By Tamara Latta
It was a disappointing season for the Angels last year, after they failed to reach the postseason. They finished third place in the NL West with a record below .500, for the first time since 2003. This season they have high hopes of changing things around and becoming a threat in the AL West.
With money on the books to spend this past summer, the Angels weren’t holding back on going after free agents. Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre were on their radar, but they struck out on both players. After failing to tag home base on either player, they made a trade that sent Vernon Wells to Anaheim. Wells was just coming off of a wrist injury.
The Angels will need power this season. Last season, after Kendry Morales went down with a broken leg, the Angels started to unravel. He brought the thunder and lightning to the ball club. But the rock of the team will be Torii Hunter, one of the Angels’ most reliable players. Hunter is coming off a solid performance last year– his numbers were stable (.281, 23HR, 90 RBI). It’s good to have a 15-year vet in the locker room who’s beneficial to players on and off the field. Not to mention he has won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards. As of today, Hunter is batting .265.
Pitching is up in the air. They don’t have the best pitching rotation, but the lineup can get the job done. Weaver, Santana, and Haren will be the head leaders of the pitching staff. Haren came through to finish the season off last year with a very impressive 1.70 ERA. Weaver and Santana are also available and healthy. If the pitching cast can stay healthy and consistent, the Angels will compete at a high level this year.
The defending league champions, the Texas Rangers, will look to give the Angels a challenge this season, after dominating the AL West last year. But look for Anaheim to make noise in the pennant race. So far, the Angels have started off solid swinging their bats. The offense looks motivated and more aggressive at the plate. They have also put together a sensational foundation that revolves around defense and speed. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is very big on defense. He likes to shift his talent around and give guys a chance on the field. Not to mention Scioscia is one of the best managers in baseball who knows how to shift guys around to make his starting roster competitive. The Angels’ record is now 6–5, which is not poor but rather fair.
Before the game in the locker room, Howie Kendrick talked about how he felt about his team. “We got off to a slow start, but we are finding our rhythm now,” he said. “You know, every team has their ups and downs, and we learned a lot from our mistakes last year and are ready to correct them. I have a lot of confidence in our team this year. We are looking forward to compete and get back in the playoffs.”