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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 AL West Preview

With the MLB's opening day just 5 days away, I will be posting at least one post per day leading up to Monday's Giants' opener. So stay locked here cause we're going to have plenty of info over the next five days. Here's our AL West Preview:

1st Place, Los Angeles Angels


Lineup:
SS Erick Aybar
RF Bobby Abreu
CF Torii Hunter
1B Kendry Morales
DH Hideki Matsui
LF Juan Rivera
2B Howie Kendrick
3B Brandon Wood
C Mike Napoli

Pitching:
RHP Jered Weaver
LHP Scott Kazmir
RHP Ervin Santana
LHP Joe Saunders
RHP Joel Pinero
SU: Fernando Rodney
CL: Brian Fuentes

The Angels lost thier offensive centerpiece over the winter when Vladimir Guerrero signed with Texas, but the emergence of Kendry Morales (.306/34/108) and Juan Rivera (.287/25/88) should make Vlad's absence easier to overcome. The tougher loss for them in my mind was Chone Figgins, who anchored their leadoff spot over the last 5 years and could play all over the diamond. Their starting rotation is very experienced, yet very young. Joel Pinero is the only one over 30 years of age, but everybody in the rotation has at least 3 seasons under their belt. If Kazmir and Santana both pitch up to their capabilities, the Angels should have one of the best rotations in the AL. They also added hard-throwing, late inning specialist Fernando Rodney, to help get the ball to Brian Fuentes, and possibly get a few save opportunities himself. I also like the way they set up defensively. That outfield of Abreu-Hunter-Rivera is about as solid as it gets.

2nd Place, Seattle Mariners

Lineup:
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Chone Figgins
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Milton Bradley
3B Jose Lopez
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
1B Casey Kotchman
SS Jack Wilson
C Rob Johnson

Pitching:
RHP Felix Hernandez
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Ian Snell
RHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
RHP Jason Vargas
LHP Erik Bedard*
SU: Mark Lowe
CL: David Aardsma

* Out until mid-May

The Mariners are a team very much on the up. I like their addition of Chone Figgins to the top of the lineup to team with Ichiro, and I'm expecting a bounce back year from Milton Bradley. The bottom of their lineup lacks punch, but they should be able to make up for that with their strong defense. Their rotation is kind of in shambles entering the year, as both Erik Bedard and Cliff Lee will start the year on the DL, leaving them with just 3 experienced starters to begin the year with. Their bullpen is a bit of a question mark, and their closer has struggled this spring, but Aardsma is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.52 era and saved 38 ballgames. Again though, the AL West is a division that is improving, and unless they get their pitching staff healthy and going, they could find themselves at the bottom of the division.

3rd Place, Oakland Athletics

Lineup:
CF Coco Crisp
LF Rajai Davis
C Kurt Suzuki
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
DH Jack Cust
1B Eric Chavez
RF Ryan Sweeney
2B Mark Ellis
SS Cliff Pennington

Pitching:
RHP Ben Sheets
LHP Brett Anderson
RHP Justin Duchscherer
LHP Dallas Braden
RHP Trevor Cahill
SU: Joey Devine
CL: Andrew Bailey

I really like the A's pitching staff, from top to bottom, from Ben Sheets and Brett Anderson all the way down to the guys closing the door in Joey Devine, Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey. Their lineup though, leaves a lot to be desired. Any team that has Kevin Kouzmanoff hitting in the cleanup spot definitely has some holes offensively. Still though, I think their offense is just good enough to support that strong pitching staff and keep the A's right around .500. Give them a couple of legit middle order hitters and they could realistically become division favorites. The key for the A's will be their players who missed all of or most of 2009 with injury. If Crisp, Sheets and Chavez all perform near their career norm, the A's will be even better than just a .500 ballclub.

4th Place, Texas Rangers

Lineup:
LF Julio Bourbon
3B Michael Young
2B Ian Kinsler
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Chris Davis
SS Elvis Andrus
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Pitching:
RHP Rich Harden
RHP Scott Feldman
LHP C.J. Wilson
RHP Matt Harrison
RHP Colby Lewis
SU: Neftali Feliz
CL: Frank Francisco

If you could take the Rangers lineup and team that with the A's pitching staff, you'd definitely have something. Like the A's pitching staff, the Ragners lineup is stocked with young hitters just entering their prime, who've been around for a little while. Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton are franchise cornerstones. Julio Bourbon, Chris Davis and Elvis Andrus are all young, potential all-star caliber players ready to take that next step. Oh yeah, they also have the top first base prospect in baseball (Justin Smoak) knocking on the door. However, their pitching staff, again, is a weakness. I like how they added Rich Harden, and Scott Feldman looks good, but after that they're extremely thin. They do have a couple real young, potential stud arms in Neftali Feliz (starting year in bullpen) and Derek Holland (AAA rotation) and those two can really help rebuild the Rangers staff.
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3 Comments:

  • At 2:52 PM, Blogger King of Cali said…

    Very nice break down of the AL West. I can't see any team taking the Angels off the top of the hill this year.

    King of Cali
    http://www.sfgiantsbaseball.net

     
  • At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, I thought Griffey retired.

    Thanks for these previews, It's getting me familiar with MLB , I'm not to keen on the AL teams so this is great!

     
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