Wednesday, July 11, 2007

LOS ANGELES ANGELS (53-35) 1st Place AL West

At this point in 2006, the Halos were 43-45, 2 games behind in the AL West. A hole dug too deep to overcome at the end of the season.

So far so good for the Angels in 2007. A lot of the pre-season worries about potential offensive woes seem to be alleviated. They rank second in average (.284), fifth in runs (437), fifth in on-base percentage (.340) and ninth in slugging percentage (.413) this season.

Obviously, there is always room for improvement. The question for Mike Scioscia and Bill Stoneman will be where. With Juan Rivera expected to return in August, will there be a need ?

The big question mark is Garret Anderson. Since his return from the disabled list, Anderson has hit .409 with a slugging percentage of .500. Is Anderson healthy or is this just a blip before a return to the DL ?

Currently the Angels have four regulars batting .300 or better with Howie Kendrick at .297 & Casey Kotchman at .291. Led by MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero (.325 14 hr 75 rbi) and short-stop Orlando Cabrera (.328 5 hr 51 rbi).

Rookie Reggie Willits (.408 ob%) took his opportunity and ran with it giving the Angels what they have lacked for since the departure of David Eckstein. A lead off hitter who will take pitches, work the counts and take a walk.

Two of the biggest question marks during Spring Training was what production would the Halos get from center-field and first-base.

Gary Matthews Jr. has given the team exactly what they needed. Especially after moving from the lead off spot to the 4th or 5th hole (.279 10 hr 43 rbi).

Casey Kotchman after starting the season in a terrible slump took off and at one point was in the top five in league OPS. After a mild concussion and a week off, "Kotch" has struggled to find his stroke and his average has fallen from .338. However his production (.291 9 hr 38 rbi) was exactly what the Angels were missing last season.

Chone Figgins has also gone from the outhouse to the penthouse thanks to a 53 hit barrage in June.

Offensive inconsistency can still hit this team at any time and they do not hit as many home runs as you'd like to see. But overall, they are getting the job done scoring runs. With a returning Juan Rivera or a potential trade for a slugger, the offense may get even better later in the season.


Pitching has been the Angels strong point the last few seasons.

This year Kelvim Escobar (10-3, 3.19 1.16 whip) and All Star John Lackey (11-5, 2.91 era 1.17 whip) have stepped up again to be two of the premiere starters in the American League.

All Star closer Francisco Rodriguez (24 saves) and set up man Scot Shields (20 holds 0.88 whip 1.79 era) are having stellar years yet again.

Free agent signing Justin Speier was dominating hitters in the 6th & 7th innings before taking ill. Thankfully, it appears he is on his way back to the team when they return from the All Star Break. Dustin Moseley (4-1, 2.60 era) has filled in well in set up situations to pick up the slack.

Overall though, the Halos pitching has not been as dominate as one would like. Starters Bartolo Colon (6-4, 6.44 era) and Ervin Santana (5-10, 5.97 era) have been down right horrible at times. Santana continues to get rocked on the road and has given way too many home runs this season.

Jered Weaver (6-5, 3.67 era) has battled some shoulder soreness, an illness and a bit of a sophomore slump. Spot starter Joe Saunders has started 5 games and gone 3-0 2.97 era. If Santana continues to struggle, Mike Scioscia may want to sent Santana to AAA to think about his struggles.

Darren Oliver has not pitched well, especially against left handed hitters. .420 ba, 3 hr against.

Hector Carrasco was also not coming through and was designated for assignment.

If the Halos are to fend off the Seattle Mariners. Ervin Santana and Bartolo Colon are going to have to step up their game.


It's night and day compared to 2007. With Casey Kotchman and Gary Matthews solidifying problem spots at first and center. Orlando Cabrera is again a vacuum at short and his double-play partner Howie Kendrick has done well playing his natural position of second-base.

Love to hear what you think!


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