By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
No two words sound as sweet as those two little words used to start the baseball season. There’s history, tradition and ritual in it all—from the singing of the national anthem, to the flyover, to the umpire yelling those two magical words to start the season.
Today, the game counts. The stats are real. The wins affect the standings. From now through the end of September, it’s baseball season. Whatever happened (or didn’t happen) in the offseason is behind us. It’s onto rooting for the Angels for 2011.
After watching this team in Spring Training, I’m excited about it. The Angels didn’t just finish up strong, they finished up stronger. Not only did players such as Hunter and Wells return to action, but players such as Trumbo and Bourjos showed that they’re ready to handle Major League competition.
Looking at this team, I’m excited about the Angels chances for 2011. Starting with the rotation, I’m looking forward to seeing how Weaver and Haren stack up against the rest of the league. I have no doubts that they can bring it like the best of them and will form a formidable one-two punch that should net the Angels plenty of wins. Santana and Pineiro will keep the Angels in game whenever they start. And, if Kazmir can pitch like he did against the Dodgers, will give the Angels a chance to win half or more of his starts.
The offense looks better and deeper too. At the start of the season, Abreu, Hunter and Wells will form solid heart of the order that will supply more power than anything we saw in 2010. When Kendrys Morales returns, that heart of the order will become beastly. The 2011 Angels will hit more homeruns and will score more often than the 2010 team.
The bottom of the order also looks to be improved. A healthy Aybar and Mathis should provide more production than what they showed last year. And P-Bo looks to be ready to breakout. Not only will he play stellar defense for the entire year, he looks to be ready to steal 45+ bags and lead the league in triples. By the end of the season, he could be the explosive leadoff option that the team needs.
Lastly, the bullpen looks to be much improved and back to being capable of holding onto leads. While there are plenty of questions about Rodney, the rest of the pen looks to be very solid and ready to step in the moment Rodney can no longer close out games. For the past decade the Angels have used a strong bullpen to beat their projected wins per season, and they look to be able to do so again this year.
Tonight, I’ll be watching the game at home with my boys. We’ll be wearing our Angels gear and ready to cheer on our team. From now through the end of September, our emotions will ride along with how our favorite team fares. Fortunately, there’s a lot to be excited about with this team. With the way this team looks, we’re confident that at the end of the season the Angels will once again stand atop the A.L. West.