Found February 19, 2012 on The Diamond's Edge:

Texas Rangers

  • Strengths: Simply put, offense. The best offense in the league when healthy, the Rangers’ offense is good enough to keep them in any game. The pitching has improved as well, rotation and bullpen, making this one of the most complete teams in the majors.
  • Weaknesses: Injuries have plagued key players such as Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. The bullpen could also be a concern if newly signed Joe Nathan is not able to shut down games, forcing other relievers to close.
  • Player to Watch: Josh Hamilton- After an injury plagued season and another alcohol relapse over the offseason, this season will be crucial for a player trying to cement his elite status in a contract year.
  • Breakout Player: Neftali Feliz- Feliz spent his first two seasons in the majors dominating as a closr, and now makes the transition back to starter, where he spent most of his time in the minors. We already know he has electrifying stuff, and now has a chance to show that more often with the move to the rotation

Los Angeles Angels

  • Strengths: Despite the Albert Pujols signing, the pitching rotation is the main strength, as well as one of the best in baseball. They add CJ Wilson to a group that already had the best ERA in the AL last year, making this a tough team to score runs on. They also have some of the best depth in outfielders and corner infielders, with a mix of established veterans and top prospects.
  • Weaknesses: The starters may be some of the best, but the Angels lack key relievers to lock the door on victories. Jordan Walden showed promise out of the closer spot last year, but that came with 10 blown saves in 43 chances. There isn’t much depth otherwise, and this could be a serious problem down the stretch.
  • Player to Watch: Kendrys Morales- He missed a year and a half after breaking his leg celebrating a walk off grand slam, but he is ready for the 2012 season. In his last full season he hit for a .306 average with 34 home runs, showing a coveted mix of power and contact. If he can put up numbers similar to those this season, the middle of the Angels’ lineup will be as dangerous as any.
  • Breakout Player: Mike Trout has been touted as a potential 5 tool talent, and scouts are impressed with every area of his game. He is described as having a natural feel for the game, and should be an everyday starter for the Angels if they can find room for him in their crowded outfield.

Seattle Mariners

  • Strengths: The Mariners have stars in Felix Hernandez and Ichiro (potentially), with hot prospects on the rise in Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero. These players, with the exception of Ichiro, are cornerstone pieces for the organization to build around for success in years to come.
  • Weaknesses: Despite the exciting young studs in Ackley and Montero, this team struggles mightily to score runs. They need to add depth everywhere, but the offense has been a complete black hole for the past two seasons.
  • Player to Watch: He was the epitome of consistency his first decade in the majors, Ichiro had a disappointing season in 2011. He hit over 50 points under his career batting average, and couldn’t break out of his funk all season. It will be interesting to see if he can revert back to his successful ways, or if last season was an indication that he is starting to decline.
  • Breakout Player: Jesus Montero may be drawing most of the hype this offseason, but Dustin Ackley is primed for a breakout year as well. The second overall pick to Stephen Strasburg, scouts have raved about the second baseman’s ability to hit for a high average, as well as his slick fielding. Ackley is a star on the rise and will be fun to watch as he matures in 2012

Oakland Athletics

  • Weaknesses: The A’s have a plethora of young talent both in the minors and on the major league roster. After trading away two of their best pitchers, they added even more depth  to the team, adding top prospects from both the Nationals and Diamondbacks farm systems. The organization is looking for a relocation to San Jose, and looking to add as many prospects as possible until then.
  • Strengths: As with any team in a rebuilding stage, this team is not putting a great product onto the field in any regards. Most established players were traded away in the offseason, leaving  the team with below average starters.
  • Player to Watch: Jemile Weeks hit .303 in his rookie campaign, and looks ready to improve in his sophomore season. He is one of the few exciting pieces of this current team, but would be an exciting player anywhere he goes with his hitting potential and masterful fielding ability.
  • Breakout Player: After releasing an impressive tape demonstrating his skills, Yoenis Cespedes quickly drew attention in the US with his 5 tool talent from the shortstop position. He shows impressive power and presence at the plate, and could be a serious threat for the A’s this season.

 

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