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5 Bold Predicitions: AL West

Everyone who likes to talk sports will have their predictions, opinions and ideas. Sure, anyone can say "Player X will win MVP this year" or "Player Y will get traded for sure," but how many of these predictions have merit?

In this series, I am going to look at realistic, but out of this world situations that could happen, tell you why, and then sit back and have fun at the chatter it creates. If any of these happen in the next 12 months of 2012, please don't call me some kind of expert or Nostradamus, just say "Hey, I didn't see that coming, but that makes sense...."

1) The Los Angeles Angels make another blockbuster move: If we look at the roster of the Angels, we know they made a fantastic deal back loading the contract of Albert Pujols to help secure CJ Wilson. Albert is projected to have a big first year, and a bold projection wouldn't be saying they will take the division. What the Angels have in excess are a lot of expendable pieces. As I noted the other day, payroll flexibility is coming up soon for them, which is scary for how good this team COULD be.

If we look at their roster we see plenty of pieces that could be moved. Obvious players are Kendrys Morales as well as the bevy of high priced OF pieces. Along with them, I do not think it would be so far off to say Ervin Santana could be on the move. With a club option for 2013, Ervin Santana along with some salary dumps could prove as a vital trade chip. The Angels rotation is great as it is; the team could use its plethora of major league talent to upgrade at the Catching and Shortstop to be the dominate force out West for the near future. Oh yea, let's not forget Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo are under team control for the foreseeable future.

2) The Texas Rangers make a major trade as well: The problem with the Rangers is that they will soon be on the decline. Similar to the way the Phillies are built to win now, the Rangers have pieces coming off the books that need to be locked up. Unless Nolan Ryan wishes to continue building on payroll, they will need to make some moves. If Darvish is added along with after arbitration and free agency ends, the Rangers payroll should be in the $90 million range for another year.

The Major League team is strong, but they have no help in the minors with stars. I don't see Neftali Felix moving from the rotation, so if Darvish is signed, Ogando/Harrison/Lewis could be on the block. Furthermore, along with Josh Hamilton, Napoli and Kinsler are slated to be on the market after the 2012 season; Cruz/Young/Murphy after 2013. Josh Hamilton needs an extension, but would probably need to be signed somewhere at least $22-$25 per year. I don't see him moving (especially with 10-5 rights) but the pieces the Rangers could receive from any team in the AL/NL East, or other powerhouses such as the Cubs could be too lucrative to pass up. Either way, the Rangers need to move some pieces to secure the future of their club so they can compete with the Halos.

3) The Seattle Mariners lose 100 games: They weren't too far off that mark last season, and there is just increased pressure on them now. Unless they go out and sign Prince Fielder, the team has no punch. I don't see them finally letting go of King Felix, but stranger things have happened. Bottom line is, Ichiro is one year older, Justin Smoak is not an offensive threat, and they still have this guy.

4) The Oakland Athletics will get even cheaper: Their payroll is going to be in the $30 million range when the season starts...and it could be cheaper. Not really sure why they re-signed Coco Crisp, but they have some OF's that could make their way to the majors soon. Brian Fuentes could always be a piece come the deadline. The fact that the Athletics, Mariners, and Astros will all be in the same division will be a joke for the first two teams mentioned.

5) The Angels win the divsion....and don't make it to the ALCS. Basically, when you aim high, you get this and this.