March 31, 2009

Beginning the previews

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

With baseball season rapidly approaching and not much else going on because it’s early in the week, why not throw down some knowledge and picks for one of baseball’s divisions? Let’s start with the easiest to call, the AL West.

Why’s it so easy to call? Because Anaheim will run away with the crown just like they do every year. They may have lost two of their key players — Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez — but that’s not going to matter. If you remember correctly, the Angels were one of the best teams in baseball before dealing for Tex last season and only got better with him. As for K-Rod, who is now with the Mets, he may have set the record for most saves in a season, but ask any Angels fan and they’ll tell you how frightening it is to see him take the mound with a small lead — he blew seven saves last season. The drop off from K-Rod to Brian Fuentes won’t hurt the team too much.

As for losing Tex, replacing him at first base with Kendry Morales is a steep downgrade, but after signing Bobby Abreu, the lineup’s ability isn’t going to decline much.

When you throw in a rotation with four semi-studs — John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders — and you have a team that should easily handle the pushover AL West.

The only other contender out west is Oakland, who jettisoned faltering closer Huston Street and added Matt Holliday, a stud in a contract year. Throw in gambles on Jason Giambi and Orlando Cabrera plus Eric Chavez making a come back after playing only 23 games last season and the A’s might surprise some people and push for a wild card spot; if they can stay healthy that is — and that’s a huge if.

One thing is for certain about the Texas Rangers: They’ll be able to hit and hit the ball a ton. Their problem, as always, will be pitching. When Kevin Millwood has been your ace for a couple of years, you know you’re in trouble. It really makes you think if the Josh Hamilton-for-Edinson Volquez deal was worth it for Texas; they sure could use his dynamite arm. The Rangers did surprise many by hitting their way into contention for a while last season, but being a one-trick pony can only get you so far.

Seattle will be rebuilding for a while. At least until they can get themselves out of all the bad contracts they handed out in the early 2000’s. With Adrian Beltre manning third base and the middle of the batting order, there’s no way this team will be contending. The best the Mariners can look forward to is potentially topping the Rangers if King Felix continues his development into the ace of the division and if Eric Bedard comes back from an injury-affected year.

And if you think that Ken Griffey Jr. is going to make a triumphant return and actually help push Seattle, well you didn’t watch much of Griff last year in Chicago.

1st: California Angels
2nd: Oakland Athletics
3rd: Texas Rangers
4th: Seattle Mariners

1 Comment

  1. Griff was in Chicago last year ! You are right didn’t notice.

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