Saturday, March 17, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: LA Angels

2011 Record: 86-76

Key Additions: Albert Pujols (1B), Latroy Hawkins (P), CJ Wilson (P),
Chris Iannetta (C), Brad Mills (P)

Subtractions: Jeff Mathis (C), Fernando Rodney (P), Jason Bulger (P), Matt Palmer (P), Tyler Chatwood (P)

2012 Outlook
After a disappointing 2010 season that saw Anahiem fall below .500 and miss the playoffs for the first time in four years, the Angels looked to make a big splash during the offseason. They failed miserably, whiffing on both Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, and gave up future playoff star Mike Napoli for Vernon Wells (and his horrific contract). This offseason, the opposite happened in Anaheim. They landed the best hitter in Albert Pujols, and the best pitcher in CJ Wilson, and look ready to return to the playoffs in 2012.

The Angles have an offence that has the potential to be great, after a disappointing season that saw them finish 10th in the AL in runs scored. Albert Pujols is a perennial MVP candidate, and has a huge impact on any offence he joins. He is the elite bat that the Angels have been missing in the middle of their lineup. The Angels have many talented bats, but the question is where they will slot them in. They have four starting outfielders and three starting first baseman. It will be interesting to see how they line them up. As of now, it looks as if Peter Bourjos will start in center, Wells in left, and Torii Hunter in right. Hunter started off last season slow, but really put it together in the second half. The Angels are counting on him to repeat his second half numbers, as well as a rebound season from Vernon Wells. Bobby Abreu will come off the bench, but he is good enough to start, so he may steal a starting job from any of these guys. The infield is just as crowded. Howie Kendrick will start at second and Erick Aybar at short. Both are above average performers at the dish, and are a lock at their respective positions. Albert will play first, but the rest is a mystery. Both Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales are good enough to start, but they are both first baseman by nature. Trumbo could play third, but the Angels already have Alberto Callaspo slotted in there. I would not be surprised if Anaheim trades one of them before the season starts.

Last year, the Phillies put together a rotation that had four aces, and they subsequently became the frontrunners to win the World Series. This offseason, the Angels put together their own “Super Rotation”, by adding former Texas ace CJ Wilson to a staff that already included Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. It may not be Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt, but these guys are close, and a few years younger. Jerome Williams and Garret Richards will duke it out for the final spot in this rotation, but it’s really all about spots 1-4 in Anahiem.

The Pen’ will be lead by closer Jordan Walden, and lefty setup man Scott Downs. Walden has electric stuff, but struggled at times last season (ten blown saves). Downs posted a miniscule ERA of 1.34 last year, and is the key to this bullpen’s success. New addition LaTroy Hawkins should add depth to the pen, but it is still below average on the whole.

The Final Count: 99-63 First in the AL West

The staff here at Bluejays Plus predicted that the Angels would finish with the best record in the MLB. They are young, talented, and have a top offence and pitching staff. They also have a ton of depth, so much so that if the season were to start now, they would be sitting two guys who would be starters on most teams. Don’t be surprised if they make at least one more move before the season starts to get things in order.

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