Pete’s Picks: AL West
- Updated: March 21, 2008
1. LA Angels of Anaheim : In the long run, I like the Angels overall in this division. I like their bullpen especially with K-Rod, Scot Shields and Justin Speier. The additions of CF Torii Hunter & SP Jon Garland help put them over the top and Garland helps ease the pain of not having Lackey on opening day. When he does return, a rotation of Lackey, Garland, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and Dustin Moseley help put them over Seattle. But the key to a successful 2008 is having a healthy Vlad Guerrero.
2. Seattle Mariners : Seattle’s rotation might even be better than the Angels with newly acquired Erik Beddard, but between them and the closer, JJ Putz, I don’t see much to inspire me. This is where they can loose games. Their line-up is also, not as good as LA’s, but it might be more consistent. These teams are a decent trade (for Seattle) away from being neck and neck.
3. Oakland Athletics : They are in a rebuilding year as they have parted ways with Dan Haren and Nick Swisher (although almost unwillingly); and there were rumors of moving Blanton and Chavez as well. They just can’t keep up with the big boys of Seattle and LA, but leave it to GM Billy Beane and his Moneyball strategies to have them back in contention sooner rather than later!
4. Texas Rangers : Unless the A’s wind up playing even worse than is expected, I don’t see how the Rangers can beat them out for third place in the AL West. If only there were 5 teams in this division, they’d have a better chance of getting out of last place. Some key players to watch are the recently acquired CF Josh Hamilton who might just hit 30 HRs & 80 RBIs with 15 SBs to go along with a .277 BA and an OBP of close to .360. Another OF, Marlon Byrd, has been getting a lot of attention this off season in trade talks and he might blossom in ’08 as well. The focus in the rotation is whether or not Millwood and Jennings have anything left in the tank and can Gabbard keep up with his 2007 performance? 2B Ian Kinsler will be another one to watch as will the ever changing situation at the catcher position between Laird and Salty. To add to this dilemma, they also have 1 or 2 more very talented players in the minors to compete at this position in the next few years to come. Texas might have a few bargaining chips to play with at this most vital position to help them improve via trade. Almost every team out there, except the Braves, Dodgers, Indians and maybe the Twins, are in need of help behind the plate!