Baseball 2011 preview: AL West outlook

Oakland Athletics designated Hideki Matsui reacts to grounding Oakland Athletics designated Hideki Matsui reacts to grounding out against the Los Angeles Angels. (March 25, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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1. OAKLAND ATHLETICS

2010 Record: 81-81 (second place)

Manager: Bob Geren (fifth season, 307-340, .475)

GM: Billy Beane

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Last World Series: 1990 (Lost to Cincinnati, 4-0).

Outlook: It has been a humbling four-year stretch for superstar GM Billy Beane, but his team appears to be ready for prime time just as the "Moneyball" film arrives. Beane enjoyed an extremely productive winter, significantly enhancing both the A's lineup and their bullpen.

Keep an eye on: LF Josh Willingham. If he can stay healthy and adjust to his new league, neither a certainty, he can give the A's the sort of middle-of-the-lineup presence they've needed so badly.

Final word: Remember when people used to rip the A's for their playoff failures? Not this year. Oakland will advance to its first World Series since 1990.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

CF -- Coco Crisp .279

1B -- Daric Barton .273

RF -- David DeJesus .318

LF -- Josh Willingham .268

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DH -- Hideki Matsui .274

C -- Kurt Suzuki .242

3B -- Kevin Kouzmanoff .247

2B -- Mark Ellis .291

SS -- Cliff Pennington .250

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PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Trevor Cahill 18-8

LH Gio Gonzalez 15-9

LH Brett Anderson 7-6

LH Dallas Braden 11-14

RH Brandon McCarthy ---

CLOSER Saves

RH Andrew Bailey 25

2. TEXAS RANGERS

2010 Record: 90-72 (First place, lost World Series to San Francisco, 4-1)

Manager: Ron Washington (fifth season, 331-317, .511)

GM: Jon Daniels

Last World Series: 2010

Outlook: The defending AL champions joined the Yankees in the undesired "Cliff Lee rejected us" club. They rebounded by signing Adrian Beltre to play third base and turning popular veteran Michael Young into a highly compensated utility player.

Keep an eye on: OF Josh Hamilton. With the Rangers' starting rotation so uncertain, he needs to have one of his really good, injury-filled years, as opposed to one of his subpar, injury-filled years.

Final word: The Rangers still are headed in the right direction, yet a temporary step backward wouldn't be a surprise at all.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

2B -- Ian Kinsler .286

SS -- Elvis Andrus .265

LF -- Josh Hamilton .359

3B -- Adrian Beltre .321

DH -- Michael Young .284

RF -- Nelson Cruz .318

1B -- Mitch Moreland .255

C -- Yorvit Torrealba .271

CF -- Julio Borbon .276

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

LH C.J. Wilson 15-8

RH Colby Lewis 12-13

LH Matt Harrison 3-2

LH Derek Holland 3-4

RH Alexei Ogando 4-1

CLOSER Saves

RH Neftali Feliz 40

3. LOS ANGELES ANGELS

2010 Record: 80-82 (Third place)

Manager: Mike Scioscia (12th season, 980-802, .550)

GM: Tony Reagins

Last World Series: 2002(def. San Francisco, 4-3)

Outlook: What has become of the mighty Angels? Their first losing record since 2003 sparked promises of an aggressive winter, which led to . . . a trade for OF Vernon Wells? Yeesh. The Angels' front office seems to be a step slow nowadays.

Keep an eye on: 1B Kendrys Morales. He can cure many of the club's offensive worries by coming back strong from last year's freak injury (broken left leg), but he'll start the season on the disabled list.

Final word: Their starting rotation is solid, so they have a chance to return to their winning ways. In this improving division, though, they don't seem to possess enough talent.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

3B -- Maicer Izturis .250

DH -- Bobby Abreu .255

1B -- Kendrys Morales .290

RF -- Torii Hunter .281

LF -- Vernon Wells .273

2B -- Howie Kendrick .279

SS -- Erick Aybar .253

C -- Jeff Mathis .195

CF -- Peter Bourjos .204

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Jered Weaver 13-12

RH Dan Haren 12-12

RH Ervin Santana 17-10

RH Joel Pineiro 10-7

LH Scott Kazmir 9-15

CLOSER Saves

RH Fernando Rodney 14

4. SEATTLE MARINERS

2010 Record: 61-101 (Fourth place)

Manager: Eric Wedge (first season; overall 561-573, .495)

GM: Jack Zduriencik

Last World Series: None

Outlook: A year ago at this time, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was a celebrated savant. Now, after a brutal 2010, he's trying to keep his job. He had a very quiet offseason, picking up some spare parts.

Keep an eye on: RHP Felix Hernandez. He's the best thing going here, by far. Zduriencik insists he won't trade his ace, but will his ace happily endure a rebuilding program?

Final word: This year will be all about shifting the momentum in the right direction, and seeing if youngsters such as 2B Dustin Ackley and RHP Michael Pineda can develop.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

RF -- Ichiro Suzuki .315

3B -- Chone Figgins .259

LF -- Milton Bradley .205

CF -- Franklin Gutierrez .245

DH -- Jack Cust .272

1B -- Justin Smoak .218

C -- Miguel Olivo .269

2B -- Jack Wilson .249

SS -- Brendan Ryan .223

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Felix Hernandez 13-12

LH Jason Vargas 9-12

RH Doug Fister 6-14

LH Erik Bedard ---

RH Michael Pineda ---

CLOSER Saves

RH Brandon League 6

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