Pitchers and Catchers reported to camp yesterday, but all eyes will be focused on the offensive power of the 2013 LA Angels. Manager Mike Scioscia was awarded with yet another offensive weapon when they acquired Josh Hamilton from the Rangers.
The Angels, out of the playoffs for three years, will be a threat to Oakland repeating as AL West Champs. An 89-73 record saw them finish five games behind the Athletics. Hamilton will give them another lethal bat to add to Albert Pujols, and Mike Trout, the unanimous ‘rookie of the year’, and most talked about player in baseball. Jered Weaver, with 20 wins, including a “no hitter”, and acquiring Ryan Madson and Tommy Hanson should improve the pitching staff. Madson, recovering from “Tommy John” surgery, is expected to be available by mid-March.
Last year’s training camp went so well, the Angels expected to be a contender from day one. What is expected, does not always happen. Pujols went 27 games before hitting his first home run. Starting pitchers Santana and Haren had the worst season of their career, and are no longer part of the team, while the bullpen was ineffective. Madson will undoubtedly improve the latter.
With a disappointing start of 6-14 last season, the Angels are looking forward to a quick start in 2013.
The Angels have spent enough money to be optimistic about the upcoming season, but what about the future?
Thanks to the efforts of Scouting Director Eddie Bane, the Angels benefited by players such as Mike Trout, Jered Weaver, and Mark Trumbo. But now their farm system needs replenishing.
“We realize this is an area that requires improvement in both the short and long term,” Angels second-year general manager Jerry Dipoto wrote in an e-mail. “Scott Servais came on board to oversee both departments [scouting and player development] back in November of 2011, and in the 15 months since, we have restructured in a variety of areas including our player development, international and professional scouting departments, while also refining our amateur scouting process. We’ve seen a good deal of change from a leadership/management and process perspective and feel that we’re making great progress in all areas.”
The one area that needs no improvement is the defense. They were rated number 1 in the league. Detroit Manager, Jim Leyland said: “The best defensive team I’ve seen is the Angels. We couldn’t get a ground ball through the infield, couldn’t get a fly ball to fall in the grass and we had one taken away that was over the fence. How are you going to beat that?”
With the Rangers doing little to improve over the off season, the AL West should be a ‘two-team’ battle. Manager Mike Scioscia likes their chances. “Nobody has higher expectations, fans, media or anyone, than I personally do or our organization does for our team,” Scioscia said. “Our expectations have always been off the charts and at a very, very high level here for what we feel we can do. Even in our first year here we felt we had a championship caliber club. We didn’t get there, it took us awhile. But I think you have to carry that attitude forward.
“There’s no doubt high expectations are at times going to lead to frustrations and we were trying to swim through that at times last year but our ability as staff to get these guys to play the game free and to the level they can is critical when you have high expectations and hopefully we’re going to see it on a more consistent basis.”
Columnist-The Guardian Express