Weak of the West: Oakland A’s
Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s have made a lot of moves this year. I’m not sure it really matters though…CoCo Crisp takes over in CF. It would be great if they were getting the Crisp of Indians days (circa 2004-2005) Then, he was a power speed combo of 15-20 HR and 15-20 SB and a .298 BA…hasn’t happened since. In the last 3 years he’s averaged 5 HR, 57 R, 38 RBI and 20 SB with a .266 BA. ,not the worst numbers but if you’re an A’s fan, I’m guessing you were hoping for a little more. They also brought Kevin Kouzmanoff over in a trade with the Padres to play 3B. Add in Ben Sheets who hasn’t pitched in over a year and you have the makings of something? Not sure what. They did have some good albeit young pieces in place already, Young pitchers Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill along with All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. Throw in Kurt Suzuki catching and aging but still fleet footed Rajai Davis and you have to like your chances in the division…to finish 4th.
Third Place: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the AL West in California (could their name be longer?)
Third place? How many think how can I possibly say that? Listen to me now, but hear me later…2010 will be a down year for the Angels! But they will rebound in 2011! With the losses of lead-off man Chone Figgins, aging slugger Vladimir Guerrero and Ace John Lackey they will experience a drop off. They will compete in a weak division but finish a close third. Brandon Wood will be good in spurts in growing into IMHO, one of the best power hitting 3B, but will have times of struggle. Ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui comes in to replace Vlad as the new DH. It could be good (play-off good) or it could be bad (as in knees) With everyone in the rotation pushed up and Joel Pineiro added in, they’ll be good but not great.
Second Place: Seattle Mariners
And the confusion keeps coming! I’m sure now you’re thinking “You’ve lost your marbles!” Seattle has done more this year than possibly anyone. They stole Chone Figgins from division rival the Angels, they added problem child Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman via trade with Boston. Offensively they have some serious holes…SS Jack Wilson is just not good, 1B Kotchman has never hit more than 14 HR’s, Bradley will disrupt whatever team chemistry they had begun, they have a hole at catcher and aging DH/HOF’er Ken Griffey Jr. is on the wrong side of his career. Bringing in Cliff Lee as a #2 behind King Felix was a great move. Seattle definitely has the best 1-2 in the division if not in all of baseball, but…and that’s a big but. I’m not sure it’s enough to win the thing.
Division Winners: Texas Rangers
I don’t think anyone else in the baseball world is picking the Rangers to win. But I believe they’re going to shock the world. They have picked up arguably the best pitcher in the Majors (when he’s on and not hurt) in Rich Harden. With Nolan Ryan, Ron Washington, and pitching guru Mike Maddux, they are in the process of changing the culture in Texas and their pitching staff is improving radically. They have a lot of young arms in hard thrower Neftali Perez and his 100 MPH fastball, Derek Holland, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy and Tommy (Bahama) Hunter in the mix for the rotation. Throw in CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis (back from dominating Japan) and you have some quality and depth. With an under-rated closer in Frank Francisco the Rangers are going to pitch much better than anyone is giving them credit for. What can we say about their offense? Simply punishing! Youngster Julio Borbon is going to create havoc on the base paths this year, stealing 40+ bases and leading off. If Vlad and Josh Hamilton can bounce back for a healthy year and Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus continue to get better…nobody will be able to hit with these guys and that includes the vaunted Yankees. You may think I’m hoping for a lot of things to come together? Trust me on this…the stars are aligning for the Texas Rangers! Just as the song say’s…”The stars at night, they shine so bright….deep in the heart of Texas” That being said…they’ll win the division but lose in the first round of the play-offs. 2011 they could win it all though as their pitching continues to mature!
P. Kelley - A.L. Maharishi
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