The American League is the only division in baseball to have four teams, instead of five or six. Interestingly enough, no two teams in the AL West are alike. The A’s are built on pitching, the Rangers on hitting, the Angels on balance and the Mariners are just trying to get it together. So, let’s take a look at the AL West set to the tune of the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower,” as the division’s four teams match the four winds in Franklin’s Tower . . . .

In Franklin’s Tower the four winds sleep
Like four lean hounds the lighthouse keep

The Oakland A’s rotation features four great young aces in Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden to go along with a very good bullpen. By any measure, Oakland has the best pitching in the division. It’s a good thing, because the A’s lineup has been weak for years though the A’s tried to improve offensively with additions like Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham. Regardless of their offense, the A’s pitching should be enough to keep them competitive all season long. Who knows? This team may very well win this division without a legitimate superstar on the team.

Some come to laugh their past away

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have better hitting than the A’s and better starting pitching than the Texas Rangers, but despite their balance, the Angels may not be able to keep up with either team. The Angels added Vernon Wells to the lineup and added Dan Haren to the pitching staff to create formidable 1-2 punch with ace, Jered Weaver. But in all likelihood, the fate of the Angels season rests on how well first baseman Kendrys Morales’ leg heals after he broke it celebrating a home run on home plate last season. If Morales if fully recovered the Angels will go far. Without him, the Angels will fall just short. Let’s hope Morales and the Angels can laugh away the past and stay competitive this season.

Some come to make it just one more day

The Texas Rangers won this division last year and look to do it again this year. The Rangers lineup, lead by American League MVP, Josh Hamilton, should be able to score runs at will, even against the best pitchers in baseball. Though the Rangers’ pitching will not be as good as last year having lost pitching ace, Cliff Lee, it seems they have enough good pitchers lead by CJ Wilson and closer Neftali Feliz to win again.

It can ring like fire when you lose your way

Lastly, there are the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners had good ideas last year in assembling an amazing staff of Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard. But Bedard was injured, Lee was traded and now the Mariners are left with one good pitcher and no offense at all, with the exception of Ichiro Suzuki. By all appearances, it appears the Mariners have lost their way. The Mariners better get it together soon, or they will be looking at last place for years to come.

Roll Away the Dew
Roll Away the Dew

So, what will it be? With the exception of the Mariners, the AL West looks to be competitive all summer long. The A’s and Angels will both be very good, but ultimately, the Rangers have too much hitting and just enough pitching to repeat as the winners of the AL West.