Monday, February 27, 2012

Offseason Review: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Hometown Hero Jered Weaver
In terms of an immediate impact and difference making offseason, the Angels may have taken the cake. The addition of Pujols can't be denied, because adding the best first basemen of our generation is more often than not a good way to help your team win some games. The Angels roster is, top to bottom, pretty damn good. Since the addition of Pujols and CJ Wilson was pretty heavily publicized, I'm going to write about what could go wrong with their two major acquisitions, and some of their less obvious moves.

Jason Isringhausen had a pretty impressive bounce back year with the Mets last year, eventually becoming their closer after K-Rod was traded to the Crew. His numbers weren't absolutely mind blowing, but having a veteran presence around can provide a wealth of insight for young closer Jordan Walden. LaTroy Hawkins, also signed to the Halos out of free agency, will be another great veteran presence to help shape the teams young pitching staff.

Howie Kendrick was granted a four year $33.55MM contract extension after putting up a breakout 18 home run 2011 campaign. The deal buys out his last year of arbitration and first three years of free agency. Not only is this a good deal in the sense that it locks up a very good, still developing second basemen, but it also takes him off the market in a year where Brandon Phillips is going to be entering free agency.  If Kendrick keeps it up, this deal will be a bargain
Chris Ianetta will be joining Hank Conger behind the plate for Anaheim, coming to the team after being traded for Tyler Chatwood. This move isn't good because Ianetta is good, it's good because Jeff Mathis was totally awful last year. Ianetta isn't going to absolutely go off, but he'll provide the presence of a solid back up and put up numbers that will look like a light show in comparison to what they had in Mathis. Now the other stuff.
Now that the dawn of the Pujols era has begun in California, it's important to approach the monumental power surge with a degree of grace. Pujols may very well be the best first baseman of all time, and any dismissal of his skill is the dismissal of ones own credibility. That being said, King Albert is anything but invincible.

The gracefully aging slugger put up comparatively poor numbers for a player in a contract year, and still totally crushed the ball and helped win the World Series. The result was a ten year, perk loaded $240MM dollar contract. Now I'm not saying that this isn't going to help the Angels out tremendously, in fact I'm assuming it will win them more than one Series, but it definitely does not ensure a decade of absolute domination.

Pujols did exhibit some alarming trends that often indicate the telltale sign of a declining star. Most notably, his walk rate went down and his chase rate went up. He batted a line of .299/.366./541, which is monstrous compared to most players, but statistically speaking the worst of his career. It's difficult to assess what this could really indicate given that we're talking about a man who's already a first ballot hall of famer, but when you're talking about a 10 year investment, you have to be concerned.
This is real

I don't think there is a player in baseball who has more of a polarizing affect on me. On the one hand he's a closer turned effective starting pitcher. I appreciate his work ethic and athletic prowess when he's displaying it. When CJ Wilson is on, he's electric and has some of the most dominating stuff I've seen. When he's off he's Doug Davis bad.  And while he posted a not-bad-at-all regular season ERA of 2.94, he had a dismal postseason ERA of 5.79. Not exactly the performance you want to see out of the dude you're paying $77.5MM dollars to pitch your way in to the world series.

I'll also be blunt and say that I don't really appreciate sanctimonious straight edge rhetoric or pulpit behavior from the mouth of any athlete. CJ Wilson isn't too bad, and any mention of his lifestyle is usually instigated by the interviewer, but his Twitter is just a litany of irritating quips.

"Side note- even airport bacon is good bacon. #bacon"

"About to take my first drug test of the 2011 season… Straightedge peace of mind!"

It goes on on and on. Also that shirtless picture and those tattoos are across the board an assault on my senses.

I know he's a good pitcher and he'll definitely improve an already amazing rotation. I also know that the Angels paid an ace's salary to a player with only two years starting experience, and looks like a strong number two guy at best. None of that is Wilson's fault given the weak free agent market for pitching this offseason, but I could see it irking me as a fan once these two HEAVY HITTAZ start to age. 

Either way, the Angels did as good a job as you can do as a team that wants to contend immediately. Texas and Anaheim are going to be beating each other up the whole year. I'm not sure who's going to come out on top, but I am sure there are going to be a lot of empty seats in Oakland and Seattle.

No comments:

Post a Comment