Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2008 Preview
2007 Finish: 94-68. 1st AL West
Key Losses: SS Orlando Cabrera, SP Bartolo Colon
Key Acquisitions: OF Torii Hunter, SP Jon Garland
2007 brought another AL West Pennant to Los Angeles, or maybe Anaheim? Doesn't really matter since they failed to make much more than an whimper before another inglorious exit from the playoffs. So will 2008 be any different? The Angels are, once again, the favorite on the face of things. But do they really have what it takes to do anything more than win a weak division?
1. Jon Lackey*
2. Kelvim Escobar*
3. Jon Garland
4. Jered Weaver
5. Joe Saunders/Ervin Santana
CL: Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez
SU: Scot Shields, Justin Speier
*Each of these players, due to injury, are expected to make their first starts mid-May.
Pitching Grade: A when all healthy, C+ until then. Without Lackey and Escobar, the Halos may be asking someone named Dustin Mosely to start? But so long as Lackey and Escobar do return, and do so no later than expected, the pitching should be o.k. The bullpen shuts down teams in late innings, and can go a little longer early in the year to pick up slack for any fill-in starters who can't go deep into ballgames. But even without the top two in their rotation, the rest of their starters are far better than your typical #3, 4 & 5 so barring any setbacks to Lackey or Escobar, I think the pitching situation looks pretty dec.
1. 3B Chone Figgins
2. LF Gary Matthews, Jr.
3. RF Vladimir Guerrero
4. DH Garret Anderson
5. CF Torii Hunter
6. 1B Casey Kotchman
7. 2B Howie Kendrick
8. C Mike Napoli
9. SS Erick Aybar/Maicer Izturis
Lineup Grade: B. After thinking about so many NL teams, this lineup seemed like a 100%, but then I forgot they will play 120+ games in the AL. People seem to be down on Vlad, but look for him to just eliminate the base-stealing aspect of his game, DH about 50 times, and have a huge season. Torii Hunter isn't exactly the perfect compliment in the heart of the order, but if he can produce the same numbers as last year, this team will be siiiiiick. Kendrick is the much-hyped breakout candidate of the year....just like last year. Lets see if he finally answers the bell.
2008 Prediction: I'm calling the Angels right now to make it through the first round of the playoffs. I think that their lineup, with Torii Hunter and a (hopefully) healthy Kendrick will score plenty of runs. They still have dangerous weapons like Vlad, utility-knife Chone Figgins, and one of the best bullpens and closers in the game. They should win their division if there are no further setbacks to their starting rotation, especially considering the added depth Jon Garland will give them.
Record: 94-68. Look for these guys to at least equal last years' win total, and most likely exceed that mark on their way to a decent post-season showing.