Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AL West: At a Glance

Los Angeles Angels:
Manager: Mike Scioscia - 9th season
Last Season: 94-68, 1st place
Training Site: Tempe, AZ.
Park: Tempe Diablo Stadium
He's Here: RHP Jon Garland, CF Torii Hunter
He's Outta Here: RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Greg Jones, RHP Chris Resop, INF Dallas McPherson, SS Orlando Cabrera, OF Tommy Murphy, Of Nick Gorneault

Outlook: The Angels are solid favorites to win their fourth AL west title in five years, but that in itself won't be very satisfying. Last year's high hopes were dashed after being swept by the Red Sox in the first round of the playoff. The only off-season additions, Hunter and Garland, are impact palyers. The team will have one of baseball's best defensive outfields with Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero or Garret Anderson. Hunter adds some much needed power. Anderson and Guerrero figure to share the DH duties. Even before the addition of Garland, an 18-games winner in 2005 and 2006, the Angels had one of the strongest rotations, whichis led by John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Jeb Weaver. Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis will compete for the starting SS job with outstanding prospect Brandon Wood in the wings. Escobar's sore shoulder will limit him at the beginning of spring training.

Seattle Mariners:
Manager: John McLaren- 1st full season
Last Season: 88-74, 2nd place
Training Site: Peoia, AZ.
Park: Peoria Sports Complex
He's Here: LHP Eric Bedard, RHP Carlos Silva, OF Brad Wilkerson, INF Miguel Cairo
He's Outta Here: Manager Mike Hargrove, OF Jose Guillen, RHP Jeff Weaver, 1B Ben Broussard, CF Adam Jones, LHP George Sherrill, LHP Tony Butler, RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Kam Michkolio

Outlook: GM Bill Bavasi upgraded the rotation significantly by getting lefty Erik Bedard from Baltimore for talented CF Jones and pitchers Sherrill, Butler, Tillman and Michkolio. The team has a talented rotation in Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Silva. Seattle hopes Wilkerson can come close to the numbers Guillen provided last year in right, but the Mariners did little to upgrade the offense. RHP J.J. Putz is a top closer. McLaren gets his first full season as a big league manager after taking over for Hargrove midway through 2007.

Oakland Athletics:
Manager: Bob Green- 2nd season
Last Season: 75-86, 3rd place
Training Site: Phoenix, AZ.
Park: Municipal Stadium
He's Here: OF Emil Brown, RHP Joey Devine, Of Carlos Gonzalez, LHP Gio Gonzalez, LHP Dana Eveland, OF Ryan Sweeney, LHP Brett Anderson
He's Outta Here: RHP Dan Haren, OF Nick Swisher, OF Mark Kotsay, DH Mike Piazza, OF Shannon Stewart, INF Marco Scutaro, RHP Colby Lewis

Outlook:GM Bill Beane dealt Haren, Swisher and Kotsay when he decided to rebuild because he didn't think he had the pieces to match the Angels. Oakland restocked it's farm system with the Haren and Swisher deals but it will take a few years to determine whether those moves will lift the team. The big question revolve around the health of RHP Rich Harden, 3B Eric Chavez and SS Bobby Crosby, whose injuries last season helped contribute to Oakland's first losing season since 1998.

Texas Rangers:
Manager: Ron Washington - 2nd season
Last Season: 75-87, 4th place
Training Site: Surprise, AZ.
Park: Surprise Stadium
He's Here: OF Milton Bradley, 1B Ben Broussard, RHP Kazuo Fukumori, CF Josh Hamilton, RHP Jason Jennings, LHP Eddie Guardado, INF Edgardo Alfonzo
He's Outta Here: DH Sammy Sosa, OF Brad Wilkerson, RHP Akinori Otsuka, RHP Edinson Volquez, INF Jerry Hairston

Outlook: A healthy Hank Blalock could be one of the most significant additions for Taxas. Blalock didn't play3B after May last season, but the 2-time All-Star says he is "back to normal" following surgery to have a rib removed from near his right shoulder and extra rehabilitation in the off-season. The team filled three holes; CF(Hamilton, RF(Bradley) and 1B(Broussard). But questions persist. Bradley is coming off knee surgery. Broussard was mostly a platoon player the past 2-years. Hamilton, the first overall pick in 1999 whose career was nearly derailed by alcohol and drug abuse, has a lot to prove even after a breakout rookie season in Cincinnati. Dallas native Jennings was addedto the rotation after being hampered last season by elbow problems, as were Guardado and Kukumori. Guardado provided a much needed veteran presence in a bullpen missing RHP Eric Gagne and Otsuka. The closer candidates are CJ Wilson and Joaquin Benoit. The Rangers were 29-28 after the trade deadline and the exits of 1B Mark Teixeira, CF Kenny Lofton, LHP Ron Mahay and Gagne. Without improvement, the AL west basement looms.

Spring Training: At A Glance.
AL East: At A Glance
AL Central: At a Glance
NL East: At A Glance.
NL West: At A Glance.