Wednesday, 15 February 2012

2012 Previews: Anaheim Angels

He is here, the time is now.

The Majors

This will be nothing that I haven't gone over already.   I wrote here the day off/day after the Pujols and Wilson signings, and wrote two pieces on Nowhere Plans, here and here.  Basically, the Angels made the most news this offseason by a fucking country mile.

This team is going to be good.  The problem is that there are 5 teams (not including the Tigers) fighting for two playoff spots and two wildcards.  The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Rangers are all better than the Angels, in my estimation, but it's close.  I honestly think the Rangers are a touch better than the Angels, but not far enough to say definitively that either team is going to make the playoffs/win the division.  It's not that there's any incredibly weak spot to this club, I just prefer the Rangers, as you'll find when I write that preview.

The questions I ask myself about this team, which, when answered, will show us the success level of this team:

  • Who plays third, and who DH's?
    • Trumbo needs to get his OBP up.  He's pretty much a righty Adam Lind, though he's young enough that he can improve.  Obviously his defense is a massive question mark, especially if he's taking [Maicer Izturis/Alberto Callaspo/Erick Aybar] out of the order.  I'd trade Trumbo while there's still a lot of value there.  Kendrys Morales probably DH's, leaving Bobby Abreu out of a job for now as well, but if Trumbo doesn't play 3B, he might DH, moving both Morales and Abreu to the bench.  I'll explain what to do about that in a second, though I'm not entirely confident that my suggestion will happen.
  • Who plays LF?
    • If Vernon Wells is playing LF everyday, we're all going to get a good laugh.  If Mike Trout gets every chance to play and perform, he'll provide enough value with his glove in CF, no matter what he does with the bat, shifting Bourjos to LF and creating a really good defensive OF.  Of course, that would make Vernon Wells a $21MM bench player.
The Minors
Move Mike Trout to the majors, and this system is nothing special.  Solution!  Trade Mark Trumbo for prospects, trade Bobby Abreu for prospects, and most importantly, trade one of Callaspo/Izturis/Aybar for prospects.  You'll get varying returns, so kick in some cash if needed, but part of contending is remaining in contention.

Much like the Tigers, the Angels are going to have a crap load of money devoted to some players who are on the bad half of their careers: they have over $70MM committed to 4 players for 2015, the youngest of whom is Jered Weaver, who will be 32.

The Verdict
They're going to be good.  The rotation should be among the best in baseball, and once the Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu contracts expire after this season, they'll be able to not have a $50MM bench, and get two good years of production from the main core before Albert, Weaver, Santana, Haren and Wilson decline or leave.

Projection: 90-72, 2nd in AL West.

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