- They won the division by 21 games last season. That is way too big a gap for the rest of the AL West to make up in one year, right? Well ...
- Based on their run differential, L.A. should have won 88 games last season, not 100. Its starting rotation, according to those big Baseball Prospectus brains, was seventh-best of the eight playoff teams. Three starting pitchers are beginning the season on the disabled list and the front office lost the Mark Teixeira derby.
What's the point? If they fall hard, everything will be blamed on the absence of someone who pitched less than 5% of their innings last season. They're probably still the favourite, for now.
- Halos Heaven has coined the phrase "Los Angeles Angels of Aspirinaheim" to describe a presumptive starting rotation of lefty Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Kelvim Escobar (who's coming back from arm troubles), Dustin Moseley and Nick Adenhart.
- No. 1 starter John Lackey is going to miss Opening Day again. It's becoming a tradition for him (yes, it's only his livelihood, make cheap jokes). Escobar and Ervin Santana are also starting the season on the DL. The Angelenos could begin the season with the AL's weakest rotation.
- Manny Ramirez would have looked good in Angels red and white, although ex-Yankee Bobby Abreu is an okay silver medal. L.A.'s left fielders hit an execrable .262/.316/.402 last season.
- Abreu — you all know you have a better chance of finding a bullfighter in Newfoundland than seeing him hit the wall to try to catch a long fly ball? — is entering his age-35 season. His closest comp, Brian Giles, had a big drop-off during his age-35 season, just saying.
- The Angels starting outfield has a combined age of 101 with Abreu, 35 and Guerrero, 33, at the corners and centrefielder Torii Hunter, 33. That's pushing it for a supposed championship team.
- If you could put Mike Napoli's pop and Jeff Mathis' catch-and-throw abilities into one body, you would have an all-star catcher.
- Vlady Guerrero OPSed .969 as a DH, compared to .850 when he was in right field, which is an indication of where he is headed.
- FanGraphs rates the Angels as MLB's 10th-best organization.
- One big reason why: They don't have a player among The Beep's top 50 prospects. Minor-league pitcher Jordan Walden checks in at No. 58.
- You'd swear second baseman Howie Kendrick's career is some kind of cosmic joke on fantasy baseball folk. He hits somewhere around .30o when he's healthy enough to play (92 games last season), and someone gets gulled into spending an early-round pick on him. Then they thick they hate a right to bemoan their lot in life when he ends up pulling a hamstring sometime in the middle of May.
- Outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. is not useless because he's a backup outfielder making $10 million a season. You can always bring him up when some Toronto knowitall starts whining about Vernon Wells having the worst contract in baseball.
- Saunders had just 103 strikeouts in 198 innings, which makes it pretty tough to sustain a 3.41 earned-run average.
- It's too funny by half that the Florida Marlins management made several players cut their cornrows. Guerrero's dreadlocks rate a spot on the all-time all-hair team and it hasn't affected his play.
- Once upon a time, Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood were supposed to be the left side of L.A.'s infield, at third base and shortstop. That's half-right, since Wood might end up at third.
- The Angels' bullpen was not overtaxed last season since their starters often went deep into games. That could change this season.
- New closer Brian Fuentes apparently replaced Francisco Rodriguez or something,
- SI.com's team capsule includes former Jay Justin Speier as one of their key relievers. That is the same Justin Speier who was left off the post-season roster, if you're looking for a portent of doom.
- Remember the Seinfeld when Elaine gets turfed from Yankee Stadium for wearing a Baltimore Orioles hat in the owners' box? That was inspired by an incident which happened to Larry David at Angel Stadium, when it was known as Anaheim Stadium.
(It was the one where Jerry dates an artist played by Catherine Keener, and they break up, and she sends him a letter that he thinks is heartfelt, until he realizes she ripped it off from Neil Simon's Chapter Two — "I don't offer happiness! James Caan didn't offer happiness!")
- Owner Arte Moreno has a home in Phoenix that's next door to former NFL coach Mike Holmgren. Moreno presumably has the grace not to bug Holmgren about the time he elected to kick a field goal with only two minutes left in the game when his team was down by four points (and ultimately lost by one).
- Sept. 30 will be the 25th anniversary of Mike Witt's perfect game. His game score for retiring all 27 Texas Rangers hitters that day was 97. In other words, he was perfect and still couldn't get 100. And you thought your teachers were tough graders.
- It's a total cheat to include it, but the baseball scene from The Naked Gun did include the Angels (even if it was actually shot at Dodger Stadium).
- No one who is not professionally mandated to do so calls them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
- Anaheim was a charter member of the late, great American Basketball Association, and ABA represents a theme for the division: Anybody But Angels. Sorry, but familiarity breeds contempt.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Batter up: Los Angeles Angels
It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team which you know fully well won't win. This season, in honour of an popular Internet meme, we'll present 25 things about each team. At bat: The Los Angeles Angels.