This offseason, the AL West was as active as any division in baseball. Every team re-tooled for the upcoming 2014 season, and 4 of the 5 teams are expecting to compete in October. Here are the moves for the Astros, Mariners and Angels and what those moves could mean for the A’s in 2014.
After another season of 100+ losses (51-111 record in 2013), the Astros made a few moves that should help them in 2014. Most notably they added Dexter Fowler from the Rockies, along with Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls and Matt Albers. Last season the Astros were just too inexperienced. Their talent hasn’t blossomed quite yet, but they will over the next couple of seasons, and begin to contend in 2016 or 2017. These moves were made to both improve the team and also add some veteran leadership to a young team. Houston has the potential to be a headache this season for the Athletics if their pitching improves. I don’t think they will match their 15-4 record against the Astros from a season ago.
Biggest Addition to the 2014 Roster: Dexter Fowler. He is a veteran who handles the bat well and has speed. He can cause a lot of havoc on the bases and has a little bit of pop in his bat as well. There was talk that Colorado thought he has peaked early, so they let him go. Fowler is not in Mile High anymore, so his stats could drop. He is 27 years old, which is typically right about the prime of a baseball player’s career.This season will be very telling as to whether the Rockies were correct.
Recently, the Mariners have had a highly touted farm system, but their players of the future have been largely underwhelming. This offseason, they went another route–free agency. Obviously, they signed super-slugging 2nd baseman Robinson Cano away from the Yankees and gave him lots of money. They also added Corey Hart, Willie Bloomquist, Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney. The Mariners are better and are ready to compete in 2014. Everyone focuses on their offensive woes the past few seasons, but last year they allowed 4.65 runs/game, for a total of 754 over the season while only scoring a total of 624 runs. That is a large gap to close.
Biggest Addition to the 2014 Roster: Taijuan Walker. I want him in every fantasy league I’m in. Walker has the chance to be even better than King Felix (sorry A’s fans). He gives Seattle a dominating top-3 of the rotation and should significantly reduce the team’s runs allowed from 2013. That, coupled with an improved offense should see the Mariners competing for the division for at least a little while.
The Angels have added big-name players and spent lots of money to try and win a World Series the past couple of years. That got them to a 78-84 record in 2013. This offseason they added David Freese and Fernando Salas in a trade with the Cardinals. They also let go of Mark Trumbo for Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs in a trade with Arizona. The Angels also signed Joe Smith as a free agent.
The Angels did the right thing by trading some assets for pitching, which was their biggest deficiency in 2013. They acquired a slew of arms that have high upside and haven’t quite reached their potential, outside of Smith. Of course they still have Mike Trout, who is only going to keep improving as he goes through his twenties. There is reason for optimism for the Halos.
Biggest Addition to the 2014 Roster: Josh Hamilton’s 28 pounds. In a recent article by the Dallas Morning News, Josh Hamilton has gained 28 pounds this offseason to regain his power stroke. He added the weight by adding gluten back in to his diet. If Hamilton does regain some power, combined with improved pitching and added with Trout’s everything else, the Angels will be in a fight for the division with Texas and Oakland. If he doesn’t return to form, they will be fighting with Seattle and Houston to stay out of last.