AL WEST PREVIEW
The AL West was down last year as division winner Arizona only won 85 games. However, with some new owners and a lot of young talent, this division is in the rebuilding process toward respectability. Arizona and Seattle should battle for the division while Oakland and Colorado are building for the future.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks - toddrohr
Last Season: 85-77 - First Place
Arizona made some big pitching acquisitions in order in to improve from the 85-77 record that won the West last year. However, most of the acquisitions are older pitchers and therefore, Arizona will rely on their young talent to improve.
Returning Players: Steven Withen, 24 year old SS is ready for stardom. He's averaged .300-20-100 over his first three seasons. Joss Butler, 24 year old OF, Branch Austin, 25 year old Of and Rico Martin, 25 year old 2B (.290-28-104 last year) all return and should improve in Season 8. These young stars will mix with veterans Josias Rodriquez and Karim Ozuna (.366 last year) to provide the offense for the team. On the pitching side, Ryan O'Malley and Oswaldo Pulido return to anchor the rotation and Tris Davis is back to close the door on the opponent (33 Saves in 35 opp. with a 1.06 WHIP.)
Key Additions: Not a lot of additions this year for Arizona. Zephry Casian returns to his Season 1 franchise to help add depth to the rotation. Kevin Lee (10-7 1.27 WHIP last year) rounds out the rotation.
Key Loss: None
If Arizona can get some quality innings out of the 37 year old Casian and get the production out of its young offense, it could be looking at 90 wins. However, 37 year old starters don't last too long in the Majors.
Season Prediction: 84-78 - First Place
2. Seattle Mariners - richelle
Last Year: 73-89 Second Place
After completing the best season in franchise history in Season 7, Seattle was active in the off-season, reworking its pitching staff with some veteran players and adding a superstar SS in Geraldo Oropesa, a 24-year old SS. However, the questions of depth still haunt Seattle's GM.
Returning Players: Phil DePaula, a 25 year old 1B retruns to provide pop to the lineup. DePaula hit .284-43-129 last year. Veteran OF Brian Graham provides some veteran leadership to the lineup. Chico Vega returns to a pitching staff after posting a 1.20 WHIP in 101 IP. Shane Rooney will open the season on the DL, but should return to improve on last years 12-7 record.
Key Additions: Seattle went hard after veteran pitchers adding 37-year old Hugh Duffy and 36 year old Felipe Lee. Combined they were 34-11 last season (Duffy 16-6 1.08WHIP; Lee 18-5 1.16WHIP). Oropesa should improve greatly on his .294-24-87 rookie year in Chicago.
Key Loss: Orel West, a competent 27-year old starter was traded in order to acquire Oropesa.
Seattle is relying heavily on its older pitchers. However, their track records indicate at least one more solid year each.
Season Prediction: 83-79 - Second Place
3. Colorado Rockies - afatrain
Last Season - 59-103 - tied for last Place
Colorado suffered 103 season last year, but new owner afatrain has made some serious improvements in Season 8 in order to bring respectability back to Colorado.
Returning Players: Not many. Colorado cleaned house and went to a youth movement this season. Harry Aguilera returns to provide needed innings to the rotation.
Key Additions: Colorado has gone with a much needed youth movement and promoted several of its young players to the ML level. Its a gusty move which should provide immediate dividens, but should also drive the Colorado manager nuts. Additions include 24 year old SS Victor Carrasco, the man from hell, 24 year old Hades Guerrero (26-29 Svs, 1.06 WHIP in High A), Estaban Javier 24 year old pitcher (17-5 in Low A), Nerio Everett, 24 year old DH (1.145 OPS in AA), J.T. Latham (36 HRs in AA) and Dan Gibbs, a 22 year old starter who Colorado grabbed in the Rule 5 draft.
Key Loss: Al Bonilla and his 81 RBI will be missed.
Colorado will be very inconsistent this year, but it will at least be better than the consistent losses it suffered in Season 7.
Prediction: 69-93 - Third Place
4. Oakland A's - russilini
Last Year: 59-103 - Tied for last place
Oakland has been in flux the past few seasons. Last year the franchise had 2 different owners. Feamster came in to really stabilize the franchise and now russilini looks to make improvements over last year. His impact can immediately be felt by the number of transactions and he made. Oakland was the most active franchise in the trading market this year. Oakland hasn't brought in any ready for ML talent, so it won't show in Season 8, but russilini's additions will add much needed depth to the franchise and help position Oakland for a run in the next few years.
Returning Players: There weren't alot of players worth returning from a 53 win team, however, Gary Dickens and his 1.42 WHIP return to the staff and 26 yer old Tom Santana should show improvement in Season 8.
Key Additions: Season 2 Cy Young winner C.C. Fergueson a 38-year old lefty was added to the pitching staff. Whether he's able to provide enough length in starts will be the question. Geraldo Tejada and his 1.25 WHIP in 91 innings last year was also added. We should probably see top prospect Danny Seelbach, the 21 year old 2B sometime this season.
Key Loss: 35 year old Ken Hamilton and 29 year old Phil Duffy will be missed from the rotation. The big loss, however, was 24 year old fireballer Brook Chapman. Chapman was 28-30 in saves with a 1.24 WHIP last season.
Given the depth added to the franchise, russilini should get a pass for Season 8. The team will not be able to score enough runs to compete, but the Oakland franchise will be better off for russilini's efforts.
Season Prediction: 60-102 - Last Place