American League West 2016 Prediction

Posted: March 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

First:  Houston.  The Astros aren’t sliding or slipping.

Pitching:  Starting pitching is young and loaded.  Loaded.  Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Scott Feldman are impressive and more.  Adding Doug Fister makes for a miserable four-game series versus whomever.  The ‘pen is in a bit of a mess.  Who closes?  Ken Giles or Luke Gregerson?  Tony Sipp and Will Harris are solid.  Josh Fields and Pat Neshek complete a very impressive bullpen less the closer contest.

Offense:  Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis (home run or a great swinging strike out), Carlos Correa (yeah, he’s that good), George Springer and Luis Valbuena form a productive core of offense.  Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez, while lacking standing at the plate, run down their fair share of fly balls and line drives.  Jon Singleton either sticks in Houston or is banished to AAA during 2016.  Jake Marisnick hopes for at bats.  Jason Castro probably backs up Max Stassi since Max throws out baserunners.

Players in the system who could help:  Alfredo Gonzalez (c), A.J. Reed (1b), Matt Duffy (3b), Colin Moran (3b), Tony Kemp (lf), Domingo Santana (rf), Jon Kemmer (rf), Joseph Musgrove (starting pitching) and James Hoyt (relief).  Yes, investing in scouting, signing and development pays off over time.

Second:  Oakland.

Pitching:  Sonny Gray builds on a great introduction.  Jesse Hahn is not far behind.  Chris Bassitt, Jarrod Parker (healthy at last?) and Kendall Graveman complete a worthy starting staff.  Sean Doolittle is the closer.  Ryan Madson and Liam Hendriks make for more than manageable eighth and seventh innings.  Fernando Rodriguez (an impressive 2015) is looking for opportunity.  Why the A’s signed Marc Rzepcznski and Jon Axford is a mystery. Bring up the kids.

Offense:  Josh Reddick, Billy Butler (I admit to a pathetic 2015, but Country Breakfast will bounce back), Danny Valencia, Stephen Vogt and Billy Burns offer varied offense.  Why Billy Beane traded for Khris Davis is a head scratcher.  Khris is a the antithesis of Billy’s obp emphasis.  Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie make a fine up the middle defense.  Yonder Alonso, while never realizing his power potential in San Diego, but then again, Petco is where fly balls go to die, does possess gap power.  Mark Canha, Chris Coghlan and Josh Phegley wait for at bats.  Any team with Sam Fuld is to be admired.  Coco Crisp is preparing to exit.

Players in the system who could help:  Rangel Ravelo (1b), Colin Walsh (2b), Chad Pinder (ss, but reduce the errors), Jake Smolinski (lf), Ryan Dull (relief) and Brendan McCurry (relief).

Third:  Anaheim (as long stated on these pages, I refuse the ridiculous official name of this franchise.  Sorry, Arte).

Pitching:  The only reason I’m choosing the Angels over the Rangers is their pitching.  Garrett Richards is the real deal.  A number one starter.  Jered Weaver is a master of illusion.  Any starting pitcher who delivers off-speed stuff in the low 70s and lives to tell the tale is astonishing.  C.J. Wilson will never be worth the money spent, but if he can get through the fifth inning, the Angels have a chance.  Here’s what is impressive.  We have yet to discuss Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano and the healing Tyler Skaggs (he could be as good as Mr. Richards).  A deep group of starters.  As for the bullpen, Huston Street, Joe Smith and Fernando Salas are a fantastic three inning combo.  Jose Alavarez is waiting for more innings.

Offense:  Albert Pujols is not completely healed.  His foot continues to bother him.  He should dh full-time if his ego allows.  Mike Trout is a first ballot Hall of Famer.  I live in Southern California, thus have the April through early October treat of watching him play.  And, no, I’m not an Angels fan.  Daniel Nava will get all the at bats he dreamed of as a Red Sox while  playing left field and first base for the Angels.  Kole Calhoun had a very good 2015 in right field.  I’m not buying the notion that the Angels are stronger up the middle with Johnny Giovotella and Andrelton Simmons at second and short.  Yunel Escobar seems more comfortable at third than short given a fine 2015.  C.J. Cron should play more first base than dh if the Angels want any offensive production out Mr. Pujols.  Carlos Perez and Geovany Soto form an impressive defensive combo, but once Jett Bandy is deemed ready, Mr. Soto leaves Anaheim in favor of Mr. Bandy because Mr. Bandy can hit.

Players in the system who could help:  The worthy majority of 2-9 guys are entering AA this year.  Any call up from Salt Lake City is for a brief appearance.  Michael Brady (starting pitching) and Cory Rasmus (relief).

Fourth:  Texas.

Pitching:  Most of the Rangers fortune settles on Yu Darvish having a successful return from T.J. surgery.  Mid-May is the proposed time of returning to the mound.  We shall see. Cole Hamels, Colby Lewis (getting better with age), the promising Chi Chi Gonzalez and Derek Holland complete the starters.  Yet, one well placed injury lands the starting staff in considerable trouble.  Shawn Tolleson closes followed by Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, Tim Wilhelmsen and Sam Freeman.  A worthy set of ‘pen mates.

Offense:  A lot of deep ball talent with Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo and Mitch Moreland.  Getting on base is Delino DeShields and Rougned Odor.  If Ian Desmond (the Rangers paid far too much for his services) and Elvis Andrus can get on base close to a third of their at-bats, the Rangers may battle for a wild card spot.  Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez likely share the catching duties.  Josh Hamilton awaits a fateful 2016.  He either finds his lost baseball self or disappears.

Players in the system who could help:  Might be a couple of years before substantial 2-9 assistance is available.  No starter or reliever stands out in either AAA or AA.

Fifth:  Seattle.  Most likely the worst team in the A.L.

Pitching:  Felix Hernandez is a loyal soul.  All that talent stuck with a dysfunctional organization.  Hisahi Iwakuma is a worthy partner of Mr. Hernandez when healthy.  Wade Miley had a decent second half with the Red Sox in ’15.  Taijuan Walker improves each year.  Nathan Karns had a respectable 2015.  A group that is better than advertised.  Now for the bullpen.  A mess.  Either Joaquin Benoit or Tony Zych (who traveled from AA to the Bigs in 2015) is the default closer.  Frankly, not a lot of candidates exist.  Charlie Furbush is the last of the effective relievers.  Vidal Nuno and Evan Scribner pitch the early innings.

Offense:  Thin.  Adam Lind, Ketel Marte and Kyle Seager provide the 2016 highlights.  If Robinson Cano watches Mr. Marte perhaps Mr.Cano rekindles his fire for the game.  Franklin Guiterrez most likely takes either left field from Nori Aoki or center from Leonys Martin.  Seth Smith remains in right.  Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger do not hit or throw out baserunners to any notable degree.  Perhaps Mike Zunino is the better choice behind the plate.  With enough at-bats, Jesus Montero might generate some production at the dh spot.  Hopefully Seattle fans enjoy many a sunny day as they watch a cloudy 2016 season.

Players in the system who could help:  Chris Taylor (ss.  A few more at-bats at AAA would help), Dario Pizzano (lf), Edwin Diaz (starting pitching) and Matt Anderson (relief).



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