2014 Previews: American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2014 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West.

The Rangers added Choo and Fielder and then lost many more players to injuries. The Athletics surprised everyone the past two seasons, are they going to sneak up on anybody now? The Angels can’t disappoint for three straight years, can they? The Mariners got Cano, but did they do enough to get out of fourth place? And the Astros are rebuilding, but we’re pretty much to the point where “Fifth Place” should be renamed “Astros Place” right?

Below are our team-by-team previews for the AL West as well as our HBT Extra feature on the division:

Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros

 

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.