|AL West teams at the start of spring training|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:40|
Manager: Bob Melvin (third season).
2012: 94-68, first place, lost in division series.
Training Town: Phoenix.
Park: Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 12/17.
He's Here: OF Chris Young, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, C John Jaso, INF Jed Lowrie, RHP Fernando Rodriguez.
He's Outta Here: RHP Brandon McCarthy, SS Stephen Drew, OF Jonny Gomes, SS Cliff Pennington, 3B Brandon Inge, C George Kottaras, RHP Tyson Ross, OF Collin Cowgill, RHP Jim Miller, 1B Chris Carter.
Going campin': The low-budget A's came out of nowhere last season to beat out big spenders Texas and the Los Angeles Angels and win the AL West title on the final day of the season. Oakland will have a hard time taking teams by surprise again, but they might have more talent on this seasons' roster with the additions of Young and Japanese import Nakajima. A full season from lefty Brett Anderson and the return of right-hander Bartolo Colon after finishing his 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test should help make up for the loss of McCarthy. Oakland is also counting on an even bigger year from Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes in his second season in the majors. The key will be whether the bullpen led by closer Grant Balfour and setup men Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle can match last year's success and rookie starters Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone avoid sophomore slumps.
Manager: Ron Washington (seventh season).
2012: 93-69, second place, lost wild-card game.
Training Town: Surprise, Ariz.
Park: Surprise Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 13/16.
He's Here: DH-1B Lance Berkman, RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Joakim Soria, C A.J. Pierzynski, hitting coach Dave Magadan.
He's Outta Here: OF Josh Hamilton, INF Michael Young, C Mike Napoli, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Mike Adams, RHP Scott Feldman.
Going campin': There are significant changes with the offseason departures of Hamilton, a five-time All-Star and 2010 AL MVP, Napoli and Young, the franchise's career hits leader and longest-tenured player before being traded to Philadelphia. After consecutive World Series appearances, Texas didn't even win a playoff game last October, losing the AL's first one-and-done wild-card playoff after going 4-9 down the stretch and losing the AL West title on the last day of the regular season. A big question mark this spring is whether RF Nelson Cruz, going into the final year of his contract, will face a 50-game suspension after being among several players named in a Miami News Times story alleging the purchase of banned performance-enhancing drugs. Until told differently, the Rangers plan for Cruz to remain their everyday right fielder. But top infield prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, who made their big league debuts last season, are among players who could get a look in the outfield this spring. While many will view this offseason as a failure for the Rangers - who didn't re-sign Hamilton, lost out in their pursuit of top pitching free agent Zack Greinke and couldn't work out a trade for OF Justin Upton - general manager Jon Daniels' only concern is what happens during the season and he genuinely likes their chances. Especially with a solid starting rotation fronted by Yu Darvish, the Japanese ace who won 16 games as a major league rookie, and Matt Harrison, the lefty who got a $55 million, five-year contract extension after winning 18 games in an All-Star season. Who will set up closer Joe Nathan after Adams and Uehara left in free agency? Offensively, the switch-hitting Berkman was considering retirement after being limited last year to 32 games for St. Louis (surgery twice on right knee), but as the primary DH will add some versatility to a lineup filled with right-handers. With Hamilton gone, David Murphy finally goes into camp considered the everyday left fielder while Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin, the speedy Cuban defector who got a $15.5 million, five-year deal nearly two years ago, likely split time in center.
Los Angeles Angels
Manager: Mike Scioscia (14th season).
2012: 89-73, third place.
Training Town: Tempe, Ariz.
Park: Tempe Diablo Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 12/15.
He's Here: OF Josh Hamilton, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joe Blanton, LHP Sean Burnett, LHP Brandon Sisk, INF Bill Hall.
He's Outta Here: OF Torii Hunter, RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Kendrys Morales, RHP Dan Haren, RHP Ervin Santana, C Bobby Wilson, INF Maicer Izturis, RHP Jordan Walden, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Jason Isringhausen.
Going campin': Hamilton is the Angels' latest eye-catching prize from free agency, but he's just one part of a significant makeover of a good team that wasn't quite good enough last year. Los Angeles won more games than AL champion Detroit in 2012, yet still missed the playoffs for the third straight season - a first under Scioscia. Right after the Angels decided not to spend the money to keep Greinke, they signed a similarly enormous check for Hamilton, who defected from Texas to join the Rangers' most consistent divisional rival. Hamilton's fearsome bat joins a lineup already featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. The Angels also reconfigured their rotation in a shuffle of proven veteran pitchers, losing Greinke and jettisoning Haren and Santana after their inconsistent 2012 efforts while acquiring Vargas, Hanson and Blanton to pitch behind ace Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Los Angeles also is banking on long-injured Ryan Madson to become its new closer, although Ernesto Frieri is still around if he falters. The Angels' changes came at a price: Along with losing Greinke as a short-term rental, they'll return to camp without Hunter after the veteran slugger and their unofficial team captain was allowed to leave for the Tigers. Morales was traded to Seattle for Vargas, clearing more consistent playing time for Trumbo. And the Angels are still stuck with underachieving Vernon Wells, who has two years left on his lavish contract. Yet it's tough to dislike Los Angeles' potent lineup, with the AL Rookie of the Year (Trout) setting the table for former MVPs in Pujols and Hamilton. And for all of their offseason machinations, the Angels managed to keep hold of promising OF Peter Bourjos.
Manager: Eric Wedge (third season).
2012: 75-87, fourth place.
Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.
Park: Peoria Sports Complex.
First Workout: Feb. 13/16.
He's Here: OF-DH Michael Morse, 1B-DH Kendrys Morales, OF-DH Raul Ibanez, OF-DH Jason Bay, C Kelly Shoppach, INF Robert Andino.
He's Outta Here: LHP Jason Vargas, C Miguel Olivo, C John Jaso, INF Munenori Kawasaki, INF Chone Figgins, RHP Shawn Kelley.
Going campin': Seattle tried to upgrade its offense in the offseason, but was forced to do so through trades after failing to land free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Acquiring Morales cost Seattle the No. 2 pitcher in its rotation with Vargas going back to the Angels, but it helped solidify the Mariners' designated hitter role. Before he broke his ankle in 2010, Morales hit 34 homers and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. Coupled with the addition of Morse - from Washington - Seattle's offense instantly should get an upgrade from where it stood the past three years when it was the worst in baseball. One big debate to settle during spring training is what happens at first base. Is Justin Smoak out of chances to be an everyday starter or can he parlay a strong close to 2012 into solidifying a role in the linuep? Seattle's offseason moves give it versatility to find a replacement for Smoak if he can't produce, but the Mariners would like to see the young switch-hitter win the job. Also to be determined is how playing time breaks down, especially in left field. Depending on how they perform in camp, Bay and Ibanez could make the decision even more difficult. Second baseman Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brendan Ryan will begin spring training coming off operations for injuries that impeded their offensive production in 2012. Ackley's drop-off was noticeable but Wedge remains confident his young second baseman will eventually be an elite hitter. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez will try and get through spring training healthy for the first time in three years. Seattle's bullpen is solid, but the rotation remains a question after ace Felix Hernandez, who was working on a $175 million, seven-year contract with the Mariners that would make him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. With Vargas gone, Hisashi Iwakuma becomes Seattle's prospective No. 2 in the rotation, with Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Noesi likely slotting in behind the duo. Seattle is still high on its big three of young prospects James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen, but any of the three would have to be dominant this spring to start the season in the majors.
Manager: Bo Porter (first season).
2012: 55-107, sixth place, NL Central.
Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.
First workout: Feb. 11/15.
He's Here: 1B-DH Carlos Pena, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Philip Humber, 1B Chris Carter, RHP Brad Peacock.
He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Mills, SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Wilton Lopez, OF Jordan Schafer, C Chris Snyder, RHP Fernando Rodriguez.
Going campin': Porter, the former Nationals third base coach, takes over a team which has finished last in the majors in each of the last two seasons. The Astros will try to avoid becoming the first team to lose at least 106 games in three straight seasons since the expansion Mets did it from 1962-65. It won't be easy for a team with just five players on the 40-man roster with more than two years of major league experience and the league's lowest payroll. Plus, they'll have to deal with the transition of moving from the NL Central to the powerful AL West. Their only major offseason move was the addition of aging slugger Carlos Pena, who can play first base, but is expected to be the team's first full-time designated hitter. The 34-year-old is one of only three players on the 40-man roster who is 30 or older. They also signed reliever Jose Veras, who had a 3.63 ERA in 72 appearances for Milwaukee last season, and Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game for the White Sox in 2012 but finished the year with a 6.44 ERA. The team avoided arbitration with Bud Norris by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million contract. The 27-year-old right-hander is the highest paid player on the team with a payroll of about $25 million. Houston continued slashing its payroll on Monday when it traded veteran shortstop Jed Lowrie to Oakland. The Astros are looking for Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez, who both saw action last season when Lowrie was injured, to compete for the job. Houston needs second baseman Jose Altuve to build on a solid 2012 season where he hit .290 and was named an NL All-Star. The Astros were also encouraged by the performance of 29-year-old outfielder Justin Maxwell, who hit 18 home runs in his first full season in the majors after playing portions of three seasons with the Nationals. General manager Jeff Luhnow believes the Astros added power to their lineup with the recent addition of Carter, who hit 16 home runs with 39 RBI in 67 games last season for the Nationals.