Monday, November 28, 2005

AL West Offseason

Los Angeles Angels
Key players lost: Paul Byrd, Bengie Molina, Jarrod Washburn
Needs: 2 starters, catcher, DH
The Angels have thus far shown a good deal of patience toward prospects Robb Quinlan, Dallas MacPherson, and Casey Kotchman. And it hasn't paid off even remotely. Someone here needs to step forward and play third base, and it would also be nice if somebody hit well enough to fill in at DH. It's possible that the Angels could move Chone Figgins to third, but that would mean Steve Finley playing CF, and that's not a good idea.
The most pressing need for the Angels is in the starting rotation. They're returning AL CY Young Bartolo Colon, as well as John Lackey. They've got Ervin Santana, a highly-regarded prospect who had a pretty dreary 2005. So they'll need somone to fill these 2 spots. And while the organization has its share of hitting prospects, it will probably need to pursue free agents to fill the holes in the rotation.

Oakland Athletics
Key players lost: Scott Hatteberg, Octavio Dotel, Erubiel Durazo, Ricardo Rincon
Needs: Corner outfielder/DH, relief help
The A's are in a pretty good position to contend again in 2005. Their main problems will be keeping everyone healthy and doing something to goose catcher Jason Kendall (whose contract is the only albatross left on the team). They've got a fabulous young rotation, with Rich Harden, Barry Zito, Danny Haren, and Joe Blanton, and a fine closer in Huston Street. They look, in the early going at least, like the favorites in the AL West. Although it will require another step forward from youngsters like Bobby Crosby, Dan Johnson and Nick Swisher.

Seattle Mariners
Key players lost: Jamie Moyer, Jeff Nelson, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Pokey Reese
Needs: 2B, SS, DH, a few starters and a few relievers
Two years of a poorly-run franchise has left the Mariners with a dead pitching staff and a non-existent infield. The odds that these humongous problems can be solved in time for 2006 are astronomical.
The Seattle infield is manned by capable first baseman Richie Sexson, and that's about it. Adrian Beltre plays third, but the Mariners are now regretting giving this league-average player an MVP's salary. Second base and shortstop are gaping holes the team appears to be dense about filling. We don't need another year of Scott Spiezio and Willie Bloomquist. The M's have filled their catching void with Japanese import Kenji Johjima, but could still use a bat at DH (or LF, with Raul Ibanez shifting).
Other than rookie phenom Felix Hernandez (whom the M's should handle with kid gloves), the Mariners don't have one other starting pitcher that would qualify as league-average. Joel Pineiro, Gil Meche, and Ryan Franklin have looked good at times in the past, but it doesn't seem likely that they'll return to that relative glory. The team should also be looking for backup for the capable, and aging, closer Eddie Guardado.

Texas Rangers
Key players lost: Kenny Rogers, Richard Hidalgo, Steve Karsay, Sandy Alomar, John Wasdin
Needs: CF, RF, 2 or 3 starters
The Rangers can at least comfort themselves in the fact that, apart from ex-ace Rogers, they're not losing a lot on the free agent market. This means that they can do something about their starting rotation, which continues to be their biggest problem. They have the capable, if untested, Chris Young as their de facto ace, backed up by the non-awe-inspiring Rich Rodriguez and Joaquin Benoit. They seem to be pursuing free agent pitchers, but getting them to come to Texas will probably require them to overpay, leaving their outfield barren.
The Rangers have the capable yet unspectacular Kevin Mench in left field, but center field and right field are gaping holes. Unless they want to send Gary Matthews, Jr., back out there, the Rangers will need to get creative in filling these holes necessary for a potent offense.

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