American League West

February 14, 2010

AL WEST
Angels
Starting point: 97-65, 1st (beat Red Sox in first round, lost to Yankees in ALCS).

Project manager: Tony Reagins.

General contractor: Mike Scioscia.

Bones: The Angels scored the second most runs in the majors last season, going to the playoffs for the sixth time in Scioscia's 10 seasons as manager.

New materials: RHP Fernando Rodney, DH Hideki Matsui, RHP Joel Pineiro.

In the dumpster: No. 1 starter John Lackey, DH Vladimir Guerrero, 3B/leadoff Chone Figgins, OF Gary Matthews Jr., LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jose Arredondo.

Job description: The Angels have long had a National League style approach, so Figgins' departure will require an adjustment. Outfield prospect Peter Bourjas is the same type of disruptive force, but there are no at-bats for him now. Deep in starting pitchers, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver will get a chance to step into Lackey's spot.

Unknowns: Can Brandon Wood (.192 average in 86 big league games) fill the void at third? Will Matsui's knees allow him to play outfield? Will Scot Shields return to form after major knee surgery?

Final inspection: A lot of important players are gone. The Angels appear somewhat vulnerable, but Scioscia is a manager who finds answers, not excuses.

Rangers
Starting point: 87-75, 2nd.

Project manager: Jon Daniels.

General contractor: Ron Washington.

Bones: A franchise that has never been past the first round has had only two winning seasons in the 10 years since its last playoff appearance, but 2009 was one of the two, sparking badly needed enthusiasm.

New materials: A new ownership group including Nolan Ryan, RHP Rich Harden, DH Vladimir Guerrero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Colby Lewis, LHP Clay Rapada.

In the dumpster: Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, RHP Kevin Millwood, CF Marlon Byrd, 3B-1B Hank Blalock, RHP Joaquin Benoit, OF-DH Andruw Jones, INF Omar Vizquel.

Job description: Clint Hurdle takes on the unenviable job of replacing Jaramillo, who has been linked to the success of Texas hitters since Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez were minor leaguers. He needs to improve the production of a team that was 12th in the AL with a .320 OBP last year.

Unknowns: Can Hurdle help Josh Hamilton regain his swagger? Will Neftali Feliz be more valuable as a starter or shut-down reliever? Can long-time Rangers killer Guerrero thrive while based at The Ballpark? Can prospect Justin Smoak, a star for the U.S. team in the 2009 World Cup, unseat Chris Davis at first base?

Final inspection: Few teams figure to be as much fun to watch in 2010.

Mariners
Starting point: 85-77, 3rd.

Project manager: Jack Zduriencik.

General contractor: Don Wakamatsu.

Bones: Both Wakamtsu and Zduriencik had positive impacts in their first full seasons running teams. Zduriencik followed a good season with a busy winter, improving the roster significantly.

New materials: Playoff ace Cliff Lee, 3B/leadoff Chone Figgins, 1B Casey Kotchman, LF-DH Milton Bradley, 1B-DH Ryan Garko.

In the dumpster: 3B Adrian Beltre, 1B Russell Branyan, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Carlos Silva, RHP Miguel Batista.

Job description: The Mariners were last in the AL in scoring last season, producing 275 fewer runs than the Yankees and 243 less than the Angels. The lineup lacks an established RBI man better than 2B Jose Lopez, so Wakamatsu must be creative.

Unknowns: Will the highly flammable Bradley be a karma killer? Will rookie catcher Adam Moore (.483 career slugging average in minors) be a factor? Can Ken Griffey Jr. be more than a familiar face at age 40? Can center fielder Dustin Ackley, the best hitter in the 2009 draft, be this year's Gordon Beckham?

Final inspection: Felix Hernandez and Lee are the best 1-2 starters in the majors. The depth behind them and 1-2 hitters Ichiro Suzuki and Figgins will determine if the M's contend.

Athletics
Starting point: 75-87, 4th.

Project manager: Billy Beane.

General contractor: Bob Geren.

Bones: Underfunded, the A's somehow averaged 89 wins over the last decade but only 75 in the three years since they lost Barry Zito, the last remaining remember of the (Tim) Hudson-Zito-(Mark) Mulder trio.

New materials: RHP Ben Sheets, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, CF Coco Crisp, DH-1B Jake Fox, INF Aaron Miles.

In the dumpster: INF Bobby Crosby, utilityman Nomar Garciaparra, 2B Adam Kennedy, RHP Brett Tomko, 3B-1B Brett Wallace, OF Scott Hairston, OF Aaron Cunningham.

Job description: Preparing the fragile Sheets and Justin Duchscherer, who offer difference-making arms at the front of a rotation loaded with prospects, most notably lefty Brett Anderson.

Unknowns: Is the unsung Cliff Pennington job-worthy at shortstop? Can top prospect Michael Taylor make his .312 average and power numbers translate to the big leagues?

Final inspection: They're not going to outslug many teams so improved fielding and offensive execution are musts.

AL WEST

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