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Playing Pepper 2009: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Posted on February 20, 2009 at 11:30 AM
Filed Under: Los Angeles Angels | Playing Pepper
As the players start getting themselves ready for another season, I thought it'd be a good idea to do the same.  I contacted a blogger for each major league team and posted them five questions.  This is the result.  You can find the tentative schedule of teams here and today's main post is right here.

The Angels have gone from one-time afterthoughts to easily the class of the AL West and a consistent October presence.  They've not made it completely over the hump since 2002 (and a lot of those players have moved east to St. Louis) but they still have a shot every fall.

Jim from our fellow Blogs By Fans blog The Halo Is Lit was kind enough to answer some questions about how the Angels could actually miss October and whether Vladimir Guerrero's best days are behind him.

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C70: What has to go wrong for the Angels not to win the division again?

HIL: I don't think the Angels were as good as their record in 2008, but they were easily the best team in the division.  For 2009, the Angels are still the team to beat, but it's going to be close.  I'm worried about the club's starting pitching.  Lackey, Santana, Saunders and Weaver were very good last season, but after that the SP is thin.  If one of them gets hurt or doesn't duplicate their 2008 numbers, the Halos don't have anyone within the organization to provide quality innings at the big league level.
Also, I don't think Oakland's done dealing.  If they can add a starter, they're going to be tough.

C70: Even though he was only there for half a season, will the loss of Mark Teixeira be noticeable?

Everyone seems to forget that the Angels were 26 games over .500 before they traded for Teix and were going to win the division without him.  However, he was the "big bat" the Angels have needed for a long time.  Kendry Morales is ready to play in the majors, but he's no Teixeira (maybe "Teixeira-lite?".  I don't think he was needed in 2008, but he's going to be missed in 2009.

C70: What is the fan reaction for (basically) trading Francisco Rodriguez for Brian Fuentes?

When the casual fan sees the 62 saves K-Rod racked up last season they see a dominating closer who'd be hard to replace.  But when looking at the stats a little closer, Frankie wasn't as dominating as he once was.  I remember watching many games last season and watching Frankie come into the game and give up a walk...and then a hit...and then barely escaping the ninth with the save.  I thnk Fuentes will do well, and everyone's going to be saying, "Frankie who?"

C70: What's the biggest strength of the Angels right now?

Lackey, Santana, Saunders, and Weaver.  And their deep bullpen.  Expect to see the Angels win a lot of 3-2, 4-3 ball games.

C70: Is Vladimir Guerrero starting to show signs of slowing down?

Yeah, I think his best games are behind him, but great players like Vlad have historically had one more great season late in their career after having a couple of "off" seasons.  Hopefully, 2009 will be Vlad's year to have that last great season.  From what I've read, Vlad's knee was cleaned out and he's lost weight...recipe for success?  Absolutely.

Thanks to Jim for his comments.  Even with an improving division, this is still the Angels' division to lose.  If they do so, it'll be a major story line for the upcoming season.


1 Comment | Leave a comment

The strength of the Angels is definitely the pitching. They have a decent outfield, but it looks a little crowded. The infield is weak. Mostly all field, no hit. Very weak on the corners and behind the plate, especially offensively. Can't really tell much about the middle of the infield because they are always on the DL. They should win the division on the strength of the pitching, but they won't go beyond that.

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