Sunday, April 6, 2008

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

By Victor Varadi - Feature Writer

Overall Record: 4-3 Games Ahead: 0.5 Week Record: 4-3

Week in Review: The first week of the season is in the bag and while the Angels went 4-3 and lead the division by half a game, there is some cause for concern. With John Lackey out for the month of April, and possibly part of May, and Kelvim Escobar unlikely to play at all this year, the starting rotation has something of a shaky look to it. Yes, Jered Weaver was fantastic in 2 starts (1-1, 2.02 era, 11k’s, 2 walks), but Jon Garland followed a dream start to the season (8 innings, 1 run) with nothing short of a nightmare (5 innings, 7 runs). Joe Saunders was solid in his lone start while Dustin Moseley had Angels fans pining for his return to the bullpen. It might be too early to proclaim Ervin Santana’s road woes are behind him, but he went a long way towards showing Sosh that he has the right stuff.

Torii Hunter was looking to impress his new teammates in his first major league game as an Angel, but the hoopla associated with his return to the Metro-dome may have contributed to what turned out to be a VERY slow start. But before Angels fans could start cursing another bloated contract, Hunter relaxed and hit 2 homeruns in 4 games. Chone Figgins continued what he started last season, working counts, going opposite field and getting on base at a clip that makes him one of the games best lead-off men. Through 7 games Figgins is hitting .407. I’ll say it now: Figgins will compete with Howie Kendrick for a batting title this season.

And while we’re on the subject of offense, at this early juncture there seems little doubt that this offense can, and will, score runs. Through 7 games, the Angels are 2nd in the majors in batting average, and are top 4 in the AL in homers and runs scored. And those stats become even more impressive when one considers that Vladdy has yet to get it going. Guerrero has looked lost at the plate so far and is swinging even more wildly than usual. Is he hurt? All those ground balls to the left side would suggest that he might be. His 6 strikeouts are also a tad worrisome.

The Bottom Line: When the team pitches well, it wins. But can this makeshift rotation tread water until Lackey returns? It seems optimistic to think big John will be back before the end of May. If Moseley struggles, how long before Sosh makes a move to get Adenhart in the rotation?

The Week Ahead: It won’t get any easier for the Halos as the Cleveland Indian roll into town for a 3 game series. While we will miss Sabathia’s turn in the rotation we will still have to face Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd. The Indians have only scored 7 runs in their last 4 games and they will look to an iffy Angels rotation to cure what ails them. The Angels will counter by sending Saunders, Santana and Moseley. The Angels tied the season series in 2007 and won 4 of 7 at the Big A.

After Wednesday’s matinĂ©e the Angels will hop a flight to Seattle where they will try to kick the Mariner’s while they are down. The M’s are off to a slow start and were swept in a 4 game series at Camden Yards.

This coming week in Angels baseball should go a long way towards answering some of the lingering questions haunting the team so early in the season.
Love to hear what you think!


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