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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Comments

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: September 9, 2012 5:36 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

Surely everybody who said A's will win the AL West or WildCard was of course just saying it but they really have surprised everyone. Including themselves..



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:26 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

Man it sucks being a Mariners fan...when a rookie catcher with less than 50 games under his belt in the big leagues is your best offensive weapon you know there's a problem.  Chone Figgins in the lead off spot....yeaaa, im sure he'll totally bounce back to his Angels days. Blah....I love baseball but we're losing 90 games this year.



Since: Mar 27, 2008
Posted on: February 8, 2012 11:28 am
 

Spring position battles: American League West

lets get this shiet straightened:

"This weekend at Rangers Fan Fest, Ron Washington dropped a bombshell when he said, in January, that Colby Lewis will be his Opening Day starter"

of course holland, and darvish will be future opening day starters, but for now its lewis. 

of course holland and darvish are the aces lewis is becoming too predictable of a pitcher. 

check out all the games ogando threw and who he threw against (opposing pitcher) the dude has no nerves which makes him a beast.

if you think the rangers should go 6 man roto for the first half of the season then you might be on the right track because their arms are logging a ton of mileage esp after going to back to back WS. i mean will feliz arm hold up game 5 of a 2012 world series if they get there if he throws 200 innings this year?

theres ton of time between now and april, so come back... 



Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2012 9:06 am
 

Spring position battles: American League West

Darvich has not established himself as an ace, even if he has the talent. That's something that comes with respect as well as ability. I also think the Rangers are going to make a deal with Oswalt.
Oswalt is not a #1 anymore. 

I guarantee you that the Rangers are assuming that Darvish is their #1.  They may not call him that, but he is.  $52 million.  That is what they have spent so far.  To liken him to a kid being drafted out of college or coming up from the minors is ridiculous.  He has 7 years professional experience, plus he pitched against major leaguers in the World Baseball Championship.  Now I realize that 7 years in Japan is probably equivalent to high triple A, but it's not like he was facing Clearwater last season, or East Stroudsburg State.  Was Fernando Valenzuela the Ace of the Dodgers his rookie year?  Was Doc Gooden the Ace of the Mets his rookie year?  Rookies have become the Ace, and their teams were probably assuming that they would be the Ace.  They may not have publicly said it at the time, but I bet that they were.  One won the Cy Young his rookie year, the other came in 2nd his rookie year, and both were RoY.  Bona fide Aces.  Fernando had professional experience in Mexico, but that is just another minor league, though I don't know if you would like it to AA or AAA.  Gooden never pitched above single A ball prior to arriving at the majors at the ripe old age of 19.



Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:53 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

Darvich has not established himself as an ace, even if he has the talent. That's something that comes with respect as well as ability. I also think the Rangers are going to make a deal with Oswalt.

I think the Angels just have too much going for them now with King Albert in there. The guy can create an offense.





Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2012 8:38 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

When you have a pitcher who has never pitched in the MLB before, he is your #5 starter no matter what he is paid. He is not paid to be the #1 starter, Darvish has to earn the role. He has potential, that is all. He pitches well he moves up and throws your 200+ innings. But he is a risk, as was Dice-K.



Since: Jan 18, 2012
Posted on: February 7, 2012 6:56 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

XBomberX says

BoAfter 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.


I agree with you about Rangers and the Angels


I would like to add that Montero will be having a great year and will win the ROY.     



Since: Jan 18, 2012
Posted on: February 7, 2012 6:16 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

XbombesZ says
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.



I think you are right on with the Rangers and the Angels.


I would like to add that Montero is the guy to watch this season.  I think he will be ROY.   Yankee fans will be tearing out their hair this season as their guy struggles.    
 



Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:49 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

See, you are arguing baseball sense, not dollars and cents.  When you pay $52 million for the right to sign a guy, you aren't asking him to be your #5 guy.  The expectation is that he will be a #1 pitcher, and a stud one at that.  What ends up happening is yet to be written, but that is the expectation.  So yes, going into spring training he is expected to be the #1 guy.  It's not like you have Roy Halladay and Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson down there.  You have Yu Darvish, and he is being paid like he is Halladay or Maddux or Johnson. 



Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:15 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West

So Yu Darvish is the #1 pitcher for the Rangers even before he has thrown a pre season pitch? How do you figure that? He is going to be the #1 no matter what, huh? He could lose 20 games with a 6.33 ERA and a 1.63 Whip and he is the #1 starter? LMAO!


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