Los Angeles Angels Fact or Fiction: C.J. Wilson Will Be a Bust
There is no denying the fact that expectations for newly-acquired free agent Albert Pujols will be extremely high this upcoming season, but what about the expectations for their other free-agent pickup C.J. Wilson?
The former Texas Rangers ace was an active contributor in the team's success last season and was the team leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts. All that aside, there is always a significant risk factor associated with bringing in big name free agents to any team.
Wilson was a great pitcher with Texas, but can he avoid becoming a bust in Anaheim?
Fact: Wilson Will Have Help in the Rotation
The fact that the Angels already have three solid starters to go alongside Wilson is reassuring to Angels fans. Even if Wilson does turn out to be a bust, the team still has Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana to carry the workload.
Weaver is coming off a breakout season that almost won him the AL Cy Young award, while the combination of Haren and Santana continues to provide the Halos with quality starts.
Wilson won't be expected to be the ace in the rotation, but at the very least he should give the Angels a fourth starter. This should prove beneficial to Wilson, who won't feel the pressure of being a workhorse pitcher, and to the other three starters who will benefit from an extra day of rest.
Fiction: Wilson Will Get the Angels over the Hump
Pitching wasn't the problem for the Angels last season. The Angels ranked top ten in nearly every major pitching category.
Offense was the biggest letdown for the Halos, who ranked 17th in runs and 21st in on-base percentage. If the Angels do make it to the postseason in 2012, it won't be because of Wilson.
The Texas Rangers won the AL West with a collaborative effort from their pitching staff and their offense. Sluggers Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli carried the team offensively, while Wilson and the rest of the pitching staff kept the opposing team's run production low.
Getting over the hump into the postseason is going to have to come from the Angels offense and not Wilson. If the offense can't get it going next season and Anaheim fails to make the postseason once again, then both Pujols and Wilson become busts.
Fact: Wilson Will Have Help Defensively
Good defenses always make a pitcher look good as well. In Texas, Wilson had a great defense and one of the best infields in baseball.
The defense in Anaheim isn't that much different. In the outfield stands one of the best in Torii Hunter and the right side of the infield will be locked down with Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick. As long as Wilson can keep balls in the stadium, the defense should deliver.
The only problem defensively may come from the ballpark itself. Angel Stadium is much shallower than Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Therefore, it could prove to be a problem for a guy who gave up 16 home runs during the regular season and six home runs in the postseason.
Fiction: Wilson Will Be a Bigger Pickup Than Pujols
This may seem a little obvious, but it's worth noting.
Angels owner Arturo Moreno brought Pujols to LA for one reason and one reason only: to win. It was pretty clear the Angels wanted to win now when they signed the best player in baseball to a record deal this offseason. All eyes will be on Pujols to lead this team to a World Series, so it's safe to say Wilson won't be the bigger pickup down the line.
Wilson is a big-name free agent, but the signing of Pujols overshadows his arrival in Anaheim. Not being "the guy" in Anaheim might lead to a bust season for Wilson.
Fiction: C.J. Wilson Will Be a Bust
The final verdict: C.J. Wilson will not be a bust.
Wilson is in the prime of his career at 31 years old and is coming off two great seasons with the Rangers, where he gained a good chunk of postseason experience. Having Wilson as a fourth option in the rotation is like having Pujols and Prince Fielder on the same team in terms of effectiveness.
The Angels will contend for not just the AL West, but for the World Series in 2012. Having Wilson's experience will be a valuable asset to the Halos' already young pitching staff.