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Capsules for the AL West Division

March 31, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2010 at 11:02 p.m.


EDITORS: REPEATING for all needing. () -

By Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

(MCT)

Predicted finish

1. Rangers, 88-74

2. Angels, 83-79

3. Mariners, 75-87

4. Athletics, 70-92

Pennants, wild cards in the division since 1995: 1/3.

Average payroll: $82 million.

Managers with World Series rings: Mike Scioscia.

Players with MVP trophies: Vladimir Guerrero (2004), Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997).

Players with Cy Young Awards: Cliff Lee (2008).

High fantasy picks: Ian Kinsler, Felix Hernandez, Suzuki, Lee.

2010 award possibilities

MVP: Kinsler, Rangers. Smart hitter has raised his RBI total three years in a row, quietly joining the short list of true power-speed players.

Worth considering: Kendry Morales, Suzuki, Josh Hamilton.

CY YOUNG: Hernandez, Mariners. Easily could have won the award in 2009 and could be better with another year's experience.

Worth considering: Jered Weaver, Scott Feldman, Lee.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Adam Moore, Mariners. Has hit on his way up and should get lots of at-bats with Kenji Johjima's exit leaving Rob Johnson as the lone veteran catcher.

Worth considering: Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers; Chris Carter, 1B, A's; Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, Mariners.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Clint Hurdle, Rangers. Yes, he's currently the team's hitting coach, but in each of the last three seasons, a team has reached the playoffs after a midseason managerial change, and Ron Washington appears especially vulnerable given his 2009 positive test for cocaine.

Ten questions

1. Don't the Angels have an automatic spot in the first round of the playoffs? It has seemed that way in baseball's least balanced division, but the loss of John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Guerrero and Darren Oliver will challenge that theory.

2. Who is baseball's odd couple? That's Rangers President Nolan Ryan and his bookish GM, Jon Daniels.

3. Who is the division's most important player? The Rangers' Hamilton can be one of baseball's best five hitters or a non-factor. Flip a coin.

4. What was A's GM Billy Beane's worst move this year? The Ben Sheets signing is the leader in the clubhouse. He has been crushed during spring training. He'll be an asset if he's good in midseason, but he's not Mr. Reliable.

5. What was Beane's worst move last year? Trading for Matt Holliday might have been a good idea if he hadn't sent five-tool center fielder Carlos Gonzalez to Colorado to get him. Beane hopes Michael Taylor - acquired in a Holliday chain reaction - similarly becomes an impact player.

6. How important is Scioscia? No manager in the majors is more important. An ESPN the Magazine computer analysis of player talent picks the Angels last in the AL West. Scioscia will find a way to contend.

7. Milton Bradley, fact or Friction? One rival GM rated Bradley as the biggest "bang for the bucks" possibility on his board of available players last winter and still wouldn't bring him into his clubhouse. Seattle is a good place for Bradley.

8. Who's the most underrated player? A's catcher Kurt Suzuki is working his way up the short list of the game's best at his position. He had 88 RBI last season, fourth among catchers.

9. What's lurking behind the curtain? The Mariners' Ackley was a great hitter at the University of North Carolina and could be this season's Gordon Beckham.

The Rangers have lots of impact arms in their minor league pipeline, with Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez trending upward, as Feliz was at this time last year.

10. Who is the MVC (most valuable coach)? With Rudy Jaramillo having joined the Cubs, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux gets the honors. Witness the development of Scott Feldman, who gives Texas a homegrown ace.

___

(c) 2010, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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