Finally, one of the greatest days of the year, and at least for today, one of the nicest days we've had in Chicago for a while. Opening day for the Sox and Indians should go off without a hitch.
But I'm not here to talk about the Sox. I said most of what I had to say about the Angels a couple months ago, and for what it's worth, I don't think any of my analysis has changed very much. I still really like their offense. They've got power potential at pretty much every spot in the order outside of the lead-off spot (and the catcher's spot when Mathis plays). The outfield is old, and that's always a concern, since none of us can tell when any of those guys are going to go into a serious decline phase. They lose Figgins' OBP, but they hopefully make up for that a bit in Brandon Wood's power. I just hope the organization is patient with him, and that they leave him in the lineup to take his lumps so long as he is providing good defense at third base.
The starting pitching staff is solid 1-5, but there's not a ton of depth behind them. Of course, there's almost no team in baseball that has a great deal of depth beyond their starting four, let alone five. In a way, it almost makes the Angels more vulnerable to injury. Most teams are already throwing out junk for a fifth starter. If the Angels lose their fifth starter, they lose a legit starter, as opposed to a team that just replaces junk with junk. Still, I'd rather be in the Angels' position.
The bullpen looks to be deep, but not lights out dominant at any role. Fuentes will still drive us crazy. Shields will still have his moments where he can't seem to find the strike zone. Who knows what Rodney is going to bring. But I'm looking forward to another year of (hopefully) growth from Jepsen and Bulger. And we'll just have to wait and see if Stokes can be any type of replacement for Darren Oliver, even though the decision to not offer arbitration to Oliver still baffles me.
The Rangers and Mariners are improved, and every season is, to some extent, a crapshoot, but I just don't see the rush to crown either of those franchises the best in the west this year. I think a lot of the media driven hype around those clubs is a desire to see something different. On paper, the Angels are still the best team in the AL West. You never know what's going to happen when it comes to injuries, and the Angels are just as vulnerable to those as anyone, but all things being equal, the Angels will win the AL West for the fourth straight time this year.
Time to play ball.