Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: AL West

scioscia.jpgANAHEIM ANGELS

2009 record: 97-65, AL West title, lost Championship Series to Yankees

Local weather: Suburban

Namesake: Theatre investors. Ziegfeld’s in the house tonight, everyone!

How much does Angels owner Arte Moreno look like a Walt Disney?: A disturbingly large amount.

Perpetually overused team-related
Angels in the Outfield. Lame, but at least it gives work to Christopher Lloyd.

Best name on 40-man roster: Maicer Izturis. I hate maicers to paicers!

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Hideki Matsui, whose salary should offset the cost of transporting his enormous porn collection from New York.

Spring standout: Catcher Mike Napoli, who’s clubbed 5 homers this spring and is in no way connected to The Mob. I don’t know why you’d think that. That’s racist.

Probable Opening Day starter: Jered Weaver, who looks just as baked as his brother, but is much more employed.

Biggest question for 2010: What tragic death will inspire the Angels this year?

Advantage to start the season: Insane Orange County traffic will prevent anyone from actually attending the games.

Semi-serious assessment: I was amazed to see that the Angels won 97 games last year. I think that result will be impossible to reproduce this year, as Seattle has improved by leaps and bounds. They lost John Lackey and added Joel Pineiro, who I predict will turn back into a pumpkin like most Dave Duncan projects do away from St. Louis. This year’s Angels have taken a step backward–not an enormous one, but not small enough to stave off the huge step forward taken by the Mariners.

70sas.jpgOAKLAND A’S

2009 record: 75-87

Local weather: Stabby

Namesake: A letter of the alphabet, as exemplified by a white elephant for some reason

How much schadenfreude have old school sportswriters lobbed at Billy Beane?: 62.3 metric tons’ worth.

Perpetually overused team-related
AAAAAAAAA! (Said like Fonzie.)

Best name on 40-man roster: Fautino de los Santos, you killed my father. Prepare to die!

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Coco Crisp. Somehow, that Oakland cap turned slightly sideways doesn’t look right on his head.

Spring standout: Gio Gonzalez, who has an ERA under 3 and struck out 18 batters in 19+ innings. Giust the kind of performance you want from a starter.

Probable Opening Day starter: Ben Sheets, assuming his arm doesn’t implode between now and then.

Biggest question for 2010: What will be the latest Oakland preoccupation: fat second basemen? Left-handed pitching coaches? Baptist right fielders?

Advantage to start the season: Management may take some of the tarp from the upper deck of McAfee Coliseum and drape it over the visiting dugout.

Semi-serious assessment: The Bill Plaschkes and Joe Morgans of the world make me want to root for Oakland, but I don’t think they have enough talent to do much of anything this year. They may catch lightning in a bottle with Sheets, but I have a feeling that even if they do, that will just make him trade deadline fodder.

bullpenboat.jpgSEATTLE MARINERS

2009 record: 85-77

Local weather: Perfect for suicide and heroin addiciton

Namesake: The ancient sailor doomed to roam the earth with an albatross around his neck.

Why isn’t Edgar Martinez in the Hall of Fame?: Because sportswriters hate the DH, even though they’re also too chickenshit to urge MLB to get rid of it.

Perpetually overused team-related headline: Sail Away! (Cue Beck’s commercial)

Best name on 40-man roster: Matt Tuiasosopo who, despite his name, is not a linebacker.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Eric Byrnes. His party dude persona would not seem to translate well to the Pacific Northwest.

Spring standout: GM Jack Zduriencik, for assembling this team.

Probable Opening Day starter: Felix Hernandez, also known as King Felix. Also known as The Master of the Monroe Doctrine, for reasons that remain unclear to me.

Biggest question for 2010: How will the Mariners respond to the pressure of expectations? And has a Seattle team in any sport had any kind of expectations placed on it?

Advantage to start the season: Thick coating of fog that will blanket the field.

Semi-serious assessment: Easily the most improved team since last year. The 1-2 of Hernandez and Cliff Lee could be the best in baseball. They’ve got a good, well rounded lineup–not a great one, but a good one–and a deep bench. Their bullpen is their biggest question mark; it’s still unclear exactly who will be their closer, which at this late date means they probably don’t have one. Still, I think it’s safe to call them the favorites to win the AL West this year.


2009 record: 87-75

Local weather: Favorable to the death penalty

Namesake: Chuck Norris.

Will Josh Hamilton backslide again?: No, not as long as he has clean-living Ron Washington as his manager.

Perpetually overused team-related

Best name on 40-man roster: Pedro Strop. Something about that last name just makes me laugh.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Vladimir Guerrero. Just seems weird for him to be on the Rangers. But at least he keeps his streak alive of only playing for teams with red in their uniforms.

Spring standout: Nelson Cruz, with 5 home runs and a .357 batting average. Such dominance allows him to yell HAW HAW at his teammates. (Sorry.)

Probable Opening Day starter: Scott Feldman, who can not only pitch well, but will also do your taxes.

Biggest question for 2010: If the Rangers won 87 games with a coked-up manager, does that mean a clean manager will help them win more or less?

Advantage to start the season: In April, heat in Arlington will only be oppressive, not yet mind-scrambling

Semi-serious assessment: The Rangers are a sexy pick for a lot of folks, or so it seems. But despite a fearsome lineup, I don’t think they have the pitching to make it. Not to mention that Hamilton and Ian Kinsler have already been injured. 2009 may have indicated not a bright future, but a high water mark.