BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016, PART III

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Updated: February 28, 2016

 

 

 

BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016, PART III

By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus

 

NEW HAVEN,CT (BASN) — Now that the Super Bowl is done and all the collective All-Star weekends have come to a close, it’s time to focus on the one thing that makes us think warmer thoughts — spring training.

 

 

By the time you read this pitchers and catchers for all 30 MLB squads will have started their preparations for the 2016 campaign. The rest of the players aren’t too far away as well. Over the next few days, we’ll take a brief peek at all six divisional races heading into camp. Not really making predictions, but more so taking an educated look at what to watch for during the upcoming season.

 

 

We’ve already spoke on the AL Central and NL East. Today, we look at the AL West. Teams are listed in order of their 2015 finish.

 

 

1. TEXAS RANGERS

 

 

Despite having players miss a total of 1,651 games — including pitchers Yu Darvish and Derek Holland — the Rangers went 45-25 from July 21st on to take the division crown. If that pair can stay off the DL this year, as well as getting Cole Hamels for a full season, Texas will have the division’s best starting rotation. With a lineup that features Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, and others we know that they can rake with the best of them. The only thing missing this year will be the element of surprise.

 

 

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2. HOUSTON ASTROS

 

 

After years of struggling, the Astros — similar to their Texas counterparts — finally broke through with not just a winning season, but a spirited postseason run. While their 15-19 finish cost them the West crown, they showed just how much they’ve grown by beating the Yankees in the wild card game and pushing the eventual world champion Royals to the brink. The one thing that this team has going for them is their depth within the lineup and rotation. After assuming they’d be a year away from being contenders, Houston now has to show that heightened expectations won’t hurt their development.

 

 

 

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3. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (OF ANAHEIM)

 

 

Is the window of opportunity running out in Anaheim? While manager Mike Scioscia won his personal battle with former GM Jerry DiPoto last year, will it eventually come back to haunt the franchise? The talent is there to make another postseason run. But the emergence of the Texas teams, will it matter? A 10-19 August last year all but sealed the Angels playoff faith. Now they enter the year with several questions as to whether they can really contend for the West and or a wild card berth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. SEATTLE MARINERS

 

 

After a year of expectations, the Mariners underwent such a major makeover that even Ty Pennington would be jealous of. After putting up a dreadful 4:16 team ERA, new GM Jerry DiPoto dispatched the bullpen that suffered 12 last-at bat losses in 2015. The lineup was also tweaked for new manager Scott Servais. Adding OF Nori Aoki and 1B Adam Lind will help bolster a lineup that was ranked 23rd overall in the majors. The 2014 playoff push seems like ages ago. So much so that this year’s modest goal is to just get to the .500 mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. OAKLAND ATHLETICS

 

 

The collapse of the SS Athletics became complete in 2015. After three straight postseason appearances and several player defections, Oakland was the AL’s worst team last year. And they don’t figure on being contenders again in 2016. All-Star Sonny Gray is the ace of a staff that’s a work in progress to be kind. Yes there were injuries as well last year, but in truth all the years of playing the “Moneyball” game in Oakland came back to haunt them in 2015. It’s anybody’s guess as to when this franchise will ever field a true Major League product again in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEXT: The NL Central.

 

 

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