Gird your loins – we’re currently navigating positions battles in each division. Today I’m talking about the AL West, which gains the Astros this year, if anyone considers them something you gain. Every other team in the division should stand to benefit from the move. Maybe I’ve already beat them into the ground, especially with my review of worst pitching staffs in 2012, but they really could have a season for the ages (of a fallen empire). Across the state, the Rangers should continue to be a powerhouse, despite Ron Washington’s “leadership.” Meanwhile, the Angels look like the terminator, although, once their non-Trout core ages a little more, maybe they’ll be merely human. Today’s empires, tomorrow’s ashes – am I right? I don’t want to say anything bad about the Mariners other than this sentence implying that I have something bad to say about them. Ah yes, and I’m required by the union of baseball writers to have a token mention of the A’s. There you go. Anyway, here’s some of the position battles to watch in the AL West:
- Outfield: This could be a series of unfortunate attempts. Justin Maxwell is a lock in center field and Chris Carter should man left field. I agree with Sky’s assessment that Carter is worth a late round pick for his power potential. Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez will battle for right field and it may end up as a blahtoon. Rick Ankiel and Brandon Barnes will also get some occasional starts.
- Rotation: From my understanding, Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, and Jordan Lyles are going to “lead” this “rotation.” Yep. The other two spots are likely to go to Phil Humber and Erik Bedard, although Brad Peacock could get a shot when Bedard gets injured. These are all dishes best served in deep AL-only leagues.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Closer: It’s been well documented that Ryan Madson will miss the start of the season and Ernesto Frieri will keep the closer role warm for him. Do I like Frieri? Of course. Do I expect Madson to get the job when he returns? Affirmative. I’m not aware of any significant position battles on this team…
- Second Base: Scott Sizemore vs. Jemile Weeks. It’s ok for you to yawn – I just did. But wait! Before you skip the rest of this section, the A’s might do what fantasy owners recommend and stick Jed Lowrie there. This would be a plus for him and would allow Josh Donaldson to get more time at third base. I’m guessing that Sizemore gets sent to the bench, Weeks plays second, Donaldson plays third, and Lowrie splits time between the two. Confused? Welcome to trying to follow what the A’s are doing.
- Everything Else: The A’s are notorious for platooning and I would keep that in mind when drafting Brandon Moss, Seth Smith, and potentially John Jaso. This is a negative in weekly leagues, but a positive in daily leagues if you can find someone to play when these guys are inevitably benched (and rightly so) against lefties.
- Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Joe Saunders are locks. The final two spots will come down to Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, Jon Garland, and Brandon Maurer. Despite having a solid spring, Maurer is likely to join the fate of the rest of their top pitching prospects and be optioned to the minors. I think Garland will be the odd (switch the first “d” with an “l”) man out, but Ramirez has previously spent time in the bullpen, so he may be moved back there.
- Center Field: As I said on last week’s Razzball podcast, this mainly consists of Leonys Martin vs. Craig Gentry. Martin has the pedigree and has been tearing up Spring Training like your favorite simile. In Grey’s Leonys Martin sleeper post, he said that Martin could be similar to Alejandro De Aza if he could stop getting caught stealing. I believe in his speed and that he will figure things out, with De Aza being a nice comp.
- Fifth Starter: Well, they are without Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis until mid-season, along with Martin Perez missing the first month. Kyle McClellan had a decent shot, but now it looks like he will miss the first month of the season too. Maybe Josh Hamilton cursed them with something – curse of the hambino? The last men standing (literally) are Robbie Ross and Justin Grimm. Ross has had the better spring, so he likely has the edge right now, but both can be ignored in all but the deepest of leagues.