LF Gary Matthews Jr.
1B Casey Kotchman
C Mike Napolie
SS Erick Aybar

RHP John Lackey (out till May)
RHP Jared Weaver
RHP Kelvim Escobar (out till May)
RHP Jon Garland
RHP Ervin Santana
SU: Scott Shields
CL: Francisco Rodriguez

The Angels went out and added another outfielder to an already deep outfield this winter. Torri Hunter gives them a great defensive presence in the center and another quality, middle of the order bat. There lineup is the best it's been since the Vlad era began. Not only do they have a ton of power throughout the lineup, they also have 5 guys who could easily steal 20+ bases with Mike Scoscia pushing the buttons. I also like the mixture of youth and veterans they have going on in their everyday lineup. However, their pitching isn't sitting as pretty at the moment. Their top two starters, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, aren't expected back until mid-May at the earliest and it could be longer for Escobar. This is why they will finish second. A lot of weight will be put on the shoulders of the staff's youngsters to hold down the fort until the vets come back but I think they should be OK. Their bullpen is always solid and should be a strength again this season.

3rd Place, Texas Rangers
DH Frank Catalanotto
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Micahel Young
3B Hank Blalock
CF Josh Hamilton
RF Milton Bradely
LF Marlon Byrd
1B Ben Broussard
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

RHP Kevin Millwood
RHP Vicente Padilla
RHP Jason Jennings
LHP Kevin Gabbard
RHP Luis Mendoza
SU: Kazuo Fukumori
CL: C.J. Wilson

DL: RHP Brandon McCarthy

The Rangers look a lot different heading into this season than they did heading into last year. They have a young lineup that isn't built around power as much as in the past. They still need a leadoff hitter and another bat in the middle of their order, but I like some of the young pieces they have in place. Their pitching is always a big question mark and this year is no different. Their top 2 starters (Millwood and Padilla) had good yeas in '06 but then fell off badly in '07. Both will need to pitch up to their capability to even make this rotation halfway decent. If they don't rebound, Texas will be in bad shape. The Rangers are also banking on 25 year old Brandon McCarthy to be back in June to give their rotation another quality arm. Their bullpen is still un-settled but it looks like C.J. Wilson will start off closing with Kazuo Fukumori (who has surprised this spring) setting him up. Keep an eye out for Terrance Metcalf, their top hitting prospect who's bat may be needed right away. Overall though, too many things would have to go right for them to be in the mix come September.

4th Place, Oakland Athletics
RF Travis Buck
2B Mark Ellis
SS Bobby Crosby
DH Jack Cust/Mike Sweeney
3B Eric Chavez
1B Dan Johnson/Daric Barton
LF Emil Brown
CF Ryan Sweeney
C Kurt Suzuki

RHP Rich Harden
RHP Joe Blanton
RHP Chad Gaudin
RHP Justin Duchsherer
LHP Dana Eveland
SU: Alan Embree
CL: Huston Street

Billy Beane dealt away the A's best pitcher and best hitter this winter and it's going to show this season. Although the A's could be down this year, it wouldn't surprise me to see a few of those players they acquired start paying dividends right away. Their lineup will struggle to keep up with the teams in the American League. Out of their starting nine, only Mark Ellis and Jack Cust are coming off respectable seasons in '07. Outside of those 2, things could be changing daily in the Oakland lineup as injuries (Chavez, Crosby) and ineffectiveness have bitten the A's hard in recent years. Huston Street and Rich Harden, if healthy, give fans a glimmer of hope, but a 100 loss season looks like it could be on the horizon in Oakland.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hate how the Angels have been good ever since the World series in '02 and the Giants have gone down hill each year since.

  • At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    See here or here

  • At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Tyrone Briggs said…

    Beane should have plenty of time this year to write "LoserBall".


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