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2010 AL West Preview

The American League West has seen marked improvement. Both the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers have done a good job at making themselves competitive. The Los Angeles Angels have managed to stay at the top of their game. The biggest disappointment, as they have been for years, looks to be the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels possess a few advantages in the small West Division. First, they have manager Mike Scioscia who is a consummate baseball man and a smart, cagey manager. The team needs the advantage that he gives them. He’ll have to make up for the loss of premium starter John Lackey and top infielder Chone Figgins. The other challenge facing the franchise is the commitment the Mariners and Rangers have made to winning. Things have certainly tightened up in this division.

Manager Don Wakamatsu has done fine work with the Seattle Mariners. Of course, he does have Ichiro on the roster and that’s a huge help. But Ichiro has been with the Mariners for a long time and they have for the most part performed at a subpar level. Two topflight starters, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, are on the roster and the bullpen includes premium closer David Aardsma and fine long and short relief. The addition of Figgins and Bradley can be a big boost. But Bradley will have to stay in the fold and not rock the boat. Is that possible?

The Rangers have a solid advantage when it comes to the coaching staff that manager Ron Washington has assembled. Pitching coach Mike Maddux is masterful at working with hurlers and bench coach Jackie Moore knows his stuff. Clint Hurdle has been added as the new hitting coach. This is where the Rangers struggled last year and his arrival could be major. One more pitcher would be helpful. Texas was in the hunt for free agent Lackey but the native Texan went to Boston instead. GM Jon Daniels will be looking for another arm that can make a difference.

If you’re an Oakland Athletics’ fan then you’d better get ready for a long season. GM Billy Beane’s Moneyball concept may be bankrupt, but he’s still trying to cash-in on his theories as the rest of the West passes by him and the Oakland franchise. A lack of production on all levels is simply the norm for this team and despite the fact that this club has a stable of good, very young pitchers, there’s very little output expected from the offense.

The Angels have a good pitching staff that includes a fine bullpen. Offensively, they play small ball especially well, but they also have guys who can smack the ball over the fence. Seattle will prove to be a worthy opponent. GM Jack Zduriencik made some great moves at the winter meetings. The Mariners are focused on the prize and are loaded with good vets and some fine youth. Both of these clubs must watch out for the Rangers. Texas proved to be competitive last season and with the mentoring of top coaches, they could reach a whole new level of achievement. The other fly in the ointment—the wild card could come from this division.

2010 American League West Predictions

Projected Order of Finish:
Click on team name for individual team preview.

1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Texas Rangers
3) Seattle Mariners
4) Oakland Athletics

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