4. Seattle Mariners-Heading into 2010, I'll admit, I picked Seattle to win the AL West. And they came out and just played awful. Chone Figgins was a bust, and they traded Cliff Lee by midseason. It amazes me that Ichiro still plays for this team. And going into 2011, I pick them to come in last. Despite having some premier players like Ichiro and reigning Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez. Besides Ichiro, this team won't hit very well. Especially when you bring in players like Brendan Ryan and Jack Cust, who hit closer to the .240 mark. Pitching wise, they are a mess behind Hernandez and Justin Vargas (9-12, 3.78 ERA) in the rotation and their bullpen will have many problems holding the few leads they get. This will be another awful year for M's fans in the Emerald City.
3. Oakland Athletics-It pains me to pick Oakland this low. You take a look at their pitching staff, they have great talented young starters (Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Trevor Cahill) and a very stacked bullpen (Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, Andrew Bailey to name a few). But, their lineup has a ways to go. They brought in OF David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui to help their stale offense. But, I don't think they can help very much. Besides Matsui, this team doesn't have much for power hitters. And they won't be able to hit for much of a decent average. So if Oakland can maybe find some more decent hitters to plug into the lineup, they can be a great team. But for 2011, they will just be a third place team.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-The Angels were the constant reject of the top free agents this winter. So how do they fix that? Trade for Vernon Wells in an already crowded outfield. Their offense should be halfway decent now, assuming Kendrys Morales returns in short time (left ankle surgery). He is a huge part of their offense and without him, they might struggle to score runs. Pitching wise, they have a solid starting 5 (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Joel Piniero, and Scott Kazmir). Their bullpen should do a decent job, but Fernando Rodney at the end kind of frightens me. The Angels have some good pieces in place, and they are just a few short of being a big time contender again like they were in 2009.
1. Texas Rangers-Texas' amazing run in 2010 took them to the World Series. They have new ownership, a big TV contract, and a talented team that could continue to win for many years. They did lose their ace Cliff Lee in the offseason, but countered that loss with signing Adrian Beltre. Their pitching will still do the job. They brought in Brandon Webb to fill the spot left open by Lee. They still have a pretty good bullpen, with Neftali Feliz throwing gas at the end. Offensively, the team is stacked with stars like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young. This is the deepest team in the division. They will win it once again, but the loss of Lee will really hurt them when they reach October.