Tagged: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2010 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Preview

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angels logo.jpg2009 Record: 97-65, 1st AL West

2009 Prediction: 94-68, 1st AL West

2010 Prediction: 1st AL West

 

Impact Player: Kendry Morales

Impact Pitcher: Jered Weaver

Top Prospect Player:
C Hank Conger

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Trevor Reckling

 

Manager: Mike Scioscia, 11th Season
(900-720, .556)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: DH Hideki Matsui,
RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Brian Stokes

Significant Losses: 3B Chone Figgins, OF/DH Vladimir
Guerrero
, OF Gary Matthews Jr.,
UTIL Robb Quinlan, INF Sean Rodriguez, RHP John Lackey, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jose
Arredondo
, RHP Shane Loux, RHP Justin Speier

 

Since 2000, in 10 years under Manager Mike Scioscia, the
Angels have won 5 division titles, made 6 playoff appearances (3 in a row of each
of those), and won a World Series title. 
Few franchises have seen the success the Angels have seen in the last
decade, yet most don’t consider them among the elite organizations in
baseball.  After the tragic loss of top
prospect Nick Adenhart in a car
accident last April, the Angels rallied together and parleyed another 95+ win
season and another division title.  The
only thing this team hasn’t been able to do since 2002 is win in the
post-season; they’ve lost 5 of 7 playoff series’ since winning it all.  Last year, the Angels rolled over the Red Sox
in the ALDS before losing to the world champion Yankees in 6 in the ALCS.  Even with the loss of star players Chone Figgins, John Lackey, and Vladimir
Guerrero
to free agency and a much improved division, the Angels should
still contend for the division title again in 2010, but how well they’ll stack
up against the AL elite is yet to be seen.

 

Pitching

Jered Weaver.jpg

Without Lackey, this rotation has a lot more questions in
2010 than it did in 2009.  Is Jered Weaver as good as his 16-8, 3.75
2009 or as mediocre as his 11-10, 4.33 2008? 
The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but is that enough to be
a true number one?  Next, is Ervin Santana who stumbled to an 8-8
record and a 5.03 ERA in ’09 after a 16-7, 3.49 line in ’08.  Is he as bad as his ’09 season or as good as
his ’08 season?  Again, probably
somewhere in the middle.  Joe Saunders is the number three
starter and although he is 33-14 over the past two seasons, his ERA ballooned
from 3.41 in 2008 to 4.60 in 2009 and even though his innings pitched went
down, he gave up more hits, more walks, and had fewer strike outs.  All of that equals at least some cause for
concern.  Scott Kazmir has shown flashes of brilliance in his career but both
the Mets and the Rays eventually gave up on him.  After a lacklustre ’09, is it possible that
the hype about this high-K lefty is just that; all hype.  Even so, he’s probably a decent number 4
starter on a good team, which ultimately is all the Angels are asking of him.  The fifth starter is Joel Pineiro who had a re-breakout year with the Cardinals in ’09.  After years of having no identity as a
pitcher, Pineiro finally pitched the way his stuff would suggest he’s capable
of.  But word to the wise, he’s 31 and
last year was his first good year since 2003; expect a decline.

 

Gone are Darren
Oliver
, Jose Arredondo and Justin Speier and in their place are Fernando Rodney, a healthy Scot Shields, and Brian Stokes.  That may not
be an entirely bad thing for the Angels bullpen which routinely gave Scioscia
mini heart attacks last season.  Lefty
short-armer Brian Fuentes is back as
the closer after leading the AL with 48 saves a year ago, but don’t let that
number fool you, he also had 7 blown saves, a rather high 3.93 ERA and on more
than a few occasions was barely able to eke out saves that were practically
handed to him.  The Angels acquired
Rodney to set him up, but also as an insurance policy if Fuentes
struggles.  Rodney was 37 for 38 in save
opportunities in 2009, very much in spite of a 4.40 ERA, which is the reason the
Tigers weren’t keen on resigning him.  Shields
is apparently healthy again which should mean he’s back to his dominant self.  He could close as well if there’s no other
option.  Stokes will help fill out the ‘pen
along with holdovers Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, and Matt Palmer.  Bulger and
Jepsen each had 6 relief wins last year and Palmer went 11-2 in 40 games, 13 as
a starter.  Sean O’Sullivan, Trevor Bell
and a few others could also get looks in the spring.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Jered Weaver

27

R/R

Ervin Santana

27

R/R

Joe Saunders

28/9

L/L

Scott Kazmir

26

L/L

Joel Pineiro*

31

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Brian Fuentes (CL)

34/5

L/L

Scot Shields

35/6

R/R

Fernando Rodney*

33

R/R

Jason Bulger

31

R/R

Kevin Jepsen

25/6

R/R

Brian Stokes*

30

R/R

Matt Palmer

31

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Sean O’Sullivan

22

R/R

Rich Thompson

35/6

R/R

Rafael Rodriguez

25

R/R

Trevor Bell

23

L/R

*=newly acquired

 

Lineup

morales.jpg

With the loss of Figgins and Guerrero, there are some big
questions for the Angels hitters this season too.  Torii
Hunter
is back in centerfield after winning another Gold Glove in
2009.  He’s almost 35 and should start
declining any time now, but he still hit .299 with 22 HR and 90 RBI in an
inspired ’09.  Bobby Abreu was brought back after a terrific season on a one-year
deal, hitting .293 with 103 RBI and 30 steals. 
He’s 36, and although he’s lost some power, he’s still a very good
player.  Juan Rivera should get most of his starts in leftfield after
hitting .287 with 25 HR and 88 RBI last season, but has never had two good
seasons in a row, and Hideki Matsui
will be the everyday DH after a solid ’09 with the Yankees that ended in a
World Series MVP award.  All of those
players are well over 30 and that could end up being a problem.

 

At first base is this team’s best player, Kendry Morales who broke out in 2009 to
the tune of .306/34/108.  At only 26, he’s
just entering his prime.  Erick Aybar is an All-Star in waiting
who seems to get better and better every year; he’ll be the short stop.  Second base will likely be platooned by Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis.  They’re both
solid all-around players, but the coaching staff doesn’t like Kendrick’s
attitude and work ethic; he might be on the trade-block.  Izturis could also play third, but the Angels
are giving a shot to Brandon Wood
even though he has yet to show anything at the major-league level.  Mike
Napoli
is one of the better hitting catchers in the AL, but is so bad
defensively that he losses at bats to light-hitting Jeff Mathis who uncharacteristically swatted the cover off the ball
in the post-season.  If he continues to
hit the way he did in October, he might be handed the reigns as starter, and
that could put Napoli on the block as well.

 

On the bench, the Angels will carry speedster Reggie Willits as their fourth
outfielder, but he’ll need to hit the way he did in his rookie 2007 season to
keep that job.  Izturis/Kendrick can be
used as late inning defensive replacements who can also hit if they’re not
starting, and Scioscia likes to carry three catchers if he can so Bobby Wilson or Ryan Budde could end up making the team.  Infielder Freddy Sandoval is also kicking around and if Willits struggles, Terry Evans and Chris Pettit could end up seeing major-league time.

 

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Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Erick Aybar

26

S/R

RF

Bobby Abreu

36

L/R

1B

Kendry Morales

26/7

S/R

CF

Torii Hunter

34/5

R/R

DH

Hideki Matsui* (LF)

35/6

L/R

LF

Juan Rivera (DH)

31/2

R/R

C

Mike Napoli (DH)

28

R/R

2B

Howie Kendrick

26/7

R/R

3B

Brandon Wood

25

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Jeff Mathis

27

R/R

INF

Maicer Izturis (2B, SS, 3B)

29

S/R

OF

Reggie Willits (CF, LF)

28/9

S/R

C

Bobby Wilson (1B)

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Freddy Sandoval (3B, 2B)

27/8

S/R

OF

Terry Evans (LF, RF)

28

R/R

OF

Chris Pettit (LF, CF, RF)

25/6

R/R

C

Ryan Budde

30/1

R/R

*=newly
acquired

 

It’s hard to believe that Joel Pineiro, Hideki Matsui, and
Brandon Wood can replace John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, and Chone Figgins,
three cornerstones to the Angels’ success over the past decade; having said
that, the Angels are still good enough to win this division, but not with 95+
wins.  The AL West will be a dogfight in
2010.  Even if the Angels make the
playoffs, the Red Sox and Yankees both have better lineups and better pitching
staffs.

Final Prediction:
86-76, 1st AL West

’09 Preview — Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2008 Record: 100-62 1st AL West
2009 Prediction: 1st AL West

Impact Player: Vladimir Guerrero
Impact Pitcher: Ervin Santana
Top Prospect: Nick Adenhart, RHP

Significant Acquisitions: OF Bobby Abreu, P Brian Fuentes
Significant Losses: 1B Mark Teixeira, P Francisco Rodriguez, OF/DH Garret Anderson, P Jon Garland, P Chris Bootcheck

Now on the to AL West, where these days, it’s pretty easy being the Angels.  They are by far the strongest team in the weakest division in baseball.  Last year, as it has in other years, the Angels lack of real competition during the regular season led to them bowing out in the ALDS series.  That, it would seem, is this team’s biggest problem.  It’s not making the playoffs that they have issues with, it’s getting anywhere within them.  In fact, since their World Series win in 2002, they have not advanced past the first round despite the fact that are a perennial contender.  If things are going to change this year, the Angels might want to hope for a more competitive division; unfortunately that’s probably not going to happen.

Pitching
The Angels will have no problem in this department, this team was #3 in the AL in ERA last year and #1 in wins.  Their one through four starters might be the best such group in the AL; all of them have the capability of being aces.  Let’s start with their true ace, Ervin Santana.  Santana was an All-Star for the first time last year and finished with a 16-7 record and a 3.49 ERA.  He also led the team with 219 innings pitched; and he’s only 26.  John Lackey had been the “holdover ace” while Santana was developing and took to that position well.  Last year was no exception as he went 12-5 with a 3.75 ERA in only 24 starts.  Lackey and Santana are good, but no Angels starter put up better numbers in ’08 than Joe Saunders.  Saunders led the team with 17 wins and led the rotation with a 3.41 ERA.  The #4 starter is 26-year-old Jered Weaver who struggled a bit last year with 11 wins and a 4.33 ERA but has shown brilliance in the past.  In 47 starts over his first two years in the league (2006-07), Weaver was a surreal 24-9 with a 3.33 ERA; not bad for your #4 guy.  The fifth spot in the rotation will eventually go to former-Jay Kelvim Escobar who is ahead of schedule recovering from shoulder-surgery and should be ready to go by June or July.  Until then, the spot will be filled by one of four candidates: Dustin Moseley, top prospect Nick Adenhart, Shane Loux (who could also be in the bullpen mix), and 23-year-old Anthony Ortega.

Even with the loss of Francisco Rodriguez (who set a major league record with 62 saves in ’08) to the Mets, this bullpen could be the scariest in the league.  That could be why the Angels didn’t put up much of a fight for K-Rod.  The closer job should go to free-agent signing Brian Fuentes who comes over from the Rockies where he saved 30 games in ’08 while putting up a frightening 11.78 K/9.  The setup job will be shared by 25-year-old Jose Arredondo, who was outstanding in ’08 leading the league in bullpen wins with 10 and posting a 1.62 ERA, and veteran Scot Shields who’s as solid as anyone.   Downright old Darren Oliver is the team’s main left-handed option and went 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA last year and another former Jay, Justin Speier hopes his atrocious ’08 is behind him (2-8, 5.03 ERA).  Kevin Jespen (24), Jason Bulger (30), Rafael Rodriguez (24) and Loux will also vie for spots this spring.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Ervin Santana (R/26)
  • John Lackey (R/30)
  • Joe Saunders (L/28)
  • Jered Weaver (R/26)
  • Dustin Moseley (R/27)
  • ** Kelvim Escobar (R/33) — Return from shoulder surgery expected in June/July.

Bullpen

  • Brian Fuentes (L/33) — CLOSER
  • Jose Arredondo (R/25)
  • Scot Shields (R/33)
  • Darren Oliver (L/38)
  • Justin Speier (R/35)
  • Kevin Jespen (R/24)
  • Jason Bulger (R/30)

Lineup
The Angels offense was a massive underachiever in ’08.  In spite of having a very good lineup on paper, the Angels struggled finishing 9th in home runs, 10th in runs scored, and 7th in batting average.  This year they’ve lost face-of-the-franchise Garret Anderson as well as MVP-candidate Mark Teixeira so who knows what to expect?  In the outfield there are three savvy veterans who are solid on both sides of the ball in Torii Hunter (CF), Vladimir Guerrero (RF) and recent signing Bobby Abreu (LF) who signed a bargain-basement deal at 1-year for $5-million.  DH Juan Rivera may also see time in the outfield regularly in order to give days off to Guerrero and Abreu.  In the infield, speed demon Chone Figgins returns as the lead-off hitter and Third Baseman, and defensive wizard Erick Aybar is back at Short.  Howie Kendrick solidified himself as a capable #2 hitter and Second Baseman and Kendry Morales gets his shot at playing everyday First Base with the departure of Teixeira.  If he faulters, veteran Robb Quinlan is more than capable.  Catching duties will belong to Mike Napoli who has lots of power but struggles defensively, and Jeff Mathis who can’t hit but plays great defense.  Expect Napoli to play most of the time.

On the bench will be Mathis and Quinlan along with infielder Maicer Izturis, speedy outfielder Reggie Willits and the 55-million dollar-man Gary Matthews Jr.  Matthews is the beneficiary of one good year that got him a massive contract and since has done nothing to earn it.  The Angels are now paying him about $11-million a season to sit on the bench.

Lineup
  3B  Chone Figgins (S/31)
  2B  Howie Kendrick (R/25)
  LF  Bobby Abreu (L/35)
  RF  Vladimir Guerrero (R/33)
  CF  Torii Hunter (R/33)
  DH  Juan Rivera (R/30)
  C    Mike Napoli (R/27)
  1B  Kendry Morales (S/26)
  SS  Erick Aybar (S/25)

Bench
  OF Gary Matthews Jr. (R/34)
  OF Reggie Willits (S/28)
 INF  Maicer Izturis (S/28)
UTIL  Robb Quinlan (R/32)
  C    Jeff Mathis (R/26)

Outlook
The Angels would really have to screw things up to not win the AL West again this year.  The entire starting team hitting the DL or maybe the complete and total collapse of capitalism (maybe more plausible) would likely be the only things that would prevent them from doing so.  The talent this team has coupled with the complete lack of talent from everyone else in the division pretty much assures the Angels some post-season baseball.  Once they get there, however, their lack of true competition will hurt them against teams like the Red Sox and Yankees who play their whole year against the other behemoths in the AL East.  Final Prediction: 94-68, 1st AL West (Lose to NY Yankees in ALDS).