With spring training camps now underway, we here at Walkoff Walk should really get off our rumps and start taking a look at the pole positioning for premium positions among the six divisions. With the country stuck in the dregs of the Xtreme Depressionⓒ, folks'll be working extra hard to get the premium salaries that come along with starting jobs. Today, we look at the American League West.
- Los Angeles Angels outfield: Longtime Angel in the outfield Garret Anderson is gone, but with the signing of Bobby Abreu, the logjam continues in Anaheim. With Torii Hunter and Vlad Guerrero as the two true automatic starts in the outfield, that leaves Abreu, Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits, and Gary Matthews Jr fighting it out for the third OF slot and the DH role. Shame that Matthews will get a good amount of consideration because of his over-inflated salary; his bat just doesn't have the pop necessary to be a league-average corner OF or DH. To complicate matters, catcher Mike Napoli is nursing a sore shoulder and may need to eat up some of that DH time in the early spring. What does this all mean? The Angels still won't be scoring six runs a game.
- Oakland Athletics designated hitter: Another former Yankee heads west to mess up a team's depth chart, as Jason Giambi returns to Oaktown seven years later to mash some taters and take some DH time away from Jack Cust. Neither of those dudes are very good with the glove, but Cust is younger and knows where to stand and which way to face in the outfield. Still, he's not going to take much corner OF time away from newcomer Matt Holliday, so Travis Buck gets the short end of that stick. Expect Giambi to usurp most of the DH duty but also find time to use his first baseman's glove, leaving Daric Barton in the lurch a couple times a week. Bottom line: save for Holliday, don't draft any of these guys in your fantasy league.
- Texas Rangers entire pitching staff: Here's a list of the eight possible Rangers starting pitchers that the good folks at Baseball Prospectus are forecasting to have an ERA under 4.70: ____. Ooph. Well, what about Sean Smith's CHONE projections? ____. Jeez, is there anyone on the Rangers roster who can pitch? I pity pitching coach ____ for attempting to cobble together a rotation out of Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Dustin Nippert, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy, Jason Jennings, and Kason Gabbard. That's a veritable who's who of who stinks.
- Seattle Mariners closer: Last year's closer J.J. Putz is somewhere in Port St. Lucie right now plotting the mysterious disappearance of Frankie Rodriguez, and so is his wormball-inducing pal Sean Green. That leaves a power vacuum at the top of the Mariners bullpen. This, of course, is like a power vacuum at the top of a special needs high school's math team: it's just not a very important position when there isn't a ton of predicted success. Still, saves are saves and the extremely dated Elias Sports Bureau values them more than anything else when it comes to deciding how much relievers should get paid. Look for Mark Lowe, David Aardsma and newcomer Luis Pena to share closing duties, but also for new M's manager Don Wakamatsu to get creative because that's what the Seattle beat writers and bloggers enjoy. Ichiro as the closer? Sure! Why not?