Monday, July 11, 2011

AL West Preview - Mid Summer Classic Update

*Predictions are from Opening Day


2010WL2011 PredictionsWL
x-Texas9072x-Los Angeles8973
Oakland8181Texas8577
Los Angeles8082Oakland8181
Seattle61101Seattle6597

Opening Day Questions
Are the Angels ready to return to the best in the West?
  • All Star Break - Even without Kendrys Morales, the Angels are just 1 game behind the Rangers.
How much will Texas miss Lee/Guerrero?
  • All Star Break - The offense has not skipped a beat  as Adrian Beltre has done more than fill Guerrero's shoes, while the Pitching staff has not been great, but the Starters have been getting the job done, its the bullpen that needs some help.
Did Oakland pick up enough offense to compete?
  • All Star Break - No, 12 games out at the All Star Break is evidence enough.  The pitching has been great as usual, but they can not hit.
Will Seattle trade Ichiro or worse King Felix?  Why not both?
  • All Star Break - Ichiro has the highest average on the team proving he can still play, but there have been little to no rumors about the aging outfielder.  King Felix and Prince Pineda seem to be an inseparable pair, but the rumors will be flying soon about Hernandez.
Second Half Questions
Can the Angels have Co Cy Young award winners?
Who will step up and become the Ace of the staff?
How many prospects will the A's collect at the deadline?
Can Seattle acquire some bats to compete for the AL West title?

Los Angeles Angels
Halos Heaven

Key Additions: Vernon Wells, Scott Downs, Hisanori Takahashi

Key Losses: Hideki Matsui, Brian Fuentes, Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Scot Shields

Outlook: 2010 was the first time in 4 years that the Angels failed to win the AL West and make the playoffs.  They've been such a great hitting team for so many year but last year the team hit a combined .248 and that's why they struggled.  However 2011 should be a different story as they went out and picked up Vernon Wells in a trade, and will get first basemen Kendry Morales back from injury, to go along with Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick and rookie Peter Bourjos.  If the offense can stay healthy then there is no reason why this team can't win this division with a pitching staff consisting of Jared Weaver, Danny Haren, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir and Joel Pinero.  I think the Angels will win around 88-90 games, which will be good enough to win this division.

Texas Rangers
Lone Star Ball

Key Additions: Adrian Beltre, Yorvit Torrealba, Arthur Rhodes, Brandon Webb, Mike Napoli

Key Losses: Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco, Bengie Molina

Outlook: We all know and saw how powerful this offense is with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and yes they lost Vlad Guerrero they signed Adrian Beltre to a monster contract and picked up Mike Napoli in free agency.  The big question is can all of these guys stay healthy in 2011? Even if they do will that be enough to get it done? Even though they play in a hitters ballpark I don't see Beltre hitting .321 again with 28 homers and 102 RBI's.  Also they lost Cliff Lee which is a huge blow to a rotation with a lot of question marks.  CJ Wilson, who just two years ago was closing games for this team will be the ace, followed by Tommy Hunter, Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman, and Brandon Webb who has not pitched since 2008.  Besides Neftali Feliz the bullpen will be led by two 40 year old left handers, Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver.  As we saw in the World Series, offense doesn't win championships, pitching does and the Rangers lack pitching.  Expect the Rangers to miss the playoffs but look for them to win around 85 games.

Oakland Athletics
Athletics Nation

Key Additions: David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui, Grant Balfour, Rich Harden, Brian Fuentes

Key Losses: Jack Cust, Travis Buck, Vin Mazzaro

Outlook: The A's ranked 23rd in runs scored last year as their offense really struggled, so they went out this offseason to pick up some hitters in David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hiedki Matsui, all who have been injury prone.  Even with those guys this offense will struggle because they have a similar look as the Giants had last year that led them to a championship, but the A's dint have the pitching the Giants did.  They have a very young talented pitching staff but don't expect Trevor Cahill to win another 18 games, Brett Anderson miss some time last year with injury, and there is some question at the #5 spot with Rich Harden who is never healthy and Josh Outman who is coming off Tommy Johns.  There are too many question marks on this team right now, and the offense is OK at best, nothing special.  Anything more than 81 wins and I'll be shocked.

Seattle Mariners
Lookout Landing

Key Additions: Jack Cust, Brendan Ryan, Miguel Olivo

Key Losses: Jose Lopez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Rob Johnson

Outlook: Jeez where do I start with this team..This team was atrocious with the bat last season and were ranked dead last in batting average and runs scored.  The Mariners had 101 losses and I honestly have no idea why the front office did nothing to improve this team.  I guess one thing they can look forward to is a better season from the young guns Justin Smoak (.218) and Michael Saunders (.211) as well as veterans Chone Figgins (.251) and Milton Bradley (.205).  If those guys can make some noise with their bats then this offense should not be a team ranking dead last in all offensive categories because Franklin Gutierrez will continue to get better and increase his power and Ichiro will get his 200 hits.  Last year their pitching was not all that bad, but large part of that is because of Felix Hernandez, the AL Cy Young.  He finished 13-12 and still won the award, that just goes to show he had absolutely no run support.  After King Felix there really isn't much with Doug Fister, Jason Vargas, David Pauley, Luke French, and don't hold your breath Erik Bedard. Another 100 loss season shouldn't shock anybody, but I'll say 65 wins and under the 100 loss mark with 97.

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