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AL West and ESPN.com's 2011 storylines

ESPN.com's Buster Olney put together 36 storylines to watch in MLB in 2011. And the Rangers are included in some of those along with other teams from the AL West. Here's a look:

8. The Felix Hernandez Watch. This is a situation that currently lies dormant, because Hernandez -- who is just 24 years old -- is signed through the 2014 season, and nothing is really pushing the Seattle Mariners to trade the guy who would probably be the first pitcher taken by 30 general managers if you threw all the players into one giant fantasy draft. Hernandez earned a lot of respect for the way he pitched and battled in 2010 despite getting the kind of run support typical of an early 20th century team, and so long as Hernandez doesn't push the issue, it's hard to imagine Seattle seeking a satisfactory deal. But remember: Johan Santana eventually forced his way out of Minnesota; Roy Halladay quietly pushed his way out of Toronto; and Zack Greinke's impatience with the Royals eventually led to his trade to Milwaukee. Those vultures you see circling the Mariners will be the executives of other teams waiting for any sign that King Felix wants to change thrones.

17. The Rangers' evolution. Texas reached the World Series for the first time and despite the fact that Cliff Lee walked away, the Rangers will go into 2010 season as prohibitive favorites to win the AL West. That could depend largely on the development of young players like Derek Holland and Mitch Moreland.

19. The future of the Oakland Athletics. The NFL's investigation of the Jenn Sterger allegations took a long time, but by comparison, Major League Baseball's examination (i.e. stall tactic to wait for a suitable resolution) of the Oakland ballpark situation is the Hundred Years War. The team has a chance to be good and contend this year, but at its core, the franchise is rotting as it waits for some direction -- some hope -- from the commissioner's office.

22. The Angels' crossroads. Two years ago, the Dodgers appeared to be in serious decline and the Angels appeared to be making major in-roads into becoming the dominant force of the L.A. area. But the Angels took a big step back in 2010, fired scouting director Eddie Bane, lost out on the Carl Crawford bidding, and now owner Arte Moreno is expressing shock over the cost of free agents.

Those are just some storylines in the AL West to keep an eye on in Olney's opinion. Coming soon: We'll have some New Year's Resolutions and things to watch in 2011 for the Rangers.