This off season just about every team in the AL West has upgraded their roster. The only exception being the Angels. They are a strong team, although over the last two off seasons they have lost key pitching components in K-ROD and now John Lackey. When I heard that Lackey signed with the Red Sox, I found that kind of odd considering his record as a member of the Angels at Fenway park is not that great. As a Rangers fan though, you cannot complain that a pitcher of Lackey’s caliber is heading out of the AL West. They also lost Chone Figgins from third base to a rival AL West team. Vladimir Guerrero the Angels DH and Darren Oliver a left handed reliever have both made the journey from South California to Texas.
The Mariners won just two less games than the Rangers last season after reacquiring Ken Griffey Jr. Shortly after the season Griffey committed to return for 2010. This off season the Mariners made one of the blockbuster trades by acquiring Cliff Lee, the 2008 Cy Young Winner to solidify the rotation. They acquired Chone Figgins to play third and signed Eric Byrnes to a one year deal for the outfield after he was released by the Diamondbacks earlier this off season.
If you remember the off season headline of 2009 was that Ben Sheets the ace-caliber pitcher from the Brewers was going to become a Ranger. Then it came out that Sheets was unable to pass his physical due to elbow problems, at this time it was announced that the deal was cancelled. Sheets ended up having elbow surgery which cancelled out his entire season. This off season the Rangers did not have the ability to go after Sheets financially and he ended up with the Athletics on a one year deal for $10 million. You have to give credit to his agent being able to secure a one year deal for this kind of money considering he did not throw a pitch last year. The athletics upgraded their rotation after being turned down by several other prominent free-agents; although $10 million seems like a huge investment. I could be wrong and Sheets may end up as the 2010 AL Comeback Player of the Year.
The Angels have lost prominent players over the last two years, although they did add a World Series MVP with Hideki Matsui. With the loss of Lackey, Guerrero, and Oliver, the Angels are not as strong heading into the 2010 season as they were in 2009 in which they won 97 games.
The Rangers lost Kevin Millwood in a trade with Baltimore. In this trade they acquired Relievers Chris Ray and Ben Snyder with Ray almost certainly making an impact at the big league level. They had to trade Millwood to free up payroll due to the current economic condition of the team. This enabled them to sign Guerrero on a one year deal to become the DH. Rich Harden accepted a one year deal with the Rangers to prove he is healthy. They also added Darren Oliver to help in the bullpen.
The Rangers heading into the off season were given very strict budget limits and worked within these limits to produce a more complete big league team. Two out of the three remaining teams within the West also added players to solidify their rosters. This season the AL West maybe not be the big spenders of the AL East, but every team is prepared to fight till the end for the 2010 AL West title and it may not be determined until the final week of the season, if not the final day.