Blog Entry

Spring position battles: American League West

Posted on: February 6, 2012 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 4:00 pm

By C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like the Super Bowl to remind you that spring training is just around the corner. And with pitchers and catchers packing up their bags for Florida and Arizona, we here at Eye on Baseball will look at some of the key positional battles on tap for this spring, starting with the American League West.

Los Angeles Angels
Designated hitter: Mark Trumbo vs. Kendrys Morales vs. Bobby Abreu vs. Vernon Wells

At the end of the 2011 season, it seemed first base could be a battle for the Angels heading into 2012. That position was settled pretty easily with $240 million. The two previous candidates, Trumbo and Morales are now with BAbreu looking for playing time at DH. Add the wild card of Mike Trout possibly pushing either Torii Hunter or Wells into the DH competition and the team has a lot of players for one spot. Sure, the Angels are saying Trumbo can play third, but he's still not all the way back from an ankle injury and he hasn't proven he can handle the day-in, day-out rigors of third base (look at what it did to Kevin Youkilis last season). There's also the chance that Morales won't be healthy. There are so many variables to the Angles lineup that the only thing that seems certain at this point is that Albert Pujols will be at first base, batting third.

Oakland Athletics
Closer: Grant Balfour vs. Brian Fuentes vs.  Fautino De Los Santos vs. Joey Devine

One of the many players Billy Beane got rid of this offseason was closer Andrew Bailey, who went to the Red Sox for three players, leaving an opening at closer for 2012. Fuentes recorded 12 saves in Bailey's spot last season, while Balfour picked up two as well. Those two veterans should be seen as the favorites, but De Los Santos and Devine could surprise. De Los Santos struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings last season, while Devine impressed in his first action since Tommy John surgery. Even if the two youngsters don't get the call after spring training, either are just one trade away from getting their shot -- and with the A's current situation, nobody in Oakland should be buying, just renting.

Seattle Mariners
No. 3-5 starters: Blake Beavan vs. Charlie Furbush vs. Hector Noesi vs. Kevin Millwood vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

Felix Hernandez, of course, is the Mariners' No. 1 starter and Jason Vargas figures to be the other Mariner to start in the team's two-game series in Japan. After that, it gets interesting. Seattle signed Iwakuma to a $1.5 million contract in the offseason, so he figures to be in the rotation somewhere. Noesi was acquired along with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineada trade and should be somehwere in the mix, as well. That leaves the youngsters Furbush (25) and Beavan (23), to go against the veteran Millwood (37). Furbush and Beavan showed flashes during 2011, but are hardly proven products. After stints in the minors for the Red Sox and Yankees, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in Colorado and should benefit from pitching at Safeco Field.

Texas Rangers
5th starter: Matt Harrison vs. Alexi Ogando vs. Scott Feldman

Unless the Rangers do sign Roy Oswalt, it appears the first four spots in the Texas rotation are set with Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, leaving three pitchers battling for the final spot. Last season the Rangers moved Ogando from the bullpen to the rotation with some success. They're looking to do the same with Feliz this season and possibly sending Ogando back to the bullpen. Ogando was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, but seemed to tire down the stretch. Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA last season, but still has to battle for his job. And then there's Feldman, who is a long-shot here, but is used to the yo-yoing from the bullpen to the rotation. If the team does sign Oswalt, the three could be stretched out in spring, but return to the bullpen once the season starts.

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Since: Feb 7, 2012
Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:01 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 8:38 am

Spring position battles: American League West

After seeing Alexi Ogando pitch live I don't know how this kid doesn't have a rotation spot locked down already. He throws straight GAS and looked phenomial before fading in the second half. Considering he threw 41 innings in 2010, its no surprise he faded by late summer.

I still think the Rangers win this division in a close race with the Angels as the first (of two?) Wild Cards.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 6:45 am

Spring position battles: American League West

As for the fifth starter for the Rangers, there's no way it's going to be Scott Feldman...I don't know why he was pitching in such an important Wrold series game agains the Cardinals, but he just doesn't have it since he won 17 games for the Texas boys. Matt Harrison has a better shot than Alexi Ogando, but I htink Ogando is a better long term solution. I would prefer the Rangers sign Roy Oswalt, but who knows if that will happen.

Bobby Abreu may be older, but he can still hit and run and draw walks...Vernon Wells is just an over paid sub, way over paid. There are too many combinations which could work well for the Angels. Mark Trumbo is the future and if Kendrys Morales stays healthy, he could be in there too. You may see a trade here by Angels before the end of spring training.

The Mariners and the Athletics aren't going anywhere this year, so it will be a battle just like always between the Rangers and Angels.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:11 am

Oakland Athletic's

I'm sure all the players that left Oakland, so far, are laughing at that organization right now.

At least the Rangers had an awesome offense when they sucked..

This year is going to be bad for Oakland, I'd be very surprised if they win 10 games in the AL West. 54 games and win 10-20 games.

This may be the worst year ever for a single team.

Best of luck Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Hideki Matsui.. 

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:05 am

Spring position battles: American League West

nukeembaby!!! Brian Fuentes is was so bad last year..what he lost blew 8 straight saves or so..?

I guess this is the Scott Hatteberg episode again..

Since: Dec 5, 2010
Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:14 am

Spring position battles: American League West


Since: Jun 25, 2007
Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:51 pm

Spring position battles: American League West

Are we really worried about these 4 hitters above on the Angels. They have so many game changers already I am sure these guys will be overlooked. LOL. The Angels better jump out to an early 10 game lead so everyone does not call them a bust.

Since: Oct 25, 2008
Posted on: February 6, 2012 8:33 pm

Spring position battles: American League West

I don't see how the A's win more than about 60 games this season. They traded away what little talent they had, and are left with mostly unproven youngsters. They may be talented but, don't have any experience at this point. Once they do, Billy Beane will be more than happy to trade them for the next batch of kids. I'm a Giants fan but I don't hate the A's. They're in a deplorable situation while having to play at the Stadium Al Destroyed. This looks like the cycle that will keep repeating itself until they're able to get a new stadium. San Jose would be a great place to go but, I totally understand why the Giants are fighting it. There needs to be some kind of compromise between the 2 teams so the A's can move on and compete again.

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2012 8:31 pm

Spring position battles: American League West

TDAISON, wow you are so bright. I don't care if you like any of these teams but the A's will battle the Astros as the worst team in baseball. If you are an intelligent baseball fan how can you really say the Angels and Rangers suck? One team has been to the last two world series and the other has been close to on top of the division for the last ten years. You are becoming one of the people that should just read and not post.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:11 pm

Spring position battles: American League West

Really??  Suck?? The Angelas and Rangers...suck?? Really? Perhaps the Friggin' A's will surprise and do much better than most think....but that in no way means the Angels and Rangers suck.

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