2008 Los Angeles Angels Baseball Preview
The Los Angeles Angels (94- 68) should continue to dominate the petite AL West. In the off-season, the club added two All-Stars—centerfielder Torii Hunter and starting pitcher Jon Garland.
The pitching staff—starters and bullpen—is the best in the West and one of the finest in the league. RHP John Lackey (19- 9, 3.01 ERA, 179 SO) and RHP Kelvim Escobar (18- 7, 3.40 ERA, 160 SO) are a potent one-two punch. Lackey has four quality pitches and Escobar also possesses many weapons. The addition of third starter Jon Garland (10- 13, 4.23 ERA, 98 SO) gives the rotation depth. Jered Weaver (13- 7, 3.91 ERA, 115 SO) could be the third or second man on many clubs, while the bullpen includes mammoth closer Francisco Rodriguez (5- 2, 2.81 ERA, 40 SV, 90 SO, .204 BAA).
The list of hitters is impressive. RF Vladimir Guerrero (324 BA, 27 HR, 125 RBI) is a natural hitter who can smack good and bad pitches. 2B Howie Kendrick (.322 BA, 5 HR, 39 RBI) offers a quick bat and 3B/OF Chone Figgins (.330 BA, 3 HR, 58 RBI) is a solid switch-hitter with refined base stealing skills. The club was ranked second in the league in stolen bases. With bat wielding CF Hunter (.287 BA, 28 HR, 107 RBI) added to the club, the Angels have a heavenly run-producing arsenal. SS Erik Aybar (.237 BA, 1 HR, 19 RBI) probably won’t live up to Orlando Cabrera’s numbers.
Overall, the fielding is good. With SS Cabrera gone, Aybar, who has fine range, soft ands and a strong arm, will fill the gap. Kendrick at 2B needs to be smoother on the DP. The corners are well covered and nicely played. The outfield, with Hunter, Guerrero and Gary Mathews, Jr. has good range and sound arms. Catcher Mike Napoli is skilled and calls a fine game.
Manager Mike Scioscia should benefit from GM Tony Reagins’ recent trades and signings. Scioscia has always had talent with which to work but never this much. The AL West is theirs to lose.
For more info on Los Angeles check out the MLB website for the Angels Clubhouse.