LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Outlook. The Angels bid farewell to three ultra-popular players (3B Chone Figgins, DH Vladimir Guerrero and RHP John Lackey) and made interesting pickups in DH Hideki Matsui and RHP Joel Piñeiro, with youngster Brandon Wood set to step in at third base. Probably not a net upgrade, but the Angels have a potentially great starting rotation with a solid lineup, and perhaps the game's best manager, Mike Scioscia.
Spotlight on. LHP Brian Fuentes. Last year he didn't quite endear himself to Scioscia.
Final word. For all the talk about the improved AL West, the Angels are still the best. They'll capture their sixth division title in seven years.
2009: 97-65, First place.
GM: Tony Reagins.
Outlook. When the Rangers traded 1B Mark Teixeira to Atlanta in July 2007, they made a commitment to rebuilding through player development. That decision displayed returns last year, and team president Nolan Ryan is on record as expecting 92 wins this season. Not an unrealistic goal if enough visions become reality, such as RHP Rich Harden staying healthy and dominating and DH Vladimir Guerrero showing he hits well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Spotlight on. Manager Ron Washington, who confirmed that he failed a test for cocaine last season.
Final word. The starting rotation is the team's clear Achilles' heel.
2009: 87-75, Second place.
Manager: Ron Washington, fourth season, 241-245, .496.
GM: Jon Daniels.
Last playoff appearance: 1999.
Outlook. Remember when the A's were the little team that could, terrifying the Yankees with their mix of power and power pitching? That seems like eons ago, and the shine is off acclaimed GM Billy Beane. But Beane has deployed a plan even through the last three subpar seasons. Uncomfortable with the notion of fielding a team with, say, 85-win potential, he dealt pitchers like Joe Blanton, Rich Harden and Dan Haren to build up his farm system and try to create a 95-win team. They're on their way.
Spotlight on. If RHP Ben Sheets stays healthy and the A's falter, he'll be huge trade bait.
Final word. They'll have a winning record, but no spot in the playoffs.
2009: 75-87, Last place.
Manager: Bob Geren, fourth season, 226-259, .466.
GM: Billy Beane.
Last playoff appearance: 2006.
Outlook. They were the "It" team this winter, as they swiped 3B Chone Figgins from the Angels, picked up LHP Cliff Lee in a shocker, and took a chance on OF Milton Bradley. Now, though? Lee is on the DL (abdominal strain), and Bradley has raised eyebrows with words and actions during spring training. They could have trouble scoring runs, and the starting rotation beyond Lee and ace RHP Felix Hernandez is suspect.
Spotlight on. DH Ken Griffey, Jr., who received credit for helping improve the clubhouse atmosphere last year. But now, he's well below average.
Final word. The Mariners simply need more time to ramp up.
2009: 85-77, Third place.
Manager: Don Wakamatsu, second season.
GM: Jack Zduriencik.
Last playoff appearance: 2001.