It’s Prediction time Once Again (Part Two)
Monday I discussed the American League East and Central. Today I’ll discuss the American League West.
Texas Rangers. The Rangers have been to the World Series the last two years and seem hungry to reach the Series for a third time and this year take home the trophy. Part owner Nolan Ryan has given the team a toughness which they were lacking before his appearance and expectations beyond what the team once had. Ryan managed to convince Adrian Beltre to produce in a year which wasn’t his walk year and convinced Michael Young to stay in Texas and produce. Texas took a big gamble in Beltre in a player who had proven that he only went through the motions. Texas took a big gamble that the signing of Beltre would not alienate their team leader Michael Young. Only time will tell if the right move was letting pitcher C.J. Wilson sign with the Los Angeles Angels and replacing him with Japanese star Yu Darvish. Japanese pitchers generally don’t do well long term in the majors. The Rangers seem confident that Darvish will reverse this trend. They had better be right. The bullpen seems overloaded with stoppers. The question of Neftali Feliz as a stopper or starter will have to be resolved. Texas has to hope for a healthy season from superstar Josh Hamilton and power hitting Nelson Cruz. But both players missed significant time the last two seasons and the Rangers still won their division.
Los Angeles Angels. Ned I say more than Albert Pujols? Sure, many out there believe that a ten year contract to a player in his thirties is not a financially sound idea but Angels owner Arte Moreno has said that every season Pujols is able to produce potential Triple Crown numbers is one he intends to enjoy to the fullest. Pujols has been accused by some of being nothing more than a mercenary who cares only about money. But which team wouldn’t want to have his numbers in their lineup? One benefit of the Pujols signing will be to push other Angel’s players to reach their potential. Scouts have already seen a new determination in Howie Kendrick and a healthy Kendry Morales (finally) would give manager Mike Scioscia one more potent bat. Number one starter Jered Weaver has proven to be the ace every team needs and stealing C.J. Wilson away from Texas can only improve the rotation. Those responsible for the worst trade in decades (acquiring Vernon wells) have been let go and only his bloated contract is keeping Wells in the majors. The only real threat to Texas in this division.
Oakland A’s. Ownership and GM Billy Beane have been focused on getting the team moved to San Jose. MLB have to do something about this untenable situation for the good of baseball in general. But all the while, Beane has quietly stockpiled a very impressive collection of prospects. He did trade most of his star players seemingly tearing down the team and slicing expenses in a move designed to keep fans away from Oakland and force the hand of Bud Selig. The pickup of Josh Reddick gives the A’s a potential star and Beane resigned Coco Crisp and outbid everyone else for Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes. One has to wonder about signing Manny Ramirez but why not take the chance? Oakland has little else though. Very little power, no ace starting pitchers and a mediocre bullpen. Cespedes had better be all that scouts believe him to be for there is little else to watch in Oakland this coming season. Beane will patiently watch his new prospects down on the farm until he thinks they are ready to produce for the big league team. If that’s in Oakland or San Jose in the next couple of years is anyone’s guess.
Seattle Mariners. For the past two seasons the Seattle Mariners have had Ichiro, King Felix and little else. They have been woefully short on offence even for a pitchers park and attendance has been dropping in the Pacific Northwest. The Mariners have a very promising farm system choke full of young pitching. This allowed them to trade their number two starter to the New York Yankees for the potential perennial all star and MVP in catching prospect Jesus Montero. New York had been very reluctant to part with Montero but by agreeing to send young starter Michael Pineda Seattle got their man. The Mariners have another potential all star in second baseman Dustin Ackley and are hopeful that former Texas prospect Justin Smoak can become the star many have projected him to be. They have little else and opposing pitchers won’t have much trouble pitching around Montero. Ichiro is getting long in the tooth and last season may have been the beginning of the inevitable fading all players suffer through as they age.
The American League West is between Texas and Los Angeles. It should be this way for several seasons to come.
By: Doug Bird