Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tha AL West unlike the NL West is a two horse race. The Angels have been consistently in the running for a long time now while the Mariners are a team which should once again make a serious run at the division title.
1. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners could still use an additional bat but the addition of Erik Bedard gives them 2 of the best pitchers in the American League and gives them amongst the best rotations in the American League.
Key Player: Richie Sexson, The Mariners are a team devoid of a major threat in the heart of their lineup right now. They have good bats around but no one that makes their opponents shake in their boots. Richie 'Mendoza Line' Sexson has been that bat at points of his career. Even in his previous .260 averages would be acceptable but the .205 garbage he spit out last year would once again cripple their season.
Player to Eye: Erik Bedard, the big acquisition from the offseason is now finally on a team with the potential to make the post season. Last year before Bedard was shut down one could have argued that he should have been the Cy Young award winner. This season the Mariners will desperately need Bedard to repeat his 2007 performance but this time stay healthy the entire season.
Record Prediction: 91-71
2. LAA Angels
The Angels came into spring training as easily the AL West team to beat. They may still be the team to beat in the West but they certainly are a team marred with a lot of injuries. Currently their staff consists of injuries to front line starters Kelvim Escobar as well as Jon Lackey and key 8th inning man Scot Shields. If these guys don't get back to 100% it could end up being a very very disappointing season for the Los Angeles California West Coast City Angels.
Key Player: John Lackey, When your #1 goes down in spring training it is a very very bad thing. When you're #1 and #2 go down than you are really hurting. The Angels need John Lackey to come back so that they can match the King Felix and Bedard 1,2 punch in Seattle. If Lackey bounce back and forth on the DL than the Angels will not make the playoffs.
Player to Eye: Howie Kendrick, Kendrick has always been a free swinging big time prospect for the Angels but for the past two seasons he has either been platooned or injury riddled. This season Kendrick will get all the hacks his heart can desire and in his first full season he could potentially contend for the batting crown.
Record Prediction: 90 - 72
3. Texas Rangers
The Rangers if anything are consistent. Once again they've put together one of the worst rotations in major league baseball. A rotation that consists of 2007 ERAs all about 4.5 and most way higher. The slight difference with the 2008 Rangers as opposed to past Rangers teams is that their offense might be worse.
Key Player: Kevin Millwood, I guess I'll go with Millwood considering he is the 'ACE' of their staff. Really they just need two pitchers to be good this season. Any two. And I don't mean really good, cause they don't have the talent for that, I mean like era around 4 good. That way the Rangers won't have to score 9 runs a game if they want to be over .500.
Player to Eye: Josh Hamilton, The former #1 pick had his reemergence last year and as a reward was sent to Texas to play in another favorable hitters spot. Currently Hamilton is seen destroying the baseball during Spring training and many are calling for a 30 HR season. If he can do it than at least there will be something fun to watch in Texas.
Record Prediction: 70-92
4. Oakland A's
The A's come into 2008 having trading away both their best pitcher and their best hitter, not exactly the best scenario for a successful season.
Key Player: Rich Harden, Every year Harden is pretty much the key to this team. He has amongst the best stuff of any pitcher in major league baseball yet the man can absolutely never stay healthy. If the A's want to win any games this season they need their starting pitching to be much better than average and they need Harden to help lead the way.
Player to Eye: Justin Duchscherer, The setup man turned closer during Huston Street's many injuries is now turned into a starter. He hasn't started a game since 2003 and is much older than you would think as he turned 30 in November. Once again the A's need pitching this year and will need Duchscherer to pan out as a solid bottom of the rotation guy.
Record Prediction: 68-94