Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why the Angels Will Finish the 2011 Season With a Sub-.500 Record

It is much easier to ask a power-hitting team to play small ball than it is to ask a powerless team to hit home runs.  Sure, a power-hitter may struggle to bunt properly and may not have the speed to beat out a soft grounder, but sometimes an average attempt is good enough.
Take the Toronto Blue Jays of last year (assuming Cito Gaston would ever have permitted his team to lay one down).  In the rare situation where a bit of small ball was, in Gaston's mind, the best option, he could ask Travis Snider to bunt a runner over instead of swinging for the fences--and if he doesn't succeed the first time, he may get another chance.
The LA Angels, however, do not have a luxury such as this.  Yes, their defence is superb and their speed is above average, but who can hit for power?  In a 6-3 game with two on in the bottom of the ninth, do you want Jose Bautista at the plate...or Alberto Callaspo?  The Angels do not have anyone who can hit for power consistently on their roster.

Bobby Abreu: Let's face it, he's not the type of hitter he used to be.  The Angels' probably #4 outfielder (or DH?) for next season is a valuable asset, but his production has suffered significantly since he was in his prime.  He will hit no more than 15 home runs next year (partially due to a slight loss of playing time) and will be lucky to break 80 RBI.  He is not an answer: he is a vetran presence who the Angels hope will be able to help out the young players.

Peter Bourjos: Defensively, I have more respect for Bourjos than any other player in the MLB.  I saw him play in only one series last year, but that was enough to form an opinion.  Everything hit to centre field was caught--no matter where it was.  That being said, he was also the greatest offensive liability in the lineup.  He may prevent any doubles to the gap from occurring, and he may win numerous Gold Gloves, but he'll keep making up for it each time he steps into the batter's box.

Torii Hunter: His numbers have been fairly consistent over the past few years, but, like Abreu, his age will catch up to him.  His stolen bases dropped significantly last season.  For a player whose top qualities are speed and defence, declining quickness is a grim sign of things to come.

Vernon Wells: Wells, or as I sometimes call him, First-Pitch-Pop-up Man, has an uncanny ability to live up to his nickname.  The only reason the Angels added Wells to the fold was for power, but--in spite of his 31 home runs last year--Vernon is much too inconsistent to have any major value to his new team.  His acquisition was a loss for the Angels: in money and ability.  The one positive for LA is that Wells' speed may finally be utilized.


Erick Aybar: Another inconsistent player offensively, Aybar is completely unpredictable for next season.  The one thing everyone can be fairly certain of is that he will fail to hit more than 5 homers.  A new shortstop would definately be a plus for the Angels.  Aybar will, one day, end up becoming more like Alex Gonzalez than Derek Jeter.  He is faster than A-Gon, and his defence is far more mediocre, but--my point is--he will one day be lost in a sea of average backup shortstops.

Alberto Callaspo: Callaspo does his job.  You get what you ask of him--around 10 home runs and 60 RBI.  He is not a power hitter, but he does not need to be.  Callaspo is not the Angels' major problem, he is simply not the type of player they need.  However, as the team will struggle for power, Callaspo will end up near the top of the team in homers.

Howie Kendrick: Kendrick is much like Callaspo when it comes to numbers.  The major difference is that Kendrick is faster.  The Angels do not need two of the same player.  One of Kendrick or Callaspo should be traded away sometime during the season.  It will be interesting to see which the team would be more willing to part with.  Kendrick is probably a bit better than Callaspo, so trading the latter would be better for the team as it currently stands.  However, Kendrick would probably draw more interest--and higher return.

Brandon Wood: Possibly the greatest liability on the team, Wood struggles offensively and defensively.  Why he is even on the team is beyond me.  Just another hole in a swiss-cheese lineup.


Jeff Mathis: One of the best defensive catchers in the game, Mathis is, most certainly a--(I'm sorry, I feel like I've overused this term in this blog)--liability when it comes to offence.  Every now and again he can convert on an opportunity, but he is not going to pull a garbage team out of the trash can.  I like Mathis' game, but his bat is most certainly not what the Angels need right now.

Pitching is a different story for a different day. Short overview:

Dan Haren
Joel Pineiro
Jered Weaver
Ervin Santana

Scott Downs

Scott Kazmir
Fernando Rodney

The pitching is really and truly irrelavent with this team.  It's impossible to win if you can't score.  Even if your pitchers can hold off the opponent, they cannot pitch perfectly forever.  A team that will struggle to score runs will not win games.  I think it's time the Angels' went for a full-out make-over.  Gut the team and try again.  Anaheim has had a solid team for a number of years, now.  Their best bet is to take three to five years off, and reclaim their division title.



  1. Good job Pharel. A well written article but I have a few comments to make.

    1) Their first baseman is Kendry Morales
    2) Hunter already started declining years ago
    3) Bourjos can possibly pan out to be a Podsednik/Pierre type
    4) Hank Conger, their AAA and potential backup catcher, can hit for power and average.
    5) Kendrick is likely the starter at second while Callaspo is likely to claim the job at third. They can hit for average quite well, but the main reason they are starting is because their competition, as you mentioned, includes Wood, Aybar, and the unmentioned Izturis. So neither of those two will get traded for a few months.
    6) Kevin Jepsen is still impressive in the pen. Jordan Walden is a flamethrower, and Kazmir looks like a major con based on his past two seasons.

  2. Sorry, forgot about Kendry Morales (intentionally left out Izturis because he is a back-up and all minor leaguers because it is impossible to determine how they will play at the major league level).
    Kendry Morales is completely unpredictable. You know your luck is bad when you injure yourself after hitting a walk-off home run. It is impossible to say how he will bounce back after a lost season in 2010. If he comes back as good as ever, he will be the one true power-hitter in the Angels' lineup--a player they actually need. If he struggles, he is just another waste of space player on a team chock full of them.