AL West Preview/Win Total Predictions


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Anaheim Angels Over 88½ Regular Season Wins – Oddsmakers seem to think the loss of Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn will cost the Angels some wins. After all this is a team that won 95 games last year. Truth be told Byrd won 12 games and Washburn won 8. They both had low ERAs but then again the Angels were not an offensive machine last year so pitchers had to keep them in games. I like the additions to their bullpen as Hector Carrasco and JC Romero will really help Francisco Rodriguez shut games down. If this team takes a lead into the 7th it should be game over. Edgardo Alfonso is a good veteran bat and they do need their youngsters to step it up a bit. Catcher Jeff Mathis had some nice power in AAA last year and Casey Kotchman and Dallas McPherson both have shown great potential. Vladimir Guerrero and is the only real power source as Garrett Anderson has tailed off. While the team did hit .270 last year they only hit a paltry 147 homers, good for 10th in the AL. Even though the Angels won’t win 95 games again, they will come close, as they are built for their ballpark. I predict this team to fall into the 89-93 range.

Oakland Athletics Under 90 Regular Season Wins – The key to the A’s season may be keeping Bobby Crosby on the field. The A’s were well over.500 with him in the lineup and underwater without. This team added a few players of note: Esteban Loiaza, Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley. Loiaza makes a good staff better as Barry Zito, Danny Haren, Joe Blanton and Rich Harden all return. Huston Street was lights out last year. There is no doubt, on paper the A’s look solid on the mound. The flip side is a low on base and somewhat punchless offense. Jason Kendall is not the same player he was in Pittsburgh, and may be replaced by Adam Melhuse. Youngsters Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson are two highly touted players who have a lot to prove. Can Frank Thomas and Bobby Crosby stay healthy all year? I doubt it. Eric Chavez is the only guy who scares me in this lineup and the ballpark is not going to help their offense. 88 wins last year seems about right for this team who had a great second half in 2005. I am calling for a 85-89 win season for the Athletics.

Seattle Mariners Over 75 Regular Season Wins – What is their to like in Seattle? A lot in my opinion. This team only won 69 games last year but their staff ace Felix Hernandez only pitched in 12 games. The regular rotation turn for King Felix should net this team an extra 10 wins alone. They really lost no one of consequence, unless you were the world’s biggest Ryan Franklin fan. The new catcher in Seattle is Kenji Johjima who should provide some power from that position as a 30 year old rookie from Japan. The pitcher was mediocre in 2005 as Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche were disappointments. The addition of Jarrod Washburn should bring some veteran presence, though I don’t think he will match last years ERA #s. The M’s really need Adrian Beltre to bounce back as .255, 19 hrs and 87 rbis won’t cut it. Even Ichiro had an “off” year hitting .303. In short, the Mariners had a lot of players who had subpar seasons. Hopefully newcomer Carl Everett will provide some protection for Richie Sexson who was the only real power threat last year. I believe this team is a .500 team and I am calling for 77-81 wins from the 2006.

Texas Rangers Under 82 Regular Season Wins – This team can mash. They wacked 260 homers and were an opposing pitchers nightmare. Fortunately for their opponents, the Rangers’ pitchers were near the bottom in ERA and Opponent batting average. This fact was not lost on their GM who acquired six new pitchers. Unfortunately, the starters acquired, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla and Adam Eaton all scare me. Millwood has injury risk, Padilla is a hot or cold pitcher who also has injury concerns and Eaton gave up a lot of baserunners last year, which will spell trouble in Arlington. Eaton is now on the DL so the Rangers dealt David Dellucci for Phillies picther Robinson Tejada. It remains to be seen if he will move into the rotation. Hitting wise, no one compares with the Rangers as they have plenty of guys who can hit the long ball. Gary Matthews Jr had 17 homers, Kevin Mench drilled 25, Hank Blalock hit 25, Mark Teixeria pounded 43 and even Rod Barajas got 21 homers! You have to ask is it the hitters or the ballpark? I tend to think it’s the latter and that does not bode well for the year long expectations of this team. Francisco Cordero, Joaquin Benoit and newcomer Akinori Otsuka will anchor a very serviceable pen. I just don’t see the Rangers surviving the dog days of summer and they will have trouble making it to .500 after 79 wins last year. I think oddsmakers have overestimated the impact the pitching additions will have and I am calling for a 76-80 win season for Texas.
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