That's Why They Play The Games: 2010 AL West

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It's almost go time, which it means it's time for our annual divisional previews. Feel free to look back at 2008 and 2009 to figure out how much stock you should actually put in these.

Last year's AL West race was, once again, about as exciting as listening to your coworker tell you what she did this weekend. The Angels won, your coworker and "the boy" just stayed in and chilled on Sunday. Watched a movie. The Rangers kind of made it interesting for a minute before they dropped completely out of even Wild Card contention, your coworker thought about going to that cool flea market but they hardly get the time to sit around and veg like that you know? Sometimes you just need it. She says all this as you remember that she said the exact same thing about spending last Sunday in front of the TV. Weren't the Angels supposed to regress or something? Dammit, I'm going on break.

But this year should be different. The Rangers and the Mariners are both ascendant and the Angels will almost certainly be in the running for awhile. They always are. I think this may be one of the most exciting races of the year.

4. Oakland A's

The Good:

  • The young pitching staff gets a nominal leader in free agent acquision Ben Sheets. Yes, Sheets hasn't exactly pitched in the recent past but impressed teams in offseason workouts and is tailor made for the imaginary role of veteran/teacher that people like to write about so much.

  • The rest of that staff containts two good left handers in Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden and possibly another emerging southpaw, Gio Gonzalez. Who you can watch get a haircut here:



  • OF Rajai Davis had a quiet breakout season in 2009, getting on base at a .360 clip and stealing 41 bases. He'll be moving to the top of the order (ahead of new CF Coco Crisp) and you can expect that SB total to rise. He could be the league leader.

The Bad:

  • The A's sat in the bottom half of the AL in runs scored and primary offensive additions Kevin Kouzmanoff and Crisp won't do a lot to signifcantly increase that number. They'll be relying on significant improvement from the rotation to up their win total. With the injury histories of both Sheets and Justin Duscherer, that's a can miss proposition.

Predictions: 77-85 record, Eric Chavez plays a total of 6 games and wears a catheter in each one. Bob Geren eats his weight in rocks and sticks.

3. Anaheim Angels

The Good:

  • Even with the departure of 3B Chone Figgins, their infield is one of the most talented in baseball. Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood and Kendry Morales all put up career years at the plate in 2009 and were all on the plus side in UZR.

  • The additions of Brian Stokes and Fernando Rodney should shore up the pen and bring it closer to the level of its mid decade heyday.

The Bad:

  • The Angels lost John Lackey to free agency and didn't do anything to replace him in the rotation. The rotation of Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro shouldn't strike fear in the hearts of anyone else in the division. Spring training optimism notwithstanding.

Predictions: 83-79 record, Mike Napoli grows a transcendent coke nail.

2. Texas Rangers

The Good:

  • Last year's team allowed an astonishing 250 fewer runs than the 2008 incarnation. 2010 may lower it yet again. The addition of Rich Harden and the maturation of the accountanty named Scott Feldman should make the rotation even better. Elvis Andrus at short helps too.

  • Count healthy Josh Hamilton, healthy Vlad Guerrero and healthy Ian Kinsler as one of the more powerful cores in the league and certainly the division.

The Bad:
  • The Rangers faded hard down the stretch and Dallas News writer/Cheeseburger Enthusiast Evan Grant has a great look at the challenges facing this offense besides potential injury. Better plate appearances are crucial to getting this team over the hump and into the playoffs, but you're not exactly dealing with malleable rookies here.

Predictions: 92-70 record, Frank Francisco goes on Antiques Roadshow to get his toothbrush appraised, The Marriage Ref gets canceled.

1. The Seattle Mariners

The Good:

  • Most people are in agreement that Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee are the best 1-2 in all of baseball. Teams with the best 1-2 in all of baseball usually fair pretty well.

  • Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman and Jack Wilson are all additions that bolster the defense and a healthy Milton Bradley could make up for some of the power lost when Russell Branyan departed.

  • The Bad:

  • Despite the aforementioned defensive upgrades it comes as something of a wash after losing Mike Cameron (in 2003) and Adrian Beltre.

Predictions: 94-68 record, Jack Zduriencik (Daddy Warbucks) dons a toupee made out of empty soup cans for entire second half of season.


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10 Comments

How big of an impact can Mike Cameron have? He's still considered a loss for the M's and he hasn't been there since 2003.

SUCK ON THAT OVERWORRIED RED SOX FANS!

I believe it's "fare pretty well." One word is slightly wrong-ish, therefore, this entire post is a pile of shit and you suck!

/Yahoo blog commenter

So, the opposite of this is what I need to bet on?

Eh, as much as I'm pulling for the Mariners, they seem like the AL West version of the Giants. Elite front of the rotations fare well in the playoffs, but they don't have enough offense to compete with the Angels (who, despite not having a strong #1, still have an enviable pitching staff, and who knows which Scott Kazmir will show up), and the Rangers during the regular season.

The Mariners had an exciting offseason, and I can't wait to see what they do, but it's tough to win a division when your only major source of non-slap hitting offense is a cross-your-fingers showing from Milton Bradley.

Movie Title Fantasy Baseball Name Time: I'm leaning toward Heartbreak Lidge. Sleeper pick: Upton the Air. TOPICAL.

Inglourious Bastardos
Up In Smoak
Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicagoans - The Series Thief
Avilestar
The Big Hurt's Locker

Hey, they can't all be winners


The Big Hurt Locker is my favorite.

Or you could go with: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Fielder, What About Bobby Abreu?, Freddy Garcia Got Fingered, All About Mike Schmidt or Los Angeles Angels & Demons.

Personally, I liked We Own the Ray Knight, Walk the De-Line-o, and this year's Oscar-worthy Crazy Hart (or Corezy Hart, take your pick).

I caught EnciNomo Man on cable last week. Takes me back...

Everything written here is incorrect. Cust and Barton and Ellis combine for 300 HRs and take the division with 130 wins.

And Meg Ryan's nude scene in In The Cust was disturbing.

North Dallas Braden 40.

Just going on the record: there is no way in hell the Mariners will win more than 84 games.

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