MLB: Carter's 2010 American League West Outlook and Predictions

David CarterCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Winning pitcher Ervin Santana #54 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by manager Mike Scioscia during the eight inning against Texas Rangers before the Angels  won the American League West title  at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels (Last Season: 97-65)

The Angels have lost key players over the offseason such as John Lackey, Chone Figgins, and Vladimir Guerrero.

These are players that have contributed so much over the years towards the Angels’ success. Because of this, many might think that due to these players departing, the Angels will not be nearly as good as they have been over the past eight years. But for some reason, I’m thinking the opposite.

This team just seems to do a great job at overcoming injuries, droughts, and even the death of a teammate. If there is any team in the majors that can maintain success, it’s the Los Angeles Angels.

They still have plenty of offensive power across the diamond.

Take the outfield for instance.

The Angels starting outfielders are projected to be Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, and Bobby Abreu who have all shown that they are capable of hitting at least 25 home runs in a season.

In the infield you have Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, and Kendry Morales who are all capable of getting at least 140 hits this year, and Brandon Wood who has hit well, especially for power, during his development and will get a chance to show what he can do on a full-time basis.

These guys might be young, but they sure got some talent and they have proved it.

So here’s how I see it:

If Erick Aybar can equal his expectations at the top spot in the lineup, and if guys like Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana can take care of the loss of John Lackey, this team should be fine and should be playing ball in October again.

Oakland Athletics (Last Season: 75-87)

Ever since the A’s made the ALCS four years ago, they haven’t really done much as far as success goes. I mean, let’s be honest. That ALCS roster had a great combination of veterans and youngsters that appeared, at the time, to have a bright future within Oakland.

I guess not.

Last season was a perfect example of the Athletics not showing much hard-hitting athleticism. They only hit 135 home runs last year.

They are getting younger with losses of veterans Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Crosby, and Orlando Cabrera.

The only thing the A’s did this offseason worth mentioning was signing Coco Crisp to a free agent deal in December.

Oakland is a long way from a finished product on the field. Most of their players aren’t stars and are too inexperienced. They’ve tried to bring in veteran players last year but the results of that weren’t so great. Therefore the team must return to molding its youth.

For at least another season, you Athletics’ fans will have to suffer from possibly another 85 to 90-loss season again.

With the Angels still pretty talented, the Rangers getting much better, and the key additions the Mariners have made, it looks like the Oakland Athletics will be the red headed step child of the AL West and could be treated that way in 2010.

Seattle Mariners (Last Season: 85-77)

The Seattle Mariners have done a great job at trying to get the necessary pieces to make a run at knocking off the Angels from the AL West throne.

This offseason was a great one for them. They signed former Angels speedster Chone Figgins, the feisty-but-good Milton Bradley, and a talented young Casey Kotchman. Oh, and they also traded for this guy named Cliff Lee who’s had a nice career so far. I’d say 90 wins and 900 strikeouts aren’t too bad.

One thing I can’t wait to see is how much this Mariners’ offense will improve. This team had the worst offense in the American League last year, scoring only 640 runs. I think the additions of Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins will help that number rise a little bit.

As far as pitching goes, I would say that the Mariners have the best 1-2 combination in their rotation. If I owned a team that was going up against those two in their first two games of a postseason series, I would be intimidated.

But will the Mariners make the postseason to begin with?

The Mariners are most likely not going to end the season 12 games behind the division leader at the end of the 2010 season. That number will definitely smaller. I like their lineup, but the M’s still seem to be one player short of knocking off the Angels for the division crown.

Texas Rangers (Last Season: 87-75)

The Rangers finally have the right pieces in place to compete for a division championship once again. Just no bad stretches and a small number of injuries, and the AL West crown could be coming to Arlington for the first time in 11 years.

Texas is coming off back-to-back second places in the AL West and their 87 wins were the most since 2004 when they won 89 games. The Rangers reached the 87-win mark for the only the seventh time since their expansion year in 1961.

The Rangers have learned that pitching can win games. Their pitching staff is talented and deep and enters 2010 with a bit more experience.

The addition of Rich Harden (50-29, 783 strikeouts in MLB career), and the quietly-surging Scott Feldman (17 wins, 113 strikeouts last season) at the top of the rotation, things on the pitching side seem to look rather nice.

Even though this will be something the Rangers will lean on once again in 2010, their offense will still need to rebound after one of the worst offensive years since they came to the Ballpark in Arlington back in 1994.

Carter’s 2010 AL West Predictions:

1. Los Angeles Angels

2. Texas Rangers

3. Seattle Mariners

4. Oakland Athletics

Carter’s AL West MVP Candidates:

1. Nelson Cruz (Rangers)

2. Chris Davis (Rangers)

3. Kendry Morales (Angels)

4. Ian Kinsler (Rangers)

5. Torii Hunter (Angels)

6. Jose Lopez (Mariners)

7. Jack Cust (Athletics)

8. Hideki Matsui (Angels)

9. Mike Napoli (Angels)

10. Brandon Wood (Angels)

Carter’s Top 10 AL West Pitchers:

1. Felix Hernandez (Mariners)

2. Rich Harden (Rangers)

3. Brett Anderson (Athletics)

4. Jered Weaver (Angels)

5. Cliff Lee (Mariners)

6. C.J. Wilson (Rangers)

7. Scott Kazmir (Angels)

8. Colby Lewis (Rangers)

9. Ervin Santana (Angels)

10. Trevor Cahill (Athletics)


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