2010 Los Angeles Angels Baseball Preview
The Los Angeles Angels (97-65), the City of Angels Angels, have won 94 or more games four of the last five seasons and each of those seasons have won the A.L. West. The prognosis for 2010 is yet another division crown. But can this team go further?
Right now this is a four-man rotation with Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75 ERA, 174 SO), with his flexible fastball and curve-inspired slider, being the ace. Two lefties are included in the rotation—number two guy Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60 ERA, 101 SO) and number four starter Scott Kazmir (10-9, 4.89 ERA, 117 SO). Saunders offers four pitches, including a 93-mph fastball that he can run on either side of the plate. Kazmir, who came over from the Rays midway through 2009, has always had a decent fastball but has also always been erratic. Both pitchers are coming off of seasons where they were hampered by injuries. Righty Ervin Santana (8-8, 5.03 ERA, 104 SO) also battled ill-health last season. Santana, who is a flyball pitcher, can be a number two starter if he stays healthy.
So who will the closer be? It may be southpaw Brian Fuentes (1-5, 3.93 ERA, 48 SV, 46 SO) or righty Fernando Rodney (2-5, 4.40 ERA, 37 SV, 61 SO). Fuentes displays a side arm delivery and a 90-mph fastball. Rodney, who came from Detroit as a free agent, throws a dominating fastball that can hit 97-mph. Scott Shields (1-3, 6.62 ERA, 12 S0), who brings versatility to the mound, has good movement on his fastball. He suffered an injury-shortened season last year.
These guys can hit. Shortstop Erick Aybar (.312 BA, 5 HR, 58 RBI) is a sound switch-hitter at the leadoff spot and right fielder Bobby Abreu (.293 BA, 15 HR, 103 RBI) has 100 or more RBI and 20-plus stolen bases each of the past three seasons. Torri Hunter (.299 BA, 22 HR, 90 RBI), Kendry Morales (.306 BA, 34 HR, 108 RBI) and Maicer Izturis (.300 BA, 8 HR, 65 RBI) are all capable of hitting .300 or better. Hideki Matsui, free agent from the Yankees, is extremely disciplined at the plate.
Manager Mike Scioscia has really whipped this club into shape. You simply expect them to be in the hunt with Scioscia at the helm, and they are. Angels’ owner Arte Moreno seems dedicated to winning. One major problem for this franchise has been its inability to secure some premium free agents such as Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia. Can GM Tony Reagins finally turn that trend around to help ensure another World Series?
The last time this team won the pennant and the World Series was in 2002. That year, they were the wild card team. This season, the Angels should prove to be in seventh heaven as they find themselves in the playoffs for the seventh time since 2002. And although taking it to the next level won’t be easy, the Angels do have a four fine starters and a dynamite closer. Add to that a potent offense and this could be the “year of the angel.”
For more info on Los Angeles check out the MLB website for the Angels Clubhouse.