I suspect I will be staying up late to watch some west coast baseball this year.
I like the way the San Francisco Giants look - I think they'll be worth watching.
I'll keep tabs on the Mariners, since a recent turn of events has made it quite likely I'll be making a Safeco visit in July.
And I think the entire AL West will be playing some very good baseball....and that division is going to be ridiculously tight.
Here's an indication of how tight I think this division will be - do you think the Angels are a third place team? Neither do I, really, but here's what I have:
I don't think you can argue with the system, can you?
All right, there is no system, really, but that's the way I'm picking them...and as I indicated yesterday, I would really only be surprised if someone in this division ran away with it.
The Texas Rangers are the team to beat in my eyes because I think they're flying a bit under the radar. I feel like everyone's talking about Seattle and Anaheim, but not Texas. That's a lot of pressure taken off the team. They don't have great pitching, but it's good enough to win - they lost Kevin Millwood - it's not like they lost Roy Halladay.
The Seattle Mariners drew so much attention because of all the moves they made. I think they'll be very good...but I feel like every time this franchise has high expectations they fall flat on their face. So I'm not putting them on top of the division until they show that they can win something. (This would be the year to show me something, incidentally - I like their team.)
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost way more than they gained, if you ask me. A clarification here - these are not the best teams in the American League - they just seem to be the most competitive division top to bottom. So to me, the weaker Angels just bring them back towards the rest of the pack here - not too far from a division win - they just don't seem to me like division-champion-caliber this year.
And the Oakland A's are a last-place team here - but I don't know that they're going to finish a ton of games out of first. Oakland has some good pitching, and some decent players in their lineup. They'll compete. Just, again, I see them as the longest shot at winning the division.
AL WEST NOTES
-Here's a stat I'm proud to have stumbled upon - new Rangers pitcher Rich Harden began his career with Oakland, so he has experience in the AL West. He has great numbers in each of the stadiums in the division - except his new home park. Here's the breakdown, and take note of how he pitches in Seattle, which is what the division could boil down to:
at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington: 1-1, 5 starts, 22 IP, 31 hits, 14 walks, 27 K, 7.66 ERA
at Safeco Field: 5-0, 6 starts, 42 IP, 21 hits, 14 walks, 46 K, 0.86 ERA
at Oakland Coliseum: 18-9, 47 starts, 293 IP, 231 hits, 112 walks, 285 K, 2.98 ERA
at Angel Stadium: 3-1, 7 starts, 43 IP, 36 hits, 21 walks, 33 K, 3.98 ERA
-Doesn't Vladimir Guerrero just seem like a good fit for Texas?
-It's amazing to me the Angels did as well as they did last year after the Nick Adenhart tragedy so early in the season. Something in the back of my mind when thinking about the Angels is that sort of situation has to take a huge emotional toll on a team. I thought they'd suffer some on-field letdown last year...maybe it comes this year. And I wouldn't blame them if it did.
Next Week: NL East