The AL West has been a great division the past few seasons. The Mariners have won 116 games, the A’s won 20 games in a row, and the Angels have won the World Series. Also the past eight American League most valuable players have come from the division. This year looks to be a very wild one in the AL West. (Order for winning the division is in the order of listing.)
Who they lost: Ted Lilly, p (Traded to Blue Jays), Ramon Hernandez, c (Traded to Padres), Terrence Long, of (Traded to Padres), Keith Foulke, rhp (Signed with Red Sox), Miguel Tejada, ss (Signed with Orioles), Michael Barrett, c (Traded to Cubs), Steve Sparks, rhp (Signed by Arizona), Jose Guillen, of (Signed by Anaheim)
Who they gained: Bobby Kielty, of (Traded from Toronto), Mark Kotsay, of (Traded from San Diego), Mark Redman, rhp (Traded from Marlins), Chris Hammond, lhp (Traded from Yankees), Arthur Rhodes, rhp (Signed from Seattle), Damian Miller, c (Traded from Cubs), Eric Karros, 1b (Signed from Cubs)
What to expect: The Oakland A’s have gotten the past two division titles, but they have yet to show much for it. They have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the last two years since their pitching has not pitched. This season Oakland should squeak by with a division win, but it gets iffy past that.
Strengths: The trio of Hudson-Mulder-Zito are back this year, along with the additions of Mark Redman and a full year from Rich Harden, make this Oakland staff a strength. The bullpen figures to be a little more imposing than seasons past.
Weaknesses: Last season the team offense was weak; that was before the loss of MVP Miguel Tejada. The offense will be very weak this season, and will probably be the downfall of the A’s. The team defense, especially in the outfield, is not too strong.
Who they lost: Scott Spiezio, 1b (Signed with Seattle), Eric Owens, of (Signed with Seattle Mariners)
Who they gained: Kelvim Escobar, rhp (Signed from Blue Jays), Bartolo Colon, rhp (Signed from White Sox), Jose Guillen, of (Signed from Oakland), Vladimir Guerrero, of (Signed from Montreal)
What to expect: The Anaheim Angels have assembled a strong team for this season, perhaps the best 1-25 in the division, but I cannot see Billy Beane losing. The Angels should win the Wild Card, and they might make some noise in the postseason, but a World Series win is out of the question. Expect a solid 94-win season from the Halos.
Strengths: The Angels offense should be a team strength, along with their bullpen. The fan base and new owner should both be great strengths as well.
Weaknesses: The weaknesses for this Angel staff will be the starters after Bartolo Colon. Kelvim Escobar has not started on a regular basis, Jarrod Washburn is the only lefty on the staff worthy of getting the ball, and Ramon Ortiz and John Lackey have so much to prove.
Who they lost: Mike Cameron, of (Signed with Mets), Rey Sanchez, ss (Signed with Devil Rays), Greg Colbrunn, if (Traded to Arizona), Armando Benitez, rhp (Signed with Marlins), Jeff Cirillo, 3b (Traded to Padres), Carlos Guillen, ss (Traded to Tigers), Kaz Sasaki, rhp (Signed with Japan), Mark McLemore, if (Signed by Orioles), John Mabry, of (Signed with Cardinals), Arthur Rhodes, lhp (Signed with Oakland)
Who they gained: Raul Ibanez, of (Signed from Royals), Eddie Guardado, lhp (Signed from Twins), Scott Spiezio, 1b (Signed from Anaheim), Wiki Gonzalez, c (Traded from Padres), Kevin Jarvis, rhp (Traded from Padres), Rich Aurilia, ss (Signed from Giants), Ramon Hernandez, if (Traded to Tigers), Mike Myers, lhp (Signed from D'backs), Young-Chi Chen, if (Signed from), Ron Villone, lhp (Signed from Astros), Eric Owens, of (Signed from Anaheim), Terry Mulholland, lhp (Signed from Indians)
What to expect: The Seattle Mariners are a quickly aging team and they should begin falling apart soon. The additions during this offseason have not really been large improvements or losses. I think a ninety-win season is possible from this team.
Strengths: The defense for this team should remain excellent. The top part of the pitching staff should be a strength with Jamie Moyer and Joel Piniero should hold their own. The offense figures to score quite a few runs.
Weaknesses: The 3-5 spots in the rotation will be a weakness for this team, and the bullpen will not be as strong as in recent seasons. Old age and poor health will be deterrents this season for the formed 116-win team.
Who they lost: John Thompson, rhp (Signed with Atlanta), Juan Gonzalez, of (Signed by Royals), Rafael Palmeiro, 1b-dh (Signed with Orioles), CJ Nitkowski, lhp (Signed with Braves), Mike Lamb, 3b (Traded to Yankees), Alex Rodriguez, ss/3b (Traded to Yankees)
Who they gained: Jason Tyner, of (Waivers from Devil Rays), Brad Fullmer, 1b-of (Signed from Angels), Brian Jordan, of (Signed from Dodgers), David Dellucci, of (Signed from Yankees), Kenny Rogers, lhp (Signed from Twins), Jeff Nelson, rhp (Signed from Yankees), Alfonso Soriano, 2b (Traded from Yankees)
What to expect: This team has gone through a tremendous change during the past few seasons. They still do not have the payroll flexibility they wish for (Chan Ho Park), but they have one of the greatest lineups for the future. A seventy-five-win season is definitely in the cards.
Strengths: The team’s infield offense will be the best…in 2006. Mark Texiera, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Young, and Hank Blalock should all provide a strong foundation, along with Laynce Nix, Ramon Nivar, and a few more. They will also have a closer to deal in Francisco Cordero and/or Jeff Zimmerman.
Weaknesses: The major weakness of this team is the team’s starting rotation. Chan Ho Park should not be a staff ace on any team, and Kenny Rogers should not be starting anywhere in a few years. The rest of the staff is a bunch of kids who will take large lumps this season.