Here’s how the American League West will play out this year:
1. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are in my opinion the biggest winners this offseason and as a result will move from 3rd to 1st in the division this year. The additions of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley completely change the make up of this team. The starting rotation has much more stability and depth featuring Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard. They also added more speed and another consistent bat to the line up in Chone Figgins. With a 1-2 punch of Ichiro Suzuki followed by Figgins, this team could get off to a very fast start in games. And don’t forget they have Ken Griffey Jr. and Eric Byrnes who both add some power to the lineup. This is a very solid team and I think they have all the pieces they need to win this divison.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem
This team has dominated this division for last few years. Power and pitching was their style but after they lost some key pieces to free agency this is a much different looking team. The addition of Hideki Matsui along with the bats of Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu will help make up for the absence of Vladimer Guerrero but I’m not sure they are going to have anyone on the team who can replace the speed that Chone Figgins gave them. Their rotation still has Jon Saunders, Scott Kazmir and the newly added Joel Pinero can give them some pitching depth. A solid bullpen is also something the Angels have. But I think they just lost too much in the offseason and will finish a close 2nd to the Mariners.
3. Texas Rangers
The boys from the Lone Star State have potential. They have a very solid line up after adding the power of Vladimir Guerrero in the offseason. A core lineup featuring young talent like Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young could have this club in contention. However this team has very little pitching. That is largely why I have them finishing third place. Rich Harden will be the leader of their rotation and their bullpen is also of concern. Other than Franklin Francisco I don’t have faith in any part of the bullpen. With little to no pitching, I don’t see the Rangers contending this year but they are heading in the right direction.
4. Oakland Athletics
This team did nothing in the offseason to get any better. The addition of Ben Sheets is a major risk as he is coming off a major injury and there is no promise that he will return to form. The lineup features veterans Eric Chavez, Jack Cust and Coco Crisp but not much else. This is a very young team as well. Inexperience, lack of proven talent and so many other questions plague this franchise and so expect them to be one of the worst in baseball and clearly the worst in this division.