Friday, February 22, 2013

APTOPIX Angels Spring Baseball

By Christian Ilten, Contributor --

The date is December 8th, 2011. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who had recently completed the 50th Year in Franchise History decided that the 2 year reign of the Texas Rangers would be halted, as owner Arte Moreno went all in, with the aid of GM Jerry Dipoto, signing a 10 year contract with slugger Albert Pujols, along with the premier pitcher of the 2011-2012 offseason, Left Handed Pitcher CJ Wilson. 2 days later, the new Southern California Superstars are introduced to around 4,200 fans at a public press conference to introduce the players to the media in front of Angel Stadium... The Angels were finally going to get back to the post season with a bolstered lineup, and what looked to be one of the best rotations in baseball, starting with ace Jered Weaver, continuing on with Wilson, Santana, Haren, and either Jerome Williams or Garret Richards would hold the 5 spot... and then... the 2012 season happened...

The Angels tied their worst club start at 6-14. Unlike the 2002 World Series Championship team though, this time, the Angels were expected to win. 20 games into the season, the Angels decided that a change needed to be made. So, with fans unhappy about the losing ways, the Halos decided to part ways with OF Bobby Abreu, and decided that it was time to bring up Mike Trout. Trout, the eventual Rookie of the Year, and the MVP runner up, would carry the team to winning ways once again, but, at the end of the year, the Angels could not grasp even the 2nd Wild Card spot, watching Oakland win the West for the first time since 2006, and the Rangers returning to the post season as well.

In the offseason, the Angels' Owner and General Manager pulled yet another "sneaky" move, signing  Josh Hamilton, swiping him away from the rival Texas Rangers. Along with a few other moves, after losing Zack Greinke, who the Angels acquired mid-season, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency, the Angels added Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas, and Joe Blanton to fill in the 3 empty spaces in the rotation. In addition, the Angels helped the problems in the bullpen signing former Washington National Sean Burnett, and Ryan Madson, former closer who excelled years ago, but Tommy John Surgery kept him on the sidelines last year.  Madson will begin this season on the Disabled List.

Many questions were answered... yet many questions still lie ahead of the franchise. The team has once again been touted as one of the favorites to make it to the Fall Classic, but, one of the greatest questions is how the rotation will work beyond ace Jered Weaver. CJ Wilson is coming off of elbow surgery, while Hanson will pitch in the AL for the first time, Vargas has yet to proven he can stay consistent, and Joe Blanton's struggles over the past years are not reassuring either. The bullpen seemed to be locked down, that is until news of Madson's delay of rehab told the team that the he would not be ready for opening day in April.

The Angels, though these questions and many more encircle the team, once again look to win the division title for the first time since 2009. With a lineup that features Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and while sometimes forgotten, the still prominent Mark Trumbo, the Angels will once again look to prove that they are the best team in baseball.
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