- If these trends continue: The Angels have outperformed their Pythagorean record for six years in a row, winning 29 more games than their run differential would suggest they should have. The bills for that must come due eventually, right? Right?!
- Not so fast: A lineup with a Bobby Abreu-Torii Hunter-Hideki Matsui-Kendry Morales-Juan Rivera core (the 2 through 6 spots) is good by the standards of five out of the six divisions.
Throw in forever underappreciated Mike Napoli jacking 25 homers from the bottom of the lineup and the Angels do not lack for empty spots in the lineup.
- Although: Erick Aybar in the leadoff spot. Really?
- Over-under on wins: 83½
- Take the ... Over. They at least stay above .500. Manager Mike Scioscia typically seems to find enough pitching. There is a risk of taking their ability to adjust for granted.
- Middlemen: The Angels are a June-July juggernaut, or have been the past two seasons. They played .704 ball from June 1 to July 31 last season (.546 before and after) and won at a .686 clip in 2008 (.586 before and after). Of course that's also the portion of the season that includes interleague play.
- Why they're being written off again: They bid adieu to two No. 1s, leadoff man extraordinaire Chone Figgins and his .395 on-base and top starting pitcher John Lackey. It need not be reiterated this is one of the game's solid franchises, and it's hilarious that they've completely knocked the dysfunctional Dodgers off their perch in SoCal.
- The other reason: Turning over late-inning leads to Fernando Rodney and Brian Fuentes with Abreu covering scarcely little ground in right field is dangerous. Given the Angels' stability since 2004, it calls to mind the Cheers episode when Frasier Crane started running with scissors to prove he could be a bad boy.
- The purgatory rotation: The initial reaction to a group of Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Joel Piñeiro is "not bad, but not great."
- Suck on it, left coast: The Yankees will get their 2009 World Series rings on April 13 while playing the Angels, one of the teams they beat in the playoffs.
- In other words: They could have traded for Roy Halladay if (a) they weren't paying Torii Hunter so damn much and (b) they had prospects to offer.
- They have karma: Owner Arte Moreno has nearly tripled the value of his franchise over what he paid for it without jacking up ticket prices or holding out for a new stadium when the old one didn't need to be replaced. He's also rarely quoted in the media, which is a breath of fresh air from the perspective of someone in a sports market where the NHL team's owner can't shut his yap.
- Free Napster: It's always tempting to think what power numbers Mike Napoli would put up if he wasn't catching and could get 550 at-bats in a season.
- Waiting in the wings: Catching prospect Hank Conger will be along sooner or later to break up the Napoli-Jeff Mathis job share behind the plate.
- Epigraph for the erratic one: Scott Kazmir has a lot of great three- to four-inning runs, but still hits 100 pitches by the sixth inning.
- Paging Joe Crede: Their third-base options include Brandon Wood, who's getting a little old to be a prospect (26), and Maicer Izturis, who is a space-filler.
- Modest nickname suggestion: In honour of a recent headline, minor-league lefty Trevor Reckling shall henceforth be known as Precocious Reckling. No one colourful has ever been named Trevor.
- Try not to look so shocked: Fuentes is guaranteed his 2011 contract if he finishes 55 games this season, so if at some point Rodney will be promoted to the closer's role. Better yet, there's the younger option, Kevin Jepsen.
- History might be repeating itself: The Angels had a run of good teams in the 1980s followed by some lean years since they focused on free agents and trades. In 2010, they're coming into a somewhat shaky season. Their only representation among Baseball Prospectus' top 50 prospects is 18-year-old outfielder Mike Trout, who is starting the season in single-A (which is actually amazing for someone who graduated high school less than 12 months ago).
- Slight revision: Second baseman Howie Kendrick is still a batting title waiting to happen. It would just have to be a National League batting title with a team which is too bad to care about secondary skills like bases on ball or power. It's too bad for him the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to be all serious.
- Next year could be too late: The regulars include 36-year-old Abreu, Matsui (36 in June) and Hunter (35 in July). Only one of them is signed past 2011.
- Why articles with question marks should be banned: An ESPNLosAngeles writer actually typed an article titled "Are the Angels missing Matthews?" as in Gary Matthews Jr., who had MLB's worst contract west of Vernon Wells until he was traded to the Mets. The Angels are paying $10 million of Matthews' $11-million salary, so there's your answer. Thanks for comin' out.
- For those still into arbitrary round numbers: August 4 marks the silver anniversary of former Angel Rod Carew's 3,000th career hit.
- Shouldn't he throw out the second pitch? Former outfielder Tim Salmon (he was in the California/Anaheim era) is throwing out the first ball on Opening Day. He is second on the Angels' all-time list in on-base percentage and slugging percentage behind a couple guys named Carew and Guerrero.
- Nothing beats a good hate-on: Angels fans hate going to Dodger Stadium more than Ottawa Senators fans hate having Leafs and Canadiens fans take over Scotiabank Place.
- The other oldish ballplayer from New Brunswick: Former Angels all-star pitcher Jason Dickson is making a comeback in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League. He's actually five years younger than fellow New Brunswickian Matt Stairs.
- What are these bases on balls you speak of? The Angels drew just 547 walks last season, 101 from the departed Figgins. The rub is most of their hitters aren't necessarily undisciplined, they just don't earn many walks.
- A sad statement about our society: Former Angels pitcher Frank Tanana's Wikipedia page includes the groaner of a nickname Chris Berman gave him 20-some years ago. Who needed to know that? It is not nostalgic when it is best left forgotten.
- PECOTA says: 78-84, fourth AL West, 796 runs scored, 835 against.
- In English, please: Short-term dip ahead.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Jusssst a bit outside: the Los Angeles Angels preview
Duty calls to preview the MLB season, 30 things somewhat about each of the 30 teams. At bat: the L.A. Angels.