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Sunday, March 20, 2011

GBB's AL West Preview

And, for Part 2 of our Double-Post, we move to the AL West Preview which looks to be one of the tighter divisions in the American League. There are 3 teams with a legit shot at winning the division, and it wouldn't surprise me to see 3 of the 4 teams finish with .500+ records.

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1st Place - Oakland Athletics

Lineup:
RF David DeJesus
CF Cocoa Crisp
1B Daric Barton
DH Hideki Matsui
LF Josh Willingham
C Kurt Suzuki
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
2B Mark Ellis
SS Cliff Pennington

Rotation/Closer:
RHP Trevor Cahill
LHP Brett Anderson
LHP Gio Gonzalez
LHP Dallas Braden
RHP Brandon McCarthy
CL: Andrew Bailey

I'm picking Oakland strictly because of their pitching and defense. They aren't going to out-slug many teams, but I think they have just enough offense to get by with that great pitching. The additions of Matsui, DeJesus and Willingham will help and I expect improvement out of Barton and Suzuki. They essentially have 2 aces in Cahill and Anderson, and two solid #2 candidates in Gonzalez and Braden. If Rich Harden can regain his health and contribute, they'll be that much better. Their bullpen is the best in the AL too, but there are some questions surrounding closer Andrew Bailey's health heading into the year. If he misses time though, they have 2-3 other solid options to fill the void.

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2nd Place - Los Angeles Angels

Lineup:
SS Eric Aybar
3B Maicer Izturis
DH Bob Abreu
1B Kendrys Morales
RF Torii Hunter
LF Vernon Wells
2B Howie Kendrick
C Jeff Mathis
CF Peter Bourjos

Rotation/Closer:
RHP Jered Weaver
RHP Dan Haren
RHP Ervin Santana
LHP Scott Kazmir
RHP Joel Pinero
CL: Fernando Rodney

The Angels have more thump than the A's and their front 3 in their rotation match up pretty well with Oakland's, but they're bullpen is really in shambles right now. Fernando Rodney is closer at the moment, but is very un-stable, and he's surrounded by question marks. Give them the A's bullpen and they'd be something, but I don't think they're a complete ballclub right now. Still, that said, they have more than enough talent to win the division, and if the A's suffer more injuries to their starting rotation, then the Angels would become the immediate favorites. Another race I see coming down to the season's final days.

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3rd Place - Texas Rangers

Lineup:
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Mitch Mooreland
C Mike Napoli
CF Julio Borbon

Rotation/Closer:
LHP C.J. Wilson
RHP Colby Lewis
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP Derek Holland
LHP Matt Harrison
CL: Neftali Feliz

The Rangers still have that powerful lineup that carried them to the World Series last fall, but they lost the heart and sole of their pitching staff in Cliff Lee and failed to replace him. They have the offense to keep up with anyone in the league, and have a few young bright arms in Feliz, Holland and Wilson. Their front-6 of their batting order all have All-Star capabilities. They also have the rehabilitating Brandon Webb aiming for a May-June return and if he comes back strong, that will definitely help, but that's a big "if". Again, there really isn't a lot separating these top-3 teams, and a lucky break for one team or an injury could really swing the momentum of this division.

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4th Place - Seattle Mariners

Lineup:
RF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Chone Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
1B Justin Smoak
2B Dustin Ackley
DH Jack Cust
C Miguel Olivo
CF Franklin Gutierrez
SS Jack Wilson

Rotation/Closer:
RHP Felix Hernandez
LHP Jason Vargas
RHP Doug Fister
LHP Erik Bedard
RHP Michael Pineda
CL: David Aardsma

The Mariners are the lone team in the division who truly have no shot at making a playoff run. They had one of the worst offenses in baseball in 2010 and didn't add anything to it this winter. They also sport a pitching staff with a bunch of question marks. Outside of Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas, their other 3 starters combined for 6 total wins in 2010. Their bullpen isn't much better. They're toying with the idea of using Brandon League in the closer spot, but I think David Aardsma is clearly the best option for them and could give them a nice trade chip come July if he's pitching well. Just look what he did over his last 10 outings and what he's done the last 2 years for Seattle, and they're questioning his ability as closer?
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3 Comments:

  • At 3:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to disagree with this one here. I say:

    1st Texas Rangers
    2nd LA Angels
    3rd Oakland A's
    4th Sea. Mariners

     
  • At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Noah said…

    D. Aardsma was one of those random Giants middle relievers that made an impression on me like 9-10 years ago. I remember he had one of those sick up-and-in fastballs at the armpits that froze hitters for strikeouts in the too few appearances he had with us. It was cool when I found he resurfaced a few years ago. Always nice to see ex-Giants get continued success. Him and Joe Nathan.

     
  • At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As ever, really informative as well as practical piece on Blogger: The Giants Baseball Blog- A San Francisco Giants Blog and Fan
    Website..
    Appreciate it...

    Also visit my site How to Golf

     

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