That's Why They Play The Games: '08 AL West

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kick out da jams Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions. To read past weeks, click here.

According to Craig Finn, the kids out on the West Coast are screwing in the surf, getting high and riding around in GTOs (and I find that he's generally right on about these things). I have no problem with this. But if their parents are at all concerned, I would urge them to contact their local American League GM and see if they can get some more dynamic superstars to hold peoples' attention.

Last season the Angels casually held a lead for nearly the entire summer, while Seattle made some laid back runs at maybe taking over first place, but never really getting their panties in a bunch about it, man. After the jump, let's see if we can find some excitement for 2008.
4. Oakland A's
The Good:

  • Rich Harden still has both arms, and Eric Chavez had THREE surgeries in the offseason to fix his horrible back. Is it too much to ask to have both of these guys healthy for the whole year? Probably, but A's fans will wish for the best.
  • Fresh off his Mitchell Report shout out, young Jack Cust comes out for his second season of mashing the crap out of the ball, and rookie Daric Barton is said to have a sweet swing.

The Bad:

  • This team is pretty much a living definition of "rebuilding." They're so green people are talking about two full seasons before they really know what they have. No mulitiple bullet points here, just the cast of Newsies out there playing some ball.

Billy Beane's entire style has always had a rebuilding feel to it. Even when they've had successful seasons, it's been with young, affordable talent that's almost always long gone once they were able to command ransom as free agents. The idea of a complete remodeling sounds impressive with Moneyballs at the helm. So while (barring 6 different guys having a breakout year) this season is clearly in the tank, I wouldn't be surprised to see Oakland storm the gates of this sleepy little hamlet in a couple of years.

Predictions: 65-97 record; 12 year old bat boy traded for 7 year old bat boy; 7 year old bat boy's arm falls off.

3. Texas Rangers

The Good:
  • Outfield additions include Milton Bradley, who I've always liked, and Josh Hamilton who looks to build on his solid 2007 in Cincinnati. Durability is a slight concern as Bradley could snap at any moment and sexually assault a fan, while Hamilton is a recovering drug addict. At least narcotics are tough to score in Dallas
  • Michael Young is one of only 3 hitters since 1940 to have five consecutive 200 hit seasons. His defense at short is exceptional and you'd be hard pressed to have a better cornerstone for your lineup and infield. Hopefully he doesn't follow the same career path as Young Michael.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia is looking like the new starting catcher and showed last year that he can hit. Saltalamacchia is also delicious rolled in a thin chicken cutlet and breaded.

The Bad:
  • The rotation is atrocious. At this point in his career, Kevin Millwood stretches the very definition of the word 'ace.' Jesse Spector of the Daily News compiled an eye opening look at how many of their starters didn't make it past the fifth inning in 2007. I liked Brandon McCarthy's stuff when he came up with the White Sox, but he's either going to need to bring that ERA under 4.80 or just get a full time job on Crossfire.
  • The bullpen is also mediocre, anchored by unproven closer and font of awesomeness, CJ Wilson. Is Wilson a diamond just waiting to shine? He converted 12 out of 17 saves last year but is going to have to tap into "the human potential for unlocking that expressive force inside" if he wants to become the shutdown guy the Rangers want him to be. I'm rooting for him, just so we get more kickass quotes.

All in all, the Rangers team is pretty similar to last year's team but a little older. The key to success is going to be the young arms fulfilling potential and maybe one last Lazarus year from Millwood. Perhaps when his term ends in January, GW Bush can buy the team again, and apply his midas touch to get the Rangers back to the promised land!

Predictions: 79-83 record; Eddie Guardado and Vincente Padilla start their own salsa company called "High Heat."

2. Seattle Mariners

The Good:
  • The rotation is one of the best in the American League. A healthy combo of Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez in that ballpark could tear through lineups like a brick through a Starbucks window. I think they grossly overpaid for Carlos Silva, but there hasn't been a good deal in the starting pitching market in 5 years.
  • Closer J.J. Putz? Also good.

The Bad:
  • My colleague has dubbed them the "Giants of the AL" due to their weak lineup. While I wouldn't go that far, it is pretty lousy. Vidro, Wilkerson, Beltre and Sexson have all seen better days, but any team with Ichiro on it has to score some runs. It's law.
Predictions: 84-78 record; New pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre gets really into organic jams and jellies; Manager John McLaren drops fake American accent, admits he's Welsh.

Psst. Seattle. You have nothing to lose, everyone is picking you to finish second, and as we've determined, no one is watching this division anyway. Don't let all that money you've spent on pitching go to waste. Sign Barry Bonds.

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Good:
  • Offseason acqusition of Torii Hunter now puts 5 legitimate outfielders on the roster. Considering one of those is injury prone silent man Garret Anderson, you can be sure that depth is going to come in handy.
  • Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick both enter the season healthy which should help to mitigate the slow starts both had last year.
  • John Lackey and Jared Weaver sit at the top of the rotation with Kelvim Escobar having some shoulder trouble. Still a good 1-2 punch.
  • Vlad Guerrero just hit a pitch that was in thrown in my office even though he's 2000 miles away.

The Bad:
  • Past Angels successes, especially the championship were based around an airtight bullpen. this is no longer the case. If the bullpen continues to suck the wheels can come off of a season pretty quickly. Nothing demoralizes a team like blown leads. Except this.
Predictions: 89-73 record; Jon Garland conducts all post-season interviews in sign language; Mike Scoscia won't shut up about how disappointed he is in Flava Flav's recent career choices.

Next week: Rob breaks down the NL Central


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7 Comments

DUDE YOU ARE SO WRONG ABOUT THE MARINERS THEY WILL FINISH LAST YOU CALL YOURSELF AN EXPERT THIS IS NOT JOURNALISM

I beg to differ about Kevin Millwood... Every 3 years he dominates.

Milly's ERA by year over his career:

1997: 4.03
1998: 4.08
1999: 2.68
2000: 4.66
2001: 1.31
2002: 3.24
2003: 4.01
2004: 4.85
2005: 2.86
2006: 4.52
2007: 5.16
2008: ???

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm gonna draft him awkwardly high in my fantasy league next week.

sorry... 2001 should read 4.31

Thanks for that Grady Little pic. Next time, just punch me in the face repeatedly.

Man has always loved his bullpens. But what happens when the bullpens say, "No More!"

I put the over/under at 1 month on the Rangers making a free agent play for R.A. Dickey or Pedro Astacio as a 5th starter. Christ, that has to be the worst pitching staff in baseball.

You left out the part where Bobby Crosby and Rich Harden collide while fielding a pop-fly, break all their bones, develop Super-AIDS and die. Billy Beane then trades the entire rotation for an All Star Little League team and 4 embryos to be named later.

A's games are going to be so drunk for me this year.

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