Friday, July 19, 2013

By Christian Ilten, Contributor - 

44 wins, 49 losses; 93 games down, 69 games to go. The situation that is presented before the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting the "second half" of the season is the exact opposite of favorable. On April first of this year, the Angels began what looked to be one of their most promising seasons in a while. After the disappointment that came out of finishing in third place in 2012, the Angels stole the star of the Lone Star State when they acquired OF Josh Hamilton via free agency, and all the buzz was Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, an All-Star lineup also featuring the likes of Mark Trumbo, and a better Howie Kendrick.

And then the season started. A rough start, not a problem, the team will brush the dirt off and get back to it the next day, and they would start a nice winning streak, and everything would be fine. Surely the Angels wouldn't be battling Houston for fourth place for long, they would bounce back sooner or later... or so fans thought. Injuries have ravaged the team, from Jered Weaver to Peter Bourjos, and many in between, although there was great play from a certain star named Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton found a hitting streak and rode it for a while, the Angels found themselves being swept out of Seattle and into the All Star Break with a record of 44 wins and 49 losses. Meanwhile, that team that looked to have 5 All Stars or maybe even more than that sent only 1 All Star (Trout) for the first time since Vladamir Guerrero was the only representative in Pittsburgh when the Pirates hosted the 77th Midsummer Classic.

For Angels fans, it appears to be a long road ahead for the 2013 squad, as it seems like it will be a season starting on the first day of the second half. Being under .500 at the All-Star Break for the first time since 2006 (43-45 at Break), the Angels will need a severe out burst and a nice string of wins put together if they want to be looking positive when the trade deadline arrives. Jerry Dipoto, General Manager of the Angels, came out with a statement a few weeks ago that said, "We're not buyers. We're not sellers. We're the Angels," and while this sounds like a great quote from someone assuring fans that the organization is not writing off the season yet, the looming deadline may change things. 

The way that it appears, if the Angels do very well in the next 2 weeks, they may be buyers. On the other side of the spectrum, if they come out of the All Star Break the same way they came out of the gates in April, there might be changes. 

If the Angels do not perform up to what is needed, you may see the New York Yankees make a bid for one of the Angels, that being 2B Howie Kendrick. With Robinson Cano's contract coming to an end after 2013, and the need for a decrease in payroll seems needed for the Bronx Bombers, Howie Kendrick would be possibly the perfect fit for New York. 

Alberto Callaspo may be a great piece for another team as well, because of his consistency. Originally a middle infielder, the 30 year old veteran may be a great addition to any infield. 

Ermesto Frieri may also be seen as a great addition to teams as well. After being traded from San Diego to the Angels for Alexi Amarista, everyone started to notice the 28 year old relief pitcher from Columbia. Even more attractive, the below $500,000 salary that Frieri receives every year. Bullpens looking for an arm could use someone like Ernesto Frieri. 

Now, don't read this incorrectly, as it does not seem like a Miami Marlins styled Fire Sale is in the future for the Angels. These, however, like many others, are options that other teams may see in some of the Angels moving forward.  

The Angels start a second half against hosting the division leading Oakland Athletics in a series that could be crucial for the team. Being 11 games out of first place, a 3 game sweep of the A's, or even 2 out of 3, could give the Angels the boost they need to come out firing.  Following the 3 game set, they will then host 3 against the Minnesota Twins, fly to Oakland for a 4 game series, and then travel to Arlington for 3, with the third game being on the day of the deadline. 

By all means, this season is nowhere near over for the Angels, and it is actually very possible, although many fans be jumping ship, for the Angels to get right back into the hunt and possibly end up on top of the AL West or finding themselves with a Wild Card spot. The Angels second half can be very promising if the return of Jason Vargas and Peter Bourjos can add to more success. 

The "Second Half" starts now. In the words of broadcaster Victor Rojas, the Angels need to "Light that Baby Up!" Starting it off on the right foot could put them in the playoff conversation. 
Love to hear what you think!

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