Thursday, March 03, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Orange County/California/West Coast/USA/Western Hemisphere/Earth and Anaheim

Oh Angels, you are the team to beat out West unless Oakland develops extremely fast. Or trades for Mike Cameron and snags Calvin Pickering from the Royals, then you might be in for more of a battle. I think it will be close either way, but if Oakland struggles out of the gate is might seal their fate in the long run.

Paul Byrd, SP: Byrd is a good signing for the Angels, who need some pitching help no matter how often you hear Jarrod Washburn praised by Chris Berman and Joe Morgan. Of course, he might not only have post-Mazzone pitching syndrome but might also hurt from the NL to AL switch. Time will tell…of course with Kris Benson getting $7.5 million per season you could do a lot worse than $4.5 million to Paul Byrd.

Orlando Cabrera, SS: Better than Eckstein? Yes. Better than Renteria? No. Overpaid? Only by like most of his salary. Cabby's glove is deteriorating fast since his back injury a few years back, regardless of how many Sox fans tell you he's a huge part of the reason we won the World Series…his bat and plate patience do leave something to be desired as well. Anaheim has spent more money on worse things though *cough Colon cough*. Interesting note...the Red Sox team averages went up by almost 10 points after the Nomar trade, but Mientkiewiewicz and Cabby performed almost 20 points under that figure. Cabrera's defense was better than Nomar's, and Mientkiewicz saved a few runs at the end of a few games, but I also played better D than Nomar this year at SS.

Steve Finley, CF: Finley is hard to read. Rob Neyer says there is no one to compare him to at age 39. BP tells me his defensive range is nonexistent, but everyone who watches him says otherwise. He may be an upgrade in center over injured Garret Anderson (who it pained me to watch in the ALDS last year) or he could uh…not be. He’ll probably hit though, so that’s a plus. He could also fall apart completely in the next two years...it'll be fun to watch either way.

Bengie Molina, C: Sorry Mike Scioscia, he’s not Jason Varitek. Then again you guys used Varitek money on Paul Byrd and Finley, so no complaints from you.

Esteban Yan, RP: If Esteban Yan won the Cy Young, I’d still laugh at him. That’s what happens when you get desperate for a closer in Fantasy Baseball a few years back and he derails your attempts at you know, being good and all single-handedly. Yan is better than I give him credit for, I'm just bitter about losing in the semifinals in 2002.


Lou Merloni, IF: LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUU! He’s got his uses, no complaints.


Kendry Morales, IF/OF: Morales is young, and that is what he has in his favor right now. Good timing for me to write about Anaheim, since Clay Davenport wrote an article yesterday detailing his discovery that the highest level of Cuban baseball is equivalent to the New York-Penn League, a Low-A ball league. Morales will probably disapoint for a season or two before he gets the hang of it in the majors, since he basically is skipping over High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A to play in the majors. Where he is going to play is another story, as the Angels are stacked everywhere he could play.

Traded Ramon Ortiz to the Reds about 5 minutes before they were going to cut him. Good riddance I say!

1) Adam Kennedy/Chone Figgins
2) Orlando Cabrera
3) Vladimir Guerrero
4) Garret Anderson
5) Steve Finley
6) Darin Erstad
7) Dallas McPherson
8) Juan Rivera/Casey Kotchman
9) Bengie Molina

This lineup is really good. A ton of free swingers though, and when they face a patient pitching staff like the Red Sox (giggle) the results are not as good as against some other teams. A team of guys who can pound the strike zone will get through most of this team without a hitch. Of course, guys who can pound the strike zone aren't exactly lying on street corners waiting to be signed or anything, so the Angels are going to score a lot of runs. I'm guessing they end up with the fourth best offense behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians.

1) Bartolo Colon
2) Kelvim Escobar
3) Jarrod Washburn
4) Paul Byrd
5) John Lackey

The strength of this rotation depends almost entirely on which Bartolo Colon shows up: the fat one that struggles to pitch effectively, or the fat one that pitches effectively...what? I couldn't help myself, he's huge.

Escobar was a surprise strength last year, since he had never shown that kind of consistency even though the talent is there. Jarrod Washburn should be the 5th starter here, but Chris Berman will tell you he is a serious lefty threat, especially out of the pen. Byrd is another wild card, but succeeded in his last AL stint with the Royals. Lackey doesn't have any outstanding qualities, but as far as a fifth starter goes he's good. The problem is their #3 starter is a #5 guy as well. That brings us to the bullpen.

I don't really need to talk about Anaheims bullpen too much. If they have a lead in the 7th or 8th inning, your going to work really hard to beat them. If they have a slim lead in the 6th you'll probably see starters coming out early since their bullpen is so much more effective. This could hurt the Angels though (and already has) when they face some of the more high-powered offenses. This is a dangerous team, but they are not unbeatable. I still think if the A's really pull it together and something happens to Anaheim they can lose the division. Theirs to win, but they have to win it.

Comments:
"Giggle"

If you ever use the word GIGGLE again. You will be beaten. I know people. Don't mess with me.
 
Damnit, now I need to be creative and stuff...ugh
 
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