Forecast: American League preview

Jim Bowden: Mike Trout is the favorite to win the AL MVP this year after finishing second to Miguel Cabrera the last two seasons. Both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton should be comeback player of the year candidates. Pujols is finally healthy, and Hamilton has gained 20 pounds of strength back. The Angels' season will depend on the young arms of Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. They have little rotation or position player depth and are not equipped to withstand significant injuries, which could be their downfall.

Jerry Crasnick: The Angels arrived in spring training and instantly began talking about erasing the unpleasant memories of 2013, when they got off to an 11-22 start and buried themselves in the AL West. Other than the early Achilles injury that ended Mark Mulder's comeback, the spring went about as well as manager Mike Scioscia could have hoped. Pujols is healthy and focused on re-establishing himself as one of baseball's great players. Hamilton returned from a calf injury in mid-March and should be ready to go, and Trout logged a 1.343 OPS in his first 16 games in the Cactus League. He is incapable of coasting even when the results don't matter. Ultimately, the team's fortunes will hinge on general manager Jerry DiPoto's offseason quest to upgrade the rotation. If Skaggs, Santiago and Richards can slot in and be productive behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Angels will contend for a wild-card berth. Given the potential pitching issues in Oakland and Texas, they could make a run at the division title.

4. Seattle Mariners

Jim Caple: With an aching starting rotation, a suspect infield and an even more questionable outfield, the Mariners' prospects better come through (though they rarely do for Seattle) or Robinson Cano will soon regret not settling for less money elsewhere.

David Schoenfield: They gave $240 million to Cano, but what else did they do to improve a team that went 71-91 and has averaged 94 losses over the past four seasons? Well, they signed Corey Hart, who missed all of last season. They acquired Logan Morrison, who has had knee injuries and hit .236 the past two seasons. They signed closer Fernando Rodney, but that's hardly a cure for a pitching staff that allowed the fourth-most runs in the AL even though it had Hisashi Iwakuma (third in the AL Cy Young voting) and Felix Hernandez. The Mariners ranked second in the majors in home runs but just 22nd in runs scored, showcasing the on-base problems with the offense. To provide support for Cano, they will need big improvement from the young players; shortstop Brad Miller and catcher Mike Zunino are the latest hopes, but Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak will apparently be given one more chance to prove themselves. The rotation is already banged up with Iwakuma (finger) and rookie Taijuan Walker (shoulder) beginning the year on the disabled list. In other words, it may not be long before Cano wonders what he got himself into.

5. Houston Astros

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