While Junior Griffey barely masks his contempt for A-Rod here -- well, that's at least how we prefer to see it -- let's take a spin through the fascinating AL West, where the A's are loaded if past performance is heavily considered, the Mariners are beyond loaded by any measure, and neither the Rangers nor the Angels seem to have much of a clue about developing outfielders . . .
Rotation: RHP Jered Weaver, RHP John Lackey, LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Ervin Santana, RHP Trevor Bell
Bullpen: RHP Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, RHP Bobby Jenks, RHP Scot Shields, RHP Darren O'Day, RHP Jordan Walden
Prospects, suspects, expatriates: C Hank Conger, INF Freddy Sandoval, C Jeff Mathis, SS Alexi Casilla, INF Mark Trumbo, INF Brandon Wood, INF Andrew Romine, C Martin Maldonado, C Bobby Wilson, P Francisco "Not K-Rod" Rodriguez, P Sean O'Sullivan, P Jose Arredondo, P Kevin Jepsen, P Mason Tobin, P Stephen Marek, P Rafael Rodriguez, P David Herndon, P Rich Thompson, OF Reggie Willits, OF Chris Pettit, OF Jeremy Moore
Closing comments: Yep, two Francisco Rodriguezes. One saved 62 games one season for the Angels and answers to K-Rod. The other had no saves in 43 appearances in 2010 (his rookie year), hopes to be the Angels' closer this season and presumably answers to Francisco . . . One to watch? Walden had 23 Ks in 15.1 innings last year . . . What a bunch of weaklings in the outfield. The best outfielder they've developed, fringe Hall of Fame candidate Jim Edmonds, just retired. Looks like we have to rush Mike Trout to the big leagues, unless Tim Salmon or Garret Anderson wants to make a comeback . . .Brandon Wood had 243 at-bats last year with an OPS of 5. To say the longtime prospect needs a change of scenery might be giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt.
Rotation: RHP Tim Hudson, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Rich Harden, LHP Barry Zito, LHP Dallas Braden
Bullpen: RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Huston Street, RHP Alexi Ogando, RHP Santiago Casilla, RHP Joe Blanton, RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Jeremy Bonderman
Prospects, suspects, expatriates: P Tyson Ross, P Vin Mazzaro
P Ryan Webb, P Jared Burton, P Sam Demel, P Joel Peralta, C Miguel Olivo, C Gerald Laird, C Kurt Suzuki, C Landon Powell, C John Baker, SS Cliff Pennington, OF Travis Buck, OF Corey Brown, OF Oscar Salazar, OF Sean Doolittle
Closing comments: If we consider this with a player's peak in mind rather than what he happens to be at this point in time, this Oakland team is loaded. Of course, Giambi, Zito, Tejada, and Chavez are mere shadows of what they once were . . . Injuries have made Chavez one of the great what-ifs of his era. He's been injured so often -- he's played just 64 games the last three years combined -- that it's easy to forget or overlook that he was building the foundation for a Hall of Fame candidacy early his career. By age 27, he had hit at least 26 homers six times, driven in 100 or more runs four times, and won five of his six Gold Gloves. (And they weren't Jeter Gold Gloves. He was as good a third baseman as I've ever seen.) Now, just 32, he's with the Yankees, trying to stay on the field and resuscitate his career . . . The A's traded Ethier to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez in December 2005. We'll mark that one down as regrettable on the Billy Beane Transactions Ledger . . . Pretty impressive pitching staff, especially if you believe Cahill will repeat his performance from last year . . . Hudson's top five comps: Halladay, Guidry, Sabathia, Oswalt, Saberhagen. The latter seems spot-on.
Rotation: RHP Felix Hernandez, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Derek Lowe, RHP Joel Pineiro, LHP Mike Hampton
Bullpen: RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP J.J. Putz, LHP Matt Thornton, LHP Brian Fuentes, RHP Ryan Franklin, LHP Damaso Marte, LHP George Sherrill
Prospects, suspects, expatriates: P Doug Fister, P Ryan Rowland-Smith, P Mark Lowe, P Eric O'Flaherty, P Scott Atchison, P Kam Mickolio, P Shawn Kelley, P Brian Sweeney, C Adam Moore, C Rob Johnson, OF Michael Saunders, OF Carlos Peguero, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, INF Willie Bloomquist, INF Matt Tuiasosopo, INF Luis Valbuena, INF Alex Liddi, INF Matt Mangini, INF Dustin Ackley
Closing comments: Well, here's your Homegrown League champ as far as we see it . . . The lineup is hellacious and balanced from top to bottom, King Felix anchors a better-than-average rotation (if you believe in Morrow's promise and remember Hampton's prime), and the bullpen is probably the best of any AL franchise . . . We're putting them down for 116 wins, again . . . Hat tip, Dan Duquette. Varitek and Lowe are still viable big leaguers, while Heathcliff Slocumb threw his last big league pitch 11 years ago . . . Yes, it's probably going to be awkward between Tek and A-Rod at first, but we trust Papi to help mend that fence. . . Had a couple of readers ask why Papi wasn't listed with the Twins when we posted the AL Central breakdown Wednesday. It;'s because he was originally signed by Seattle in 1992, and played by the name of David Arias until he was dealt to Minnesota for Dave Hollins in 1996.
Rotation: LHP John Danks, LHP C.J. Wilson, RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Colby Lewis
Bullpen: RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP R.A. Dickey, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Ramon S. Ramirez, RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Tommy Hunter, LHP Derek Holland
Prospects, suspects, expatriates: RHP Nick Masset, 1B Justin Smoak, INF-OF Fernando Tatis, 1B-3B Chris Davis, P Jesse Chavez, P Omar Beltre, P Thomas Diamond, P Daniel Ray Herrera, P Kameron Loe, P Eric Hurley, P Evan Reed, C Taylor Teagarden, C Mike Nickeas, C Manuel Pina, OF John Mayberry Jr., OF Brandon Boggs, OF Craig Gentry, OF Jason Bourgeois, P Scott Feldman, P Doug Davis
Closing comments: Let's see: lots of first basemen, a scarcity of capable infielders beyond Kinsler, better starting pitching than we assumed (Dempster helps), and a surprisingly lack of power-hitting outfielders . . . Is Teixeira at third a cop out? Yup, but he did play five games there as a rookie . . . How's this for a couple of old timers? Rodriguez and Oliver were teammates in rookie ball in 1990. Pudge was 17, and Oliver, who must thank the heavens he was born lefthanded on a daily basis, was 18 . . . Their teammates in scenic Gastonia included Jeff Frye and Robb Nen . . . The injury-addled Hafner's top two comps -- Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez -- are good company, not to mention a reminder of just how productive he was during his 2004-06 peak in Cleveland.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.