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by user Timothy Moreland
The Angels pitching, without any weaknesses, places them in the top 3rd of the league. Although, their ace, Bartolo Colon, did not deserve the Cy Young last year. I would have ranked him 5th in the AL behind Johan Santana, Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay, and Kevin Millwood. In fact, John Lackey had just as good of a season as Colon. Still, being mentioned in the above group is quite an honor and I expect Colon, with his strong skills, to remain near the level of 2005. Following Colon, Lackey will be the most valuable pitcher on this staff. Last year, Lackey added a couple Ks to his K/9 and only allowed 13 HRs in 209.0 innings. If he cuts his walks just a tad, expect an ERA right around 3.00 with 200+ Ks. In 2004 and 2005, Jeff Weaver struggled with different areas of his game but still managed to contribute a decent season for a #3 starter. In 2004, it was walks and then in 2005 it was the HR ball but managed to post ERAs of 4.01 and 4.22, respectively. Expect another season in line with those two in terms of ERA. The big concern with #4 starter Ervin Santana is the increased workload from 2004 to 2005 and now for 2006. In the minors in 2004, Santana only pitched 43.7 innings. Then, in 2005, he pitched 58.3 innings in the minors and 133.7 in the majors. In 2006, what will be the repercussions for the huge jump in innings? Can he last another full season without experience a dead arm or an injury? I guess we will find out. Still, I like his chances of providing an ERA around 4.00 while he's healthy. The rotation closes with another extremely effective pitcher who could fall to the injury bug. Kelvim Escobar had a 3.02 ERA with more K's than innings (63K/59.7IP) last year. His ability to repeat somewhere between last year's 3.02 ERA and 2004's 3.93 is not the question. The question is whether or not his bone chip injury will result in yet another surgery. The strong pitching extends into the bullpen with one of the top closers in Francisco Rodriguez(45 saves in 2005) and the best setup duo in the league with Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly.
<stats> Player=Bartolo Colon Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP John Lackey
<stats> Player=John Lackey Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Jeff Weaver
<stats> Player=Jeff Weaver Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Ervin Santana Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Kelvim Escobar Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Chone Figgins starts off a mediocore lineup surrounding a superstar. Figgins has improved each year from 2003 to 2005 and is in his prime at 28 years old. Although his repertoire contains zero power(.397 SLG), as long as Figgins keeps his OBP around .350, he's doing his job. Figgins will be a valuable player until the day his speed leaves him. Darin Erstad really should no longer be anything more than a late-game defensive replacement. Unfortunately, he is the Angels' #2 hitter. Erstad does not have any power (7HRs in 659 PAs) or on-base skills(.325 OBP) and, offensively, was one of the worst full-time players in the majors last year. Moving back to centerfield may lead to some major injury problems. At #3 sits the star of the show, Vladimir Guerrero. His career line is .324/.391/.587, which is about what should be expected from him in 2006. At the end of last year, Guerrero struggled with back pain; this lineup cannot afford to lose Vlad. To continue the stretch of back problems, Garret Anderson's production, especially his power, has slowly been killed by them. From his .541 SLG in 2003 his SLG dropped to .446 in 2004 and then to .435 last year. If the back problems cannot be eleviated, then at any moment, Anderson could break down for good. Orlando Cabrera can field a little above average but hits below. He was able to contribute 21 SB and only 2 CS last year to compensate for a .309 OBP and .365 SLG. Cabrera's career OBP mark is .315 so don't expect much better than 2005. Casey Kotchman has potential but I don't know if he has a big enough bat for 1B. His defense looks good but he only projects as a 20 HR hitter at the very best. Angels fans should hope for league-average hitting with Gold Glove fielding from Kotchman and be happy with that. Unfortunately, the Angels are more than willing to give atbats at DH to Juan Rivera when they desperately need Dallas McPherson's upside playing every day. Rivera is nothing more than a replaceable bat at best, while McPherson is more than capable of putting in a .250/.340/.500 line, if given the opportunity. In McPherson, L.A. is given another serious threat at a 30 HR guy along with Guerrero. Hopefully, the Angels do not let Dallas sit on the bench as Rivera helps to prevent this team from scoring any runs. For a 2B at the bottom of the order, Adam Kennedy does just fine. His offense does not incite too much joy but a .350 OBP is something the team can live with. Like the rest of the lineup, he provides nothing in the power department (2 HRs in 2005). Two catchers will split time for LAA. In Jose Molina, they have a terrible offensive player(.634 OPS), even for a catcher; however, his defense ranks near the best. With Jeffrey Mathis, only 23 years old, the Angels have a more powerful (21 HRs in AAA) hitter with a worse, but not bad, glove. I would give more of the time to Mathis because of his potential; although, neither one is much to get overly excited about.
Projected Batting Order
<stats> Player=Chone Figgins Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
CF Darin Erstad
<stats> Player=Darin Erstad Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Vladimir Guerrero Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Garret Anderson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Orlando Cabrera Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Casey Kotchman Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Dallas McPherson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
2B Adam Kennedy
<stats> Player=Adam Kennedy Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Jeff Mathis Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Projecton: 81-81 2nd in the AL West...The hitting is worse but the pitching is improved over last year's team. There are a ton of injuries that could bury this team. Still, I will bank on their pitching carry them past the Rangers.
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Sun 03/19/06, 5:48 pm EST