MLB 2009 Division-by-Division Preview, Pt. 3: AL West

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MLB 2009 Division-by-Division Preview, Pt. 3: AL West

American League West Division 2009 Breakdown 
#3 of 7

1. Los Angeles Angels
Key Addition(s): Brian Fuentes and Bobby Abreu 
Key Loss(s): Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Jon Garland  
Off-Season Grade: B- 
 
Projected Lineup
Chone Figgins 3B 
Howie Kendrick 2B 
Bobby Abreu LF 
Vladimir Guerrero RF 
Torii Hunter CF 
Juan Rivera DH
Kendry Morales 1B 
Mike Napoli C 
Erick Aybar SS 

Key Backups: Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits 
 

Top Pitchers
SP: John Lackey 
SP: Ervin Santana 
SP: Jared Weaver

RP: Darren Oliver 
SU: Scot Shields 
CL: Brian Fuentes

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: Nick Adenhart, P

Notes

This has been a terrible off-season for the Angels. Expected to resign either Francisco Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira and ended up resigning neither. Los Angeles did make up for the absence of K-Rod, when they won the Brian Fuentes sweepstakes, but a big hole will need to be filled by second year player, Kendry Morales at first base. 

Just like always, the Halo’s have a solid lineup. With speed at the top with Figgins and power in the middle with Guerrero this team could put up big offensive numbers again. There will be two position battles to watch going into Spring Training, Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli behind the dish and Erick Aybar versus Maicer Izturis at shortstop. Either players in those battles could easily be in the Opening Day lineup. 

A loss of Jon Garland will sting for awhile, making Joe Saunders and maybe even, Nick Adenhart step up with big seasons. My guess is Ervin Santana won’t be as solid as last season’s 16-7 record, so Lackey may need 20+ wins to get this team to the play-offs.

 
2. Oakland Athletics 
Key Addition(s):
Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi 
Key Loss(s): Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez 
Off-Season Grade: B+ 
 
Projected Lineup: 
Rajai Davis CF 
Mark Ellis 2B 
Matt Holliday LF 
Jason Giambi DH 
Jack Cust RF 
Eric Chavez 3B 
Daric Barton 1B 
Bobby Crosby SS 
Kurt Suzuki C 

Key Backups: Mark Sweeney and Cliff Pennington 
 
Top Pitchers
SP: Justin Duchscherer 
SP: Sean Gallagher 
SP: Gio Gonzalez

RP: Joey Devine 
SU: Santiago Casilla 
CL: Brad Ziegler 


Young Player to Keep an Eye On:
Javier Herrara, OF

Notes

2nd place? You may be asking yourself. This team upgraded big time over the winter to but them in a good spot to contend with the Angels. The A’s traded Huston Street and others to receive slugger, Matt Holliday to add some pop to a relatively powerless lineup. Last season, Oakland traded big name pitchers away, but they may have made up for it over the past few months. 

A new lineup of power is upon us. Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Jack Cust and Eric Chavez can all hit the long ball on a daily basis. The former “get on base and reek havoc” type of offense may have seen it’s last game in Oakland. A great hitter, Mark Ellis, will most likely hit in the two hole and get on base for the big hitters. 

Justin Duchscherer must have a huge season for the A’s to finish here, in second place. A very young rotation will sit behind Justin, helped by cannon-armed, Gio Gonzalez. If Oakland can get a lead late in the game, Brad Ziegler will have to perform as if he did last season (1.06 ERA, 11 SV, 59.2 IP) to put some numbers in the win column. 

 

3. Texas Rangers 
Key Addition(s):
Derrick Turnbow and Omar Vizquel  
Key Loss(s): Gerald Laird and Wes Littleton 
Off-Season Grade: C-  
 
Projected Lineup: 
Ian Kinsler 2B 
Michael Young SS 
Josh Hamilton CF 
Chris Davis 1B 
Hank Blalock DH 
Jared Saltalamacchia C 
Nelson Cruz RF 
Marlon Byrd LF 
Travis Metcalf 3B 

Key Backups: Taylor Teagarden and David Murphy  
 
Top Pitchers
SP: Kevin Millwood 
SP: Vincente Padilla 
SP: Brandon McCarthy

RP: Derrick Turnbow 
SU: C.J. Wilson 
CL: Frank Francisco

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: Eric Hurley, P 


Notes

It wasn’t the off-season that Texas fans were looking for. The winter kicked off when the Rangers moved Gerald Laird to Detroit for a pitching prospect. This move was an easy one for the front office of Texas, as they have two very good young catchers on the roster now in Teagarden and Saltalamacchia. The Rangers added struggling reliever, Derrick Turnbow, to hopefully add depth in the ‘pen. 

The Rangers will sport a very talented lineup this upcoming season. Ian Kinsler, last year’s American League batting champ, will solidify a strong lineup, up and down. With sophomore first baseman, Chris Davis, most likely nailing down the clean up spot, this team will put up some big offensive numbers. Oh yeah, Josh Hamilton, that is all. 

Well, let’s just say Texas will win games this season on the offensive end of things. I can’t see this rotation and bullpen giving up less then 4-5 runs per game on average. The top two starters are anything but intimidating. Millwood, 35 and Padilla, 32 give the Rangers a very old combination, with not much heat to brush off any hitter. A bright spot for Texas is lefty reliever, C.J. Wilson who posted great save numbers last season, converting 24 of 28 save opportunities.

4. Seattle Mariners 
Key Addition(s):
Endy Chavez, David Aardsma and Franklin Gutierrez 
Key Loss(s): J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed and Aaron Heilman 
Off-Season Grade: C-  
 
Projected Lineup: 
Ichiro Suzuki RF 
Jose Lopez 2B 
Russell Branyan DH 
Adrian Beltre 3B 
Franklin Gutierrez CF 
Bryan LaHair 1B
Kenji Johjima C
Endy Chavez LF 
Yuniesky Betancourt SS 

Key Backups: Jeff Clement and Wlademir Balentin 
 

Top Pitchers: 
SP: Felix Hernandez 
SP: Eric Bedard 
SP: Carlos Silva

RP: Miguel Bautista 
SU: David Aardsma 
CL: Randy Messenger

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: Matt Tuiasopopo, 3B

Notes

The M’s gave up this off-season way more then they got back, as you can see in the “Key Additions” and “Key Losses” part of the break down. Seattle did receive up and coming star, Franklin Gutierrez, through all the moves.

It was a sad day though when the Mariners shipped all-star closer, J.J. Putz and a few players to the Mets, for Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman and a few players. But, nearly mere weeks after, the Mariners traded Heilman to the Cubs. 

Possibly the worst lineup in the entire Major Leagues. Other then perennial all-star Ichiro getting things started for Seattle, this team has nobody else to turn to in danger. Don’t get me wrong, Adrian Beltre has potential to put up big home run numbers, but it’s definitely doubtful that he’ll put up more then 25 homers this season. With last season’s departure of Richie Sexson, new comer, Bryan LaHair will have to step it up. 

A dynamic one-two punch of Felix “The King” Hernandez and Eric Bedard. You can bank on Felix getting at least 18 wins this season, but Bedard will need to stay healthy to get at least 15 victories. Other then those two starters, the rest of rotation could consist of Carlos Silva, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jarrod Washburn. A player to watch out for is Brandon Morrow, he could start, close or come for middle relief with 100 MPH fastball.

 

Next up…National League East Division

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