Thursday, March 16, 2017

Los Angeles Angels 2017 season preview

   With a record of 74-88, the Los Angeles Angels finished 4th in the AL West, 21 GB of the first place Texas Rangers. CF Mike Trout won the MVP again. But the rest of the squad dropped off. GM Billy Eppler looked to have a big offseason. Let's look at what Eppler did.

         Key additions: OFs Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, 2Bs Danny Espinosa, Dustin Ackley, 3B Luis Valbuena, C Martin Maldonado, SPs Bud Norris, Vicente Campos, Manny Banuelos, John Lamb, RPs Jesse Chavez, Kirby Yates, Blake Parker, Yusmeiro Petit.
         Key subtractions: 2B Johnny Giavotella, SP Jered Weaver, RPs Jhoulys Chacin, Cory Rasmus, Brett Oberholtzer, C Jett Bandy, 2B Gregorio Petit, OF Rafael Ortega, C Geovany Soto, 1B Ji-Man Choi.

         Biggest move: Despite making many moves, the Angels didn't do anything major. Their biggest move was also one of their firsts, acquiring OF Cameron Maybin from the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitcher Victor Alcantara. Maybin looks to be the Angels' starting LF, but it still doesn't make this trade anywhere near a blockbuster.
         X-factor: SP Garrett Richards had an ERA of 2.34 in 2016, but only pitched 34.2 innings. The Angels rotation looks a little weak, compared to other rotations. Richards will be their ace in 2017, but they'll need him to recover well from the injury.
         Biggest bounce back: Ricky Nolasco had a 5.13 ERA in 124.2 IP for the Minnesota Twins in 2016. A midseason trade to the Angels changed things. Nolasco had an ERA of 3.21 in 73 IP, finishing with a 4.42 ERA in 197.2 IP. But in both 2015 and 2014 he had ERAs over 5 and 6. A solid 2017 can show that he's really turned around.
         Biggest breakout: When you back up Jonathan Lucroy, it's hard to get playing time. That's what happened to C Martin Maldonado in Milwaukee. Lucroy was traded to Texas, but Maldonado didn't really shine. They traded him to the Angels for C Jett Bandy. 30 is a little old to breakout, but Maldonado can do it with a starting job.
         Guaranteed star: He's the face of the MLB. In his AL MVP winning 2016 season, he stole 30 bases, along with 29 HRs and exactly 100 RBIs. He also hit .315. Yep, you guessed it. I'm talking about CF Mike Trout. Here's some career numbers: 168 HRs, 497 RBIs, 143 SBs, and a .306 average. Did I mention he's only 25 years old?
         The Angels' starting lineup should look like this.

1. RF: Kole Calhoun
2. CF: Mike Trout
3. DH: Albert Pujols
4. 1B: C.J. Cron
5. 3B: Yunel Escobar
6. SS: Andrelton Simmons
7. LF: Cameron Maybin
8. 2B: Danny Espinosa
9. C: Martin Maldonado
            Their rotation will probably be this.

1. Garrett Richards
2. Matt Shoemaker
3. Andrew Heaney
4. Tyler Skaggs
5. Ricky Nolasco

             C Carlos Perez, 3B Luis Valbuena and CF Ben Revere will be on the bench.
             Huston Street will be their closer, with Mike Morin and Jesse Chavez setting him up.
             Finally, for my prediction, I think the Angels will once again be a bottom team, and sell some players at the trade deadline (no, not Trout).

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