Saturday, March 26, 2011

AL West Preview

...Texas Rangers...

Welcome to the Lone Star State - SP Brandon Webb...C Yorvit Torrealba...RP Arthur Rhodes

OUT - OF Jeff Francoeur...OF/DH Vlad...IB Jorge Cantu...SP Rich Harden...SP Brandon McCarthy...C Bengie Molina (currently FA)

In the Rangers organization keep an eye on...P Tanner Scheppers...This guy has a Justin Verlander-type upside...Mid-high 90's fastball with above average breaking pitches...question is do the Rangers build him as starting pitcher, or reliever

The defending AL Champs lost SP Cliff Lee in the off-season after paying a heavy price to get him (I am a fan of Justin Smoak and his potential)...That does reduce the skill on the staff, clearly...Let's take a look...2011 opens with a rotation of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland.  Tommy Hunter will join this crew when he gets healthy...Actually some nice 3's to low 4's era potential in all of those pitchers, so pretty good...Other arms like Brandon Webb (will start the season on the DL) and Michael Kirkman could see time in the rotation in 2011 too...We could see a Scott Feldman sighting in 2011 too if he can regain his form...The bullpen has plenty of talent with guys like Alexi Ogando, Mark Lowe, David Bush, Brett Tomko, Pedro Strop, Mason Tobin...all of the above will get a chance to set-up for closer Neftali Perez...I heart Perez...this guy has an electric arm and is just getting his career started

The #1 O in MLB from 2010 adds 3B Adrian Beltre and C Mike Napoli...This is significant as most Championship teams are able to adjust on the fly (add a player or two through in-season trades) and the addition of Beltre gives the Rangers a potential trade piece in Michael Young...time will tell...The OF is very good with mega-star Josh Hamilton, plus Nelson Cruz and Pedro Borbon have skills to pay the bills...Double-play duo of Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler need to be a bit more productive/consistent...The question marks on this O are 1B and DH where any of Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland, and David Murphy need to step up and assume the everyday role (likely Young can produce at DH, but that still leaves 1B as a position to address for the Rangers)

Over/Under win total for the 2011 Rangers...86.5...The holes on this team are minor and look like they are fixable...I think this team should surely win 87+ games in 2011...OVER

...LA Angels...

IN - OF Vernon Wells...RP Scott Downs

OUT - RP Scot Shields...DH Hideki Matsui...3B Kevin Frandsen

In the Angels organization keep an eye on...C Hank Conger...He was part of the reason the Angels were able to trade C Mike Napoli as part of the Vernon Wells trade...Napoli led the Angels C's in HR's etc, but they feel that the 23 year old Conger will fill those shoes...he has always been able to hit...He is Korean - I cannot recall a Korean C...several pitchers and Shin-Soo Choo is a position player, but no catcher's

This team needs several players to step up...For this team to get back on top in the AL West guys like OF Peter Bourjos, IF Maicier Izturis, IF Erick Aybar, and C Jeff Mathis need to take their games to the next level...The O gets a return to health from 1B Kendry Morales, and adds OF Vernon Wells...Bobby Abreu needs to regain his form too...2B Howie Kendrick needs a bit of a more polished hitting attack for the Angels in 2011...Torii Hunter put together a pretty healthy 2010, but needs to regain the O skills he showed in 2009 (his best season as an Angel, but there were injury issues in '09 so no one wants a repeat of that of course, just the production)

The rotation looks solid...Veterans Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro will all get several starts for this team...Scott Kazmir will get a chance to regain his form in Anaheim too...very solid starting staff here...The bullpen has potential too...The additions of Scotty Downs and Hisanori Takahashi help add skill and depth...Other arms like Kevin Jepsen, Rich Thompson, Michael Kohn, and Jordan Walden all have great potential to contribute too...We may see Trevor Bell and Francisco Rodriquez get their chances as well...The closer will likely be Fernando Rodney

Over/Under win total for the 2011 Angels...83...OVER...A lot of players need to rebound from down seasons in '10, but the potential is here for a great 2011 Angels club

...Oakland A's...

IN for the Athletics - DH Hideki Matsui...SP Brandon McCarthy...OF Josh Willingham...SP Rich Harden...OF David DeJesus...RP Brian Fuentes

OUT - DH Jack Cust...3B Akinori Iwamura...OF Gabe Gross...SP Vin Mazzaro

In the A's organization keep an eye on...Chris Carter...this 24 year old has been a top prospect for years and in 2011 he should get a chance to be an everyday OF...BIG power upside...We remember his MLB debut with Oakland last season and started 0 for 33 (yikes)...last 4 years in the Minors he averages 30+ HR's which is why I look for him to get playing time in Oakland as their team O was a punchline in 2010...

Additions to the O like Carter, Matsui, Willingham, and DeJesus are nice, but this team still is likely without a 25+ HR hitter...Guys like Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington, Mark Ellis, Daric Barton, Coco Crisp, Connor Jackson, Kurt Suzuki, and Ryan Sweeney are decent at best...I like the A's O less than any other team in baseball (except perhaps the Mariners...oops sorry, and the Padres)

The pitching staff has certain potential...Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez are really good...Dallas Braden needs to develop consistency (and not be such an ass)...The A's would be thrilled if they got production form the return of Rich Harden, and newcomer Brandon McCarthy...Tyler Ross will get a shot to be in the rotation too...The bullpen has depth... Craig Breslow, Michael Wuertz, Jerry Blevins, Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine, Philip Humber, and Trystan Magnuson will all get a chance to set up closer Andrew Bailey...Throw Brian Fuentes into that mix too as he has closer experience, and could be a legit 8th inning set-up man as well

Over/Under win total for the 2011 A's...84...UNDER...A ton of potential as far as pitching, but I am very underwhelmed with the batting order in Oakland...

...Seattle Mariners...

IN - DH Jack Cust...SS Brendan Ryan...C Miquel Olivo

OUT - C Josh Bard...C Rob Johnson...1B Casey Kotchman...3B Jose Lopez

In the Mariners organization keep an eye on...Dustin Ackley...#2 overall pick in last years Draft...up in the air as far as what position Ackley will play, but his upside on O is huge...He is regarded as a can't-miss prospect on O and with that said he should get a chance to make the Big Club out of Spring Training, or at least be in the Bigs during 2011 as he is the best hitter in the organization not name IchiroNew Manager Eric Wedge has his work cut out for him...MLB's worst O in 2010 has numerous areas to improve...His best hope is a 1-2 at the top of the line-up in Ichiro and Chone Figgins hit to their potential...The M's also need Ackley, 1B Justin Smoak, and OF Michael Saunders to begin to hit at the MLB level too...Much will be needed from newcomer Jack Cust...OF Milton Bradley gets his 38th chance to play at the MLB level despite his embarrassing/unacceptable attitude/behaviour...Brendan Ryan will get a shot to play everyday (likely at 2B) and he needs to return to his 2009 form at the plate 

The pitching staff is top-heavy...Felix Hernandez is outstanding...Justin Vargas and Doug Fister appear to be on the rise...After that there is potential for significant drop-off...M's hope Canadian Eric Bedard can rejuvenate his career...Luke French, David Pauley, and Michael Pineda will get chances in the rotation too...The bullpen is slim pickings...Closer David Aardsma and set-up man Brandon League are about all there is to like

Over/Under win total for the 2011 M's...70...UNDER...Smoak, Saunders, and Ackley will all be productive MLB hitters, but perhaps not as soon as 2011...This roster leaves a lot to be desired (especially on O)

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