Scouting the AL West for the 2014 season 

click to enlarge Shin-Soo Choo
  • ap photo
  • The Rangers are even more potent with Shin-Soo Choo in their lineup.
Houston Astros

2013 record: 51-111 (fifth place)

Key offseason moves: Traded for outfielder Dexter Fowler, signed right-hander Scott Feldman

Outlook: The Astros were by far the worst team in baseball last year. That may not change this year, but the Astros should show improvement. The trade for Fowler at least shows the Astros are serious about trying to take the next step. The lineup, which also features Jose Altuve and Chris Carter, should be better. The pitching staff has loads of inexperience.

Los Angeles Angels

2013 record: 78-84 (third place)

Key offseason moves: Traded for third baseman David Freese, traded for left-hander Hector Santiago, traded for left-hander Tyler Skaggs

Outlook: The Angels have all kinds of high-priced, big-name players, but it hasn’t led to much success. Outfielder Mike Trout is arguably the best player in baseball, but veterans Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols disappointed in 2013. The Angels shipped out Mark Trumbo in a deal that included Skaggs and Santiago in hopes of improving the rotation.

Seattle Mariners

2013 record: 71-91 (fourth place)

Key offseason moves: Signed second baseman Robinson Cano, traded for outfielder Logan Morrison, signed closer Fernando Rodney Outlook: The Mariners made the biggest move of the offseason by signing Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract. But whether Cano can do enough to boost a team that lost 91 games in 2013 remains to be seen. Hisashi Iwakuma emerged as a solid No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez, but the rotation is thin after that.

Texas Rangers

2013 record: 91-72 (second place)

Key offseason moves: Traded for first baseman Prince Fielder, signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo

Outlook: The already-hitting-rich Rangers somehow found a way to improve their offense even more by dealing Ian Kinsler for Fielder and signing on-base machine Choo. But the Rangers’ problem the past few years has been pitching. And while Yu Darvish is a star, there isn’t much else in the form of proven commodities behind him, but the bullpen was lights-out last year.

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