View From the Center: A.L. West Contenders
Welcome to "View From the Center", where our resident pseudo-expert slash Cincinnati Reds fan Jeff Gentil takes a regular rundown of the topics of interest within baseball's divisional landscape. Last week, team aces. This week, contenders/pretenders.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers have done a lot of payroll shedding over the last few years. Since the departure of Alex Rodriguez, the team has shut down when it comes to large salaries. Despite not having a big payroll ($55 million), the Rangers are holding their own in the West and have the necessary talent to contend throughout the season provided they avoid injuries. Vladimir Guerrero has come over from the Angels and hasn't missed a beat, while Josh Hamilton and Michael Young continue to pound the baseball. If that keeps up, look for the Rangers to be around til the end. Contenders
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: With Mike Scioscia leading the Angels, they will always have a chance to win the division, even this season. The Angels, despite their sluggish start, have been playing better baseball of late. The three-time defending A.L. West champs are still looking to fill Chone Figgins' shoes at the top of the order and just recently were dealt a bigger hit when Kendry Morales broke his leg celebrating a walk-off home run. But Arte Moreno has proven he's willing to fork over the cash for a mid-season addition. Contenders
Oakland A's: Due to the fact that the Angels and Rangers aren't going to run away from the rest of the division, it appears the A's will be in the race longer than most expected. Despite having baseball's third lowest payroll, and the inability to add a key player at the trade deadline, the A's have the look of a team that is starting to build confidence and just could stick around long enough to shock everyone and steal the division. Contenders
Seattle Mariners: One of baseball's biggest disappointments has been the Mariners, who hold the ninth highest payroll at $98 million. Seattle is 13 games under .500 and nine full games out of first place, with no signs of turning things around. The biggest story to come out of Seattle this season was the possible napping and definite retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. The talent is there and the division isn't that much better so the M's can still get back in the race. But for now, they are Pretenders