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

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.