Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: AL West


2010 record: 80-82

Biggest offseason acquisition: The “s” in Kendrys Morales’ first name

Biggest offseason loss: Every free agent

Are we finally over joking about the whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” thing?: Not as long as sports writers confuse themselves with comedians.

Best name on 40-man roster: Loek Van Mil, one of the most overlooked of the Dutch Masters.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: The previously untradeable Vernon Wells.

Spring standout: Farmhand Mark Trumbo, with 5 homers and 13 RBIs this spring thus far.  Scouts praise his batting skills but criticize him for his unwillingness to name names.

Probable Opening Day starter: Jered Weaver, who is this close to asking his brother Jeff to stop crashing on his couch and go get a real job.

Biggest question for 2011: Seriously, they traded for Vernon Wells?

Strengths: Good corps of starting pitchers, easy on/off to all highways

Weaknesses: No one wants to play in Orange County, apparently

Semi-serious assessment: The Angels suffered an almost Mets-ian string of freak injuries in 2010, the Kendry(s) Morales walkoff fiasco being the most infamous. For some reason, they could woo no free agent suitors to come to Anaheim, and so they traded for Wells and his insane contract. They’re already experiencing a string of bad luck this spring on the fronts of injuries (Morales, Joel Pineiro) and performance (Scott Kazmir). Their chances to improve on last year’s record remain slim.

2010 record: 81-81

Biggest offseason acquisition: Josh Willingham, who passes for a big free agent signing in this neck of the woods.

Biggest offseason loss: Even though it happened a few years ago, still gotta say Carlos Gonzalez.

When will sportswriters’ Moneyball­-based schadenfreude burn out?: When the sun does.

Best name on 40-man roster: Trystan Magnuson, who slew the evil Loki with his mighty hammer, Mjolnir!

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Hideki Matsui. Even though he played for the Angels last year, he still has the acrid scent of Yankee about him.

Spring standout: Coco Crisp, although he is usually unable to stand for very long.

Probable Opening Day starter: Billy Beane’s iron-fisted front office does not believe in starting pitching and will replace all such positions with robotic thinking machines.

Biggest question for 2011: Will low attendance necessitate blocking off some of the field level seats?

Strengths: A bolstered bullpen, a love of numbers

Weaknesses: Lack of offense, the bottle

Semi-serious assessment: The A’s were the very definition of mediocrity last year, finishing at exactly .500. I like what they’ve done to improve the bullpen with the acquisitions of Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, but their bats remain anemic, in a home ballpark that already favors pitchers. It will be difficult for them to finish much higher than .500.


2010 record: 61-101

Biggest offseason acquisition: The knowledge that with each passing day, the 2010 season fades further and further in the rear view mirror

Biggest offseason loss: In comparison, nothing really feels like a loss anymore, you know?

Who was dumb enough to think the Mariners would be good last year?: Me, for one.

Best name on 40-man roster: Tie between Johermyn Chavez and Yoervis Medina. Kudos to all of your parents, sirs.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Milton Bradley, who was able to snap his tethers and terrorize baseball for at least one more season

Spring standout: Jack Wilson, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about this team.

Probable Opening Day starter: Felix Hernandez, who is presumably plotting his escape as we speak.

Biggest question for 2011: Will low attendance necessitate blocking off some of the field level seats?

Strengths: King Felix, Ichiro, good coffee

Weaknesses: Everything else

Semi-serious assessment: I thought Cliff Lee + Felix Hernandez would equal success in 2010. That didn’t quite pan out, to say the least. With the loss of Lee and no appreciable additions, their chances of not finishing last again lie somewhere between slim and none.


2010 record: 90-72, won AL pennant, lost World Series to San Francisco Giants

Biggest offseason acquisition: Adrian Beltre, as Michael Young stood by yelling, “Hey, I’m right here, you know.”

Biggest offseason loss: Cliff Lee, who signed with Philadelphia because he felt Texas was not nearly hostile enough for him.

Will Michael Young be traded?: No, but he is permitted to see other teams. The Rangers and him have an understanding.

Best name on 40-man roster: Yoshinori Tateyama. C’mon, it’s just fun to say.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Mike Napoli, who ping-ponged from Anaheim to Toronto to Texas this offseason. On the plus side, he’s really racking up the frequent flyer miles

Spring standout: Reliever Pedro Strop has struck out an impressive 10 batters in 8 innings pitched. Plus, his last name means something extremely filthy in German.

Probable Opening Day starter: C.J. Wilson, who feels a little condescended to when you say, “He’s no Cliff Lee, but…”

Biggest question for 2011: Can they capture another AL pennant, and if so, will the resulting low World Series TV ratings drive Bud Selig to the bring of madness?

Strengths: Powerful lineup, well-armed fanbase

Weaknesses: Back end of rotation, closer proximity to the surface of the sun

Semi-serious assessment: The loss of Cliff Lee hurts, but the Rangers were already steamrolling their division before they acquired him last season. With their lineup and relatively weak divisional competition, they should be able to capture another division title.