Forecast: American League preview

Jerry Crasnick: The Athletics are short on superstars. But as general manager Billy Beane points out, they have 25 good players on the roster. They were also enthused about their pitching depth until Jarrod Parker, their projected Opening Day starter, went down for the season with his second elbow reconstruction and A.J. Griffin went on the shelf for a month with flexor tendinitis. The A's are a tightly knit, tough-minded team, but the loss of Parker is clearly going to hurt. It forces Sonny Gray into an even more prominent role in front of Dan Straily, Scott Kazmir, Tommy Milone and Jesse Chavez and could put pressure on the Oakland bullpen as the season progresses. Manager Bob Melvin does a great job of keeping this team on an even keel, and the A's have showed their mettle with back-to-back division titles. They justifiably have designs on a deep postseason run, but first they have to outlast the Rangers and Angels in a challenging AL West.

Buster Olney: The spring injuries to Parker and Griffin gashed what was probably the best part of the Oakland roster -- the depth in the rotation. The A's have a dominant bullpen, potentially, and a lot of useful position players. Then again, with Oakland, isn't saying the Athletics have little margin for error redundant?

1. Texas Rangers

Jim Bowden: The Rangers have rebuilt their lineup thanks to the free-agent signing of Shin-Soo Choo and trade for first baseman Prince Fielder. Choo will give the Rangers an on-base machine as the leadoff hitter, and Fielder will give them the left-handed power hitter in the middle of the lineup they've lacked since Josh Hamilton left via free agency after the 2012 season. The Rangers do have questions in the back of their rotation and at the closer's role that will have to be answered if they're going to win the division.

David Schoenfield: For the fourth straight season, the Rangers won 90-plus games but endured bitter disappointment. Two straight World Series defeats have been followed by exits in the wild-card game (2012) and then in the tiebreaker game last season, a 5-2 loss to the Rays. Especially bitter was that both the wild-card loss and tiebreaker defeat came at home. The Rangers have revamped an offense that scored 125 fewer runs last season than it did in 2011 by adding some much-needed left-handed bats in Fielder and Choo. Those two ranked 28th and fourth in the majors in OBP, respectively. Jurickson Profar, the No. 1 prospect in baseball heading into 2013, takes over for the traded Ian Kinsler at second base and should match Kinsler's offense. With Derek Holland out at least half the season and Matt Harrison likely to miss at least a few starts, Yu Darvish is the only proven workhorse in the rotation. Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando have good arms while shaky vets Joe Saunders and Tommy Hanson begin the year in the 4- and 5-holes. The Rangers will have to rely on their deep bullpen early on. If the rotation holds up, the Rangers should again contend for the AL West title.

3. Los Angeles Angels

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Patrick Crawford is pictured in this photo from his Facebook page.
Meteorologist Patrick Crawford KCEN/Facebook
Brad Pitt
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library
PHOTO:
Yasuyoshi Chibaa/AFP/Getty Images