Leading up to the start of the 2008 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 32 teams. Teams will be rated on a 10-point scale in the following 5 areas: Lineup, Pitching, Manager, Intangibles/Chemistry, and Overall. Today’s team is the Anaheim Angels.
Diamond Hogger’s Los Angeles Angels blog of choice: Halo’s Heaven
Exciting Chone Figgins will lead off at 2nd base. Gary Mathews Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero will follow in the lineup. Mathews is a solid player while Vladi remains the face of the franchise and for another year or so has to be considered one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The time has passed for him to be the guy but he’s still plenty dangerous and a lot of fun to watch.
Hitting 4th is the ageless RBI-machine Garrett Anderson. Anderson will probably see equal parts of time in left field and at DH. In the 5th slot will be newly-acquired Torii Hunter. That’s a pretty talented group of outfielders over 30 years old. Casey Kotchman will be playing first and looking to prove that he’s more than a Sean Casey-type. Second baseman Howie Kendrick is back along with catcher Mike Napoli. Erick Aybar or Macier Itzturis will be the shortstop in the 9-hole.
John Lackey returns as the team’s ace. From there they have a solid, but not spectacular starting rotation. Jon Garland, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and Joe Saunders will be expected to carry the load after Lackey. I am high on Weaver and Santana and I think that eventually one of the two (more likely Weaver) will take the ‘ace’ title from Lackey. Both have good stuff but have just been inconsistent with locating it.
Francisco Rodriguez remains one of the most dominant closers in the game. He’s in a contract year so look for him to approach the 50 save plateau especially on a talented team like the Angels. From there, Darren Oliver, Scot Shields, Justin Speier and Dustin Moseley will log significant
Mike Sciosia is the manager of the Angels, and when they landed him as a first-time manager they lucked out. Sciosia already has one World Series championship to his resume and before it’s said and done he’ll have a crack at another. I’m high on Sciosia and except for experience amounts, I think he’s as fine of an in-game knowledge manager as there is in the game today.
If you’re familliar with the Angels in the Outfield movie, then it’s hard to imagine a team owned by Disney and playing in a beautiful ballpark playing in California not being pretty phenemonal every year. They spend the bucks to bring in big time offensive players and they’ve got some nasty arms on the mound. Still, they always manage (save 2002) to come up short and get bounced in the playoffs. They’re always a bridemaid, never the bride. Always an electoral candidate, never elected President. You get the picture.
I like the make-up of this team, but I see a lot of aging injury risks. I see a group that could go in the tank and experience a down year that they have not in quite some time. This leads to just a so-so rating.
The Angels look to me like a fringe second place team in the West. I like the Mariners better right now and if Texas has much of anything, I think they can finally overtake the Angels. Then again, I am not high on knowledge of this LAA team. I like their manager, star player (Vlad) and their closer a lot.