Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Team Snapshot - Los Angeles Angels

C - The Angels are in good shape at catcher with both Mike Napoli (who should get the lion's share of the starts) and Jeff Mathis. They also have 21-year old Hank Conger waiting in the wings. I always wondered by Conger's name was never mentioned by people covering the Red Sox when Varitek's status was still up in the air. The Angels may need pitching just as much as Texas.

1st - Kendry Morales could be good, very good or he could suck. He won't be no Mark Teixeira though but the Angels hope at least he'll equal the output of a Casey Kotchman. 23-year old Mark Trumbo could be a dark horse starter (he's got real power) but my guess is that he'll end up at AAA.

2nd - Howie Kendrick - good average, little pop and less than expected steals. Kendrick is proof you can hit .300 and still be disappointing.

SS - Macier Izturis and Eric Aybar will compete for the starting job. Six of one - half-dozen of the other. Neither brings much offensively to the plate.

3rd - Chone Figgins will probably get the start which means he'll probably represent the fewest HR and most steals of any big league starter at 3rd.

LF - The best thing for the Angels may be to come to a one-year deal with free-agent Garrett Anderson because Gary Matthews is not the answer (unless the question is "Who should we start in left if we want to lose in the first round once again?")

CF - Torii Hunter - which means gold glove defense and probably 20 HR

RF - 33-year old Vlad Guerrero and his balky knees in his contract year

DH - The Angels would be happy with a 20 HR, .270 BA year from Juan Rivera. That's not exactly aiming really high now is it?

Starters - John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Jered Weaver make up a pretty solid front four. Rookie Anthony Ortega looks to be the 5th starter but you have to ask if he'd be up to replacing the 200 innings you could pencil in for veteran Jon Garland every year.

Bullpen - They replaced the over-rated Francisco Rodriguez with Brian Fuentes. I'd look for Fuentes to be a bargain among closers for those who play fantasy baseball. The offense for the Angels ain't all that but the starting pitching will keep them in a lot of games. That means a lot of save situations.

This offseason the Angels lost the top free agent 1st baseman, the top free agent closer and a veteran starter. They replaced them with two rookies and a closer who signed for 2/3 the money and years of the guy they lost. The Angels have 5 players in their line-up capable of a 20-HR season but all of them have had injury histories. Lose just one and the chances are great that the Angles finish last in the AL in HR. Lose two and they could finish last in the AL West. The starting pitching has been a bit fragile in the past and if I was an Angels fan - I'm not sure how happy I'd be the inactivity of the front office.

The good news is that there is depth in the farm system and the pieces are there for any mid-season trades the team needs to make.

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