MLB Preview: AL West
The Angels won 100 games last season. Second place went to the Texas Rangers who won 79. It looks like times are changing in the AL West, and we might actually have some competition in the division this season.
The Oakland A's made big moves this offseason, The Kid is back in Seattle, and Josh Hamilton will likely do big things again for the Rangers. Who has what it takes to win the AL West this year?
First Place: Oakland Athletics (92-70)
The A's made some moves this offseason to win now. By Adding Jason Giambi, Matt Holiday, Orlando Carbrera, and now what looks to be Nomar Garciapara, Oakland has what it takes to challenge the Angels in the West this year.
The Athletics dealt almost all of their experienced pitchers, but their offense will be what carries them back to another division title. Holiday is a leader, and I think he has a shot to compete for MVP this season.
And Bob Geren now has experience at the MLB level. Look out for the A's out west this year.
Second Place: LA Angels of Anaheim (88-74)
Losing Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira is going to be huge for the Angels. I think if K-Rod was still in Anaheim, the Angels could very likely win the division.
His replacement will be Brian Fuentes, who has been good through out his career. But he ain't no K-Rod.
Don't get me wrong, Anaheim looks good defensively in the outfield. However, I don't know how much longer Bobby Abreu will be playing everyday, and he could get moved to DH.
I like Oakland to win the division by four games. Maybe four games that Rodriguez would have saved.
Third Place: Texas Rangers (82-80)
I feel like the Texas Rangers are making steps each year to potentially over throw the A's or Angels in the West. Last year's 79-83 mark was good for second in the AL West, and the feel-good story of Josh Hamilton makes the Rangers future look bright.
Texas lost Milton Bradley to the Cubs, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. Bradley brought negative attention to the clubhouse, and although he was an all-star, I don't think he'll be missed too much.
It's time to focus on the future in Texas. One guy to keep an eye on is catcher Brandon Saltalamacchia.
Fourth Place: Seattle Mariners (80-82)
Ken Griffey Jr. is finally back in Seattle. Too bad he's too old to have an impact. The M's are in somewhat of a rebuilding phase right now, and Griffey won't be in that plan—he signed for one year and gets to ride off into the sunset in the city where his career started.
New GM, new skipper, and lots of new faces. J.J. Putz got dealt to the Mets, and in return, Seattle got Franklin Guttierez, who will be a great addition defensively.
After an absolutely horrendous 2008, Seattle will make strides in the right direction in 2009.
New manager Don Wakamatsu could have some ups and downs in his first year as a manager, but he could surprise us. Their success will depend heavily on pitching.
If Erik Bedard stays healthy and Felix Hernandez has a repeat of his 2007 season, I look for the Mariners to win 80 this year.