Unlike the mediocre NL West, the AL West boasts the American League’s two best teams. The Angels and Rangers not only will be battling each other for the division title, but for the AL Championship.
At the other end of the division spectrum, the As and Mariners may well battle to the bitter end between themselves to avoid having the league’s worst record. Oakland’s great young starting staff of the past couple of seasons is now but a memory, replaced with a handful of 25-28-year-olds too old to be real prospects, but who have yet to do anything significant on the major league level, and that one decrepit re-re-tread, the 90-year-old Bartolo Colon. On the field, they have a group of never-were journeymen, defrocked former prospects, semi-talented minor leaguers, and one hope, Cuban signee Yoenis Cespedes. If he is major-league ready, the As could be the second worst team in the league. If he is not, they will be the worst team in baseball.
Only slightly more talented, the Mariners do boast a couple of major league stars in Felix Hernandez and Ichiro, though he is now 38 and coming off the first poor year of his career. Sure, Chone Figgins could bounce back, Miguel Olivo could hit above .240, and Michael Saunders could exceed his career high .221, but none of that is likely. 70 wins figure to be the goal for each team.
The Rangers are coming off two straight World Series defeats, and despite the loss of CJ Wison, will be stronger this season. They’ve added Joe Nathan and will have Mike Adams for the full season, and thus the bullpen should not suffer the move of Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. That rotation could be much more potent than last year even without Wilson, with Feliz there and with the untapped talent of Yu Darvish. On the field, the Rangers have the same group of talented players who can hit and field with any one.
The Angles will make it tough, though, for Texas to repeat as division or league champs. Last year’s disappointing team now has a healthy Kendrys Morales back, former ranger Wilson in the rotation, and that other guy at first. Oh, yea, LIUS PUJOLS!. The Angels also have the best manager in either league in Mike Scioscia. Despite that piece of dead wood in left field, Vernon Well, who is keeping the guy who could become the decades’ biggest star, Mike Trout, in Salt Lake City (for now), the Angels should take the division, and return to the World Series for the first time since 2002.
First pitch in just over an hour.