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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Wild on Sports
MLB 2013 Team Preview: Los Angeles Angels
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2012 Record:

The Angels were a high-profile disappointment as the “real” Albert Pujols didn’t show up until May and the back end of their starting rotation didn’t deliver as promised.

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Josh Hamilton, Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton
NOTABLE LOSSES: Dan Haren, Torii Hunter, Ervin Santana, Kendry Morales

Keys to Success: Can Albert Pujols hold off further decline? His last two years, while still strong, have been well below his previous historic batting lines. Can Peter Bourjos recover from a lost 2012 to be a solid regular again? Who will replace Tommy Hanson in the rotation when his arm falls off in May? The Angels need several relievers to step up and succeed behind closer Ernesto Frieri. The Angels must also bite the bullet and admit that Vernon Wells is just a grossly overpaid bench player at best. He deserves 150 odd at-bats against left-handed pitching, but nothing more.

Prospect Watch:
 Prospect Key
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool
Plate Discipline

Cowart, 21, is the only significant position player prospect in the Angels’ system right now. Cowart hit .276/.358/452 with 16 HR and 103 RBI in 135 games between low-A Cedar Rapids and high-A Inland Empire, without a significant drop off between the two levels (although Inland Empire is a hitters’ haven). His 67 walks and 111 strikeouts are fine, and he looks right now like a future power-hitting third baseman. He’s still a ways away, however.
NICK MARONDE, LHP (rookie watch):
Second Stuff

22-year-old Maronde blew through the minors this year. He started out in high-A Inland Empire, a difficult place to pitch, with a 1.82 ERA in ten starts and a K/BB ratio over 4 before moving up to AA and eventually the major leagues. Overall in the minors he went 6-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 18 starts, with 90 K and just 19 BB in 99.2 innings. He threw some innings with Los Angeles in September as a short reliever to get left-handed hitters out. In 12 games he pitched 6 innings, allowing just 1 ER and striking out seven. He could start 2013 in the bullpen, or as a swingman. If the Angels are still interested in him as a starter, they could send him back to AAA to begin the season.
Top 2012 Draft Pick: (3rd round) RJ Alvarez, RHP
Sleeper MLB Contributor: KOLE CALHOUN, OF, has hit well in the minors…but in great hitting environments. He could probably do better right now as a fourth outfielder than Vernon Wells.
2013 Outlook and Projection: Overpaying for Josh Hamilton, and taking him away from a division rival in the process, makes the Angels’ winter a superficial success. In reality, their overhaul of the rotation leaves them just as open to fielding a frontloaded pitching staff. A pitcher like Tommy Hanson was only available in the first place because his elbow foretold imminent collapse. There is also the chance that Albert Pujols continues to decline, or a fluke injury leaves them with poor production anywhere in their thin lineup. Still, it is easy to underestimate a top-heavy team like the Angels, as they still possess an enviable quantity of high-end talent, and no serious holes on paper to start the season. Mike Trout established himself as the best player in baseball last year, and his presence alone adds 5-7 wins over even an average center-fielder. For now, Arte Moreno’s expensive tastes result in...

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