Los Angeles Angels 2009 Season Preview

Tom FroemmingCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2009

The Los Angeles Angels had the best record in baseball last season, being the only team to win 100 games.

Their season ended in disappointment, however, as the Angels fell to the Boston Red Sox 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

With a few stars from last year's team gone and a few new additions in, the Angels take aim at their third-straight American League West title.

Stars Gone

Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who had a record 62 saves last year, and first baseman Mark Teixeira were lost to free agency this offseason. Both were scooped up by New York teams—K-Rod by the Mets and Teixeira by the Yankees—and both leave huge voids to fill.

The Replacements

The Angels did manage to land a few big free agents themselves, adding Bobby Abreu and Brian Fuentes.

Abreu's best days are behind him, but he can still provide solid numbers across the board. Last year with the Yankees, Abreu hit .296 with 20 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs and 20 stolen bases.

Fuentes is coming off his best season, posting a 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 82 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings pitched. He had 30 saves last year with the Rockies and 111 over the past four years.


Morales Slated to Start

Kendry Morales will fill the big shoes of Teixeira, taking over at first base for the Angels. A .337 hitter in the minor leagues, the former member of the Cuban National Team has hit just .249 in 127 Major League games.

Morales, 25, faces competition only from career backup Robb Quinlan, so it's likely he'll get the lion's share of playing time.


Vlad Still Bad

Vladamir Guerrero had the lowest OPS of his career but still hit .303 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI. Those numbers all rank well below his career averages, but Big Bad Vlad is still a good enough hitter to anchor a lineup—which is exactly what the Angels are counting on him to do.

Stepping Up for Santana

Ervin Santana, who went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA last year, is expected to start the season on the DL. While John Lackey, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver are locked into the rotation, the injury provides Dustin Moseley and Nick Adenhart the opportunity to solidify a spot in the rotation.

Moseley is 7-7 with a 5.52 ERA in 61 Major League appearances—20 of them starts. Adenhart is 37-28 with a 3.88 ERA in the minors.


Other Notes

Catcher Mike Napoli hit 20 home runs in just 78 games last year.

Reliever Jose Arredondo had a magnificent rookie season, posting a 10-2 record and 1.62 ERA in 61 innings pitched.

Torii Hunter had a solid first season with the Angels, posting a .278 average with 21 home runs and 19 stolen bases while playing his typical Gold Glove defense.

Howie Kendrick, a .306 hitter in 252 Major League games, will look to stay healthy after playing just 94 total games last year and 102 in 2007.


from Protect the Plate