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Play ball - 2011 pre-season preview part III: AL West

I was unaware the Jays had moved Mike Napoli hours after he was acquired in the Vernon Wells trade, which was a bit unsettling. I should write more of these when I'm wide awake at 4 a.m.

I was unaware the Jays had moved Mike Napoli hours after he was acquired in the Vernon Wells trade, which was a bit unsettling. I should write more of these when I'm wide awake at 4 a.m. Nonetheless, Texas will run away with the West, not because of Napoli but because of an amazing lineup of power, speed and young pitching. Keeping Michael Young happy will be a challenge though. Send him to the Yanks, he could fill in at all four infield positions and do some DH work when Posada shows his age. Maybe I should play in that Texas heat and lose a few pounds.

1) Texas Rangers - Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz provide ample power and good arms in the outfield corners while light-hitting Julio Borbon gets a shot in centre.

The infield is deep and talented to the point that adding Adrian Beltre has put Michael Young into the DH role after shining for years at short then third base. He's annoyed and too young to DH. Expect a deal, especially if pitcher Scott Feldman isn't ready to go.

The solid rotation is anchored by CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis and is bolstered by a bullpen of flame-throwing youngsters and cagey veterans.

Catching is crowded and talented.

Team president Nolan Ryan has turned the club around.

2) Oakland Athletics - GM Billy Beane is suddenly smart again after dumping dinosaurs like Giambi and Chavez and getting back to affordable and youthful pitching.

Double play duo Pennington and Ellis won't tear the cover off the ball, but the with Kouzmanoff and Barton, their corner infielders are both capable of 25+ homers. Grade the infieldat a C-.

Willingham has some pop in left, but Coco Crisp and David DeJesus are fourth outfielders for most other teams. The strength will come with a deep rotation that surprised the AL in 2010.

Reliever Andrew Bailey needs to be healthy but having Fuentes in tow and grabbing Balfour from Tampa was brilliant. Expect low scoring games, but they have a solid shot at second place.

3) L.A. Angels - Centre fielder Peter Boujos looks ready to force perennial Gold Glove winner Tory Hunter into right freeing up the aging, but offensively productive Bobby Abreu into more DH time. Overpaid, overrated Vernon Wells will take over in left ,so defensively they'll be fine.

The Angels need Brandon Wood to start bringing some wood to the plate so he can get some time at third base. Shortstop Erick Aybar can run but a .255 average, five home runs and 29 RBI in over 500 at bats make his offence smell like my kid's room. Over at second base, Howie Kendrick was touted as a potential batting champion, but began to swing for the fences - ended up with 10 measly homers and saw his average drop off the charts. Kendry Morales needs to play a decent first base despite the fact he can put a charge into a baseball at the plate.

Jeff Mathis takes over full-time catching duties now they have figured out where Mike Napoli is playing, but he is useless at the plate.

When Scott Kazmir is your number five starter either you have a strong rotation or Kazmir has lost it. Rodney is erratic, but an adequate closer and with Kepsen and the addition of leftie Scott Downs the bullpen is not a complete lost cause.

This is an aging team whose supposed prospects have not panned out and they'll need a miracle, not just Wells to approach .500 baseball as a team.

4) Seattle Mariners -The best part of their season will be having Ken Griffey Jr. still around the clubhouse giving the fans an excuse to come to the park.

A lot of the Mariners success will depend onCanadian Erik Bedard, whose career numbers show him to be un-hittable when he's healthy. With Cy Young winner King Felix Hernandez around they have a chance to win twice a week.

Chone Figgins has been a huge disappointment and nearly every position player is a nobody. Except for Ichiro of course.

Aardsma is an enigma as a closer in that he's a strikeout guy who held batters to a .236 average, but sports a terrible ERA after a brutal first half in 2010. A long year and 100 losses.

Josh Hamilton is capable of a MVP season and although his battles with drugs and alcohol have been his undoing in the past, anyone can fall off the wagon now and again. I got to run, my crack dealer is here.

With Texas losing Lee to Philly they need to score to win, but if they get ahead - forget about it. Closer Neftali Feliz held AL batters to a .176 average and strikes out more than one batter per inning. Texas is a cakewalk in the Al West.