1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The Angels are rife with injuries atop the rotation, but if they stick around they should get Lackey and others back for the stretch run. Fuentes should be an adequate replacement for K-Rod in the bullpen. They have enough hitting, particularly if Abreu builds on his momentum from last season. Though, outfield defense could become an issue. The Angels aren’t a great team, as constituted, but they should be stable enough to win this atrocious division.
2. Oakland Athletics – The A’s rotation could be a mess. Duchscherer is out for at least six weeks. None of their other starters with MLB experience has an ERA above 5. If Joey Devine is as divine as he was last season, the bullpen will be fine. The offense depends on Holliday and Giambi. Holliday is moving from Coors Field to reality. Giambi will either be rejuvenated by a move to Oakland or crushed by a less favorable ballpark. The A’s could finish at or slightly below .500, leaving them in contention much of the season.
3. Seattle Mariners – King Felix and Bedard should give the Mariners a good 1-2 punch. Unfortunately, it will be balanced by the rest of their rotation being a disaster, see Carlos Silva. Brandon Morrow has a great strikeout rate and could be a decent closer, but he’s no J.J. Putz. Seattle has only one hitter with power, Adrian Beltre, and none that get on base, not good for scoring runs. I’m still trying to understand TBL picking them to win the division.
4. Texas Rangers – This is a team built on the typical Texas formula. They have explosive bats with power at every position and will score runs. Other teams will have just an easy of a time against their soft pitching. Kevin Milwood, the Texas Ace, has an ERA+ of 87 the past two seasons. It gets down hill from there. Frank Francisco can be a good closer for the times they are in a position to win. The typical Texas team will be typically unsuccessful.