Why the Los Angeles Angels May Need Deadline Deal to Reach World Series

Jason ClarkCorrespondent IIMarch 28, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto speaks at a public press conference introducing newly signed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  players Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson at Angel Stadium on December 10, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels just had arguably the biggest offseason in franchise history, but they may need to make more moves before the trade deadline to reach the World Series.

In recent history, blockbuster deadline deals have greatly affected playoff races.

Cliff Lee helped the Texas Rangers to an American League pennant in 2010 and Manny Ramirez carried the Los Angeles Dodgers through the Wild Card round in 2008.

Both of those teams, however, had clear weaknesses going into the midseason break.

The Angels look to be set or above-average at just about every position this season and already have the look of American League Champions. Key injuries could change that in a heartbeat, but nobody wants to assume the worst heading into the season.

In fact, it's quite the contrary.

During spring training, optimism is spread through just about every clubhouse, even those which host teams with little or no chance of playing in October. There's always something to look forward to, whether it be excitement over a new player, the opening of a new ballpark, or the debut of a highly-touted prospect.

That is why potential weaknesses may be overlooked in favor of keeping a positive attitude about the season.

Right now, the consensus is that Howie Kendrick will have a career year because he will see more fastballs while hitting in front of Albert Pujols. C.J. Wilson is expected to perform better in Angels Stadium than in Rangers Ballpark at Arlington because the former is more pitcher-friendly.

But what if Kendrick struggles out of the gate and has to spend time in Salt Lake again figuring things out? What if Wilson finds his new home less comforting?

Speaking hypothetically does little for us other than illustrate possibilities, but here they show that the expectations of this ball club may not be completely in line with upcoming reality.

The newly-acquired C.J. Wilson has been impressive thus far in spring training, but may not be enough to put the Angels in the World Series.
The newly-acquired C.J. Wilson has been impressive thus far in spring training, but may not be enough to put the Angels in the World Series.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The point is, the Angels have a weakness somewhere. It may be harder to identify at this point, but it's there and those close to the team already know what it is.

It could be at third base, where a typically powerful position hasn't been the same in Anaheim since the departure of Troy Glaus. Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis are fighting for the starting job, but neither of them provide the pop one normally looks for out of third base.

It's because of this that the Angels have tried out Mark Trumbo at the position and it's why they could end up making a trade midseason to improve it.

With David Wright playing on a disappointing Mets team, he could be traded for the right price, which the Angels may be capable of providing. As inadvisable and unpopular as it would seem to be, Wright would be a certain upgrade over Callaspo or Izturis and would bring another power bat to an already strong lineup.

Another unit the Angels may consider upgrading is their bullpen.

Jordan Walden looks to be the closer, but in the event of a sophomore slump, a replacement will need to be found. Scott Downs could fill that role, as could newcomer Jason Isrignhausen.

Or, the Angels could trade for a closer or even more bullpen depth.

Brandon League had 37 saves for the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and could become a part of a deadline deal if the M's find themselves out of the division race—as expected. He would be a quick fix to any bullpen's problems, as would the Pittsburgh Pirates' Joel Hanrahan or the San Diego Padres' Corey Luebke.

Keep in mind that there are no actual rumors surrounding these names. This is all just speculation about good players on bad teams that may find themselves of the trading block in an effort by their franchises to build organizational strength.

It's not a stretch to say that the Angels will need help to overcome the Rangers and Detroit Tigers and make it to the World Series. Whichever team emerges from the AL East will be a challenge and in the event that one of those contenders makes a blockbuster move, General Manager Jerry DiPoto may find himself in a position where he needs to respond.

There are a lot of good teams out there, and the Angels may be one deadline deal away from separating themselves from the pack once and for all.