Regardless of which city they play in, they are always one of the best teams around. Last year was down for them, and this year doesn’t look quite as good, and even the new additions are older. They’ll be hard pressed to catch Texas, but still have some young talent and some good pitchers. They have the ability to make it close, and the ability to make a run. It will be interesting.
Jeff Mathis. Gets the starting job with the trade of Mike Napoli, mostly because he’s better defensively. Except he wasn’t as good last year. He can’t hit, has no power, and doesn’t walk. So he better be good with the glove. He’s got a good staff to work with, so he needs to be a help to them. Hank Conger looks to go to AAA, but could get a call sooner than later, if Mathis doesn’t get the job done. They can hide his bat, but not his glove.
Upside: does well enough to giver Conger one more year in the minors
Downside: takes the rotation down with him
Score: - 1
Kendry Morales. Actually had a good year in just 1/3rd of a season. Hoping the injuries are healed and he can get back on track. Has the power, gets on base, and has the glove to go with it all. As he goes, so go the Angels. They need him in the line up to get another left handed bat to help Abreu. Plenty of help and he can be a part of the machine, and not the engine. They need his power and ability to get on base. If he can't go, it will mess up the outfield alignment, as someone will have to play first. Maybe Callaspo, but Borjous is out.
Upside: healed up with no issues
Downside: no back up if he’s not healthy
Score: + 1
Howie Kendrick. Because they don’t have anyone else. He hits for average, but not much power. Doesn’t walk or steal. Defense is okay, and the right side will help the pitching staff. He’s not going to hurt the team, but he’s not going to be a star either. A solid guy to have and the Angels can afford to have him out there as long as everyone else is healthy and hitting.
Upside: learns to walk a little more
Downside: gets hurt and one can replace him
Macier Izturis. The only question here is, do they want Izturis’ glove, or Callaspo’s bat? And since Callaspo learned to play third, and played it well, it doesn’t make sense for Izturis to start over Callaspo. Izturis is better suited to be the infield back up with Callaspo starting, and I’m betting that’s how it will work out. But I’m going with the depth chart, and that says Izturis.
Upside: can play the other positions if one them can’t get it done
Downside: hits just well enough to keep Callaspo on the bench
Erik Ayabar. A barely average year in 2009 that looked better because he’s a short stop doesn’t mean he can hit this year. His defense is off also, but he can switch hit and can steal bases. He’s not really a threat to anyone, and he needs to get his defense back to what he can do. He or Kendrick will be on the bench by mid season, but Ayabar is better suited to play all the positions.
Upside: gets moved to the utility role and helps the team
Downside: no one can knock him of the position
Score: - 1
Peter Borjous. Again, the depth chart. That’s a lot of faith in giving the job to a guy who showed absolutely nothing in 1/3rd of the season. But he can run and play excellent defense. If he can get near his numbers from the minors (walks, steals, triples), he should be okay. They can afford to hide his bat on this team as long as he does all of the other things.
Upside: reminds us all of Willie Wilson
Downside: reminds us of Hack Wilson --- after the drinking
Score: - 1
Vernon Wells. A man on a mission. They hope. Great bounce back year, and the incentive to do well with a new team could prove to be a big motivating factor. He won’t hit as many homeruns as last year, and his defense isn’t the best. You would think Hunter would get the nod here, but not for the money Wells is being paid. He has help defensively, and help in the line up. Less than last year will be okay as long it isn’t too much less.
Upside: plays with the hunger he did last year
Downside: doesn’t realize he’s on a team that usually competes
Score: + 1
Torii Hunter. Losing his speed, and probably his range as well, I’d still have him in center field over Wells. But I’m not Sciocia. He can still get the job done at the plate, and he’ll be okay in right, and provide some help to Wells. Should drop in the order, which might actually help. He doesn’t have to do any one thing really well, just everything good. He still gets on base and moves around them, so he’s going to help.
Upside: settles into right field and produces as always, plus defense
Downside: the hole in his swing gets bigger
Score: + 1
Bobby Abreu. Comes to play every day, and does it pretty well. His career numbers say Hall of Fame, at least in my book. Not having to play the field will actually help him, as all he has to do is hit. And he can do that every game instead of getting a day off. If Bourjos fails, he might go to left field, but I wouldn’t see that happening. His power is down, but he gets on base and scores runs. He’s the best hitter on the team.
Upside: still hasn’t played in the World Series and wants to
Downside: stops walking
Score: + 1
Bobby Wilson. Holding the back up job until Conger is ready to go, then the question is whether or not Mathis will be the back up. Wilson is better with the bat and with the glove, and cheaper. He’ll probably stay. He’ll still get plenty of playing time either way, and could eventually get the starting job this year. It’s a draw on that. Doesn’t matter. Conger starts next year.
Upside: gets to keep his job when Conger is called up
Downside: plays worse than Mathis and doesn’t
Backup first baseman:
Brandon Wood. I don’t get it really. He’s had too many chances to prove he can’t hit, but the club just doesn’t want to let it go. He’s not going to be Paul Konerko. Just won’t happen. He can fill in around the infield and will do okay with the glove, but just won’t hit. Backups don’t have to hit a lot, but they do have to hit some. With Callaspo, Wood will be the last guy off the bench, so nothing much is expected. And nothing much is exactly what they’ll get.
Upside: everyone finally realizes his true ability and they stop pretending
Downside: a hot streak fools everyone
Score: - 2
Alberto Callaspo. Although he’ll probably be starting at third, with Izturis at short stop, or off the bench. His defense is better at third than anyone could have hoped for, and he’s a hitter. He can hit anywhere from second to seventh, get on base, and has limited power. I would still take a look at him in left field if Bourjos doesn’t pan out, but that’s just me. If he doesn’t start the season, he’ll be there by mid-May.
Upside: starts the year at third and makes the infield better all around
Downside: they keep him on the bench while others don’t hit
Score: + 1
Reggie Willets. Had his best season in awhile, and is settling into the back up role. He can play all three positions. Not great, but well enough. He can get on base, and still has some speed. Still hasn’t had a home run in almost 1000 career plate appearance. Might get some extra playing time if Bourjos is struggling against right handers. He’s not really the one to start, but he can fill in okay.
Upside: doesn’t have to start and gets to help out all the positions
Downside: Bourjos can’t get it done and Willets is the best option
Score: - 1
Rotation (front 3):
Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. A good front two that got better with the addition of Haren. He had a down year, but that’s not going to happen again. Santana was good, and Weaver is the best of the bunch. Adequate defense will help, as will the high strikeout, low walk rates. Barring injuries, this is the best front three in the division. As they go, so goes the team.
Upside: the all get Cy Young votes
Downside: none. Even average, they’re still good
Score: + 2
Rotation (back end):
Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro. A lot of teams wish they could have a back end like this. Both were down last year, but should come back. If Kazmir starts striking guys out again, and Pineiro gets the ground balls, they should both go 150 plus innings. The need to go closer to 200, keep the games close, and not lose. One of them could step up if needed, but shouldn’t have to.
Upside: both or one return to previous form
Downside: get relied on to become a bigger part of the rotation than they should
Score: + 1
Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs, Kevin Jespon, Rich Thompson, and Francisco Rodriguez. Good, but not spectacular. They should be able to get the job done, but shouldn’t have a lot to do. The starters should go deep and keep the bullpen effective. A few too many walks, so that is a concern. Not the best closer in the world, so they really need to bridge the gap.
Upside: starters go deep and they offense gives them working room
Downside: one of them has to become the closer
Fernando Rodney. Getting the chance to close again. He wasn’t the best around when he did, and has to prove that he can do the job. Way too many walks for a closer, but there really isn’t anyone else who has the experience. He has to hope that offense provides enough runs that save opportunities don’t come very often. Strike outs are dropping also.
Upside: isn’t called on to be a super closer
Downside: proves he really isn’t a closer
Team speed (which includes base running):
Good. All of the outfield can run, the infield can move around, and Abreu led the team in steals. They won’t ht as many home runs, but should have lots of doubles and triples. Bourjos and Willets will get some steals, as well as Ayabar, if they get on base. This will help the defense also, as it will help with the range. The lack of power will require that they run the bases well.
Upside: hit lots of doubles and triples
Downside: the guys who can run don’t hit
Score: + 1
Will be okay. Up the middle should be fine, and the corners are okay. There are no really terrible fielders, but there are also no really great fielders. No Gold Gloves for this bunch. They’ll get the job done, and not give away too many free outs. Lack of hitting could get gloves out of position in the infield, and Abreu in the field would hurt the most, but that doesn’t figure to happen.
Upside: don’t have to be great, just good
Downside: the guys with the gloves don’t hit
Not as good as you would think, but some reorganization should help. As will Wells. They don’t get on base nearly enough, hit doubles and triples, but not enough home runs. The offense will struggle, which will hurt the team. They need to give large leads to the bullpen, not try to win late. The pitching will have to carry them, and they can’t afford to hide too many bats.
Upside: the infield gets straightened out and hits
Downside: not enough spare parts to replace the guys who don’t
Score: - 1
Good and bad. Good starting pitching, with depth, but the bullpen is not a strength for the team. Nothing bad, but they just don’t impress. The closer could be a problem, but he’s what they got. There wont be a lot of offense, so they rotation has to go deep, and gives the bullpen a lead. The more help the defense can give them, the more the team will succeed.
Upside: the bullpen pitches better than anyone will expect
Downside: Rodney just can’t close
Score: + 1
Total score: 2