MLB: American West Division preview (Marc Griffin)

Here is the portrait of the American League West Division.

1- Houston Astros

Georges Springer last year and Carlos Correa this year, the Astros see their big stars leaving the ship one by one. But, despite the loss of star players, the Astros remain an American League powerhouse. Besides Correa, Zach Greinke, Brooks Raley, Yimi Garcia and Kendall Graveman are no longer with the Astros. How are they going to replace all these players? Internal! The Astros continue to develop players and thus remain competitive year after year.

Of the nine players in the starting lineup this year, the Astros have six players they drafted and developed, including new shortstop Jeremy Pena. Pena will have big shoes to fill, but at the Astros, we seem excited about his progress.

Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Jordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker will be in charge this season. No doubt the Astros will still be the team to beat in this division.

On the mound, Justin Verlander will return after a long absence. Framber Valder, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia, all three developed by the Astros will be the starters and Jake Odorizzi will also be used in this role, as will Christian Javier. Very little change also comes as Ryan Pressly will be the late game reliever.

Manager Dusty Baker is still in place and he will be able to take his team to the playoffs. Can he do more damage in the playoffs? To be continued!

2-Seattle Mariners

The Mariners will be on a mission in 2022. It all started last year when they were very close to making the playoffs. Kyle Seager retired despite having a 35 CC and 101 PP season. in 2021. Most of the players who left the organization this winter are pitchers, including Yusei Kikuchi, James Paxton and Tyler Anderson. However, they are adding Cy Young Trophy winner in the 2021 LA and former Jays Robbie Ray.

Abraham Toro, who saw the third baseman position becoming available, was certainly disappointed with the trade that brought Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to Seattle. Suarez is an established third baseman. But Toro is having an outstanding training camp and I wish him the game time he deserves.

So expectations are high for Seattle. Let’s watch the young Julio Rodriguez who will patrol the center field. The Mariners’ main prospect seems to have what it takes to be a big star. Unfortunately, 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis is still not recovered from a knee injury and will not start the season. But imagine for a moment a trio of outfielders consisting of Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodrigues and Kyle Lewis! Pretty impressive thank you!

Marco Gonzalez, Chris Flexen and Logan Gilbert should follow Robbie Ray in the rotation. Ray will have to be just as dominant this season if the Mariners are to heat up the Astros’ backside. A good ball season is announced in Seattle and a real chance to reach the playoffs.

3-Los Angeles Angels

Here, it’s much more a wish than an analysis, but that I would therefore like to see Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the playoffs! Will the few changes to training help? Dexter Fowler, Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Steve Cishek and Juan Lagares are no longer with the team. Noah Synderguaard, Michael Lorenzen, Ryan Tepera, Archie Bradley, Aaron Loop, Matt Duffy and Tyler Wade are added.

The Angels are proof that one or two players can’t do it all, even if Ohtani throws and hits. Two of the top five players in baseball right now will need help. Anthony Rendon is one of those who could give more. Jared Walsh is capable of hitting over 35 home runs and I have a good feeling that Jo Adell will come out of his shell and hatch in 2022.

Where it gets interesting is at the mound. There is Ohtani as number one. Then what will Synderguaard do? We know his potential, but he underwent Tommy John surgery. Can he become the dominant pitcher again? Patrick Sandoval could be a nice hidden card. A withdrawal machine on sockets. Michael Lorenzen will likely finally get his chance as a regular starter and Reid Detmers is the organization’s number one up-and-comer. It’s a little fragile all that, but there is a possibility that it works too. Raisel Iglesias is well established as a main reliever. I remind you that Lorenzen is one of the good hitters as a pitcher. He’s not Ohtani, but still interesting to see him on the same team as Shohei!

Honestly, I keep a good hope to see the Angels make the playoffs. I’ve been saying the same thing for ten years, so at some point it’s going to work!

4-Texas Rangers

The Rangers pulled out the checkbook this winter to sign Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, no less. Do they have a better team with these two players? Obviously! Is that enough to win 81 and play for .500? The answer is no! Rangers won just 60 last year and despite the presence of Seager and Semien, there are a lot of flaws in this squad. The Rangers also signed Cole Calhoun and Brad Miller. They acquired Mitch Garver in return for Isiah Kiner-Falena. On the mound, Jon Gray and Martin Perez have also hired as free agents.

Nothing is obvious in order to understand in which direction the Rangers are going. Clearly, we want to win quickly with the hiring of Seager and Semien, but for the rest, it still looks like a bunch of players to fill a formation.

Not bad in the end, but far from struggling this year.

If the goal was to put on a high-scoring show, we’ve hit the mark! We never wish bad luck on anyone, but I would be very surprised if this team wins more than 75 in 2022, which would be a nice improvement on the 60 wins in 2021.

5-A’s from Oakland

The A’s fire sale demonstrates two problems in major league baseball. First, the new collective agreement is disastrous for baseball parity and second, it seems that some owners can no longer keep up with the parade. How sad to see Matt Chapman and Matt Olson being traded to the Jays and Braves respectively. Chris Bassitt is with the Mets. Starling Marte, Mitch Moreland, Mark Canha, Josh Harrison, Yan Gomes and others became free agents and left the organization. Don’t be surprised if Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas are traded early in the season. Worse still, Bob Melvin who was at the helm of the team for 11 years is now the manager of the Padres.

Here’s what the starting lineup should look like:

  1. Tony Kemp 4
  2. Elvis Andrus 6
  3. Sean Murphy 2
  4. Seth Brown 7
  5. Jed Lawrie DH
  6. Stephen Piscotty 7
  7. Eric Thames 3
  8. Kevin Smith 5
  9. Christian Pache 8

I’m willing to believe that Smith and Pache have potential, but the A’s won’t gain a ton with this formation. If Manaea and Montas stay as starters, it will give some credibility. But it makes me sad to see such a great franchise starting over. You have to be strong to be an A’s fan. We sincerely wish a quick outcome in their new stadium adventure.

Money Ball 2 will not be written in 2022.

Predictions 2022:

  1. Astros
  2. Mariners (among 3 teams drafted for playoffs)
  3. Angels
  4. Rangers
  5. A’s

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