yardbarker
RealGM Baseball
2010 Season Preview: Los Angeles Angels
Brian Reynolds. 31st March, 2010 - 12:08 pm

Team Archives
23rd Apr, 2012
Behind The Series: Angels Win First Series Of 2012

13th Dec, 2011
Grading The Deal: Pujols Joins Angels

Full Archive

Current Features
Click here to return to the general 2010 MLB Season Preview.

After a tragic start to the 2009 season with the passing of teammate Nick Adenhart, the Angels rallied around each other and won the American League West title for the fifth time in six years.? Mike Scioscia?s club won 97 games in 2009, 10 games better than the second-place Texas Rangers.? Newcomer Bobby Abreu provided a strong bat for the Halos, while Kendry Morales (.306 Avg, 34 HR, 108 RBI) exploded in his first full-season with the big club.
?
The Angels also erased postseason blues to the Boston Red Sox by sweeping them in the Division Series.? The Angels then fell to the eventual champion Yankees in six games in the ALCS.

2009 Opsera Finish: 10th

What Happened In The Winter

The offseason acquisitions made by GM Tony Reagins have been applauded by many, but it?s the players that the Angels have lost that are making analysts doubt whether they can claim the division once again.
?
John Lackey, who came up in the Angels system and actually won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie, bolted Anaheim for Boston and a 5-year, $82.5 million contract.? Lackey had evolved into the team?s ace and will now be seen wearing the uniform of an AL rival.
?
Chone Figgins, another cornerstone of the franchise, also left via free agency only to sign with the division rival Mariners.?Building upon a .395 OBP, Figgins was second in the American League in runs scored in 2009.
?
The Angels made virtually no effort to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero, who ended up signing in Arlington with the Texas Rangers, a place where he has punished baseballs throughout his career.? Darren Oliver, the Angels most trustworthy reliever, also left with Guerrero for Texas.
?
Angels fans probably don?t mind these next two departures: Kelvim Escobar and Gary Matthews Jr.? Both are gone and are the now the problems of the New York Mets.
?
While the subtractions were plentiful, the Angels did make some additions over the winter with the likes of Hideki Matsui, Fernando Rodney, Joel Pineiro, and Brian Stokes (Matthews trade).
?
The Angels also avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli (one-year, $3.6M) and Jered Weaver (one-year/$4.265M).

Angels Offensive Preview

Los Angeles enjoyed a strong statistical season in 2009.? They were third in the AL in OPS (.792), second in runs scored (883), third in OBP (.350) and steals (148), and eighth in home runs (173).? However, it is likely to see a drop in all of these categories but home runs, just because of the departure of Figgins.
?
Erick Aybar will be the team?s new lead-off hitter.? He has had some glowing reports, but expect him to struggle a little out of the gates.? Aybar is much more of a free-swinger than Figgins and only has a career OBP of .324.
?
The Angels middle of the order remains strong.? Abreu, Morales, Torii Hunter, Matsui will likely be Scioscia?s 2-3-4-5 hitters ? a nice balance of discipline, speed and power.? Juan Rivera is coming off a career year where he belted 25 homers and drove in 88 RBI?s and will probably bat sixth.
?
The 7-8-9 hitters are going to be key this year for the Angels.? People around Angels? camp get the feeling that this is the year that Howie Kendrick emerges into a star.? He?s had injury troubles in the past, but turned it on down the stretch last season.? Kendricks is probably the most dangerous seven hitter in baseball and has been called ?a batting title waiting to happen.?
?
Brandon Wood is the biggest question mark in the Angels? lineup.? He is the new everyday third baseman and has been the Angels number one prospect for some time now.? Wood has proven he can hit in the minors, but he has yet to show it in the majors.? In seven minor league seasons, Wood has belted 160 home runs.? If he can show some of that strength with the big club, the Angels offense will be just fine.
?
Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis will again share the catching duties.? Both these guys have proven to be clutch hitters and will work just fine in the ninth spot.

Angels Pitching Preview

Every pitching staff will take a hit when they lose their best pitcher to another team.? The Angels, somewhat quietly however, have put together one of the better starting fives in all of baseball.? They actually have three guys (Weaver, Saunders, Pineiro) that recorded 15 or more wins in 2009.? While they may be missing that number one guy, they have five guys that can beat you on any given day.
?
Weaver had a career year in 2009, posting a 16-8 record and an ERA at 3.75.? At 27, the Halos are excited about this kid?s immediate future.
?
The rest of the rotation includes four quality and proven arms.? Scott Kazmir (10-9, 4.89 in 2009), Ervin Santana (8-8, 5.03 ERA), Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60), and Joel Pineiro (15-12, 3.49) will follow Weaver in the rotation.?
?
The bullpen has always been a strength for the Angels and 2010 should be no different.? Brian Fuentes will probably start the season as the closer, but if he struggles I wouldn?t be surprised to see Scioscia make a quick move to Rodney.
?
As of now, Fuentes is the only lefty in the pen and Scioscia really likes having a lefty for situational purposes.? Oliver was a stud in these situations for the Angels last year and Fuentes could the new man this year.? I wouldn?t be surprised at all if Fernando Rodney becomes the team?s closer as early as May.
?
The other arms in the Angels pen include Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Matt Palmer, Brian Stokes, and Scot Shields.?
?
Jepsen came on strong for the Angels last year and is a great power arm to have in the pen.? Palmer is a guy capable of long-relief and Shields says he will be ready for opening day after a long rehabilitation from knee surgery.? The lone player remaining from the 2002 championship club, was missed greatly in 2009, but will fit in perfectly if the knee is in fact, completely healed.

What Are Their 2010 Chances?

It seems to be a sexy pick this time of a year to go against the Angels and pick the Mariners or Rangers to win the AL West.?
?
The Angels are of course strong enough to win the AL West and the Mariners and Rangers will have to take it away from them.? Lackey and Figgins will be significant losses, but I still see the postseason in 2010.
?
As Torii Hunter said, ?The Angels still have the crowns on their heads.? Until somebody else wins the division, we?re still the champs.?
?
--Brian Reynolds is a contributing writer for RealGM.? He can be reached at Brian.Matthew.Reynolds@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at BReynolds404.

Click here to return to the general 2010 MLB Season Preview.