Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

MLB Preview: Anaheim Angels

I vaguely remembered previewing this team last year and was curious what I thought (i.e. was I full of crap). Basically I stated that banking on a bunch of 40 year olds to carry the offense seemed fishy. I also didn't buy into the "Steve Finley is Jesus" story. Apparently those were good thoughts. The problem that we will see as we go through this lineup is that there aren't enough changes to make a large enough offensive impact. I see a 2003 M's lineup in place, which is always dangerous. Let's go through this team.

RF: Vladimir Guerrero: If (and this is apparently a big if) Vlad stays healthy he is a dominant offensive force. However, he is really starting to break down more and more regularly, as I noticed having him on my fantasy team last season.

CF: Darin Erstad: Well, at least the Angels won't have one of the worst first basemen anymore. They'll have a decent CF who plays good defense and adds some at the plate. Oddly enough this has to be considered a net gain for LAA.

LF: Garret Anderson: He's only 33? Why does he play like he's 40? Anderson as well is starting to break down regularly. Obviously he has a tremendous bat when healthy, but like Guerrero is starting to age quickly.

3B: Dallas McPherson: The biggest disappointment of last season. He showed nothing at the plate. However, he has too much talent to be a complete waste. He's going to get another shot. We'll see where it takes him.

SS: Orlando Cabrera: Decent bat, decent defensively, a little overpaid but Boston sure misses him.

2B: Adam Kennedy: Has finally been exposed as a singles hitter who can do little else. The definition of "replacement talent".

Every position: Chone Figgins: Not sure exactly where he'll go, but he is too important. It's an insult to Figgins to be named in the same sentence as Eckstein or Podsednik because he is far more versatile and important to LAA. His speed and defense make him a valuable everyday player.

1B: Casey Kotchman: Had an impressive debut run, will be looked to add some pop to the lineup.

C: Jose Molina: Should not be a significant downgrade on departed brother Benji. Calls a good game, swings a decent stick, and is younger. Not too much to dislike.

Overall, I stand a little corrected from what I wrote above. They do have a few interesting young players in McPherson and Kotchman that will get a chance this year. Still, there is too much reliance in aging and brittle players from top to bottom. The depth will be tested yet again and this lineup will hit cold streaks. Pitching will be of the utmost importance.

And that pitching is pretty darn good.

Starters:
Bartolo Colon
Kelvim Escobar
Jeff Weaver
Ervin Santana
John Lackey

That, my friends, is an excellent rotation. Even if Colon finally succumbs to the Krispy Kremes, they still have some solid members in place. Now, Lackey has to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. He needs to continue the high strikeout numbers to place him as a top pitcher in the AL. Escobar is a solid rotation member. Weaver was an underrated steal of a signing. Santana is young and loaded with potential. Basically, there is no real weakness here. Very very solid.

Relievers:
Francisco Rodriguez - Closer
Scot Shields
Esteban Yan
Brendan Donnelly
Kevin Gregg
JC Romero

Any bullpen that includes the name Francisco Rodriguez is going to be a good one. Scot Shields may not be quite as brilliant as last year (when he was a bit overworked) but still should be pretty solid. JC Romero actually gives them a lefty to use at times, a luxury manager Mike Scoscia really hasn't had in a while. Again, this whole pitching staff may not be Oakland, but it still is good.

The Angels will be in the playoff hunt throughout the season. They have too much pitching not to be. However, the large number of offensive question marks means they will more than likely not be dominant. Another team in the division (probably Oakland) will then have a shot to knock them off their throne.

If the Angels answer the questions and make the playoffs, don't be surprised if this team makes it to the World Series.

posted by Gavin @ 1:13 PM  0 comments

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