SCOUTING THE A.L. WEST

Houston Astros

The Astros are still the Astros. They'll be better, but it won't matter much because losing 110 games would make them better than the 2013 team. Still, the worst bullpen in the league has been bolstered by the additions of Matt Albers, Chad Qualls and Jesse Crain, and Scott Feldman has a three-year deal to come in as the opening day starter and ace of the rotation. The offense will see a new leadoff man in Dexter Fowler, who together with Jason Castro and Jose Altuve may make the top half of the lineup stronger than in 2013.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels are coming off back-to-back years of major disappointment, but sooner or later you'd think Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout will get it together as a group. Perhaps the addition of Raul Ibanez is the key ingredient, but he's 42, so it may be a now-or-never situation for him. The loss of Mark Trumbo's power (66 homers, 195 RBIs the past two years) is going to hurt, but outfielder Kole Calhoun is getting a chance to make a name for himself. After Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the rotation has much to prove, but the bullpen is competitive with the addition of Joe Smith.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have added Robinson Cano but no other offense of note. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are as good a 1-2 punch as MLB has, but Iwakuma will start the season on the disabled list. The M's have been waiting to see if the young core, including Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley, can be counted on or if they need to start again from scratch. Corey Hart had a bad spring, but he is being counted on to add sock to the offense, as is Logan Morrison. Rookie right-hander Taijuan Walker could be one of the breakout starters in the majors this year.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers were the A's biggest competition in the West last year, but that may change in 2014 with the rotation a shambles and closer Neftali Feliz in Triple-A. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland start on the D.L., but all but Holland could be in the rotation soon. When that happens, Texas will be better. Additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo reenergize the offense, but losses of Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz hurt. Second baseman Jurickson Profar (shoulder) might not be back until June and shortstop Elvis Andrus might play the entire year with shoulder pain.

-- JOHN HICKEY