The Angels may be lacking Lackey but Al Dannity still backs Anaheim to rule the AL West in 2010.
A tougher test These are not your 2009 Angels. Gone are John Lackey, Chone Figgins, and Vladimir Guerrero. The addition of Hideki Matusi won’t offset the loss defensively but the World Series MVP will assure Anaheim remains a potent force with the bat. While Lackey is undoubtedly a big loss for the Angels it’s not quite enough to drop them back to the chasing pack in Baseball’s smallest division. Ervin Santana looks to have regained his strength in spring training and he completes a reliable rotation which features Scott Kazmir, Jered Weaver, and Joel Pineiro.
The race for the West will last longer this season but the sensible MLB betting option remains the Angels. Off the field Anaheim has enjoyed a notable victory already this season, although it’s not a world record to get too excited about.
Developing threats The Rangers already possessed a potent line-up at the end of the season but to make the step up and push for the playoffs Texas needs its new signing to play consistently. Guerrero, is the key difference maker offensively. While he’d love to put one over on his former employers it’s hard to see the fading DH do enough over the course of the season to make up the difference. Rich Harden can strengthen the Texas pitching rotation but only when he’s healthy and that is certainly not a given. Expect the veteran additions to help move Texas closer to Anaheim in 2010 with a chance to make the breakthrough in 2011.
Seattle is the dark horse choice for the AL West. With Ichiro and Figgins leading off the order the Mariners are well placed to at least be in a position to put runs on the board this season. That said they possess a line-up prone to erratic play, none more so than Milton Bradley. If the Mariners want to challenge Anaheim down the stretch they will need all the parts on offense fitting together perfectly. Cliff Lee is the X-Factor in the pitching rotation. He starts the season on the DL but his arrival at #2 in the order will improve Seattle’s defense substantially. The Mariners are a work in progress and will likely fall by the wayside before Texas in 2010.
Tough times in Oakland For the As to be anywhere near their divisional rivals the following needs to happen: Ben Sheets must win the Cy Young and the entire batting line-up need to have career years. I don’t fancy either to happen. The one positive sign to watch out for in Oakland is the development of Kurt Suzuki, the young catcher should build on his early career successes in 2010.
The best place to make MLB bets is at Sports Interaction’s online sports book.