2008 AL West Predictions
1. Mariners — Any offense that begins with Ichiro at the top is already off to a good start. Richie Sexson will be back to his old self, while Beltre, Ibanez, Johjima, and Vidro will be solid but not spectacular. The Erik Bedard trade puts them over the top; it really sets their rotation up nicely. With everyone bumped down a spot, they match up well starter for starter with any rotation. Their bullpen is solid and anchored by J.J. Putz. If I could give them one thing, I’d give em … Adrian Beltre of ’05 — the one they bought.
2. Angels — I low-balled them last year and I have a preoccupation with tempering my expectations. Hopefully it works again. Truthfully though, I am seriously worried, if not downright pessimistic at the outlook of this year’s team. You simply can’t lose Kelvim Escobar for the year and expect to just move on without him — he’s an All-Star (damn well should have been). You can’t have Lackey on the shelf for well over a month and be able to survive. With one down for a limited amount of time they could survive. But without either of them out for a significant amount of time, they won’t be able to hold off Seattle — Mariners have just improved too much. I love the right side of the infield and think Kendrick and Kotchman will shine this year. I know the Angels have a lot of “depth” problem is, you can only play nine guys at a time. If I could give them one thing, I’d give em … a new shoulder for Escobar.
3. A’s — The offense is so bad they’d give the Giants a run for their money. Their pitching is pretty solid even without Dan Haren. And you can always trust that Beane knows what he’s doing. He’s reason enough for me to think they’ll finish third. Their bullpen is actually pretty good, and Rich Harden and Joe Blanton could be a great 1-2 punch, especially if Harden maintains his health. If I could give them one thing, I’d give em … a time machine to fast-forward three years when they’ll actually be good.
4. Rangers — I like Kason Gabbard, but outside of him, I’m not a fan of their pitching. Pitching in that park doesn’t help, but hey, you don’t see Cole Hamels complaining, right? The bullpen’s pretty bad, and there’s too much patchwork in the outfield. They’re well past their days of being a big-hitting team. Their only bat left is Michael Young, and his power is declining. If I could give them one thing, I’d give em … a do-over on the Chris Young/Adrian Gonzalez trade.