AL West Race

As mentioned in the MB article, kudos to Larry Stone for getting together a roundtable involving a media rep from each of the four AL West teams.  Good read


=== AL West Race ===

'Clay' asked this question:  In such a tight race, does strength in pitching and defense (Ms) provide an advantage over offensive-minded cubs (Rangers, Angels)?

Angels' writer:  Say what? That's the first time I've ever seen the Angels referred to as "offensive-minded." Since Stoneman took over as GM in 2000 and hired Scioscia, pitching has been Job One for the Angels. They build everything on that. This year is no different. Look at the starting rotation (Weaver, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir, Pineiro). That's the foundation.

Rangers' writer (paraphrased):  Texas is now emphasizing defense and pitching.  I like the Rangers' pitching, especially in the bullpen.

Baseball has now swung the pendulum and is back to fundamental (read: correct) baseball again.  Run prevention and run manufacturing is [properly] the focus.

A's writer:  Oakland has real good pitching too, especially their Big Three.


DrD rubbing chin:  Bill James has often remarked on how baseball writers prefer "technically sound" baseball, that it was from them that arose the "pitching wins championships" etc etc.

It would make for interesting speculation why.  For one thing, it's always been popular for writers to zig when the fans zag...that's another column. :- )

Writers much prefer fast games.  From a job-workload standpoint, a 2-1 duel between Felix and Ben Sheets has a much different feel than a pinball game in the Kingdome with 300 pitches thrown...


Tony Blengino was asked this question on the radio.  His reply:

1.  The Angels can make a perfectly valid case that they're the frontrunner (and Blengino seemed inclined to agree, since they're the six-fold incumbent).

2.  The Rangers' pitching is really coming along, they have several young players who may well increase sharply, and they can make a great case for being the favorites.

3.  The A's, for reasons I forget but including Ben Sheets, can make a legit case for being the favorite, according to Tony.

4.  So can the M's, obviously (notably because of Lee and Figgins - Dr D)

5.  Therefore, says Tony, there is no frontrunner.  QED.

I like his logic.   And I could easily see four winning teams in the division.


Dr. D is sweating the offense and sweating it huge.   Blengino also admitted, on the radio, that "Why did we lose the race last year despite being #1 in ERA?  It comes down to the fact that you can't win when you score as few runs as we did," or words to that effect.

If you told me that Milton Bradley was going to OPS 1.000, then of course the Felix-Lee-Bedard Mariners would be AL West faves.   But alas, you can't tell me that...


SSI takes some comfort in Bill James' principle that the bigger the park you play in, the more of a pitcher's park, the easier it is to transition into contention.

The original question-asker might have overlooked the Angels' club history and the Rangers' emergent talent .... but subconsciously he might have been thinking about the fact that the Mariners naturally produce run-prevention teams.

This could be a big factor in the race.


As for me, I'm all about Stars & Scrubs.  When the Angels signed Vlad Guerrero, it changed the personality of the division. 

The Mariners having brought in Cliff Lee to match Felix, and the M's adding Erik Bedard just when the fists will be flying the most, is a big X-factor to me.


Another Bill James principle:  it's tough for anybody to win with turmoil in the front office.  The Rangers won't know who their owner is on Opening Day, much less whether he'll be committed to spending to compete.


  • Angels - great franchise, mucho talent, though have lost star power
  • Rangers - Lacking the 'we're all in this together' thrust
  • M's - Added star power, ideal park, but very dubious offense
  • A's - Spotting other clubs a lotta dough


Tough race with no frontrunner, but in a free-for-all cage match, I like having my back to the Safeco left-center wall as the Iron Shiek and The Cossack storm our position.  With the Angels losing Lackey, Vlad, KRod and Escobar in quick succession, Mariners for choice in the AL West.


Dr D


Taro's picture

Colby Lewis is potentially the biggest bargain this offseason. Its interesting how little attention this guy is getting even though hes been one of the most dominant NPB pitchers over the past 2 years despite pitching in that bandbox in Hiroshima.
A cutter and tightened command have led to his breakout seasons...
At a mere $5mil over 2 years, plus an option for a 3rd at $3mil, this one could potentially hurt for a while..

Taro's picture

I wonder where the other 29 teams were on this? Lewis put up comparable and even slightly better numbers than what Matsuzaka had in his final 2 NPB seasons.
A near 10 K/BB is no joke, he led the league in K/9 in BOTH '08 and '09, he raised his GB/FB ratio to 1.48, and he did it all in Hiroshima. Thats the same launchpad where Kuroda pitched (the Coors of NPB).
$8mil over 3 years? I still can't believe it.
At first glance I thought that was for ONE season, not two and an option year.. Thats such a rediculous bargain, its silly. Lewis could be merely league-average and the Rangers would only be paying him a little over $1mil per W.
Are we back to assumming that the NPB is AAA level? Whats the deal? Why weren't more teams in on him?

OBF's picture

Was originally drafted by the Rangers, so maybe he gave them an exclusive negotiating time and a home town discount ala Erik Bedard for us???
Otherwise it is quite strange that we haven't even heard of Colby looking for an MLB contract before it was announced that the Rangers had signed him.

Taro's picture

His agent said that half the teams in MLB called, so apparently they knew he wanted to come over.
I was tracking him over the offseason and thought he would re-sign with Hiroshima...When he signed with the Rangers it was a serious gut punch.. I only recently looked closer at the details of the contract..Needless to say I'm a bit shocked.

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