AL West Predictions 2009

Maybe you should have taken that extension.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (86-76)
They’re lucky I have them with this many wins. I was much more optimistic about their chances before Lackey and Santana went down. However, Lackey should only be out a month, and when he comes back, Kelvim Escobar should join him. At that point, the Angels should take off and win the division adding to a rotation with Saunders (still not sold on him), Weaver, and Adenhart (?). If Santana comes back quickly, I don’t really expect the division to be close. In the bullpen, it’s another typically strong one with Fuentes, Shields, and Arrendondo. Offensively, they should benefit from Abreu’s patience and a healthy season from Kendrick. I don’t expect Morales will be too much worse, if at all, than Kotchman was for the first part of the season. As long as the rotation can stay healthy after the first month, they’ll weather the storm through what has to be the worst division in baseball.

Oakland A’s (80-82)
If their rotation had more experience, I’d be sold on them. However, throwing Braden, Eveland, Anderson, Cahill, and whoever else out there may not be the best decision for a team built to win now offensively. Anderson and Cahill are talented, but they’ll have to deal with a lot of pressure over the season. As with the Marlins, I expect they’ll have issues at some point that will crush their playoff hopes. In the bullpen, they look pretty strong, but I’m not sure Ziegler (who is probably going to regress really hard) or Devine is the answer as closer. But they have some good arms. Offensively, they’re much improved by adding Holliday, Giambi, and Cabrera. But the lack of offense otherwise may kill them. They’re almost there, but it might have been a better idea to wait one more year to go get the offense.

Texas Rangers (77-85)
If they could only pitch, I would like them. Offensively, they are looking good. A core of Hamilton, Kinsler, Young, Davis, and Cruz should be able to hit a few home runs and score enough to punch out a few wins. However, the pitching looks like a disaster. Padilla and Millwood haven’t been effective for years, Benson hasn’t pitched in years, and you can’t trust McCarthy or Harrison. Luckily, they have guys like Feliz, Holland, and Hurley to step up, but will any follow through on their promise? The bullpen doesn’t look bad with Francisco, Wilson, and Guardado, but it’s not inspiring, either. It’ll be a long summer in Texas as the team tries to win a lot of 9-6 games.

Seattle Mariners (75-87)
If they could only hit, I would like them, so let’s combine Texas and Seattle. Hernandez and Bedard will try again to be an effective 1-2 duo, but losing Morrow to the bullpen hurts the team overall. Now, they’ll try Silva (who should be better), Washburn, and Rowland-Smith. I guess it could be worse. The bullpen has some hard throwers and upside, but I’m not sure any of them will hit the plate with consistency or efficiency. Offensively, they look pretty bad. Ichiro and Beltre are above-average hitters, but after that, it gets pretty thin. They’ve improved defensively, which should help, but I’m not sure how many 3-2 games they’ll win.

At least in the Central, you can see a team rattling off 90 wins by accident. Here, I can’t see any of these teams doing it. The Angels are the closest, but the pitching injuries have to scare you considering their hopes ride on their pitching. People seem to like the A’s, but for them to get to 90 wins, Anderson and Cahill have to go insane on hitters. I just don’t see that happening … yet. And the Rangers and Mariners are so flawed on one side or the other that I can’t see either even being a .500 team. Maybe the Rangers will wise up and trade off Davis for a good, young starter, leaving Smoak at first.

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