Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Los Angeles Angels Ready For 2014 Season

Los Angeles Angels Tickets

Angels 2014

It’s been a disappointing couple of years for the Los Angeles Angels. After a ten-year stretch that saw them average ninety wins a season the Angels have suffered through back-to-back difficult seasons. In 2013, after entering the season as division favorites, the Angels struggled most of the season before a late run gave them a respectable record. While the Angels have struggled the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers have competed for top spot in the division. In the past two winters the Angels have opted for big free agent signings like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, spending over $400 million combined on the two players who both had difficult seasons in 2013. This past winter Los Angeles went in a different direction, making less high profile moves designed to build the overall talent level and depth of the club, especially the pitching staff. With several good offseason moves and health from Albert Pujols expectations are up again in Anaheim.

Here’s why the Angels will make the playoffs in 2014:

Trout and Calhoun: During his first two major league seasons Mike Trout has produced numbers that rival Hall of Famers such as Willie Mays. The twenty-two year-old sensation is the best overall player in the game at an age that many top level talents are still playing double AA ball. He’s a once in a generation talent who’ll now occupy centerfield after the Peter Bourjos trade. Joining Trout in the outfield is the talented Kole Calhoun. With Bourjos in St. Louis the 26-year-old Calhoun will have an everyday role and look for the lefthander to put together a solid season. He put together solid numbers in 222 plate appearances last season, a performance that should continue since the young outfielder has produced at every level he’s played at.

A Healthy Pujols: Albert Pujols tried to gut it out and play with severe pain from Plantar Fasciitis last season, but the severe pain greatly limited the former five-time MVP and eventually ended his season. His inability to run and play the field greatly impacted his performance and impact on the team. After season ending surgery Pujols looks healthy this spring and should have a big season. If Pujols can rebound with a big season the Angels offense will be extremely dangerous.

Offseason Trades: The Angels used two big assets, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, to acquire help and fill a couple of glaring needs, third base and the pitching staff. The Angels acquired third baseman David Freese and pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago and Fernando Salas in the Bourjos/Trumbo deals. While Freese, a former World Series MVP struggled last season, he’s a big improvement over what the Angels trotted out at third last season. Skaggs and Santiago are talented young starters that will give the Angels two very good arms behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. In 23 starts for the White Sox last season Santiago had an excellent 3.56 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 149 innings pitched. The 6’5” Skaggs, a native of Santa Monica, is one of the top young lefthanders in the game. Although they are young both players give the Angels and upgrade n the starting pitching department. Salas is a dependable reliever who saved 24 games for the Cardinals in 2011. He’ll join another former Cardinals reliever, Joe Smith, in a revamped bullpen.

Even with the offseason moves the Angels still enter the season with a few question marks. Behind the top five starters there is very little rotation depth, so an injury to a starting pitcher or some tough outings from Skaggs and Santiago could force the Angels to rely on a player like Joe Blanton in the lineup. Offensively the big question mark will continue to be what type of production the Angels can get from Josh Hamilton. The former Ranger had a brutal first half and a somewhat better second half last season, but still well below his career standards. If Hamilton continues to struggle the Angels may miss the big bat of Mark Trumbo in the lineup. Additionally although the acquisitions of Smith and Salas will help the bullpen the Angels relief crew hasn’t been the same since Bud Black left to manage the Padres several seasons ago. They have the depth and several good arms in the pen. If they can find consistency and closer Ernesto Frieri can avoid his bouts of wildness the Angels bullpen should be in good shape.

PECOTA, the advanced statistical system invented by Nate Silver for Baseball Prospectus projects the Angels to be a playoff team in 2014. PECOTA projects a wild card finish for the Angels based on having the second ranked offense in the American League for 2014, based on improved seasons from David Freese, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

The Angels Start off the 2014 Season on March 31 against the Seattle Mariners. Opening Day Angels Tickets run from $55 to $355 per seat. Of course the biggest series for the Angels this season is going to the the Yankees who will be on the Derek Jeter fair well tour. The first meet up is May 5th – 7th at Angels Stadium. Angels Vs Yankees Tickets from from $95 to $300 per ticket for right behind the dugout seats. By: Chris Cabrera

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Can The Angels Turn Things Around In 2014

Angels Stadium

Angeles Stadium

After an up and down regular season that started with high expectations the Los Angeles Angels head into the 2014 with a surprising amount of optimism. A solid late season run combined with a solid finish by Josh Hamilton, not to mention the incredible play of Mike Trout, gave the team some momentum as the season ended. The Angels made some interesting moves in the offseason that could very well inject some new life into the roster. The health of Albert Pujols is another factor that could help propel the Angels to a turnaround. The Angels 2014 Home Opener is March 31st against the Mariners and tickets for the Angels Opening Day are on sale now.

Here’s a look at five big questions facing the Angels as they head into the 2014 season:
Will the St. Louis Albert Pujols make an appearance? The Angels paid massive money for Pujols before the 2012 season and haven’t got the return they expected. In 2012 Pujols started slow but rebounded to have a good season, but one lacking next to his lofty career standards. Last season Pujols suffered from plantar fasciitis all season and batted just .258 in 99 games with reduced power. The Angels still owe Pujols $189 million over the next seven seasons and need production from their slugger. If the future Hall of Famer can come close to his St. Louis Cardinals form the Angels may have the most formidable lineup in baseball.

Josh Hamilton

Hamilton

Same with Josh Hamilton: The uncertainty that surrounds Pujols is magnified with Josh Hamilton. The former Rangers and Reds slugger is a prime example of the potential risks inherent in massive multi-year guaranteed free agent contracts. Hamilton hit just .250 last season with 21 home runs, numbers that pale in comparison to his peak years in Texas. Perhaps even more concerning is his penchant for strikeouts. After striking out fewer than 100 times for three consecutive seasons Hamilton has averaged 160 strikeouts per season for the past two years. The Angels still owe Hamilton over $100 million over the next four seasons, so like Pujols, they need production from their other big money player. A lack of offense from Hamilton and/or Pujols limits the team’s ability to make additional moves to bolster the roster.

Did they upgrade their pitching? The Angels starting rotation and bullpen struggled last season. The starters had a penchant for not getting deep enough into games, while the bullpen struggled due to potential overuse. Los Angeles made a couple of moves to improve their rotation, acquiring Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago that has the potential to improve the depth and quality of their starters. Both starters were acquired in the three-team trade that saw the Angels send Mark Trumbo to the White Sox. Skaggs, who the Angels originally drafted in 2009 before trading him for Dan Haren, is one of the better young lefthanders in the game. The twenty-five year-old Santiago put up solid secondary numbers with the White Sox last season. He’s a potential number two starter who averaged nearly a strikeout per inning last season. Skaggs and Santiago, combined with a healthy Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson give the Angels a deeper pool of starting pitching talent.

Is David Freese an upgrade over Alberto Callaspo? The Angels rolled the dice, sending talented outfielder Peter Bourjas to the Cardinals, along with Randal Grichuk, for Freese and Fernando Salas. The former World Series hero hit just .262 with nine home runs last season, a steep drop-off from the previous season. His defensive numbers also suffered from a year before. Like Hamilton a productive Freese could help propel the Angels lineup to new heights. The big question is what version of David Freese the Angels are receiving.

American League West

AL West

A tough division may have gotten tougher: The AL West is suddenly one of the top divisions in all of baseball. The Oakland Athletics, two time defending division champions, should be as competitive as ever while the Texas Rangers look to rebound from a disappointing end to last season. The Rangers upgraded their lineup with the acquisition of Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers and Sin Shoo Choo from the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile the Seattle Mariners made a big splash in signing Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees and Corey Hart from the Milwaukee Brewers. Both the Mariners and Rangers could very well get in on the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes as well. There’s no question that the AL West will be even more improved next season, putting additional pressure on Pujols, Hamilton and the Angels to perform up to expectations.

Look for the Angels to potentially make a couple of additional moves before they report to spring training in late February. Even with the presence of Skaggs and Santiago the club may look to bolster their young rotation with one or two of the quality starters still available, like a Matt Garza or Bronson Arroyo. By: Chris Cabrera

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Look at the 2013 Los Angeles Angels

LA Angels Tickets

Los Angeles Angels Tickets

With another big offseason splash in Anaheim and the mega-moves made in Chavez Ravine, Southern California just may be the new center of the baseball universe. The baseball arms race has left the Northeast and shifted west. A year removed from the massive Albert Pujols contract the Angels surprised many by doling out another massive contract, this time to the mega-talented but sometime troubled Josh Hamilton. By replacing Torii Hunter with Hamilton the Angels have gotten younger and scarier from an opposing pitcher perspective, with an outfield that now boasts two of the most naturally gifted players in the last twenty years in Mike Trout and Hamilton.

The move to sign Hamilton was coupled with the cost cutting dumping of Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Hunter. It’s no question the Angels have gotten flashier, but have they gotten better? Here’s a rundown with some analysis of their offseason moves.

Josh Hamilton: There’s no question that if Josh Hamilton is healthy the Angels probably boast three of the top ten hitters in the game. From an outsiders perspective the gut reaction to the deal is that the Angels clearly upgraded over Torii Hunter. Although they clearly got younger, the performance of Hamilton from an advanced metrics perspective was comparable to Hunter’s performance last year. As David Schoenfeld at ESPN has pointed out via Baseball-Reference Hunter actually had a higher Wins Above Replacement (5.5) than Hamilton (3.4) last year. Hamilton clearly outpaced Hunter from a traditional baseball statistical perspective (HR’s, RBI’s, etc) but did so with a higher number of plate appearances and in a much more hitter friendly ballpark. Of course Hunter is an aging player and likely would not have repeated his performance of the previous year. Hamilton should also benefit from the presence of Albert Pujols in the lineup. Of course signing Josh Hamilton to such a big and lengthy contract is not without risk. Although he’s performed pretty consistently in Texas there is the always present risk of addiction, as well as a history of nagging injuries. From a win-now perspective it’s probably a good move.

Questionable back-end of the rotation: The Angels went after Zack Grienke but lost out to the cross-town Dodgers. Instead of using the Grienke money on pitching they used in on Hamilton. This combined with Dan Haren now being in a Nationals uniform has left some question marks in the rotation. Haren clearly regressed last year and it was probably wise to move him based on the sheer number of innings he’s pitched over the past decade. With Haren out as well as rotation fixture Ervin Santana the Angels rotation will have a different look. The big question is who’s the number three behind established aces Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson? They went out and added Joe Blanton and Tommy Hansen who both had ERA’s in the high fours in the National League. It’s questionable how those moves will transfer to the AL. Blanton is an innings eater but in most rotations is typically your fourth or fifth starter. Hansen has respectable career numbers but has a history of injuries. The bottom of the Angels rotation is a big question mark.

The Lineup: The starting pitching question marks may not be that important since the lineup is going to be ridiculous. What can you say about Mike Trout that hasn’t been already said, other than the fact he had one of the greatest seasons in baseball history as a rookie. The projected top six of Trout, Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Trumbo and Kendrick may be the top lineup in baseball. It’s difficult to find any weak spots and its likely Trumbo surpasses power numbers from last season.

Burnett and Madson: A traditional strength under Mike Scioscia the bullpen was a bit of a disaster last season and clearly in need of an upgrade. In Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson the Angels made a couple of nice moves, especially with the pickup of the underrated Burnett. Over the past few years in Pittsburgh and Washington Burnett has quietly been one of the more effective left set up men in the National League, pitching a solid number of innings with an ERA under three. Just thirty he’s still in his prime and the Angels were able to get him at a premium, just 8 million over 2 years. Even though Madson is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be ready for opening day, he’s a compelling pickup who could provide some depth at the back of the pen. Madson and Burnett should provide depth, but there are still some question marks with closer Ernesto Frieri. Last season was a tale of two halves for Frieri, with his numbers regressing after the all-star break, contributing to the Angels total of 23 blown saves last season which tied Boston for first in the AL.

It’s hard to get a feel on what these moves will mean in the end. Although Hamilton brings a big bat to the lineup they signed him in lieu of going after pitching. With Haren gone and Grienke with the Dodgers the starting rotation really has some question marks. The bullpen has added depth and Frieri is a year older. Will the Angels simply outscore teams? With one of the best managers in the game they’re always going to be a contender, but it’s hard to see the Angels running away with things in a pretty competitive division. .

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Mike Trout looking to lead Angels to Playoff Berth

Angels Stadium

Angeles Stadium

July has been a great month for the twenty year old Mike Trout, he’s hitting .419 with seven homers, 14 rbi’s, and eight stolen bases. While the Angels are just 8-8 in July theyre showing improvements and are now just five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and are currently leading the Wild Card race at 51-43. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have won 36 of their last 58 games after just starting out 15-21, and Mike Trouts’ call up has been a big part of the turnaround.

The twenty year old Trout is currently leading the American League with a .354 average, although he was just called up on April 28th he is running away with Rookie of the Year honors and his name has come up when talking about possible MVP candidates. Since coming on the scene he has bashed 15 homers, and has 46 rbi’s in just 72 games this season. With the Texas Rangers struggling as of late the Angels have been able to make up some ground and are in position to make a run in the second half. With the surge of his supporting cast, including marked improvements from Albert Pujols in the last couple months and Mark Trumbo bing an unexpected power source, they have what it takes to possibly take the division from the back to back AL pennant winners. Trumbo is hitting .307 with 66 rbi’s and 27 homers this season, good for the third most long balls in the majors trailing only Adam Dunn and Josh Hamilton. Pujols has turned around his season after his worst start of his career, bringing his avg up to .281 as of late, his power has returned as well, 3three in the last week and 17 on the year. Things are looking u for this offense, as all three of their major guys are hitting on all cylinders.

While the Angels are averaging over six runs a game over their last six games the pitching is beginning to come together as well. Jered Weaver is having another great year, posting a 12-1 record and a 2.20 ERA, which is good for second in the American League behind the White Sox Chris Sale’s 2.11 ERA. One of the favorites to win the AL Cy Young no doubt. They have found a solid closer in Ernesto Frieri, who has been lights out since earning the spot as closer. He has converted all eleven of his save opportunities to this point and is posting a 1.38 ERA to date, with 65 strikeouts in just 39 innings. Sometimes in sports the best team does not win, but merely the one playing the best at the time that it matters the most, the Angels appear to be peaking at the right time as we head down the stretch. Things are starting to come together and with twelve games remaining in the Angels Schedule against the division leading Texas Rangers the Angels will have ample chances to prove they’re the best team in the AL West.

Angeles the team to see in LA?

Los Angeles Angeles

Los Angeles Angeles

With new ownership, the Cy Young award winner and the best record in baseball, the Dodgers seem to be the talk of the town. But what about that other LA team? The Angels seem somewhat to be flying under the radar, especially considering their tremendous recent success. With the signing of future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson in the off-season came expectations for this club probably bigger than ever before in the franchise’s history. When they failed to immediately deliver, beginning the season with just a 6-14 record, the hype quickly dwindled.

But following their slow start, the Halos have gone 27-16, including an eight game win streak at the end of May. Lately they’ve been firing on all cylinders and have become one of the most exciting clubs to watch in the league. After his very slow start, keeping right around the Mendoza line in the month of April, Pujols is back to his normal, machine-like self. During a 19-game stretch in May he raised his average from .211 to .260, with six bombs and 19 RBIs. He has also drove in 33 runs in 29 games for the month. Having your $240 million player in the middle of the lineup swinging it like he should, as well as the team’s pitching staff doing its job from top to bottom, is certainly key factor to the team’s recent triumphs. However, the biggest contributor to their success: a 20 year old kid.

Since being called up in late April, Mike Trout is hitting .354 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases. No coincidence that since his callup, the Angels have just found ways to win. The leadoff man and defensive captain in center field has not missed a start since being placed on the roster. Many “lifers” who have been around the sport for a long time see Trout run and say he could be the fastest down the line baseball has ever seen. His tremendous speed makes him a nightmare for defenses when he gets on base. His outstanding play has made him the leading candidate (by far) for AL Rookie of the year and even brought about some discussion of the MVP award for the 20 year old. Sparked by Trout’s incredible skills, aggression and enthusiasm for the game, the Angels have become the team to see in Los Angeles.

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Los Angeles Angels = Offseason Noise

The Clippers were not the only team in Los Angeles to land major acquisitions over the offseason.   Similar to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made major offseason noise.    The only difference is that they did not have to use any trade bait to land their big catches.

For months, the race for Albert Pujols was a two-team race between the St Louis Cardinals and the rags-to riches Miami Marlins.   Having locked in Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell, the Marlins would arguably have had the greatest offseason in the history of sports if they landed Pujols.   However, the Marlins were not willing to give Pujols a no-trade clause, an obvious dealbreaker for the Pujols camp.    One cannot blame the Cardinals for being unwilling to hamper their payroll on one man after an incredible World Series run.   With or without Pujols, they have a solid team and could utilize that free cap space to shore up any weak points.

Like a thief in the night, the Angels snatched Albert Pujols via a 10 year, 254 million dollar contract with a much desired no-trade clause.     And the shopping spree wasn’t over yet.    Later on in the day, the Angels snatched Rangers ace C.J Wilson with a 5 year, 77.5 million contract.

Without a doubt, Dec 8th 2011 had to be one of the five greatest days in the history of the Angels.  It was as if actor Christopher Lloyd resumed his role in the Disney film “Angels in the Outfield”.      It’s not every day that a franchise makes a big splash with a potential Hall of Fame slugger (Please don’t let it come out that he did roids!) and a pitching ace.     All of this was accomplished by GM Jerry Dipoto.  In less than 3 months, he’s accomplished more than many GMs in other sports:   Isiah Thomas as the Knicks GM, Matt Millen as Detroit Lions GM:  Kevin McHale as Timberwolves GM.

He’s managed to lock up All-Star 2B Howie Kendrick for the next four years and avoided arbitration with Erik Bybar 3 days ago.

The Angels have a starting rotation that includes:  CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Jared Weaver.    Not too shabby.   However, it’s not always how you start; it’s how you finish games.   Finishing games was a major issue for the Angels last year.   As it stands, the bullpen is a major question mark.   Besides the signing of veteran relief pitcher Latroy Hawkins, little has been done to address that question mark into a clear answer.    The Angels blew more saves than any other teamin the MLB last year.  Jordan Walden was Mr. Unreliable.     One has to ponder whether the Angels made a significant boo-boo by not investing in the bullpen enough over this offseason.   With all the moves made, it’s not like they can do much about it now.    They will have to revisit this issue at the July trade deadline.

Overall, they’ve landed one of the greatest hitters of our time.  A man who may be headed right for Barry Bond’s all time-HR record.    Conventional wisdom may see a 10 year contract with a no-trade clause for a 32 year old slugger as risky, but Albert Pujols has been in Beast mode ever since he’s entered the league and shows no signs of slowing down.   Now that he’s in the AL, he will certainly become a DH in the very near future in spite of the fact that he fields his position well.

A stellar offseason has put the Angels as a contender for the 2012 season.

Look out, Texas Rangers.