Los Angeles Angels 2011 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2011 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the Los Angeles Angels and is written by a friend of Diamond Hoggers; MTD of Off Base Percentage. MTD has been on The Baseball Show and if you haven’t checked out Off Base Percentage you’re missing out on a really great writer and a die hard baseball fan like you and I.

Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers previews every team division by division until the start of the regular season.

Before I get knee-deep into some hard hitting analysis about the outlook for the 2011 Angels, there are probably a few things you guys should know about me if you aren’t an Off Base regular.  While I am a big Angels homer, I’m not the biggest fan of their organizational philosophy.  I had a ten minute argument with former scouting director, Eddie Bane, about sabermetrics at a Braves game a few years ago before he threw an ice cream cone at me and stormed off.  Parts of that story are true.  But I still love my Halos and their blissful ignorance of taking walks.  I’m also pessimistic, narcissistic, slightly alcoholic and love dogs wearing hats.  Now that you’re up to speed, let’s go break down some baseball…

Good Times Ahead

The Angels rotation should be one of the better pitching staffs in the American League led by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.  Ervin Santana and Joel Pinerio follow the two aces and then I have to eat a roll of Tums before I think about Scott Kazmir pitching every fifth day.  I don’t know when he started throwing underhand but that guy gives me heartburn and panic attacks.

The outfield defense now sports three centerfielders after Peter Bourjos forced Torii Hunter into right field and the newly acquired Vernon Wells will shift into left.  More help is on the way too with a potential September cup of coffee for Mike Trout who is widely regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball.

PECOTA is more optimistic about Mark Trumbo than I am.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t crazy about him and project him to be a 0.0 WARP guy but they do have him projected for 27 homers over 597 plate appearances.  Which doesn’t sound too crazy with Kendrys Morales’ health being such a big question mark.

Worst Off-Season Ever?

The Angels made it clear that their number one target in free agency was Carl Crawford.  But Arte Moreno gave Scott Boras the stink eye and the dynamic outfielder signed with Boston.

The glaring need for a third baseman could have been met by signing Adrian Beltre but while Arte Moreno was lighting a bag of dog poo on fire on Scott Boras’ porch, Beltre signed with a divisional rival in the Rangers.

With cash burning a hole in Tony Reagins’ pocket, he made a “big splash” by signing left handed relievers Hasinori Takahashi and Scott Downs.  Downs is opening the season on the disabled list by the way.  I’m more than a little bummed that Reagins wasn’t able to lure Kent Mercker away from his new career of turning vodka into urine just to add one more old lefty reliever to the pen.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Halos swung a deal for one of the worst contracts in baseball.  Toronto managed to free themselves of Vernon Wells’ albatross contract without having to send any poutine to Anaheim.  Outrageous.  Wells had a resurgent 2010 season but compiled most of his shiny stats at home in Toronto which played like a bandbox last year.  The Wells trade sent Mike Napoli to the Jays temporarily leaving the Angels with Jeff Mathis as their starting catcher.  Mathis doesn’t get on base enough to supplant that hefty girl on your softball team let alone play everyday for an MLB team.

They also passed on Rafael Soriano leaving Fernando Rodney as the in-house closer.  And Rodney is just a tad more stable than Charlie Sheen at this point.

The 2011 Season

I don’t have high hopes for the 2011 season but I think after a couple of down years the Angels will get back on top of the AL West.  Texas still looks like the team to beat and I think Oakland will barely edge the Angels out for second place.  Of course, I’m also predicting the Mariners get sold to a Japanese billionaire who smokes cigars and strokes a white cat during business meetings.

Off Base Prediction

Angels: 79-83. Nights I cry myself to sleep over Brandon Wood being terrible: 14.