I'm going to spend part of the rest of the day with Revenge of the RLYW's CAIRO projections, beginning with the American League West:
Mariners -- 87
Angels -- 81
Rangers -- 78
Athletics -- 77
This seems almost exactly right to me. I've been a little reluctant to give up on the Angels as favorites (or co-favorites) just because they've so consistently done better than I expected. But they've lost John Lackey and Chone Figgins and gained Hideki Matsui and Joel Pineiro. Also, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu are a year older, and Kendry Morales was probably over his head some last year. Then again, the Angels will have a full season of Scott Kazmir and Brandon Wood still has all that potential. Also, it's not like there's a huge difference between 87 (projected) wins and 81. I can't stress this enough: There are at least six games of "play" in these projections; in any projections. Even if you have a perfect read on the true talent of the players, an 87-win team could almost as easily win 93 games, or 81.
Anyway, the A's sitting at 77 wins makes me wonder (again) why they would commit $10 million to Ben Sheets. The A's do run their own projections like these, and maybe their number is better.*
* Maybe it's even 87, like Baseball Prospectus is showing. I'm waiting to be convinced. BP didn't have a good 2009, and there are some squirrelly things people have noticed about the 2010 numbers. Which might be completely unfair, but for the moment I'm going with CAIRO because of last year.
Or maybe the A's don't think they're going to be good, but they're so convinced that Sheets will be good that they don't care, because they can flip him in July for a couple of prospects.
I think the Conventional Wisdom is essentially correct, though: the A's still don't have enough hitting, the Rangers are still too young, and the Angels are playing catch-up with the revamped Mariners.