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AL West Betting Odds / Preview

Baseball Betting – Handicapping the Al West for 2009

The American League West is something of a residence for teams with major flaws. The Oakland Athletics have managerial expertise (have you read “Moneyball”?) but not a lot of money to work with, and it’s always a battle to put a competitive team on the field within such a meager budget.The Texas Rangers often play like a slow-pitch softball team; unfortunately that goes for their pitching staff as well. The Seattle Mariners were a disaster area last season and simply need a lot of personnel. That leaves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, with an innovative owner, balance, pitching and smarts in the dugout, as the class of the division one more time.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

BetUS Sportsbook MLB Odds – To Win AL West

Los Angeles Angels -200
Oakland Athletics +225
Seattle Mariners +800
Texas Rangers +800

The LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM (-200 at BetUS) are the best all-around club in the AL West, and that is because they are able to play with the right combination of pitching and “smallball” under manager Mike Scoscia. However, the Angels suffered heavy player losses, which bring them back closer to the pack. Gone are Mark Teixiera, Garret Anderson, starting pitcher Jon Garland and Francisco Rodriguez, who set a record for most saves in a season, then signed with the New York Mets. Brian Fuentes, who had 30 saves and a 2.73 ERA at Colorado last year, will fill K-Rod’s shoes. It would help if Nick Adenhart developed into a reliable starter. The Angels could use more offense. Bobby Abreu was acquired, and he had 100 RBI’s and a .296 average for the Yankees last year. Mike Napoli hit 20 homers from his catcher spot. Torii Hunter ought to do better than his 21 homers and .278 average. With 25 homers and 86 RBI’s, Vladimir Guerrero should put up better numbers too. Between Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews Jr., someone should take charge in left. Those losses will be tough to take, but this is one of the most stable franchises in the major leagues under owner Artie Moreno, and still remains the team to beat.

The OAKLAND ATHLETICS (+225 at BetUS) made a significant addition to their lineup when they acquired Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies. Even though the McAfee Coliseum is not friendly to hitters, Holliday, who hit .326 , .340 and .321 the last three years, and had 36 homers with 137 RBI’s in 2007, can do nothing but help a team that finished last in the league in runs, hits and batting average. Re-joining the club will be Jason Giambi, returning to the scene of his MVP award in the Bay Area. Giambi had 32 homers in 2008 but has hit just .236 and .2457 the last two seasons. Third baseman Eric Chavez had 89 at bats last year, and he will just try to get through the season healthy. There are a lot of guys who were in the .200s and .230s last season, including Jack Cust, who blasted 33 homers. There’s some upside in the pitching, but a lot of things have to come together. Justin Duchscherer, a former setup man, was last year’s ace, posting a 2.54 ERA, and was one of the most consistent pitchers in the league. Dana Eveland also has possibilities in the rotation. Lefty Gio Gonzalez is said to have monster potential, but it has to manifest itself. There are two talented relievers in Brad Ziegler, a sidewinder who threw a record 39 scoreless innings to start his career, ending with a 1.06 ERA, and Joey Devine, who gave up just 23 hits in 45 innings and had an 0.59 ERA. If one of these guys emerges as the closer, the A’s have a chance to make things interesting, at least in the wild card race. But they simply don’t have enough pop in the lineup, even with Holliday on board, to seriously challenge the Angels.

The TEXAS RANGERS (+800 at BetUS) have a lot of muscle, that’s for sure. They led the majors in batting average and runs scored in their hitter-friendly park in Arlington. There are big guns and little guns, but they are guns just the same – Josh Hamilton, who made a run at the AL Most Valuable Player award for a while; Ian Kinsler, who came alive as an All-Star from his second base spot; Michael Young, who hit below .300 for the first time in six years but had 82 RBI’s and will move from short to third; Marlon Byrd, who has hit over .300 over the last two season, David Murphy, who should progress after a promising rookie year, and Hank Blalock, oft-injured but a .337 hitter in September. The pitching is the horror story; the Rangers had the worst ERA in the majors, and also sports the worst bullpen. Vicente Padilla is a respectable starting pitcher, but when you have Kevin Millwood as your #1 starter there is going to be trouble. That’s what holds Texas back from being a contender.

There is a youth movement with the SEATTLE MARINERS (+800 at BetUS), although management dipped into the “golden oldies” pile to bring back Ken Griffey Jr., who chose Seattle over Atlanta to close out his career and may not be able to improve upon his 18 homers and .249 average of a year ago. The losses of Raul Ibanez and J.J. Putz leave holes; the closer situation may not be satisfactorily resolved all season. Felix Hernandez is young and has lots of ability. He posted a 3.45 ERA last season. If Erik Bedard, who has been one off the better pitchers in the American League at one time, can come back and be effective after shoulder surgery, they’ll make for a good 1-2 punch in the rotation, where reliever Brandon Morrow will be given a shot as well. Ichiro Suzuki is obviously a fixture (310, 213 hits), but his numbers were a little down and he is 35 years old. Adrian Beltre must step up and improve his power figures (25 HR’s, 77 RBI’s). There is a lot of youth otherwise, and it will sustain growing pains. Do not expect Seattle to be a factor.

Know Who Wins the AL West This Season? Proove it! Lay some $ Down On The Winner at Betus >>>

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