By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
I have tended to be critical of the Angels GM, feeling that many of his moves and signings were unwise. But I've got to give it to him - he's assembled a deep, balanced, and seemingly complete team.
Well done, Jerry Dipoto!
• The offense is scoring runs despite the fact that Trout has been slumping for weeks, Pujols was slumping, and Hamilton was out. In other words, their three best offensive players were either absent or slumping (not to mention Calhoun being out) and the team still has won 11 of their last 14. The reason the Angels have done so well is that the complementary players like Kendrick, Aybar, Iannetta and Conger, in addition to the bench players like Cowgill, Grant, Cron and Navarro, have all stepped up and produced.
• The starting pitching is really looking good. Weaver, Wilson and Richards all look like #2ish starters and Skaggs is holding his own. Shoemaker has filled in nicely and Santiago, well, he has potential and excellent stuff. I think at the very least he can still be a #4.
• The bullpen has been much stronger of late. Even Frieri, who has seen his ERA cut in half since April 23 and had a span of 10 appearances in which he's only given up one home run. Furthermore, Sean Burnett is finally healthy, Jepsen, Salas, Kohn, and Smith have all been good, and Morin has looked very promising. Perhaps best of all, the Angels have two young flame-throwers in AJ Alvarez and Cam Bedrosian who will probably contribute later this year.
Looking at the team as a whole, I don't see a lot of improvements needed - at least not from the outside. I suppose another starting pitcher would be good to have, but Shoemaker has been good and hopefully Santiago will settle down, so it isn't absolutely necessary. I don't think we need any relievers (which is surprising to say) and the offense will only get better as the year progresses.
Who knows, maybe Scioscia was right and this really is a 95-win team. I certainly see 90+ wins as well within reach.
But again, great job Jerry! And thank you for guiding the team back to a place where we can be more optimistic than we have been in half a decade.