&qWelcome to the gigantic SOX & Dawgs 2010 MLB preview.  Over the next week you will get a team by team look at its key players, new faces, their potential MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidates, their possible starting lineup and rotation as well as a quick summary.

This preview was sculpted over a nearly 7 week period in January and February with some mild tweaking as we went along prior to publication.  It comes from a culmination of reading so many baseball magazines, periodicals, articles and websites that in some cases I may know a team better that its own management.

Yesterday we looked at the NL West, today it’s the AL West.

American League West

Seattle Mariners1. Seattle – Manager: Don Wakamatsu (2nd year)

Ichiro Suzuki - AP PhotoJust a two short seasons after losing 101 games the Seattle Mariners are officially back and will be my pick to win the AL West in 2010. A new general manager in Jack Zduriencik and new manager in Don Wakamatsu have changed the attitude and the direction in just over 1 year. Zduriencik went out and signed SP Felix Hernandez to a new 5 year deal, traded for SP Cliff Lee, 1B Casey Kotchman and LF Milton Bradley and signed free agent 3B Chone Figgins away from divisional rival Los Angeles. The pitching is solid, the lineup is good and the leadership is strong. Look for the Mariners to get into the playoffs and make some noise this team might be the best team no one knows about.

Key Players: Ichiro Suzuki RF; Chone Figgins 3B; Milton Bradley LF; Cliff Lee SP .

MVP Candidate: Ichiro Suzuki RF.

Cy Young Candidate: Felix Hernandez SP.

ROY Candidate: None.

Key Additions: Cliff Lee SP (Trade-Phi); Milton Bradley OF (Trade-Chi); Chone Figgins 3B (FA-LAA); Casey Kotchman 1B (Trade-Bos); Ryan Garko 1B/DH (FA-SF).

Possible lineup: Suzuki RF; Figgins 3B; Bradley LF; Griffey DH; Lopez 2B; Kotchman 1B; Johnson C; Gutierrez CF; Wilson SS

Possible rotation: Hernandez; Lee; Rowland-Smith; Snell; Olsen/Bedard

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim2. Los Angeles – Manager: Mike Scoscia (11th year)

Torii Hunter - AP Photouot; height=”281″ />The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s dominance of the American League West will come to a halt this season and they’ll finish second but should contend with Boston and Tampa Bay for the AL Wild Card.  The off season acquistions of DH Hideki Matsui, SP Joel Piniero and the promotion of 3B Brandon Wood will not overcome the free agent losses of Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey and Chone Figgins like Kendry Morales did in covering the loss of Mark Teixeira in 2009.  The loss of Figgins maybe felt the most as he remained in the division and they lost their top of the order spark plug.  The loss of Lackey made a very good rotation much more closer to average and they will need Scott Kazmir to return to his old form.

Key Players: Kendry Morales 1B; Brandon Wood 3B; Torii Hunter CF; Hideki Matsui DH: Scott Kazmir SP; Joel Piniero SP.

MVP Candidate: Torii Hunter CF.

Cy Young Candidate: None.

ROY Candidate: Brandon Wood 3B.

Key Additions: Hideki Matsui DH (FA-NYY); Joel Pineiro SP (FA-StL); Fernando Rodney RP (FA-Det); Brandon Wood 3B (Rookie).

Possible lineup: Aybar SS; Kendrick 2B; Abreau RF; Hunter CF; Matsui DH; Morales 1B; Wood 3B; Rivera LF; Napoli C

Possible rotation: Santana; Weaver; Kazmir; Saunders; Pineiro

Texas Rangers3. Texas – Manager: Ron Washington (4th year)

Ian Kinsler - AP PhotoI had a hard time deciding where to put the Rangers.  I love their lineup but I’m not sold on the rotation.  Neftali Feliz has a cannon for an arm and could be the number two starter before seasons end.  It’s just that I have too many questions about Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy and Tommy Hunter to say this team is a legit threat for the division title or even the Wild Card spot.  If they’re in the picture in mid-July Nolan Ryan will need to give GM Jon Daniels permission to get a third arm in the rotation to compliment rich Harden and Feliz.  The question is are they deep enough to make a deal like that without mortgaging the immediate future.

Key Players: Ian Kinsler 2B; Michael Young 3B; Josh Hamilton CF; Vlad Guerrero DH; Rich Harden SP.

MVP Candidate: Ian Kinsler 2B.

Cy Young Candidate: None.

ROY Candidate: Neftali Feliz SP.

Key Additions: Vlad Guerrero DH (FA-LAA); Rich Harden SP (FA-Chi); Neftali Feliz SP (Rookie).

Possible lineup: Borbon CF; Kinsler 2B; Young 3B; Hamilton RF; Guerrero DH; Cruz LF; Davis 1B; Teagarden C; Andrus SS

Possible rotation: Harden; Feldman;  Feliz;  McCarthy;  Hunter

Oakland A's4. Oakland – Manager: Bob Geren (4th year)

Ben Sheets - AP PhotoThe Oakland A’s are going nowhere this year that’s a given but they have a stable of good young arms on the pitching staff and added veteran SP Ben Sheets via free agency in February.  Sheets should help the youngsters and closer Andrew Bailey should only get better with time.  The problem I see with the A’s lineup there is not a lot there this season but hopefully rookie OF Michael Taylor turns out to be as advertised and SS Cliff Pennington looks like a good young player so there is some hope in the future.

Key Players: Mark Ellis 2B; Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B; Coco Crisp CF; Ben Sheets SP; Justin Duchscherer SP; Andrew Bailey RP.

MVP Candidate: None.

Cy Young Candidate: None.

ROY Candidate: Michael Taylor OF.

Key Additions: Coco Crisp OF(FA-KC); Ben Sheets SP (FA-Mil); Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B (Trade-SD); Michael Taylor OF (Trade-Tor).

Possible lineup: Crisp LF; Ellis 2B; Cust DH; Barton 1B; Kouzmanoff 3B; Sweeney RF; Suzuki C; Pennington SS; Taylor CF

Possible rotation: Sheets; Duchscherer; Cahill; Anderson; Gonzalez


Tomorrow: The National League Central