Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County within the state of California, USA
Their Deal: Since getting a new owner and winning the World Series in 2002, God’s Soldiers have been a major player in baseball. This seems sort of weird since they always seemed like a second-class team most of my childhood. But here they are, once again, with a quality team that doesn’t have as many holes as most teams in the AL.
Stud Muffin: Vladimir Guerrero, come on, did you see that home run he hit in the All-Star Game? It’s a shame that Vlad doesn’t get more ups in the media because he’s probably been the most exciting player in baseball over the last ten years. There really isn’t anything he wasn’t able to do at his absolute peek about three or four years ago. (BTW, I’d link video of the home run, but MLB, being MLB, pretty much makes it impossible to see that stuff on youtube. Awesome!)
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Gary Matthews Jr… but seriously, Hector Carrasco is still around. I know he’s had an unassuming career, but he’s been around forever.
Key To Season: Scoring a few runs would be nice. The Angels have struggled to get a lot of production out of their line up the last few years. Let’s put it this way, when you’re counting on Garret Anderson to be one of your major contributors, you’re asking a lot (and I’m a big Anderson fan, but he should be hitting sixth or something). Also, it would help if their starting pitching is healthy, which is a question mark going into the season.
Silver Lining: The AL West is pretty bad.
Random Thoughts: They’ll win this division by default… My Lord, Darren Oliver is on this team too? Totally missed that at first… Cabrera is 32 years old, which frankly shocks me, I thought he was like 28… I saw Howie Kendrick hit a home run about 500 feet in Tucson a few weeks ago. The ball cleared a 40 foot wall in deep center (405 feet) with ease. Longest home run I’ve seen, well either that shot or the one Frank Thomas hit onto the concourse at Comiskey a few years ago… I’m a Casey Kotchman fan just because it’s sort of like Chuck Klosterman… Hey look! Shea Hillenbrand is on the Angels! This is a man that fought his manager and had teammates saying things that make Shea sound like baseball’s Ron Artest… I’ll admit it, the Angels are sort of cool, in a rally monkey, surfer kind of way.
Chances/Prediction: Assuming that Weaver is back in May and Colon at some point around the All-Star Break or before, the Angels should be in good shape. A few young, hot prospects got some playing time last year which should only help this year. There’s talent on this team and if they hit a bit better and have a healthy rotation for most of the year, they should cruise.
Their Deal: And on the seventh day, God created Billy Bean, the best General Manager to never win the World Series. Can you imagine what a team with La Russa and Bean could do? They would rule the world if ever put in the same organization… anyway, the A’s made the playoffs last year, even winning in the ALDS for once, then lost to the Tigers in the ALCS, even after the Tigers celebrated as if they had just ended the hostilities in Iraq after their victory in the ALDS. Now, for the 10th year in a row, the cash strapped A’s are being lead by the Genius Bean, a rag tagged collection of misfits and castoffs… together they will attempt to do the impossible: Win in AL West.
Stud Muffin: Let’s see there’s the overrated Eric Chavez, the always injured Rich Harden and his trusty side kick Bobby Crosby, and then the MoneyBall God that Is Nick Swisher. We’ll take Swisher.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Alan Embree… our first crafty veteran lefty to make the list!
Key To Season: This team is kind of old now that I’m looking at them. Anyway, this team does the opposite of getting me excited… the outfield is solid but a bloop single waiting to happen, the infield is uninspiring, and the starting pitching has potential… but it’s just that potential.
Silver Lining: Mike Piazza has finally made it out to the Bay Area.
Random Thoughts: Their the early leaders in the Worst Defensive Team in the Majors, but hey, and outfield of Shannon Stewart, Swisher (in center no less), and Bradley will do that… Milton Bradley’s only 28 believe or not, my favorite Milton Bradley moment is when he called Jeff Kent a racist and Peter Gammons then wrote an article all but calling Kent a KKK member… I know it happened like eight years ago, but still whenever I think of Jason Kendall, I always think of that play when he amputates his right foot running out a grounder… This team has more outfielders that do the same exact thing than there are outfielders who do the same exact thing: Milton Bradley, Bobby Kielty, Mark Kotsay, Nick Swisher and Shannon Stewart. Wait, why aren’t they playing Swisher at first? Maybe they are and I’m just confused… no matter, they should be playing Swisher at first because Dan Johnson will not get it done.
Chances/Prediction: No Barry Zito, no Frank Thomas, I guess other than that this is the same team as last year. But I don’t think they’re all that good unless Harden is healthy, and we all know that isn’t possible.
Their Deal: Ugh. This team can’t catch a break can they? It’s been all downhill since that ‘magical’ 2001 season which saw them win about 150 games only to be taken out in the ALCS by the Yankees. They spend money on players who then stop using ‘roids which then kills their payroll and ability to do much of anything. In the meantime, they have ICHIRO and a nice ball park in one of Americans best cities… that's cool.
Stud Muffin: Ichiro.
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Miguel Batista gets the nod, but let’s also give a shout out to Raul Ibanez who’s been around forever at this point and continues to but up solid season after solid season.
Key To Season: They’re pitching comes together, Adrian Beltre gets back on the juice, and Natinoal castoffs Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen remember how to stay healthy and play baseball. This is a good time to mention that Guillen is 30 years old and on his 8th team (which features two stops with the Reds).
Silver Lining: Seattle is pretty firggin’ awesome… and there’s King Felix to watch once again.
Random Thoughts: Tinking outloud, but are the M's the last teal team in baseball? How will you remember the Teal Era?... Jose Guillen may be insane… ICHIRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!... ICHIRO!!!!!!... ICHIRO!!!!... Seriously, I haven’t had this much fun on youtube in like five hours… Imagine if Japan had Ichiro and Dice-K during the Second World War… If I were to pick an AL team to ‘come out of no where’ this would be my pick. The A’s aren’t as good as last year, same with the Rangers, and the M’s might catch a few breaks with Vidro or Guillen while Richie Sexson does Richie Sexson type things (btw, is Richie the white equilivent of Reggie?)…I have no clue what’s going on here, but it does prove that Ichiro and Dice-K are different people and have faced each other.
Chances/Prediction: If everything breaks their way, they could find themselves in a Wild Card race, or even the division race. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Their Deal: Honestly, I don’t know. The Rangers have been the same team my entire life. They can hit the shit out the ball, can’t pitch, and end up playing four hour games every night. I can’t imagine being a Rangers fan, since no matter who the GM is, they become obsessed with home run hitters. It’s honestly the most bizarre baseball ‘trend’ of my life. So expect more the same this year, a lot of 9-7 games.
Stud Muffin: I’ll take Michael Young
He Just… Won’t… Go… Away (aka, My God, he’s still playing!?!?): Kenny Lofton, I knew the Lofton was still playing since whoever he plays for seems to make the playoffs (then Kenny leaves for another team and that teams then makes the playoffs). Kenny Lofton is sort of like the Playoff Fairy, who ever he plays for that team makes the playoffs. He’s like the Bagger Vance of Baseball.
Key To Season: Well they do have Kenny Lofton… Brandon McCarthy is their #3 starter, this is a guy that has a problem with the long ball. That usually means bad things in Texas. Oh and paging Hank Blalock.
Silver Lining: Eric Gagne is waiting till May to blow out his arm this year apparently.
Random Thoughts: Seriously, do they just not care about pitching in Texas? Are Texas GMs like a drunk guy in a bar saying to themselves, I’m not calling her, no way man. Then they leave the bar and are walking to catch a cab or train and call the girl and end up leaving a drunken message that they regret the next day? Is that how the off-season works with them and pitching? “Okay, we’re going after some arms this winter… oh fuck it, we’ll deal with that in January.” This is why they feature Kevin Millwood, Eric Gagne, and six or seven guys I’ve never heard of right? I’m done.
Chances/Prediction: None, that just pissed me off. Why do they never have pitching? Someone give me a good reason. Seriously, they could finish in second, but I doubt it. Maybe Ron Washington’s a good manager… who knows.
4) Texas Rangers
2) Oakland A's