The AL West is shaping up to be the best division in baseball, with an improved Mariners club, a powerhouse Angels lineup and the talent-rich Rangers all battling for the top spot. The hapless Astros enter the division this season as well and the timing could not be worse for them.
Major Additions: Carlos Pena, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, Alex White, Erik Bedard
Key Departures: Jed Lowrie, Fernando Rodriguez, Wilton Lopez
Significant Injuries: None
The Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West much as a lamb moves to the slaughterhouse. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow has gutted the major league team since taking over in December of 2011, but even sell-off every useful player you have isn’t enough to quickly build a competitor when you inherit a from a 106-loss team. Luhnow and company are building for a distant future and adding players like Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno to fill in the gaps as inexpensively as possible. The result is could be a team that loses games at a historic pace, but that is clearly of little concern to Luhnnow. He did well in trading away Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to add young talent in Carter and Peacock, and catching prospect Max Stassi and the team’s 2012 draft has gotten high marks from experts, but the 2013 team will be hard to watch.
Los Angeles Angels
Major Additions: Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson, Jason Vargas
Key Departures: Zack Greinke, Torii Hunter, Dan Haren,
Significant Injuries: Ryan Madson
Prior to the 2012 season the Angels rocked the baseball world by signing C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, but the team struggled early and finished third in the division. This off-season GM Jerry Dipoto once again landed one the game’s top free agents sluggers, signing Josh Hamilton away from the Rangers with a 5 year/$125M deal, but the team had to settle for less flashy options to replace Greinke and Haren in the rotation. They gave up a solid reliever to bring in Tommy Hanson from the Braves and signed the durable if unspectacular Joe Blanton to a 2 year/$15M. Their bullpen is still smarting from the loss of Walden with Ryan Madson recovery from Tommy John surgery keeping him off the mound, but the Angels offense should let them win even without a strong back of the rotation or a lock-down closer.
Major Additions: Jed Lowrie, John Jaso, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Chris Young, Fernando Rodriguez
Key Departures: Jonny Gomes, Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Cliff Pennington, Kila Ka'aihue, Chris Carter
Significant Injuries: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Adam Rosales, Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodriguez
The Athletics added a few solid role players to their already talented young core which emerged out of nowhere to win the AL West on the final day of the regular season. The got center fielder Chris Young in trade a with the Diamondbacks. GM Billy Beane then made on of his signature three-team moves, inserting himself into the deal that brought Michael Morse to Seattle to land catcher John Jaso. Between these trades and free agency
Major Additions: Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Kelly Shoppach, Joe Saunders,
Key Departures: Chone Figgins, Miguel Olivo, George Sherrill, Jason Vargas
Significant Injuries: None
The Mariners are finally moving on from the Ichiro era after trading the long time face of their franchise to the Yankees last season and priority number for GM Jack Zduriencik was adding pop to his offense, a group that has been last in the American League in runs scored for four straight seasons. He used some of the many strong prospects the team has built up during his tenure to acquire Michael Morse from the Nationals and Kendry Morales, two players with plus power who may represent a departure from the emphasis on defense that had previously characterized the club.He added Joe Saunders to the rotation, which should be strength in 2013. With a few heavy hitters to get runners in,
Major Additions: Lance Berkman, A.J. Pierzynski, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor
Key Departures: Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Scott Feldman, Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara
Significant Injuries: Martin Perez, Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, Colby Lewis
It was a disappointing off-season in Arlington as the Rangers watched their top star Josh Hamilton leave for the rival Angels, missed out on free agents Zack Grienke and Adam LaRoche and failed in their attempts to acquire Justin Upton and and R.A. Dickey via trade. They can take comfort in having top positions prospect Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, knocking on the door, but the team may have taken a step back after barely missing a third straight division title in 2012. Lance Berkman will help fill in the gap left by