This is the third in a six part series recapping the offseason’s of each division in baseball. A complete list of additions and subtractions will be listed as well as the winners and losers of each division. You can read about the AL East here and the AL Central here. A lot of new faces in the AL West as the two best teams in the division got better and the two worst teams, well, didn’t. Let’s discuss. On to the West!!
Los Angeles Angels
Additions: Jorge Cantu 3B/DH, LaTroy Hawkins RP, Chris Ianetta C, Ryan Langerhans OF, Brad Mills RP, Albert Pujols 1B, Greg Smith RP, C.J. Wilson SP
Subtractions: Russell Branyan 1B/DH, Tyler Chatwood RP, Jeff Mathis C, Joel Piniero RP, Horacio Ramirez RP, Fernando Rodney RP
Extended Howie Kendrick 4 yr. 33 Mill
The Angels made the biggest splash of any team this offseason by spending nearly $325 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Arte Moreno has committed almost as much money this winter to free agents than than California Governor Schwarzeneggar will have to pay Ms. Shriver in Alimony. In the bullpen, the Angels replaced Ramirez and Rodney with Hawkins and Mills. Jorge Cantu replaces Russell Branyan as part-time DH. The Angels moves appear ready to challenge the Texas Rangers for AL West dominance.
Best Move: Signing Albert Pujols. The Pujols signing thrusts the Angels back into the conversation for American League supremacy.
Worst Move: Signing Albert Pujols. The Angels are going to be paying Albert over $55 million AFTER the age of 40.
Under the Radar: Extending Howie Kendrick at an average salary of $8 million/year is going to look like a steal.
Grade: A for the players brought in/Lowered to a B+ considering the money paid to Pujols and Wilson.
Additions: Yoenis Cespedes OF, Bartolo Colon SP, Coco Crisp OF, Jonny Gomes OF, Josh Reddick OF, Seth Smith OF, Manny Ramirez DH
Subtractions: Andrew Bailey RP, Trevor Cahill SP, David Dejesus OF, Gio Gonzalez SP Rich Harden SP, Hideki Matsui OF, Ryan Sweeney OF, Josh Willingham OF, Michael Wuertz RP
The A’s will replace 3/5 of their rotation with Bartolo Colon and two rookies, likely Jarrett Parker and Brad Peacock. They will replace their entire outfield/DH with Seth Smith, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes and, of course, Cespedes, who’s struggling mightily in winter ball (and may need some time in the minors.) For A’s fans, watching the A’s is like watching a bad movie, you know, like Kindergarten Cop or Junior. The signing of Manny Ramirez is mind-boggling. Why do the bargain basement A’s want Ramirez? He can’t play until June, can’t hit at all anymore, and will be a bad influence on the young guys the A’s are trying to develop. I would say Oakland fans will quickly get tired of “Manny being Manny,” but since so few of them actually go to games, I doubt many will notice.
Best Move: Getting Josh Reddick in the deal for Bailey, who is mostly replaceable.
Worst Move: The signing of Manny Ramirez. No team outside of the Northern League should even CONSIDER signing Manny.
Under the Radar: Josh Reddick. This kid will be a mainstay in Oakland’s outfield for years.
Grade: D+ Oakland will be horrible this year, the plus is for the Bailey deal which I really like.
Additions: Shawn Camp RP, Carlos Guillen INF, Hisahi Iwakuma SP, John Jaso C, Kevin Millwood SP, Jesus Montero OF, Oliver Perez RP, George Sherrill RP
Subtractions: David Aardsma RP, Josh Bard C, Adam Kennedy INF, Wily Mo Pena OF, Jamey Wright RP
After being involved in the bidding for Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, and Prince Fielder, the Mariners came up with Kevin Millwood and John Jaso as their big winter additions. Mariners fans thought Nintendo was going to open the checkbook this winter, but instead the checks (and the roster) were iced over by Mr. Freeze himself. The Mariners return mostly the same roster as the teamthat went 67-95 and finished last in the AL West. The only notable additions were in the bullpen, which should be better with Camp, Perez and Sherrill.
Best Move: Bringing in significant bullpen depth in Perez, Sherrill, and Camp
Worst Move: Trading Pineda. I will say again, you do not trade away young 6-7, 260-pound guys who throw 100 mph for any minor leaguer. Even if Montero becomes an All-Star, I doubt he has the impact of Pineda.
Under the Radar: Hisahi Iwakuma. Darvish got all the press, but Iwakuma has won over 100 games and struck out over 1100 batters in the Japanese League and he’s only 30.
Grade: C-. The Mariners didn’t do much other than improve the bullpen and trade away Pineda. The only reason this grade isn’t a D is that Montero should make the Pineda to the Yankees deal slightly more bearable.
Additions: Yu Darvish SP, Sean Green RP, Brad Hawpe OF, Conor Jackson 1B, Joe Nathan RP
Subtractions: Endy Chavez OF, Mike Gonzalez RP, Darren Oliver RP, Taylor Teagarden C, C.J. Wilson SP
Extended Elvis Andrus 3 yr. 14.4 Million, Nelson Cruz 2 yr. 16 Mill, Option Exercised on Colby Lewis
The defending American League champs were given a scare early in the offseason when their chief challenger for the AL West signed, arguably, the best hitter and best pitcher on the market. As a team who proclaimed shortly after the World Series ended, “We’ll Be Back,” the Rangers attempted to answer the Angels challenge by winning the bidding for top Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish. The team also signed Sean Green and Joe Nathan which should more than offset the loss of Mike Gonzalez and Darren Oliver. Extending two pieces of their young core in Andrus and Cruz assures the Rangers will contend into the near future as well.
Best Move: Signing Yu Darvish. The Angels are gunning for Texas this year and Darvish needs to perform at a high level to hold them at bay.
Worst Move: Not signing Prince Fielder. Granted, the Rangers were attempting to be fiscally responsible, but as I said before, Fielder’s contract was reasonable and could have made the Rangers the favorites in the American League to reach the World Series.
Under the Radar: Joe Nathan. There’s a new closer in town.
Grade: B+. The Darvish signing helps, but the real moves that up this grade are the reasonable extensions signed by Cruz and Andrus. Brad Hawpe hasn’t done much since leaving Colorado, but if he has a bounce-back year, this grade becomes an easy A.
So who are the winners and losers of the division?
Winner – Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers are close but the Angels more room to improve.
Loser – Oakland A’s. The A’s were already bad and got worse. This season is going to be ugly.