Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2011 Recap – The Halos compiled a record of 86-76 in 2011, putting them in 2nd place in the division and losing them the AL Wild Card by just 5 games. Offensively, the team was paced by rookie Mark Trumbo and veteran Torii Hunter, as well as other guys hitting in the mid .200s. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana (who threw a no hitter in July) all performed extremely well to go along with Jordan Walden, who was lights out in the back end of the bullpen. Had it not been for Justin Verlander‘s historic season, Weaver probably would have been the AL Cy Young winner.
Offseason Recap – The Angels’ front office made the biggest moves in the league this winter, bringing in both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the two biggest free agents at their respective positions. Pujols was brought in on a 10 year $254,000,000 deal, and Wilson on a 5 year $77,000,000. Many thought that signing Pujols to such a long contract for such a high amount of money was dangerous, but he’s easily one of the best ten hitters in baseball history, and he has and will continue to prove that he is worth every penny. Signing Wilson not only got the Angels one of the best left handed pitchers in the game, but also prevented their division rival Texas Rangers from resigning him. Other minor moves were made in the offseason, such as bringing in catcher Chris Iannetta and reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
2012 Outlook – As far as the rotation goes, Weaver, Haren, Wilson, and Santana will be the best starting 4 in the AL, to go along with an above average bullpen to close out any games these guys don’t complete themselves. Offensively, the Angels are going hit well. Putting Pujols in a lineup that already includes Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu, and Mark Trumbo will help them put runs on the board for the pitchers. Guys like Hank Conger, Erick Aybar, and Maicer Izturis will fill out the rest of the lineup. At 1st base, LA has 3 guys that could legitimately hit 35 bombs: Pujols, Trumbo, and Kendrys Morales, who will return from a leg injury that’s had him out since early 2010. Angels fans should have a ton of fun watching all these guys play.
Manager – Mike Scioscia
General Manager – Jerry Dipoto
2011 Recap – The A’s finished up the 2011 season with a record of 74-88, good for a 3rd place finish in the division. Their leading hitters were guys like Josh Willingham and speedster Jemile Weeks, while Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill led their pitching staff. The A’s were also featured in the October movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.
Offseason Recap – Some of the top A’s performers were lost during the offseason. The young nucleus pitching staff of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey was traded away for young prospects, and leading home run and RBI guy Josh Willingham was lost to free agency. Veteran Bartolo Colon was brought in to replace one of the spots in the rotation. However, GM Billy Beane surprised everyone when he signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a $36,000,000 deal. Beane also surprised many when he signed Manny Ramirez in February.
2012 Outlook – Trading away most of the talented pitching will absolutely hurt the A’s staff. The only locks for the 2012 rotation look to be Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden, and Bartolo Colon. That’s not a very promising front of the rotation, so starting pitching as well as a crippled bullpen will be a huge issue for the A’s. As far as the lineup goes, the team looks to have some solid young talent that will have to utilize their speed and small ball if they want to put runs on the board. Catcher Kurt Suzuki, infielders Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks, as well as outfielders Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes will make up a solid lineup and play above average defense to help the struggling staff. Veteran Manny Ramirez will have to serve his 50 game suspension due to a positive drug test, which will put him out until May. Third basement Scott Sizemore looked to be a promising player, but he tore is ACL and will miss the entire upcoming season. On the offensive side of the ball, the Athletics could be an exciting team to watch, but their pitching just won’t be able to carry it’s share of work and could lead to a dreadful season by the bay.
Manager – Bob Melvin
General Manager – Billy Beane
2011 Recap – The 2011 Mariners season wasn’t pretty at all. The team finished 29 games back of 1st place with a 67-95 record, which included a 17 game losing streak in their 6-20 month of July. The lineup was completely abysmal, with almost no power at all. Ichiro, who is usually a guaranteed 200 hit .290 average player, hit a career low .272 and didn’t reach 200 hits for the first time in his 11 year career. Plenty of Mariners hit under .250, with Dustin Ackley being the only real bright spot. The rookie 2nd baseman hit .273 with decent power numbers. If there was any real success in Seattle, it was the masterful starting pitching of King Felix Hernandez and rookie Michael Pineda. Although their win/losses don’t reflect it, they were possibly the best pair of starters in the league. Hernandez and Pineda had records of 14-14 and 9-10 respectively.
Offseason Recap – Going into the offseason, most baseball experts said that if the Mariners could just pick up some offense to go along with a great starting staff, they wouldn’t be far away from competing in the American League. Not only did the team not get much better offensively, they actually traded away one of their aces. Michael Pineda was sent to the Yankees in return for young catcher Jesus Montero. Many do believe that Montero, who hit .328 in just 18 games last year with NYY, will be a very good hitter catcher, but many people also question trading away such a valuable pitcher for him. Other than the trade, the only major move made by the front office was bringing in Carlos Guillen, who will likely be the DH.
2012 Outlook – Look for Felix Hernandez to continue to dominate in 2012, although his record probably won’t show it with the lack of run support. Blake Beavan looks to be the only other lock for the rotation, while the bullpen will include guys like George Sherrill and Brandon League. In the lineup, look for Ichiro to bounce back and continue his push for 3000 hits. Young guys like Jesus Montero and 2009 second overall pick Dustin Ackley will play their first full seasons in the majors, and most expect them to put up very good numbers. Other than these guys and powerful first baseman Justin Smoak, there isn’t much to look forward to for the Mariners. While it probably won’t be as bad as 2011, it looks like the offense just won’t be able to provide enough runs for a pretty decent starting staff.
Manager – Eric Wedge
General Manager - Jack Zduriencik
2011 Recap – The Rangers finished 2011 with a record of 96-66, winning the division by a comfortable 10 games. Their powerful offense was lead by Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, and doubles machine Michael Young. C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando, and Neftali Feliz were all key parts of the pitching staff. Texas won its second straight AL pennant last year, but again losing, this time to the Cardinals in what was one of the best World Series in baseball history.
Offseason Recap – The biggest acquisition made by Nolan Ryan and the rest of the Rangers’ front office was bringing over Yu Darvish from Japan. A bid of $51,700,000 was spent just to get the rights to negotiate with the Japanese pitcher, and he was eventually signed for about $60,000,000 and six years. However, earlier in the offseason the Rangers’ AL West rival Angels signed their former ace C.J. Wilson. It was also announced that 23 year old shutdown closer Neftali Feliz would be moved to the bullpen. And to replace him, former Twins veteran closer Joe Nathan was brought in to close out games.
2012 Outlook - Offensively, the Rangers should continue to launch baseballs out of newly renovated Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Their lineup will include powerful Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, Michael Young, and middle infielders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. The starting rotation will include Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, as well as Derek Holland. That’s six solid guys that are easily top of the rotation pitchers on any team. As if the starters wouldn’t be hard enough to score runs off of, the bullpen will also include Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, Joe Nathan, and possibly the sixth starter who is the odd man out. With an offense that can easily score double digit runs and a pitching staff that is as good as they come, the Rangers won’t have any problem winning 95+ games.
Manager – Ron Washington
General Manager – Jon Daniels
2nd. Angels (wildcard)