The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had created a baseball empire in 2007, 2008, and then it came to a screeching halt in 2009. That's what people are going to be saying in a few years.
Who carried the Angels past the rest of the Al West in 2008? Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Garret Anderson ,and Jon Garland to name a few. Every one of those four aren't coming back. Vladamir Guerrero has no protection in the lineup, and the Angels want to sign him to a long term deal.
Brian Fuentes is a good closer but not close to what record setting K-Rod was. The only reason the Angels did that well in 2008 was because of who they were playing most of the time. The Mariners, A's, and Rangers were all in rebuilding mode, best team in baseball? Not the Angels. Torri Hunters numbers were down in 2008l the outfield is aging. The Angels have no decent candidate for first base.
The pitching staff is good but without run support or the defense Teixeira provided the numbers will not be anywhere near last season.
Just look at the Mariners rotation. Felix Hernandez is 22 and is already dominant. Only one pitcher had a better ERA and more strikeouts than him in the American League. Erik Bedard was the favorite for the Cy Young award in 2007 until he got injured. How many other teams have that good of a 1-2 combination? After the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs, Braves, and Diamondbacks the list stops.
Then they have top prospect Brandon Morrow, who was drafted before Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Just imagine if in 2009 he shows Seattle why they drafted him before Lincecum.
Ryan Rowland-Smith is probably the most under rated player in the major leagues. A 3.50 ERA as a starter and no one outside of Washington or Australia has heard of him? After 2009 they sure will. That is four players that are incredibly capable of having an ERA under 3.50.
The No. 5 spot is up for grabs with Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, and Garret Olson the main competitors.
As for the bullpen the Angels have Scott Shields but the Mariners have two of equal or greater value. The names are David Aardsma and Roy Corcoran. The Mariners still have Cesar Jimenez, Mark Lowe, Tyler Walker, and Miguel Batista to create one of the best bullpens in the league.
As for defense, can you think of a team with a better defensive outfield than the Seattle Mariners? I can't, Ichiro Suzuki, Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez are all known for their elite defense. They still have Adrian Beltre to put the Gold Glove favorite in a great defensive lineup.
The Mariners will have many big stories in 2009 but the biggest might just be Adrian Beltres return to 2004 form. Without any of Beltre's three injuries he played through last season he is back to MVP form, yes MVP form.
The Angels empire is going to be defeated down by a team led by a King and Cesar. Watch out, Angels, watch out.