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Offseason Swap Series: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

| On 19, Dec 2011

By Matthew Van Wormer

The Los Angeles Angels were one of the busiest teams during the annual Winter Meetings and took the baseball world by storm by adding two marquee names to their roster; Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.  They quickly became one of the team’s on DTTWLN? writer, Mike Brandyberry’s “Can’t Miss” list for the teams that come into town that you have to see live.  I hooked up with Garrett Wilson from Monkey With a Halo to ask him about the Angels in this edition of the Offseason Swap Series.

DTTWLN? 1 – The Angels were neck and neck with the eventual American League Champs right until the end of the season but ended up 10 games behind the Rangers, missing the post-season for the second straight year.  Were the Rangers just too much to keep that pace with for 162 games?

In the end, yeah, the Rangers were too good.  Almost any rational Angel fan was plenty aware that Texas had a more talented team last season.  The Angels lineup stunk and we all knew it.  Frankly, I consider last season a success by virtue of the fact that they were in the playoff hunt so late in the season as almost nobody expected them to be.

DTTWLN? 2 – The Angels were very, very busy during the 2011 Winter Meetings.  Let me split up the two big moves that the team made by first asking about C.J. Wilson.  What’s better?  Adding an arm like that to your rotation or taking him away from your biggest competitor?

Taking him away from Texas is overrated because it seems like the Rangers were more than ready to let him walk away the instant the season ended.  Rangers fans never seemed to totally buy into Wilson.  Part of that has his post-season failings, but I always thought his personality just didn’t rub Texans the right way.  In California though, he should fit right in.  In landing him, the Angels actually fill a pretty big need.  Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana were great, but the Angels have almost no pitching depth and would have been hard-pressed to fill two rotation spots with their internal candidates.  Plus, the one thing the Angel rotation has needed for a few years now is a quality southpaw to give opponents a different look on each time through the rotation.

DTTWLN? 3 – In addition to Wilson, adding Albert Pujols to the team instantly launched the Angels into “Can’t miss them when they’re in town” territory.  How exciting is it to have a player of Pujols’ caliber and character on your team?

I don’t think words can really express my excitement.  It still doesn’t seem real.  The Angels have had some good players, but this is the first time they have ever gone out and got a legit elite player while he is still in his prime.  More importantly, they finally went after a big name and didn’t finish second in the bidding.  There is no doubt now that Arte Moreno is finally going to put his money where his mouth is and do whatever it takes to get this team another World Series title.  As for Albert’s character, that is just a bonus.  I know Cards fans don’t think too highly of him right now, but him being such a great leader and teammate will only help, especially considering the kind of ego that kind of money can give someone.  At least we know he isn’t the kind of guy who is going to get full of himself and try and run the team himself or do something absurd and challenge Mike Scioscia.

DTTWLN? 4 – Do you think the Angels will have a the dreaded bullseye on their back every night now that they have acquired the talents of two big name stars?  

The Angels dread not the bullseye.  Really, up until this last season, the Angels have had a bullseye, granted a much smaller one, on their backs, especially in the AL West.  Yankee fans have always hated the Angels too because the Halos play them so tough.  And then last year, it felt to me like a lot of teams and fans were happy to kick the Angels while they were kind of down.  But now, the Halos are back and looking to get their revenge.  If anything, the bullseye is only going to embolden them.

DTTWLN? 5 – Obviously, in every team’s perfect world, they will win the World Series in 2012.  Do you think that will be a reality for the Angels or are they missing a couple pieces still?

They are most definitely amongst the favorites to win the World Series, but it is hardly a lock.  In fact, they still may not win the division.  The Rangers are deep and talented and will be a force to be reckoned with even if they don’t add Prince Fielder or Yu Darvish.  The thing for the Halos is that Pujols doesn’t make their lineup great, he merely takes it from below average to above average, and that might even be an overstatement.  The rotation is going to be great, the defense is terrific, but the lineup will probably be inconsistent once again, especially if Kendrys Morales doesn’t come back.  The Angels could also probably use a little more bullpen help since that was their under-appreciated Achilles’ heel last season.  No knock on LaTroy Hawkins, but he isn’t the answer.  With all that said, what I like about this Angel team above all other AL teams is that their deep rotation makes them perfectly built for the post-season, unlike the Yankees and Red Sox with their shaky rotations.

 

I, for one, know that I will definitely try to catch the Angels every time they visit Progressive Field in 2012 and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the Angels’ division deals with the new look that they bring between the lines each night.  It will also be fun to see if the Angels can come together as a team and if Albert Pujols will fulfill his end of the bargain for the next few years as he begins the latter part of his career.  The best thing for the Angels is that they will be able to keep Pujols fresh by putting him in the DH spot.  Watch out for the Angels this year.  Despite their name, they will definitely be hell to deal with on the diamond.

Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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