With the reigning World Series champion, San Francisco Giants leading the way, their rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers have worked all offseason long to compete with them efficiently.
The Dodgers signed a Type-A free agent in Zach Grienke, then went international and signed Korean phenom Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers followed that by acquired veteran utility man Skip Schumaker and are expecting left fielder Carl Crawford back by Opening Day. The Dodgers’ office and fans are as excited as ever before with an all-star type roster.
As far as the Giants are concerned, they have proven that they do not need Type-A or first class free agents to win the big one. The biggest move they made in the offseason is resigned right fielder Hunter Pence, who has quickly become a San Francisco favorite along with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has help lead San Francisco’s football team to the Super Bowl.
It will be the rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers, who look like two completely different teams when comparing the talent, which will make the National League West division entertaining all the way through the last day of the regular season.
Of course, the rest of the NL West will not let the Giants and the Dodgers get all the attention but with Arizona trading away their star outfielder Justin Upton, it will be hard to be amused by the Diamondbacks, who are seen as the third favorite in the division.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim probably have the scariest lineup in the American League West on paper but luckily for the rest of the AL West, you do not play the game on paper.
With the signing of slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton, the Angels now add another power hitter to join Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, but the Angels still have an enormous flaw and that is their pitching. They lose pitcher Zack Grienke to the Dodgers but signed a veteran that is nowhere near the kind of pitcher Greinke was, with former Dodgers pitcher Joe Blanton.
Just as last year when the Angels signed pitcher C.J. Wilson and first baseman Albert Pujols, the Angels became the World Series favorite.
Instead, the Texas Rangers lead the division for most of the season but lost the division pennant to the uprising Oakland Athletics.
The A’s were another team that went into the playoffs without a Type-A MLB star, taking the divisional round series to the fifth and final game against the American League champion, Detroit Tigers.
The AL West has added another team to their division in the Houston Astros, who are not expected to be competitive at all this season, but will still shape the AL West differently.