Key Additions—Vernon Wells
Key Losses—Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli
Lineup—What got lost in the conversation when the Angels acquired Vernon Wells, was that they got better. Sure they took on a ton of money, but at the end of the day having Wells in your outfield makes you better. And having Wells play left field and moving Torii Hunter to right means that your outfield defense is much improved. However, that hinges completely on youngster Peter Bourjos. The kid can play defense, but will he hit enough to hold down the position? If so the outfield is in good shape. If not they will put Bobby Abreu back in the field, which could be a disaster defensively. The infield could be a different story. Will Kendry Morales return from his injury, and if so will he tame down any celebrations? I am a little suspect of the rest of that infield. Will Howie Kendrick hit, same could be said for Maicer izturis and Erick Aybar? I am not sold that Jeff Mathis will hit enough to be the full time catcher either. I don’t think this offense will provide a great amount of pop and consistently, but I like what the defense shapes up to be.
Rotation—If Jered Weaver is anything like he was last year, and having a full season of Dan Haren, this shapes up to be the best rotation in the division. Those two guys at the top form a very good 1-2 punch, and it is not like there is a drastic drop in #3 man Ervin Santana. Joel Pineiro provides them with a guy on the back end that can eat up innings and give you quality starts. The question is, what will they get out of Scott Kazmir in the #5 hole? This guy has such great stuff, and was highly regarded at one point, but has never been able to put it together. If he finally does, it will give the Halos a solid rotation front to back. If he doesn’t, he is killer to a bullpen as his short outings really add up.
Bullpen—The advantage this bullpen has is they have plenty of guys in that rotation that have the ability to go late into games before turning it over to the bullpen That is a good sign for the Angels, as I don’t think they are in great shape when it comes to closing games. Fernando Rodney is a solid closer, but not someone you can absolutely bank on getting the job done. Reports are Jordan Walden could also be in the run for saves, and I love this kids arm. He was clocked at over 100 in a game last year, and has absolutely shut down stuff. If he can harness that stuff he has the ability to provide a very good option in either the 8th or 9th inning for this team.
Impact Rookie—Jordan Walden, RHP. See above. There’s a lot to get excited about with the right arm of Walden. It’s important to note however, that elbow soreness limited him to just 60 innings in 2009 before rebounding in 2010.
Outlook—This team fell apart for Angels standards last year, winning only 80 games. But adding a starting pitcher in Haren for a full season, and getting an above average outfielder to help with the lineup, this team will only be better this year. I am not sure this was the intention, but if Bourjos can hit enough to hold down CF, this team will be built around pitching and defense, which I like a lot. Halos fans grew accustomed to winning, and although last year was a tough year, they should jump right back on the winning side of the standings this year.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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