Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Offseason Review: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Does having Josh Hamilton make the Angels the most
intimidating team in baseball right now?
After last years crazy spending spree and late season acquisition of 2009 Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke didn't yield even a playoff berth, the Angels decided that the best course of action was not to switch gears, but to pile it on.  On December 13th the Angels came out of nowhere to sign Josh Hamilton to a 5-year $125MM deal.  This move effectively makes Los Angeles not only easily the most potent offensive team in their division, but arguably in baseball, behind perhaps the Detroit Tigers.  It also takes Josh Hamilton out of the lineup for the division rival Texas Rangers and reunites him with former Ranger C.J. Wilson, who lives a sober lifestyle, which gives Hamilton some of the company and support he needs to succeed. The move to sign Hamilton doesn't insure the Angels for anything, however.  While Hamilton has proven year in and year out that his presence at the plate is nothing to be trifled with, he has also proven to be less than durable. Looking at his last four seasons could give an Angels fan something to be worried about.

Games Played
2012: 148
2011: 121
2010: 133
2009: 89

Add five years on to that logic and you can consider any investment a gamble, let alone a $125MM one.  Still, assuming Hamilton will be mostly healthy and putting him in the same lineup as Albert Pujols and phenom Mike Trout is going to be terrifying for anyone who has the misfortune of pitching to them.

Joe Blanton takes his talents to Angel Stadium in 2013
Hamilton wasn't the only move by the Angels this offseason.  After letting Dan Haren walk (which, in my opinion was a dumb move) and trading Ervin Santana to the Royals, the Angels needed to revamp their rotation. They traded good young closer Jordan Walden to the Braves for righty Tommy Hanson. Not needing anyone else to DH or play first, the Angels traded Kendrys Morales to the Mariners for southpaw Jason Vargas on December 19th. Also added by way of free agency is veteran righty Joe Blanton who figures to be the four or five guy depending on where Vargas slots in.  The bullpen also got a huge boost with the additions of LHP Sean Burnett and righty Ryan Madson, who missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, but was lights out as a closer for the Phillies in 2011.

All these moves combined make the Angels almost look like a "new look" team, and if everything flows together they have the possibility to win it all.  That being said, it's important to be critical and look at their faults.  Other than Jered Weaver they don't have any bonafide, game-changing pitching. Players like Vargas and Blanton have a strong history of being durable workhorses, but they also both host career ERA's above four.  The offense obviously has the ability to carry with it crushing potency; but it's important for the Angels to remember the age, injury and ego have derailed teams in the past.  If everyone can stay healthy, humble and focused the Angels are a sure-shot for the playoffs. That being said, if big heads and old bodies get in the way manager Mike Scioscia will be looking for a job.


  1. I remain amazed that teams shell out $20 million deals to guys hitting their 30s. Can you name one that panned out? Maybe a good year or three, but it always tails off. Who insures these deals anyway?

  2. It's pretty absurd. What sucks for Angels fans is that by the time these contracts start peaking, Trout's going to hit free agency. They aren't going to be able to afford him AND all these other guys.

  3. They should sign trout now, they might actually save money that way rather than letting his salary go up through arbitration (but that's a big maybe). I do predict trout to be more like Trumbo now that they have similar body types, which is really funny to me. Getting snuffed out of an MVP really changes players for the worse, it seems.

    This team is kooky now - weight loss and weight gain regimens for two hitters who weren't in need of dramatic makeovers... They did get Jason Vargas for a very fair price, but we all know they needed another true impact starter (and greinke doesn't quite belong in that group anymore, at least when he's playing in a hitter's park).

    I like the question you guys ask about blowing the bank on one player. I pretty much disagree with it. There is probably an effect that comes with huge contracts that I will soon research which regards performance dropoff after players sign $20 million/year multi-year contracts. I was not a huge fan of the Felix contract and I am even less a fan of he Hamilton signing. $20 million can be allocated in SO MANY FLABBERGASTING WAYS than paying for roughly 20 less runs surrendered by one starter! Anaheim's bullpen is questionable, (as is their bench) and their minor league system is pretty laughable after dealing for less than half a season of zach greinke.

    I expect it to go ANA TEX OAK SEA HOU, but it will be a fight to the death once again between those top 3. Who knows, even I underestimate the A's at times.