Monday, November 10, 2008

AL West Season 4 Preview

7 divisions down, 1 to go. The only division that has had multiple teams win a division title (Las Vegas in seasons 1 and 3, Anaheim in season 2), the West seemed to have an upstart Anaheim Chile team ready to challenge the Gamblers to form a rivalry, but the Chiles fell flat last season. Can they do it this season? Can either division doormat (Colorado Springs and Seattle) rise up?


The Anaheim offense and Las Vegas offense are very close- I'll take Anaheim based on star power. 3B Alex Vazquez is the Bigs all-time leader in home runs and RBIs, and SS James Dixon is a rising superstar. This isn't where the offense ends, as IF Brace Kroger, DH Alex Estrada, and CF Butch Swift will contribute.

Las Vegas doesn't have the name recognition of the Chiles but they do have some firepower. DH Clarence Hartman had a big-time season, and he'll be backed by LF Wally Harvey, CF Emmitt Yearwood, 2B Jeremy Glover, and speedy 1B Carlos Aguilar.

Colorado Springs has a few nice pieces but also has holes to fill. 1B Jung Zheng and LF Alex Lim would get much more attention if they were playing on a better team; they are both very talented. After that, 2B Javier Tavarez is really the only threat, and the SS and CF positions are in flux.

Seattle's offense was downright offensive last season. 3B Eddie Linton was the only player with more than 500 at-bats to have an OBP over .330. He will help 2B Richard Takahashi and slugging RF/DH Richard Little in trying to sustain an offense. They strike out way too often, most notably LF Pep Osborn (160 times).


Wow. Not much star power here. I'll start in Colorado Springs due to the new arrival of ace Matty Eusebio, who immediately becomes by far the best starting pitcher in the division. He'll be backed by Marty Lane, who's pretty solid. Ivan Castilla was better, but still has room for improvement. Dude Huskey should close for the Chickens.

Las Vegas is probably just ahead of Anaheim. Buster Charles had a nice season, and he'll be backed by Billy Nation and Anthony Hall (not from the Brat Pack). Louie Martin will be expected to eat innings when he comes back from injury. Dave Stewart is solid as the closer and Coco Hines will set up; he's pretty good.

Anaheim isn't bad, but they lack an ace of Eusebio's quality. Andy Ramsey is the top starter and rookie Maceo Batista will be counted on for quality innings. If they get something from enigmatic veterans Tom Griffith and Cookie Rijo, they could be a solid staff. Vince Perez likely will close.

Seattle has a lot of holes. Jerry Terry is their best option, and even he struggled in the new stadium. Joe Gleason is a decent looking young starter- he'll fit in behind Terry. King Burns should earn the closer's job, but the setup positions could be had by just about anyone (even fans).


1. Haven't really called for any big-time upset yet, so why not here at the end? Call it a hunch, but I'll take the Anaheim Chiles to get past the Gamblers for the division title.
2. Las Vegas should play well enough to be in the wild-card mix.
3. Colorado Springs should clear Seattle for third by a decent margin if they get any sort of shortstop and center fielder.
4. Seattle could finish dead last in the AL again.
5. Breakout star: Jung Zheng. If you're not familiar with the Chickens, just watch his numbers at the end of the season.
6. Star most likely to be traded: Don't think Matty Eusebio should get too comfortable in his new place in Colorado. He could be dealt if the Chickens fall out of it, as teams will need starting pitching.

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