The Los Angeles Angels are playing as well as any team in baseball—except their division rivals, the Texas Rangers. They're four games ahead of the Halos, who have won six of their last 10 games as of July 6.
For a team that has finally begun to live up to expectations after a difficult start, there is a lot of work left to do in order to compete with Texas for the division crown.
Here are four moves the Angels still have to make in order to catch them.
It’s become a trend in today’s MLB, and for good reason—locking up young players who produce early on can yield great rewards for a team willing to take a chance.
But when it comes to Mike Trout, the 20-year-old rookie sensation and 2012 All-Star can do anything he wants to on a baseball field and is virtually a sure thing to be a star for years to come.
The best move the Angels can make is to sign him to an extension that would give him a substantial raise from his current base salary of $414,000, and effectively give him a vote of confidence.
Vernon Wells could very well become a casualty of the emergence of “T&T” after landing on the 60-day DL following a right thumb injury early in the year. Trout and Mark Trumbo have each had spectacular seasons thus far, and have solidified their prominent roles on the team. Because of the logjam in the Angels’ outfield, there has to be an odd man out.
Right now, that’s Vernon Wells, who is scheduled to begin rehab shortly after the All-Star break. Moving him will be difficult given his $21 million salary, but if he can show he’s healthy, the Angels could have some takers.
The Angels’ starting pitchers not named C.J. Wilson or Jered Weaver have been mediocre at best, and that’s not going to cut it considering the Rangers are among the top five teams in the American League in WHIP (1.24) and ERA (3.80) through 83 games.
Considering Wells could become a trade chip in the near future, it could be an ideal time for the Halos to secure another arm, especially given the injuries the staff has faced in recent weeks.
Speaking of pitching, Ervin Santana is one of the best in the game when he’s right. Unfortunately, he’s far from himself at this point in the season.
At just 4-9 with a 5.75 ERA, he’s got some soul-searching to do in order to return to form. A move to the bullpen or even some extra rest could be exactly what the right-hander needs to get back on track.
One thing is certain—whatever he’s doing presently isn't working, and the Angels need him to chase down the Rangers.