One more day until Opening Day! Here's the AL West 2012 Preview:
2012 Bro Council AL West Preview
Los Angeles Angels
It was a big offseason in Anaheim this offseason, with the much publicized acquisitions of the best hitter in the game Albert Pujols and free agent pitcher CJ Wilson. There is plenty of talent around them as well. Moving to third base with the addition of Pujols is the runner-up in the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year race Mark Trumbo, and Howie Kendrick returns to play second base. The outfield has three veterans in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Vernon Wells while top American League prospect Mike Trout is splitting time and playing DH.
The rotation is very good with Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana joining Wilson. Weaver had 18 wins last year, with a 2.41 ERA and Haren contributed 16 wins and a 3.17 ERA. They will significantly improve on their 86 wins from last year and put a lot of pressure on the 2 time reigning AL champ Texas Rangers.
Prospect to watch: OF Mike Trout. Trout is a phenomenal talent, and the most Major League ready prospect in baseball. Within a year or two he'll be a 30/30 player (home runs and stolen bases)
The Athletics struggled last year, and will continue this year, as they casted off some important players, and added only one significant one. The top international free agent player available Yoenis Cespedes was a surprise signing for the A's and gives them a legit starter in the outfield. The team added SP Bartolo Colon from the Yankees after a big comeback season from him. They also employ the greatest name in sports: Coco Crisp, who is a decent player and provides valuable speed on the basepaths.
The middle of the infield is set for a few years with young players Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks, both high draft picks.
Prospect to watch: SP Jarrod Parker. Parker was acquired from the Diamondbacks in a trade and gives them a legit top of the rotation starter in a couple years.
The Mariners are led by long time veteran Ichiro Suzuki who has piled up an amazing 2,428 hits in only 11 seasons in the Major Leagues. Last season was the first of his career in which he didn't get 200 hits, and he is one of only 2 players to ever win both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP award in the same season. The Mariners are going through a rebuilding process but have a few great pieces to start with. C Jesus Montero is the top catching prospect in baseball, acquired from the Yankees in the offseason. They also have a young first baseman in Justin Smoak and former first round pick Dustin Ackley.
Felix Hernandez won the 2010 Cy Young Award and returns for another season atop the rotation. The Mariners spent the #2 pick in the draft last year on SP Danny Hultzen from the University of Virginia, a player they hope to work into the rotation at some point in the next year.
Prospects to watch: Hultzen and SP James Paxton. These two should pair with King Felix soon enough, and make for an above average rotation for a few years.
The Rangers have been the AL's representative in the past two World Series and there's no reason they wont be back this year. This is the single most complete team in the AL, as they can mash the ball from the top to bottom of the lineup. DH Mike Napoli batted .320 with 30 homers, the infield is set with SS Elvis Andrus, 3B Adrian Beltre, 2B Ian Kinsler, and 1B Michael Young are all great players and will get even better this year. The outfield is anchored by Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP.
The Rangers lost SP CJ Wilson to the Angels in the offseason, but replaced him with Japanese import Yu Darvish, the most sought after pitcher to come out of Japan in years. Filling out the rest of the rotation is Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and converted closer Neftali Feliz.
Prospect to watch: Darvish. Darvish will be the Rookie of the Year this year after the team spent $111 million to bring him overseas.
Check back soon for our predictions for the season!