Article Written By: Manny Alcala
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2013 Record: 78-84 (3rd in AL West)
Key additions: David Freese, Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs, Raul Ibanez, Joe Smith, Mark Mulder.
Key losses: Mark Trumbo, Jason Vargas.
Most important players for 2014: Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, David Freese.
The Angels are coming off what can be considered another disappointing season in 2013. Josh Hamilton didn’t live up to his expectations after he signed as a free agent in last year’s off-season. He only went on to hit .250 and was criticized for swinging at bad pitches and showing no plate discipline. Albert Pujols also had a down year mostly due to injuries. He was either playing hurt, or not playing at all. Not only were these two star players substandard, but the starting pitching was also very upsetting.
The Halos have done a great job this off-season; they did lose some strong players in Mark Trumbo and Jason Vargas, but it appears that they filled major holes in their team. With newly acquired starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and a new third baseman the Angels have the hopes of bouncing back this season and have a stronger team.
The biggest trade made is by far the one that sent Trumbo to Arizona and brought back Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to Anaheim, both of which are still very young left handed starting pitchers, with plenty of potential. Santiago earned a very respectable 3.56 ERA for the last place White Sox last season, so his numbers should improve just by playing with a team that will be over the .500 percentage win mark. Skaggs is a different kind of case, his 5.12 ERA might look scary at first, but he only pitched 38.2 innings last season. Consistency will be a friend of Skaggs as he should be either a fourth or fifth starter in the rotation.
Then we have Mark Mulder, once a 21 game winner with the Oakland A’s, now attempting to make a comeback to the big leagues. We really won’t know what Mulder has left in him until we see him pitch, but the Angels must have seen something good to even convince them to give him a contract. It will be interesting to see how things will shape up especially if Mulder is good enough to make the team and join the rotation.
The third base position was a tough spot in the lineup for the Angels last season, so they went out and traded for David Freese. Even though Freese had a down year for his standards, he should serve as a solid option for the Angels. What the Angels would prefer, though, is to see that David Freese that helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the world series in 2012. Even if he’s not at that level, he will be a very solid player.
Mike Trout has taken over as the face of this franchise even with Pujols and Hamilton playing in the same team, but the reemergence of Pujols and Hamilton is what the Halos will need in order to fight for a playoff berth. Both Hamilton and Pujols seem motivated and healthy for this season and will look to be the players they were some seasons ago.
The Angels remain a mystery team to me. Will they have enough pitching? Will the team be able to bounce back? Can their bullpen be better than last season? At times I feel that the Angels have a team to compete for the division title, but having the A’s and the Rangers in the same division will not be beneficiary. Look for the Angels to hang around and try to snag one of the two wild card berths. For this to happen, though, the Angels can’t suffer any serious injuries to their big hitters and the starting pitching needs to be a lot better than what it was last season.