How Mariners, A's can turn it around

The best hitter either Oakland or Seattle has developed in recent seasons is Cliff Pennington. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest story in baseball this winter is the arms race going on in the AL West. With the Los Angeles Angels signing Albert Pujols to the second-richest contract in baseball history and poaching C.J. Wilson, and the Texas Rangers responding by placing the winning bid on Japanese superstar Yu Darvish, the battle for AL West supremacy is one of the big storylines to watch in 2012.

But while there's cause for both Angels and Ranger fans to look forward to an exciting pennant race, the news isn't so good for fans of the other two teams in the division, the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.

Finishing a combined 51 games behind the division-winning Rangers in 2011 made the season a massive disappointment for both Oakland and Seattle. And while an immediate reversal of fortune isn't likely to take place for either franchise, there are ways in which both teams can position themselves to be successful in the not-so-distant future.