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The Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels both made splashes this offseason by adding high profile players to their core, while their division mates accomplished quite the opposite.
The AL Champ Rangers basically replaced CJ Wilson, who is now on the Angels, with Yu Darvish, who they see as the potential ace of their staff.
Other than Darvish, the Rangers chose to keep their core intact, and do you blame them? Their offense is stellar, especially if Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler can stay healthy for the entire season.
To complement their offense, they have assembled one of the best bullpens in baseball to protect the leads they expect to have on a nightly basis. Neftali Feliz’s transition into the rotation is something to watch, but if it pans out the way he and Rangers’ brass hope it will, it could be the primary decision that pushes Texas to a World Series title, something that has eluded them the past two seasons.
The Angels won the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, giving them the offensive punch they needed to match their stellar pitching (where they also got better by adding CJ Wilson).
Following suit with the Rangers by keeping their core intact, the Angels do find themselves needing to make a decision with their outfield with super prospect Mike Trout presumably in the mix.
By adding Pujols and Wilson, the Angels have cemented themselves as major players in the American League. Their starting pitching is remarkable with the likes of Danny Haren, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and the aforementioned Wilson. And the offense will be able to pick them up on a bad night with Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter manning the middle of the lineup.
Maybe the biggest factor in making this prediction is the fact that the Mariners and Athletics seem to be taking steps backwards. Both teams finished with less than 74 wins in 2011, and each lost key pieces to their starting rotations while not improving enough anywhere else to make that up.
The Mariners sent Michael Pineda to the Yankees in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero, who, alone, can’t win games from the plate or from behind the plate for the Mariners. They have some young pieces on their way from the minors, but this won’t be the year that pans out.
The A’s traded Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals for four prospects, meaning they are content with mediocrity. The bullpen features some nice pieces, but the offense will be not be near good enough to get them a lead, even with Manny Ramirez on board.
Both the Rangers and Angels will have plenty of inter-divisional games to beat up on the Mariners and A’s to pad their win totals on their way to the century mark.
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