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:

Houston Astros

  • 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…

Oakland Athletics

  • 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.

Seattle Mariners

  • 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.

Texas Rangers

  • 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.
  1. Hotrod says:

    Your thoughts on this team (12 team H2H)? Thanks

    C Avila
    1 Howard
    2 Gyorko
    SS Tulo
    3 Machado
    2/SS Rutledge
    1/3 Alvarez
    OF Giancarlo
    OF Harper
    OF Holiday
    OF Cespedes
    OF Eaton
    Util Quentin


    Jim Johnson

    • Wallpaper Paterson says:

      @Hotrod: Nice team if 12-team league

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:

      @Hotrod: I agree with Wallpaper. Man, that’s a sexy outfield…

  2. jjj says:

    Had auction draft over the weekend, 13 team 2 C, MI, CI 5 OF, 2 UTIL league. Just to give a comparison of the difference in projections from razzball and cbs, I inputed my players into war room tool: (4×4 league no runs, no K)

    CBS 295 1094 172 .277
    Razz 341 1387 218 .279

    I hope razzball is right!!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:

      @jjj: Wow… the average is similar, but Razzball is way higher on the rest. Maybe you drafted some players that Razzball projects more playing time?

      • jjj says:

        @Tom Jacks: Not that I can see….Upton is projected for 25 more RBI, bigger numbers from Ike davis and Mccutchen. this is my team:
        C Wilin Rosario 58 25 75 3 .252
        C Rob Brantly 38 4 49 1 .292
        1B Lance Berkman 64 19 77 3 .279
        2B Michael Young 76 7 70 2 .272
        SS Starlin Castro 92 16 83 25 .310
        3B Adrian Beltre 82 28 103 2 .281
        MI Erick Aybar 92 9 62 24 .292
        CI Ike Davis 76 34 102 0 .259
        OF Andrew McCutchen 102 30 107 27 .295
        OF Justin Upton 100 28 104 19 .284
        OF Hunter Pence 81 24 95 7 .284
        OF Shane Victorino 92 14 66 29 .272
        OF Drew Stubbs 54 14 55 31 .244
        UTIL David Ortiz 82 28 98 0 .279
        UTIL Nick Swisher 72 24 85 2 .261

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:

          @jjj: Then I don’t get it. That’s more of a difference than I can begin to explain. I (predictably) lean towards the Razzball projections there.

  3. Fooch says:

    Wells might challenge for some playing time in in LA at OF or DH. Twenty million reasons to give him a shot.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:

      @Fooch: Good point. What a mess with that trade, but Mike Trout covers all blemishes.

  4. T Moore says:

    Mr. Tom: Great name there, laddie Mine too…

    I’m a Frieri believer… Madson will not get the job if Frieri does well… Yes, Madson will be lingering but healing too.. If the Angels fly like I think they will… It might never be an issue…

    The Astros are a black hole… What will be their OF is the question of the Spring… They make the Mets look set….

    Could Carlos Pena @ 35 YO have found a home to be a leader in for a couple years and hit 250 25 Hrs 90 RBI – naw ….BUT???… ??? He is worth watching hard… He is great in April too..

    Carter is the next Adam Dunn at best…. A probs a lot worse… He is SO massive in body – to his detriment… Think, Moss is a better late round pick MORE ABs HRs and Better decent BA … Carter will not do well in the OF either… He is no Moss or even Dunn out there… Carter must earn his living at DH IMO limiting his options… I could be wrong…

    Nakahoma is now in the 2nd base mix… Sogard is ripping up ST too.. Rosales to a lesser degree… It is interesting to note that Lowrie and Sizemore have options while those 2 don’t

    It now looks like to me 2nd Nakahoma, Lowrie SS and Donnie at 3B… With a battle for the bench spot being won by Sizemore as he plays 2 positions… Weeks is 2nd only (an Org bad boy too).. The 13th man battle is wide open

    5 Ofers set
    2 Catchers set
    1 1B set
    4 infielders above ????
    That leaves one player… And Barton is in the mix… Weeks, Sogard, Rosales, Green (Optioned) and Parinno… fill out the roster

    Moss 1B/OF has a shot at 500+ ABs if he does not slump… Could have a big year.. And he is not being drafted

    Smith is the guy whose ABs get the big hit as the A’s mix and match

    Seattle is the same plug in plug off at the plate and in the field as A’s IMO … They have some ready rookies in Liddi and Franklin (history of M’s using young players ) to make things worse

    Erasmo Ramirez will get his shot in the rotation… He earned it… The M’s are loaded with pitching..

    Hultzen is looking bitch’n for a early-mid season pick up…

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