Monday, December 27, 2010

BD Hot Stove: The Not So Wild West | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: The Not So Wild West | Baseball Digest

The American League western division was for the taking when camps broke out of Arizona and Florida in 2010 and the regular season began. But soon teams fell by the wayside. The Angels were riddled with injuries and players that couldn’t fill the shoes of those who had departed (John Lackey, Chone Figgins), and the Mariners were a woeful excuse of a baseball team. Texas emerged on top, but with Cliff Lee’s departure this off-season, the division is certainly up for grabs again in 2011.

Not as deep in the heart of Texas: Lee was the key to the Rangers sealing up the AL West and their run to the World Series. But with Lee gone, the Rangers don’t have a true number one in their rotation. They did make a low risk/high reward signing Sunday when they came to terms with former Diamondback, Brandon Webb ($3M base). It remains to be seen whether or not Webb will be able to regain his form. The Rangers signed Yorvit Torrealba to shore up the leaky boat situation they had at catcher and kept Matt Treanor to back him up. Jeff Francoeur (KC), Rich Harden (Oak), and Brandon McCarthy (Oak) all signed elsewhere.

In the arms of the Angels: With ace John Lackey’s departure prior to the 2010 season and Nick Adenhart’s tragic death in 2009, the Angels were lacking in quality starters last season. The Halos picked up Dan Haren at the trade deadline and hope someone else will emerge this year in the back end of the rotation. One player who might fit that bill is Hisanori Takahashi, the 35-yr old left-hander LA signed away from the Mets. The Angels did give themselves a shot in the arm, the left one to be exact, by signing stand out set up man/part-time closer Scott Downs to a three year deal. The team also parted company with long time reliever Scot Shields. The Angels will be employing a new DH as well after letting Hideki Matsui walk (to Oakland).

An A for Effort: Oakland hung tough for quite a while in the west last year and has been very busy this off-season. In addition to signing Matsui, Harden, and McCarthy, the A’s also dealt for outfielders David DeJesus (KC) and Josh Willingham (FLA), brought back 2nd baseman Mark Ellis, and signed reliever Fernando Cabrera to a minor league deal. Gone are Jack Cust, Vin Mazzaro, Edwin Encarncion, Eric Chavez, and Ben Sheets.

The Rhyme of the Mediocre Mariner: Seattle has had high expectations the last couple of years and very poor results. Outside of Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, and Franklin Gutierrez, there aren’t many holdovers on the roster to get excited about. Bringing in Jack Cust as the new bat isn’t going to change that. Seattle is reportedly shopping closer David Aardsma and already dealt away infielder Jose Lopez. Starter Ryan Rowland-Smith (Hou), like much of the team, had a disappointing 2010 and left via free agency. The only other notable signing for Seattle was the retention of Erik Bedard. Yes, it will be another rough year to be a Mariners fan.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Blue Jays are reportedly close to inking reliever Octavio Dotel to a one year deal. Dotel could either serve as a set up man or closer.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo hears that Carl Pavano is holding out for a three year deal.

The Phillies re-upped with reliever J.C. Romero; terms are reportedly one year at $1.1M.

The Brewers have come to terms with reliever Takashi Saito on a one year, $3M deal.

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