Thursday, February 10, 2005

MLB Preview 2: AL West

Fighting Los Angeles Fighting Baseball Angelroons of Anaheim, California, USA

Chone Figgins 3B
Orlando Cabrera SS
Garret Anderson LF
Vlad Guerrero RF
Steve Finley/Jeff DaVanon CF
Darin Erstad 1B
Tim Salmon DH
Bengie Molina/Josh Paul C
Adam Kennedy 2B

Bartolo Colon
Jarrod Washburn
Kelvim Escobar
John Lackey
Paul Byrd
Aaron Sele
Ramon Ortiz
Esteban Yan

I tried to go lefty/righty here, but in a perfect situation, Vlad hits 3rd, Anderson 4th, and a meathead righty hits fifth. Finley is a decent pickup, though.
Not much change in the rotation - Byrd is serviceable and will give the Angels good innings. Plus, he's a great change of pace after throwing Colon and Washburn at an opponent. And, of course, the bullpen is once again great, even after the loss of Troy Percival.

Oakland A's

Mark Kotsay CF
Jason Kendall C
Eric Chavez 3B
Erubiel Durazo DH
Eric Byrnes LF
Nick Swisher RF
Bobby Crosby SS
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Mark Ellis/Marco Scutaro 2B

Barry Zito
Rich Harden
Danny Haren
Juan Cruz
Justin Duchscherer

OK, the A's lineup in reality will look nothing like this. But, I have no idea how a moneyballer would play it. Durazo has been playing low in the order; Ellis is normally a 1-2 guy but is coming off surgery. I may have given Byrnes too much credit, and judging by the reviews, I may not have given enough. The bad news for Steve Stanley (A's best AA player, mediocre year at AAA) and Brian Stavisky (high A) is that, in addition to three quality starting outfielders, the A's also have Bobby Kielty and Charles Thomas coming off the bench.
Major turnover in the rotation for a team that only needed to use 6 starters all of last year. Harden and Haren are huge on promise, though. I don't know if Cruz will be a starter, but they really don't have anyone else to do it. The lack of experienced starting pitching could really wear on what otherwise is a good looking bullpen (and on the cartilage of curveballer Zito if he needs to become an innings eater this year).

Texas Rangers

Michael Young SS
Hank Blalock 3B
Alfonso Soriano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Richard Hidalgo RF
Dave Dellucci/Adrian Gonzalez DH
Kevin Mench LF
Laynce Nix/Gary Matthews CF
Rod Barajas C

Kenny Rogers
Ryan Drese
Chan Ho Park
Pedro Astacio
Ricardo Rodriguez
Joaquin Benoit
RA Dickey
Chris Young
Juan Dominguez
Nick Regilio
Kameron Loe

Not much change in the lineup this year. Hidalgo basically replaces Brad Fullmer. I have a feeling that Nix and Matthews will have a bit of a lefty/righty platoon. I'd love to see PT for Gonzalez this year, too. But, with Teixeira at first, it will have to be at DH unless he can learn to play the outfield.
Rogers is backed by a boatload of decent young starters in the rotation. But, can any of those guys make the jump from "decent" to "great?" We shall see. Meanwhile, the best bullpen in the league returns led by breakout star closer Francisco Cordero.

Seattle Mariners

Ichiro! RF
Randy Winn LF
Richie Sexson 1B/DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Bret Boone 2B
Bucky Jacobsen DH/1B
Miguel Olivo/Dan Wilson C
Pokey Reese SS
Jeremy Reed CF

Jamie Moyer
Gil Meche
Joel Pineiro
Ryan Franklin
Bobby Madritsch
Ron Villone
Travis Blackley
Clint Nageotte
Cha Seung Baek

Wow. Well, that's how the lineup may look, but I really have no idea. Perhaps Mike Hargrove will try something completely different. This lineup looks great 1-6 - assuming Sexson stays healthy, Beltre wasn't a flash in the pan, and Boone isn't a 'roid user. But after that it's not so good. Reese will play great defense no matter where he is, and I put him and Reed at the bottom of the order as "secondary leadoff men." To be honest, though, I've never heard of Reed before in my life. The tricky task for Hargrove will be to get 3B Justin Leone in the lineup. Leone showed some promise after being called up after the All Star break, but cooled off over the rest of the season.
The lineup won't scare too many people, but that may be to Seattle's advantage. Given these guys, I'd go with a 5-man rotation, but would try to convince Moyer that he would be by #1 and #4 starter. The numbers of Meche, Pineiro, and Franklin last year weren't great, but they'll look much better with this lineup. All they need to do is get it to the 7th, so Rafael Soriano, Shiggie Hasegawa, and Everyday Eddie Guardado can take over.