Tim Kurkjian: AL West now a two-team race

And no, the Rangers aren't one of those two teams.

The Story

Some excerpts:

"We achieved our goal last year to rebuild our farm system; it has gone from near the bottom to near the top,'' said A's general manager Billy Beane. "We played well early last season, but we knew we were not good enough to win our division. We had no illusions about that. Now we've addressed a major need, I think we're better. And we insulated our young players, especially our young pitchers. We needed some room for error.''

That would seem to be the key to rebuilding.  Recognizing that you are not a contender and addressing your team and its needs appropriately.  The Rangers have finally committed to it and soon (hopefully) we will see the results of that committment.  But, this also brings up the scariest point for me with regard to the Angels coming back to the pack.  If the Rangers and/or A's are right there with them at the deadline, the temptation will be there to just go for it and make a short term move that would further hinder the long term development of the team.  Hopefully, and I think this has happened, Daniels has learned from a couple of short term moves and would be smart and cautious if the Rangers are in this thing around the deadline.

Things set up nicely for the A's, but Beane is nothing but realistic. He says the Rangers, who finished second in the AL West last year, are a young team on the rise. He knows the Mariners will play better than they did last year. And he knows the Angels are always good.


"We've improved,'' Beane said. "But the Angels are the team to beat even though they've had some significant losses. You won't hurt my feelings picking the Angels.''

For some reason, this story and quotes from Beane just get me excited about the coming years.  There is the potential for some incredible baseball between the A's and Rangers to take place in the near future.

And as far as the A's go, they have made a couple of nice off season moves without really hurting themselves.  Giambi, Holliday, Cust, maybe Chavez, maybe Barton with some of their young outfielders and Suzuki behind the plate...that lineup should be vastly improved.  It's definitely fair to say that they have really closed the gap on the Angels and should be in the division race all season.

But maybe, just maybe, the Rangers will be right there to surprise some folks too.  And that is when JD's tenure could be defined. 

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