MLB preview: AL West Division

James Evans

Last year the American League West was by far the best division in baseball. Three teams fought and clawed with one another for the division lead or at least the wildcard lead.

It was so competitive, that it came down to the last weekend of baseball; however, Oakland was eventually able to pull away and Anaheim secured the wildcard, leaving Seattle out.

Meanwhile, Texas struggled once again, leaving some people wondering if the signing of A-Rod was a curse instead of a blessing.

But as another year begins, once again any team has a chance at winning the division.


Key Additions: John Mabry (OF), Jamey Wright (P), Randy Winn (OF) and Greg Colbrunn (1B)

Key Losses: Desi Relaford (INF), Ruben Sierra (OF), James Baldwin (P), Ismael Valdes (P) and Paul Abbott (P).

Team Motto: No more Lou Tirades?

Seattle has been a powerhouse in the A.L. West for the past few years, and with a pretty intact team, this shouldn’t change. Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Boone and Mike Cameron coupled with a very solid pitching staff all point to another strong season for the Mariners.

Lou Piniella has since left for greener pastures with dead presidents on them in Tampa, but that shouldn’t present too much of a problem. Bob Melvin, Seattle’s new manager has inherited a well-tuned, finely oiled machine that will continue to produce.

We can only hope Melvin gives us some memorable outbursts, which we are all so used to seeing in Seattle.


Key additions: Chris Singleton (OF), John Halama (P), Keith Foulke (P) and Erubiel Durazo (1B)

Key Losses: Jeff Tam (P), Ray Durham (2B), John Mabry (OF), Cory Lidle (P) and Billy Koch (P)

Team Motto: We don’t need no stinking Giambis.

It’s hard to find something wrong with a team that has won over a hundred games the last two years and only improved its team with its off-season moves. Oakland acquired left-handed starter Halama in the off-season.

Left-handed starters are a rare commodity in the major league, but now the A’s have three in their rotation. Also, Singleton is a speedy outfielder who adds range to a solid A’s outfield.

The acquisition of Durazo gives the A’s depth at the first base position. Durazo will battle with Scott Hatteberg for the starting position in spring training, however no matter what the outcome, it can only be a positive sign for the A’s.

The only time when the A’s might struggle is when it comes to the ninth inning. The trade that brought Foulke over for Koch could be a slight disadvantage for the A’s, as Foulke does not posses the over powering fastball that Koch did. However, with the best starting rotation in the league, the bullpen will only be counted on in October.


Key Acquisitions: Eric Owens (OF), Rich Rodriguez (P) and Oscar Salazar (INF)

Key Losses: Dennis Cook (P), Alex Ochoa (OF), Al Levine (P), Orlando Palmeiro (INF) and Sal Fasano (C)

Team Motto: We won it all, and Disney sells us?

The World Champion Anaheim Angels came from nowhere last year to win it all. This year they will get more respect, but will that equate to another championship year?

Will players like Adam Kennedy and David Eckstein have the same kind of years that they had last year as they set career-highs?

Certain key players like Troy Glaus, Darren Erstad and Troy Percival are still around and ready to get their hands on another championship.

No question, the Angels will be in the hunt from the start of the season, but I don’t foresee another ring being slipped onto the Angels’ fingers.


Key additions: Doug Glanville (OF), Ugueth Urbina (P), John Thompson (P), Einar Diaz (C) and Esteban Yan (P).

Key Losses: Ivan Rodriguez (C), Kenny Rogers (P), Frank Catalanotto (OF) and Todd Hollandsworth (OF)

Team Motto: We have 250 million reasons to think we will be good this year.

The Rangers are in for another long season as they once again try and figure out how to win baseball games.

The years of spending money on hitters and trying to out-score the other team seems like it has come to an end for the Rangers, as they did not resign power hitters Ivan Rodriguez and Todd Hollandsworth.

This year it seems as if the Rangers are relying more on pitching to win games, despite not signing their star pitcher from last year, Kenny Rogers.

They have made a considerable effort, though, to strengthen both their rotation and their bullpen. They signed starters John Thompson and Ismael Valdes over winter.

Thompson is a young lefty who had some trouble in Detroit, but is looking for a new start in Texas. Valdes is veteran pitcher, who has had trouble lately but is looking to rejuvenate his career in Texas.

Also, the Rangers took a major step in solidify a shaky bullpen, by signing reliever Esteban Yan and closer Ugueth Urbina. Yan is a quality set-up man, while Urbina is one of the best closers in the game.

Both must be key elements if the Rangers are to do anything this year.