It's good to have goals. It's good to have something to strive for. But just like I will never be the first combination President of the United States/Astronaut/Third baseman/Paleontologist, sometimes those goals need to bend to reality. That's why, all this week, I've been looking at new goals for each of MLB's 30 teams based on where they are now, and what they can reasonably hope to accomplish before the end of the season. On Tuesday, I looked at the AL East and the NL East. Yesterday, we went through the AL Central and the NL Central. Today, we move further west.
So, without further ado, here are some realistic and revised goals for the teams in the American League West, so that they can at least feel good about how they finish:
Current record: 71-57, leading the AL West
The Astros are definitely a team on the make and sport the best pitching staff in the American League. They've done everything right this year, including making win-now moves at the trade deadline, trusting young players like Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr., and Preston Tucker with expanded roles, and building a fantastic bullpen. This won't be their only bite at the postseason apple, but having more than just a single postseason game will help them start off right.
New goal: A deep playoff run, at least to the ALCS.
Can feel ok about settling for: Holding off the Rangers and Angles to win the AL West, and building a strong foundation for 2016.
Los Angeles Angels
Current record: 64-62, 6.0 games back in the AL West, 1.0 game back in the Wild Card
As Mike Trout goes, so go the Angels, and Trout's August has been his worst month since his debut season in 2011 as he's nursed a wrist injury. Los Angeles has lost 19 of its last 28 games and is spiraling out of contention for any kind of playoff spot. With only three healthy and effective starters, and Albert Pujols hitting .230/.272/.415 since the start of July, it's hard to see how the Angels are going to pull out of this nosedive.
New goal: Right the ship in time to at least make the second wild card.
Can feel ok about settling for: Any team with Mike Trout has a huge leg up, so maybe the Angels take the foot off the accelerator and try again next year with everyone healthy and rested. But this veteran-heavy team is dealing with an otherwise aging core whose window is closing, so anything short of a playoff appearance in 2015 would be a huge disappointment.
Current record: 55-73
From the get-go, things have not gone as planned for the Athletics, and there's no way out of this season that will make it feel like a success overall after having to sell off Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard, and Ben Zobrist. Still, you have to figure that, given how quickly Billy Beane can tack and change direction, everybody is playing for their 2016 jobs from here on out.
New goal: The A's will have to go 19-15 to avoid finishing with their worst record since 1997. Let's start there.
Can feel ok about settling for: Sort out who is going to stay, and who is expendable for Billy Beane inevitable annual reshuffling in 2016.
Current record: 59-68
The Mariners have not had a winning month all year long and have wasted another good year for Felix Hernandez. What a thoroughly depressing team playing uninspired baseball. Even when they've been good in the Jack Zduriencik era, they haven't been good, you know?
New goal: I honestly don't know. This team is awful and unbalanced. Just try to win a few and try not to think about how disappointed your parents are in you.
Can feel ok about settling for: Keeping Franklin Gutierrez healthy, I suppose. Helping the maddeningly-inconsistent Taijuan Walker put it all together.
Current record: 64-61, 5.5 games back in the AL West, 0.5 games back in the Wild Card race.
The Rangers have really come out of nowhere to get in on this postseason chase. They've gone 14-9 in August to take advantage of the faltering Twins and pull almost even. Jon Daniels bolstered their club with some timely deals to pick up Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Mike Napoli,and Will Venable in July and August, and the Rangers look like a good bet to outlast Minnesota, if they can stay healthy.
New goal: Stave off everyone to hang onto that Wild Card.
Can feel ok about settling for: Given the modest expectations they had due to Yu Darvish's season-long injury, the Rangers should feel pretty good about finishing above .500, and how they've nurtured the rises of Rougned Odor, Mitch Moreland, and Delino DeShields Jr.
Ok, I'll be back later today to finish up with the NL West.