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AL West Preseason Preview
Nick Marro, FantasyJuice.com

We continue our fantasy coverage up to the start of Spring Training with a preview of the American League West division.

The loss of John Lackey leaves the Los Angeles Angels without an ace; luckily for them, their one through four starters can put up solid numbers.

One of the youngest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, will have to find ways to manufacture runs without any stand-out hitters.

The Seattle Mariners have one of the best one-two punches in baseball with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee heading the rotation. They’ll look to take down the division as the favorites heading into 2010.

The Texas Rangers new ownership group has high expectations for 2010 as they tout one of the more intimidating offensive lineups in baseball.

Below is our AL West Preseason Preview. Updates will be made as spring progresses.

 Los Angeles Angels
 Additions: Hideki Matsui (DH), Joel Pineiro (SP), Fernando Rodney (RP), Brian Stokes(RP)
 Losses: Kelvim Escobar (SP), Chone Figgins (3B), Vladimir Guerrero (DH), John Lackey (SP), Gary Matthews Jr. (OF), Darren Oliver (RP)
 Free Agents: Dustin Moseley (P), Robb Quinlan (1B/OF), Justin Speier (RP)
 Pitching
 Rotation: Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro
 Closer: Brian Fuentes
 Analysis: Expect Weaver and Saunders to finish with 14-17 wins and ERAs right around 4.00. They both are solid mid-round picks in most leagues but Weaver’s strikeout ability makes him the more valuable pitcher. Expect him to hit close to 180 this season.

Santana and Kazmir both have great stuff but are only effective when healthy. Kazmir looked stellar once he joined the Angels last season posting a 1.73 ERA in six starts. If either can stay off the DL they should end the season flirting with 200 Ks.

Pineiro is worth the risk in deeper leagues. Expect an ERA just over 4.00.

Fuentes could once again eclipse 40 saves, assuming he doesn't lose his job during the season.

 Hitting
 Lineup: 1. 3B Maicer Izturis
2. RF Bobby Abreu
3. 1B Kendry Morales
4. CF Torii Hunter
5. DH Hideki Matsui
6. LF Juan Rivera
7. 2B Howie Kendrick
8. C Mike Napoli
9. SS Erick Aybar
 Analysis: Kendry Morales is a great option at first-base. His RBI numbers may suffer a little with Figgins leaving for Seattle but he should still be a force in 2010. He has a legitimate shot at 40 HRs.

Abreu and Hunter are both valuable outfielders with five-tool ability while producing consistently when healthy. Hunter is more of a health risk due to past injuries

Matsui’s numbers may falter a little leaving the Yankees but the Angels lineup isn’t too far of a falloff.

Kendrick should finally break-out in 2010, barring injury of course. He’s a solid pick at a somewhat thin position.

 Oakland Athletics
 Additions: Coco Crisp (OF), Jake Fox (OF/3B), Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B), Aaron Miles (2B), Ben Sheets (SP)
 Losses: Bobby Crosby (SS), Scott Hairston (OF)
 Free Agents: Nomar Garciaparra (UTIL), Adam Kennedy (INF)
 Pitching
 Rotation: Ben Sheets, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Justin Duchscherer, Trevor Cahill
 Closer: Andrew Bailey
 Analysis: After missing all of last season, Ben Sheets will start the season as the A’s number one starter. The risk the A’s took will parallel the risk you’ll have to take drafting Sheets in mid-to-late rounds. His numbers may suffer facing other team’s number one starters but, if he can stay healthy, 200 Ks would not be a surprise.

Anderson and Braden should both keep their ERAs under four but will struggle to win games due to a lack of run support.

Like Sheets, Duchscherer missed 2009 but has the potential to do great things in 2010 after a stellar 2008 season.

The fifth spot in this rotation is still up for grabs with Cahill as the front-runner going into Spring Training.

Andrew Bailey has 40 save potential if enough save situations arise.

 Hitting
 Lineup:1. CF Coco Crisp
2. LF Ryan Sweeney
3. C Kurt Suzuki
4. RF Jack Cust
5. 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
6. 1B Daric Barton
7. LF Rajai Davis
8. 2B Mark Ellis
9. SS Cliff Pennington
 Analysis: The A’s have one of the youngest lineups in baseball and also one of the worst

Kurt Suzuki is a solid pick at catcher. He could flirt with 90 RBIs if his teammates find a way to get on base.

Barton, Ellis and Pennington all have potential. None are that appealing.

This lineup is set for the most part and in extremely deep leagues you can at least count on most of these guys to play every day. Keep an eye on uber-prospects Christopher Carter and Michael Taylor as they could make a splash during Spring Training. Carter is most likely to steal a starting gig.

 Seattle Mariners
 Additions: Milton Bradley (OF), Chone Figgins (3B), Casey Kotchman (1B), Brandon League (RP), Cliff Lee (SP)
 Losses:Adrian Beltre (3B), Bill Hall (UTIL), Brandon Morrow (SP), Carlos Silva (SP)
 Free Agents:Miguel Batista, Erik Bedard, Russell Branyan, Endy Chavez, Kenji Johjima, Mike Sweeney
 Pitching
 Rotation:Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith
 Closer:David Aardsma
 Analysis: Hernandez and Lee are, arguably, the best 1-2 in baseball. Both are top-ten fantasy pitchers and should find great success in 2010.

Rowland-Smith is a great mid-late round option and should be ranked higher than Snell regardless of where he starts the season in the rotation.

There’s a chance Rowland-Smith could start in the five hole if the Mariners choose to re-sign Erik Bedard.

Aardsma could reach 40 saves again in 2010, despite inconsistencies and a high ERA.

 Hitting
 Lineup: 1. RF Ichiro Suzuki
2. 3B Chone Figgins
3. CF Franklin Gutierrez
4. LF Milton Bradley
5. 2B Jose Lopez
6. DH Ken Griffey, Jr
7. 1B Casey Kotchman
8. SS Jack Wilson
9. C Adam Moore
 Analysis: Chone Figgins will bring speed to an already fast lineup. One through three will get on base. Expect a lot of hit-and-run, run-and-hit when the top of the order leads off innings.

Jose Lopez could eclipse 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.

Barring off-the-field issues, Bradley will have an excellent chance to drive in a career high in RBIs due in part to the speed hitting ahead of him and Lopez protecting him in the five-hole.

 Texas Rangers
 Additions: Khalil Greene (SS), Vladimir Guerrero (DH), Rich Harden (SP), Darren Oliver (RP), Clay Rapada (SP), Chris Ray (RP)
 Losses: Marlon Byrd (OF), Andruw Jones (OF), Kevin Milwood (SP), Ivan Rodriquez (C), Omar Vizquel (SS)
 Free Agents:Joaquin Benoit, Hank Blalock, Ryan Freel, Jason Jennings
 Pitching
 Rotation: Scott Feldman, Rich Harden, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy
 Closer: Frank Francisco
 Analysis: Feldman will be lucky to post numbers parallel to his successful 2009 campaign. Expect an ERA just over 4.00 and 15 wins.

Harden could put up great numbers if he stays healthy, sub 4.00 ERA and 185 Ks.

Hunter will be the number four and McCarthy’s spot is far from secure. Derek Holland will be stiff competition.

After pitching in Japan for two years, the Rangers have announced that Colby Lewis will have a spot in the rotation in 2010. He led the Japan Central League in Ks in each of his two seasons overseas. It’s hard to predict how he’ll fair in his return to the Show but if he finds any success it’ll be behind power pitching and around 140 Ks.

 Hitting
 Lineup: 1. CF Julio Borbon
2. 3B Michael Young
3. 2B Ian Kinsler
4. LF Josh Hamilton
5. DH Vladimir Guerrero
6. RF Nelson Cruz
7. 1B Chris Davis
8. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
9. SS Elvis Andrus
 Analysis: Julio Borbon should steal a lot of bases in 2010 after swiping 19 in only 46 games in 2009. He’ll be the starting center fielder on opening day while Hamilton will move to left.

Kinsler and Young will continue to put up great numbers. Kinsler could challenge Utley as the most productive 2B in 2010, from a fantasy perspective. He should improve on the .259 AVG he put up last year.

Guerrero should return to near his 2008 numbers and having Cruz hitting behind him, coming off a 33 HR season, will certainly help.


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