Sean McAdam: Previewing the A.L. West

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Sean McAdam: Previewing the A.L. West

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

For most of the last decade, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ruled the West, winning the World Series in 2002, the division title six times and going to the ALCS as recently as 2009.

But no more. Texas beat out the Angels last year and after a winter in which the Angels struggled to find someone -- anyone! -- to take their money, the case could be made that they're now the third-best team in the division.

Under new ownership, the Rangers have demonstrated a willingness to spend like the big-market team they are. Meanwhile, if the A's ever get a new ballpark, they, too, could become more of a force. As it is, their pitching staff should keep them in contention.

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

ONE THING THAT MUST HAPPEN: The offense must get better - and quickly. The Angels scored 202 fewer runs last year than they did before. Overpriced though he may be, Vernon Wells will help, and so, too, will the return of first baseman Kendry Morales, who missed the last four months with a broken leg.

ONE THING THAT CAN'T HAPPEN: The two high-priced trade acquisitions in the last two years -- Scott Kazmir and Dan Haren -- can't underperform. The Angels have too much money (almost 25 million this year alone) to have that happen again.

BIGGEST ADDITION: OF Vernon Wells
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION: C Mike Napoli
ROOKIE TO WATCH: C Hank Conger

Oakland A's

ONE THING THAT MUST HAPPEN: The additions made in the off-season (David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui) must support the pitching staff better. The A's were second-to-last in homers in the A.L. and hit just .241 with runners in scoring position.

ONE THING THAT CAN'T HAPPEN: The young starters can't regress. The A's rotation is talented but still relatively inexperienced. Only Dallas Braden will begin the season older than 25.

BIGGEST ADDITION: OF David DeJesus
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION: DH Jack Cust
ROOKIE TO WATCH: OF Michael Taylor

Seattle Mariners

ONE THING THAT MUST HAPPEN: New manager Eric Wedge must gain control of the club. The team was full of turmoil last year, with naps in the clubhouse and fistfights in the dugout. That can't continue if the Mariners are to improve.

ONE THING THAT CAN'T HAPPEN: Felix Hernandez can't struggle for runs the way he did a season ago when his teammates scored seven runs in his 12 losses. Another frustrating year like that could do damage to Hernandez's psyche.

BIGGEST ADDITION: C Miguel Olivo
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION: INF Jose Lopez
ROOKIE TO WATCH: 2B Dustin Ackley.

Texas Rangers

ONE THING THAT MUST HAPPEN: Someone must step up and help fill the void left by the departure of Cliff Lee. Maybe Tommy Hunter will mature, or Neftali Feliz will transition from the bullpen or maybe the Rangers will get a comeback season from Brandon Webb.

ONE THING THAT CAN'T HAPPEN: The Rangers can't battle injuries like they did a year ago. Ian Kinsler and MVP Josh Hamilton must stay on the field and in the lineup if the Rangers are going to repeat as division champs.

BIGGEST ADDITION: 3B Adrian Beltre
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION: LHP Cliff Lee
ROOKIE TO WATCH: RHP Tanner Scheppers

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Facing a favorable foe in Dickey

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Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Facing a favorable foe in Dickey

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has six players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Travis Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles.

The lineups:

BLUE JAYS:
Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezquiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
---
R.A. Dickey P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
---
David Price P

The price of being the ace

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The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.

McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

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McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.