AL West Recap: 6/12

It's been tough to write the AL West update in 2005. The M's have stunk pretty much the entire season and the division leading Angels aren't really much better though you couldn't tell that by looking at the standings. In fact, about the only thing that one could really take much pleasure in when covering the AL West is watching the complete and utter collapse of Billy Beane and his Moneybunk philosophy.

But the winds have shifted and change is in the air. The Mariners are suddenly the hottest team in the division behind some A+ pitching from their veterans and the offense is showing some signs of life.

Here are last week's highlights.

LA Angels 34-25, 3-3 last week

Offense:
The Angels bats got hot last week doing there best to hold the Rangers at bay until Vlad Guerrero returns from a stint on the DL. Adam Kennedy was seeing watermelons at the plate batting .550 while walking five times and scoring seven runs. Darin Erstad and Garrett Anderson also pulled their weight both going 10-27 and combining for 15 RBI's. In stark contrast to the first couple of months of the year, the Halos also stole eight bags and hit five home runs to boot while batting .308 as a team. Steve Finley had another horrible week managing only five hits in 25 at bats.

Pitching:
Angels pitching was merely adequate last week as ace Bartolo Colon got lit up against the Bo Sox yet still managed a win yielding 5 runs and 10 hits in six innings yet striking out 11. Brendan Donnelly also earned a pair of wins in late inning relief against the Braves while Kelvin Escobar no decisioned despite two solid starts. Scot Shields finally had an off week giving up four runs in four innings of work.


Texas Rangers 32-26, 2-4 last week

Offense:
Normally 13 homeruns in a week is enough to power any team to a .500 or better record over the span, but not the Rangers whose pitching fell apart after several weeks of above average outings. Almost every Ranger starter had a homerun with Mark Teixeira clubbing 3 bringing his season total to 16. Alfonso Soriano sat out a couple of games with a hamstring injury but still managed to hit .385 while healthy. He is day to day. In other Rangers news, management has decided to reverse an earlier decision to fine any player that steals a base $50,000. I'm kidding of course, but they haven't stolen a base in weeks.

Pitching:
What? Hitting 13 homeruns isn't enough to hold a lead? Not when you pitch for the Rangers who amassed a staff ERA of 5.58 last week. Apparently Kenny Rogers didn't get that memo though surrendering only a single run over seven innings improving to a studly 8-2 on the year with 1.62 season ERA. Yes, I said 1.62. Dang. Chan Ho Park continues to be the best, worst pitcher in baseball improving to 6-1 with a 5.09 ERA. I wonder what Ryan Franklin thinks when he sees that? Ryan Drese continued to stink it up as does Pedro Astacio. Drese was subsequently designated for assignment. Go figure. The bullpen had a fine week giving up eight runs in 24 innings, six coming from Ron Mahay.


Seattle Mariners 26-32, 4-2 last week

Offense:
Well sports fans, the Mariners found a spark in the most unlikely of places as Michael Morse was promoted and immediately thrust into the starting lineup. He didn't disappoint batting .389 in six games whilst striking out only twice. Randy Winn, as he often does, quietly hit .407 and stole 2 bases, and managing his first (?) homerun of the year. Raul Ibanez provided the power with two homeruns, batting .391 and bring his season average to .300. In other good news, Mr. Beltre managed seven hits and struck out only 3 times against three of the best pitchers in the National league. Richie Sexson managed a .346 OBP despite hitting only .227 and striking out 10 times. Finally Miguel Olivo continued to demonstrate why the Mariners made Freddy Garcia expendable batting .111 - for the Tacoma Raniers, and managed to get booted from Thursdays game for arguing his second strikeout of the night. Ben Davis sounds better every day.

Pitching:
Aaron Sele shall not be badmouthed anymore. The guy has been a machine, surrendering only six earned runs in his last five starts and lowering his season ERA under 4.00. Jamie Moyer has been solid of late as well with a no decision in a win over the D-Rays. Everybody's All-American, Gil Meche, continues to struggle with a loss in a showdown against Dontrelle Willis. At least he is acknowledging he thinks he has ace stuff and it was nice to hear it validated by Mike Hargrove. Now if only….The bullpen was merely satisfactory though Everyday Eddie seems to be getting stronger and stronger as the year moves on.


Oakland A's, 23-36, 2-4 last seven - and dropping like a brick!

Offense:
I really don't have anything personal against the A's per se, but the whole "look what Billy Beane can do with a tiny payroll," thing drives me up the wall. My Grandma could have GM'd that team to 100 wins with Mulder, Zito, Hudsen and later Rich Harden. Let's see what the whole "Moneyball" idea gets you. No player batting .290 (Mark Ellis's .286 is top ont he club), no player with 10 home runs (Eric Chavez 7), one player with 31 RBIs (Chavez, with a very un-Beane-ish .303 OBP.). Why is the player with second lowest OBP in the lineup leading the team in RBIs? Maybe because he puts the ball in play instead of looking for the easiest way to get to first base. Moneyball be damned… END RANT.

The A's actually had a good week at the plate last week with rookie Nick Swisher (.348 BA,) Eric Chavez (.350 BA, 2 HR, but only 3 RBI's) and Scott Hatteberg (.353 BA, 5 RBI's) heading the charge. The A's just can't manage to drive in any runs (25 last week) because they lack the ability to hit doubles and homeruns (though they managed 6 last week.)

Pitching:
The A's had a decent week on the mound last week though they aren't going to be winning any awards anytime soon. Rookie Danny Haren (3-7, 4.17 ERA) had a good outing against the Jays as did Barry Zito in a losing effort against the surging Nationals. Zito's season record dropped to a miserable 2-7 on the year and I wouldn't be surprised to hear his name mentioned as the trade deadline approaches. Joe Blanton split two decisions going 1-1 on the week, while No. 5 starter stopgap, Ryan Glynn lost twice in his outings. The A's bullpen was productive as usual with Huston Street took over for Octavio Dotel who is out for the remainder of the season after elbow injury.

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