Manager: Bob Melvin, fourth season, 237-186, .560
GM: Billy Beane, 17th season
2013: First (96-66); lost ALDS to Detroit, 3-2
The A's are an organization that constantly seems to be in motion, with an ever-changing roster and a lineup that is reshuffled on a daily basis. But the most important piece is the one that has been in the same place since 1998, and that's general manager Billy Beane.
Operating with a payroll that stays consistently in the bottom third among the 30 teams, the A's have won two straight AL West titles, but their degree of difficulty skyrocketed this month with the loss of Jarrod Parker, who is out for the season due to a second Tommy John surgery since 2009. Parker was penciled in as the Opening Day starter, but the key to the A's success has been Beane's ability to cover up those holes, and he'll need the $22-million gamble on Scott Kazmir to pay off quickly.
Bartolo Colon also put up a Cy Young caliber season (18-6, 2.65 ERA) for Oakland a year ago and he's now with the Mets. Cue Sonny Gray, an ace-in-the-making who had a 2.67 ERA in 10 starts and two relief appearances last season. The 24-year-old righthander then impressed during his pair of playoff starts with a 2.08 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 13 innings.
Beane spent the little money he does have on lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty ($7 million) -- who won't be back from Tommy John surgery until June or so -- and Jim Johnson ($10 million), who was signed to replace Grant Balfour. The former Orioles closer had 50 and 51 saves the past two seasons.
Offensively, the A's got a breakout performance from third baseman Josh Donaldson, who finished fourth in the MVP voting (24 HRs, .883 OPS), and they have virtually the same lineup that finished third in the AL in runs scored (767) a year ago. Even in cavernous O.Co coliseum, the A's finished third in the AL with 186 home runs.
Manager: Ron Washington, eighth season, 611-524, .538
GM: Jon Daniels, ninth season
2013: Second (91-72)
Outlook: Texas traded for Prince Fielder, gave $130 million to Shin-Soo Choo and even extended the contract of manager Ron Washington, who has lost two World Series as well as last season's play-in for the wild-card game. Should be a bounce-back year.
Manager: Mike Scioscia, 15th season, 1,233-1,035, .544
GM: Jerry Dipoto, third season
2013: Tie-third (78-84)
Outlook: Aside from Mike Trout, the best player to never win an MVP -- yet -- the Angels have a big-name roster that keeps coming up small. Loading up on Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton at a total cost of $365 million hasn't paid off, but if the rotation continues to struggle, it won't matter when those two sluggers finally do start earning their money -- if ever.
Manager: Lloyd McClendon, first season (replaces Eric Wedge)
GM: Jack Zduriencik, sixth season
2013: Fourth (71-91)
Outlook: Any team that has both Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez can't be all bad, but those two -- along with third-place Cy Young finisher Hisashi Iwakuma -- aren't nearly enough to make the Mariners a contender in the AL West. The over/ under on Cano's stay in Seattle is probably 21/2 seasons.
Manager: Bo Porter, second season, 51-111, .315
GM: Jeff Luhnow, third season
2013: Fifth (51-111)
Outlook: Three consecutive seasons of triple-digit losses? The Astros should be done mailing it in this year with a handful of highly-touted prospects on the way, so that's something. But .500 still feels out of reach.
LENNON'S BEST OF THE AL WEST
Best everyday lineup: Rangers
Best player: Mike Trout
Best power hitter: Mike Trout
Best overall Hitter: Mike Trout
Best in the clutch: Josh Donaldson
Best baserunner: Mike Trout
Best infielder: Robinson Cano
Best outfielder: Mike Trout
Best catcher: Jason Castro
Best starting pitcher: Felix Hernandez
Best reliever: Neal Cotts
Best closer: Jim Johnson
Best pitch: Hisashi Iwakuma's splitter
Manager: Ron Washington
General manager: Billy Beane
Stadium: Safeco Field