Lost Season: A Look at Los Angeles Angels for 2011
When the Los Angels Angels opened the MLB season in 2010, hopes were high in Anaheim. Even though they had lost John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins to free agency, the Angels management team honestly thought they had done enough to put a quality product on the field, and expected once again to contend for the American League West title.
The addition of RHP Joel Pineiro, to replace Lackey in the starting rotation, coupled with a full season with LHP Scott Kazmir, gave the Angels a strong feeling that their deep, experienced staff would be one of the better rotations in the American League.
The addition of DH/LF Hideki Matsui, the emergence of young SS/3B Brandon Wood, and the continued development/maturation of 1B Kendry Morales also gave the Angels a high level of expectation regarding their position players.
Finally, their bench and bullpen were also considered strengths, giving them the depth needed to push through a long 162 game schedule.
So, what happened? The wheels simply fell off the wagon. Kazmir lost his velocity and his location, Morales celebrated a walk-off homer all the way to the DL and beyond, and the bullpen stopped leaks about as effectively as a band-aid on a sliced carotid artery.
As the Angels played themselves out of contention in the AL West, management was left to ponder, and to look ahead to next season in early September, something they have not been used to doing.
Here is a breakdown of the Angels' roster: How they contributed to the demise of the 2010 season, what to look forward to next year, and we'll include a possible list of candidates available for the Angels in 2011.
Angels balance sheet and available money for 2011
In 2010, the Angels had a starting payroll of $105,013,667*, good for eighth in the majors, certainly considered one of the large-market teams. This fact could be called into question, considering the team is in fact based in Orange County, and not in Los Angeles. However, they are generally considered by baseball to be a Los Angeles based team.
The trade of Brian Fuentes to the Minnesota Twins takes $9 million off the books next year, and the expiring contracts of Matsui ($6 million), reliever Scot Shields ($5.35 million), Mike Napoli ($3.6 million) and catcher Jeff Mathis ($1.3 million) add over $25 million back to the Angel coffers, and should allow flexibility to go after available free agents during the offseason.
*Figures were obtained by the Associated Press from management and player sources and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses. In some cases, parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present-day values.
OF Torii Hunter
2010 contract- $18 million
2011 contract- $18 million
Contract includes no-trade protection
When Hunter signed his current contract in November, 2007, he was considered in the prime of his career and one of the elite center fielders in the majors. In his career, it is estimated that he has pulled back and stolen with his glove approximately 40 potential home runs, and has been a constant source of highlight reels for ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He is still a force defensively.
Offensive production tells a different story. Hunter hasn't had an RBI since he hit a two-run home run in the first inning at Detroit on Aug. 6, and has only driven in 70 for the season. A nice .291 average with 18 HR, but much more is expected from the cleanup spot in the lineup.
Hunter also moved to right field when the Angels called up promising center fielder Peter Bourjos. Can Hunter effectively make the permanent switch and still be an offensive force in 2011? At 35 years of age, his window is closing.
OF Bobby Abreu
2010 contract- $9 million
2011 contract- $9 million
Abreu is almost certain to hit under .280 for the first time in a full season, but he still puts up decent power numbers (34 doubles, 16 HR, 67 RBI) and still displays speed on the basepaths. He made the transition to left field and continues to provide excellent defense.
Abreu will be 37 years old to start the 2011 season, and depending on the Angels' free agency activity during the offseason, would be best suited hitting at No. 6 or 7 in the lineup.
RHP Dan Haren
2010 contract- $8.25 million
2011 contract- $12.75 million, under club control until 2013
Acquired by the Angels on July 25 for SP Joe Saunders and three other players, Haren is clearly expected to combine with SP Jered Weaver as the anchors of the Angels' rotation.
Haren has a 3.50 ERA in eight starts since joining the Angels, his last start allowing no runs on seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts against the Mariners. He has clearly improved over his dismal numbers in Arizona, and should again show the dominance he displayed in his previous three seasons.
Haren averages nearly 9 K/9 innings, has excellent command, and should benefit from the improved supporting cast compared to the D-Backs.
LHP Scott Kazmir
2010 contract- $8 million
2011 contract- $12 million, under club control until 2012.
When Angels general manager Tony Reagins pulled off the deal to acquire Kazmir in August of last year, he was certainly expecting the dominant pitcher of 2006-08 who averaged well over 9 K/9 innings and displayed a nasty slider with excellent command.
In Kazmir's brief career with the Angels, spanning 28 starts, he has posted a 5.30 ERA, with 101 Ks and 75 walks, to the tune of a 10-14 record. Not quite what Reagins had in mind.
Kazmir projects as the No. 3 starter in the rotation in 2011, behind Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. If he can somehow recapture his velocity and command, that is clearly one of the better top-3 starter combos in the majors.
RHP Joel Pineiro
2010 contract- $8 million
2011 contract- $8 million
Pineiro, who has been out since July 21 with a strained left oblique, had been hot before going down with the injury, going 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA in his last eight starts. He is expected back in mid-September, and will certainly be a reliable No. 4 starter for the Angels in 2011.
Pineiro's GO/AO ratio is a respectable 2.02, and induces a fair share of double plays. He has proven to be a reliable innings-eater, averaging 6.1 innings per start over his last three seasons.
DH/OF Hideki Matsui
2010 contract- $6 million, one year deal.
Although Matsui is leading the Angels with 73 RBI, he only saw 69 at-bats in the month of August, hitting .304. He has suffered against left-handed pitching, hitting just .208, and will continue to see limited action, especially as minor league September call-ups are given a look-see. Look for Matsui to again shop his services for another club in 2011.
RHP Ervin Santana
2010 contract- $6 million
2011 contract- $8 million, under club control until 2013.
Santana has put together a nice season for the Angels, posting a 14-9 record with a 4.05 ERA. With six wins in his last eight starts, Santana should put up between 16-17 victories.
Having a guy like that as your potential No. 4 or 5 starter is certainly not a bad proposition in the majors, and gives the Angels a potentially dangerous starting rotation in 2011 that would rival top staffs in MLB.
RHP/Closer Fernando Rodney
2010 contract- $5.5 million
2011 contract- $5.5 million
With the trade of Brian Fuentes to the Minnesota Twins, Angels' management was clearly sending a message that they felt Rodney was well prepared to be the closer of the future for the Halos.
Rodney earned his eighth save in 11 chances on Wednesday night in the Angels' victory over the Seattle Mariners, his second since the trade of Fuentes.
If Rodney can harness his control and effectively use his slider and changeup, he could absolutely be a dominant closer in the American League. Key word here is control.
RHP Scot Shields
2010 contract- $5.35 million, free agent at end of season.
Between 2003-08, Shields was one of the best relievers in all of baseball, however he has now suffered through back-to-back seasons in which he has fiddled with his arm mechanics and delivery in hopes of regaining past glory.
"We're trying to get back to the basics," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It seems like every year there's a little adjustment with him to manage his release point and mechanics. His arm speed and stuff is there, he's just got to fight through some command issues."
Even though Shields has been an Angel his entire career, don't expect GM Reagins to come calling again at the end of the season, especially considering the hefty price tag for a set-up reliever suffering through command issues.
RHP Jered Weaver
2010 contract- $4.265 million, eligible for arbitration.
With less than six years of major league service, Weaver is still under control of the Angels, and they would be very well served in signing him to a long-term contract now.
Weaver is 11-10 this season with a 3.12 ERA, and has been the victim of very poor run support. In fact, the Angels have been shut out in each of Weaver's last three starts.
He will clearly join Dan Haren as co-ace at the top of the rotation, and should be considered a top priority in terms of a contract extension by GM Tony Reagins.
OF Juan Rivera
2010 contract- $4.25 million
2011 contract- $5.25 million
Rivera's stock has definitely fallen this season, as a crowded outfield and somewhat down season diminished his role with the Angels.
In the past week, Rivera has started a few games at first base, becoming the ninth player to man that position for the Angels this season. It has given Rivera an opportunity for more at-bats and to gain back a rhythm at the plate that has largely eluded him thus far.
With his hefty contract going into next season as a part-time player, look for GM Reagins to move him for the right mix of bullpen help and prospects.
C/1B Mike Napoli
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
2010 contract- $3.6 million, still arbitration eligible.
While Napoli may have decent power numbers (21 HR, 60 RBI), he has clearly fallen out of favor with manager Mike Scioscia, with Juan Rivera getting more starts at first base and Jeff Mathis at catcher.
Napoli is hitting just .202 with runners in scoring position, and strikes out a ton, which would give reason for Scioscia to be beyond impatient with him. He is a decent defensive catcher, throwing out 28% of runners attempting to steal this season, but Mathis is considered a better all-around catcher defensively.
With the attempt to put Napoli on the waiver wire, and the unsuccessful trade attempt to the Red Sox, Napoli obviously does not fit into the Angels' future plans. Look for Napoli to be plying his trade with another team next season.
2B Maicer Izturis
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
2010 contract- $2.76 million
2011 contract- $4 million
Izturis has suffered through a difficult season, hitting .245 with 3 HR and 25 RBI in just 59 games. Izturis, currently on the DL with shoulder inflammation, has no timetable for his return this season, and will probably be very glad when this horrific season finally comes to an end.
When healthy, Izturis is a pesky .275 hitter who can run a bit and plays solid defense.
SS Erick Aybar
Harry How/Getty Images
2010 contract- $2.05 million, under Angels' control, arbitration eligible.
Aybar, hitting .265 for the season, had a miserable August, hitting just .211, but has heated up of late. Although already committing six more errors this season than all of last season, Aybar is a decent fielding shortstop with good range, and unless Brandon Wood shows his full offensive potential, look for Aybar to once again be the shortstop in 2011 for the Angels.
2B Howie Kendrick
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
2010 contract- $1.75 million, under club control, arbitration eligible.
Kendrick has put up solid numbers in his first full year as the Angels second baseman, with 10 HR and 65 RBI along with a .278 average.
At 27 years of age, there is certainly still plenty of upside for Kendrick. Look for the Angels to lock him in for years to come.
C Jeff Mathis
Harry How/Getty Images
2010 contract- $1.3 million, under club control, arbitration eligible.
Mathis is definitely an upgrade defensively over Mike Napoli, but with a .193 average and close to one strikeout every three at-bats, Mathis will only have a future as a defensive replacement and occasional starter.
Look for the Angels to explore catching options this off-season.
1B Kendry Morales
Harry How/Getty Images
2010 contract- $1.2 million
Morales, who went down for the season after suffering a broken leg while celebrating a walk-off grand slam home run on May 29, was hitting .290 with 11 HR and 39 RBI prior to that.
He has developed into a potential 30 HR, 110 RBI hitter, and despite the freak injury, figures prominently into the future for the Angels.
OF Reggie Willits
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
2010 contract- $0.625 million, under club control.
Willits has seen action in just 71 games this season, and is no more than a part-time player. His value is in that he can play all outfield positions, and serves a useful purpose in that role.
The Rest Of The Show
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
INF Robb Quinlain- 2010 contract- $0.4 million. At 33 years old, Quinlan serves as nothing more than a spot on the 40 man roster. No future with Angels.
2B Kevin Frandsen- 2010 contract- $0.4 million. Frandsen, claimed off waivers from the Red Sox in late April, was optioned back to Triple-A Salt Lake last Friday, and will most likely be seeking employment elsewhere next season with the acquisition of Alberto Callaspo.
2B/3B Alberto Callaspo- 2010 contract- $0.46 million- Speaking of Callaspo, acquired from the Royals in late July, he has put together a nice season, hitting .287 with 10 HR and 54 RBI. While third base is typically reserved for more of a power hitter, Callaspo has been a nice surprise for the Angels.
RHP Brian Stokes- 2010 contract- $0.46 million- Stokes, acquired as part of the Gary Matthews, Jr. trade with the Mets, is currently on the DL with shoulder fatigue, and there is no timetable for his return. Could see time as a middle reliever next season, but certainly not worth writing home about.
RHP Matt Palmer- 2010 contract- $0.42 million- Palmer went on the DL with a strained muscle in his shoulder in May, and was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake when he was activated. The Angels have been stretching him out as a starter in the minors, but with the Angels starting rotation pretty much locked down next season, Palmer may have more value in the bullpen.
RHP Jason Bulger- 2010 contract- $0.418 million- Bulger also went down with a shoulder injury in mid-June, and no current timetable set for his return. At 31, he may be re-signed as a middle reliever, but again, don't hold your breath.
RHP Kevin Jepsen- 2010 contract- $0.415 million- Jepsen has been a decent middle reliever over the last two seasons, and could continue to provide value in that role for the Angels.
SS/3B Brandon Wood- 2010 contract- $0.415 million- Wood has been an absolute enigma at the major league level. Clearly thought of as a top prospect, Wood has yet to show any consistency during his time in the majors, hitting just .162 with 3 HR this season. Unless and until he can show the Angels he can turn it around, don't count on production from Wood in 2011.
Potential Free Agents For The Angels in 2011
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Although the free agent class of 2011 would not be considered a bumper crop, there are certainly some intriguing names out there.
We'll explore a couple of those names that the Angels will absolutely be interested in for next season.
C Victor Martinez, Boston Red Sox
Al Bello/Getty Images
Despite trips to the disabled list, Martinez is putting up very good numbers for the Sox, hitting .293 with 13 HR and 55 RBI.
Sox general manager Theo Epstein will more than likely try to lock Martinez in, given the fact that the Sox don't currently have a catcher in their system who is major league ready. However, the Angels would absolutely be suitors for Martinez, given Scioscia's lack of confidence in Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis' obvious lack of offensive production.
Look for a possible bidding war here, as several other teams will also be bidding for the services of V-Mart.
OF Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays
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Crawford is good friends with Torii Hunter, and has intimated in the past that the Angels would be a fun place to play.
But Crawford is the cornerstone of the Rays' offense, and even though they have typically acted like a smaller market team in the past with regard to contracts, they will not let him go easily.
1B/LF Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals
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Rumored to be going to any number of teams, and still with the Nationals, Dunn has had his typical Dunn-like season. 33 HR, 88 RBI, .268 average, all add up to exactly what teams are salivating for: power.
With Matsui probably gone, Dunn would be a great fit next season as designated hitter for the Angels. With the Halos possibly saving $25.5 million as discussed in slide one of this presentation, GM Tony Reagins should have the ammunition to go hard after Dunn.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
DH Pat Burrell, San Francisco Giants- The ever-streaky Burrell has somewhat revived his season in the Bay Area, but is it enough for the Angels to take a chance?
1B Derrek Lee, Atlanta Braves- His power numbers have dropped off dramatically (16 HR, 63 RBI) this season in Chicago and Atlanta, giving rise to the thought that he is on the decline. After spending his entire career in the National League, could he revive numbers as a DH in Anaheim?
INF Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles- Given his versatility in the infield, and coming off his first ever All-Star appearance, Wigg could be an attractive choice as an all-around guy for the Halos in 2011.
LF Manny Ramirez, Chicago White Sox- Hey, let's face it. There are VERY few teams that have the money, or the patience, to deal with the enigmatic slugger. In spite of that, he belongs on this list.
LHP Ted Lilly, Los Angeles Dodgers- Lilly got off to a phenomenal start in LA, winning his first five starts before getting rocked last Sunday. Reportedly, the Dodgers are very interested in resigning Lilly, however the Halos might show some interest as insurance in case Kazmir can't solve his problems.
RHP Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks- Webb hasn't thrown in a major league game since April, 2009, and recently threw a simulated game. He's hoping to get back before the end of the season, with the opportunity to show potential bidders he can provide value.
RHP Carl Pavano, Minnesota Twins- Pavano has displayed great durability the past two seasons, not missing a start and showing that he's completely over the four year disaster that was New York.