Out of Left Field 2013 predictions — AL West
2. A’s — When we were here at this time last year, the Athletics were supposed to be building for the future. Looked that way well into the 2012 season, too, until everything began to click. Last year’s group of rookie starters is a year older and wiser, and the A’s are loaded with HR-hitting outfielders and utility infielders. Wouldn’t be surprised if Oakland contends again, but also wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s end up where we thought they might last year.
3. Rangers — It was a bad stretch there for Texas, losing out on every big-name free agent they targeted, including their own in Hamilton, but this is still a talented team, one that was just a couple of bad days at the end of the season from being the best in baseball. The Rangers have stockpiled some of the best minor league talent, but how much guys like Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar help in the short term is questionable. Enough to offset the losses of Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Mike Young? Maybe. Enough to win the West? Could be. A World Series? Probably not.
4. Mariners — The M’s tried to address their woeful offense, trading for spare parts from the Angels (Kendrys Morales) and Nationals (Michael Morse), and they’ve got a ton of prospects (Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino) on the door step, but they’re still a long way away from contending in this particular division.
5. Astros — Welcome to the American League, Astros. Please wear “Hello, my name is ...” tags on the front of your jerseys. If you think that Miami’s Mike Redmond, the Cubs’ Dale Sveum and the Rockies Walt Weiss have it rough, at least they have SOME talent. First-year Houston manager Bo Porter does not. While new GM Jeff Luhnow doesn’t think the Astros will challenge the Mets’ modern-day record for losses (120), they’re far closer to that than they are to contention.