Friday, March 25, 2016

2016 Predictions- AL West

    We are just nine days away from opening day! Now that we have established Boston and Kansas City as the predicted AL division winners, we need to jump into the American League West. This division saw two representatives in the postseason last year, Texas and Houston. Will it be the same again in 2016? Let's go...

5. Oakland Athletics

    Billy Beane strikes again. A year after trading away the eventual MVP, Josh Donaldson, the "Moneyball" man traded away the main return piece of that trade, Brett Lawrie, to the South Side. They did sign Jed Lowry, Ryan Madson and Rich Hill. They made trades for Kris Davis and Yonder Alonso. Despite the typical off season for the A's,  I don't see how this team finishes anywhere but last in the division.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

     Despite the fact that the Angels continue to have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, they continue to squander their opportunities of maximizing his talent.  They tried signing the top free agent pitchers this off-season, but failed. They tried trading for an outfield piece in Michael Saunders, and failed.  The Halos also managed to trade away the few remaining quality pieces in their farm system for Andrelton Simmons. There are so many question marks in both their lineup and rotation that it will be difficult for them to fair any better then cellar dwelling.

3. Seattle Mariners

   The Mariners might be the most overhauled team in all of baseball this off-season. They began the offseason by hiring a new GM from within the division, Jack Sorenzic. He then proceeded to make several trades, including Morrison and Miller for Nathan Karns, Carson Smith and Elias for Wade Miley and Mark Trumbo for Steve Clevenger. In addition, the M's also acquired Leonys Martin, Steve Cishek, Chris Iannetta, Adam Lind, Rob Brantly, Ryan Cook and re-signed Iwakuma,  after his deal with the Dodgers fell through. Despite all the moves, as previously referenced, this team could end up third or a top the division depending on how the cards fall.

2. Texas Rangers

  After finishing the 2015 campaign strong, the team from Texas went into the off-season with a head of steam, looking forward to 2016. After acquiring Cole Hamels mid season, they await the return of Yu Darvish to join Hamels atop the Rangers rotation, as one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball.  They added Tom Wilhelmson to the back of the bullpen to help Tollison's efforts,  although at first glance, Choo's  contract appeared to be a bust, he blossomed towards the end of the year and put up numbers we come to expect from a quality corner outfielder such as himself. In an ironic twist, they acquired Ian Desmond to play the outfield, although if Elvis Andrus can't get the job done at short(ALDS game 5),  Desmond could move back to his original position. And, if Hamilton and Beltre  can stay healthy for the season,  I could see this team winning the division for a second straight year.

1.  Houston Astros

     Just like the Minnesota Twins, the Astros really took the league by storm last season.  We baseball fans got to witness the breakout season for the game's next big superstar, Carlos Correa. Dallas Kuechel won the AL Cy Young Award, and looks to continue his dominance in the upcoming season. The Achilles Heel for the 'Stros in '15 was their  inability to close out ballgames, which they addressed by adding Ken Giles in a trade with the Philidelphia Phillies. They re-signed Tony Sipp and Colby Rasmus, Who had an unbelievable postseason for Houston in 2015. I made the mistake of picking them last a season ago, and, won't make the same mistake again. Houston, we have no problems.

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