I think we're going to see a 3 team race this year. Anaheim will be back after falling a bit last year. Adding Colon will be a big help, and though I'm still not sold on Escobar, he'll be a nice addition to that staff. Adding Guardado (and possibly Tejada) is great for the M's, and the combination of their defense and pitching will keep them in it.
The big question mark has to be the A's. Every year they lose major contributors in free agents. Every year you hear people saying that it's over. It all looks like smoke & mirrors in Oakland. Are there question marks? Yup. Am I worried? A little, but mainly because the other teams are improving themselves.
The big 3 are still in Oakland. If Harden continues to develop, the A's will easily have the best rotation in baseball. That alone might be enough for them to compete. What about losing Peterson and Hernandez? That will certainly be something to watch. Expect a little bit of a dropoff, but hopefully not enough to be the difference in the West.
I like the addition of Kielty and Kotsay. Overall, you get an improvement defensively. You also gain power from last year's outfield. Yes, that is a testament to how bad the A's outfield offensive production was last year. We won't see 25 HRs from Kotsay, more like 15. Kielty? I don't know. Probably somewhere around 15-20. But they'll get on base.
And what about the wildcard? Best bet is on the AL East, but don't write off the AL West. These are good teams, folks. If they can win against the AL East, then you might see the wild card come out of the West. Also, even though NY and BOS are improving themselves, so too are the O's, Rays and Jays. The AL East is going to be pretty tough too.
"The game has a cleanness. If you do a good job, the numbers say so. You don't have to ask anyone or play politics. You don't have to wait for the reviews." - Sandy Koufax