In recent history, have you ever known the Angels to come out of Tempe looking ready to t..."/> In recent history, have you ever known the Angels to come out of Tempe looking ready to t..."/>

Here We Go Again…


In recent history, have you ever known the Angels to come out of Tempe looking ready to take on the AL West?

Every season there is hype, and every season there is the looming cloud of darkness that just seems to rain on our opening day parade.  What would spring training be without injuries?  Setbacks?  Shortcomings?  Well, I will tell you what it would be… Amazing!

But this year like every other in my recent memory is no exception to the rule that seems to go something like this:  As soon as the Halos look calm and collected, watch out for the storm.

The Angels showed this spring that they still aren’t afraid to take risks on new (Bourjos) and old (Kazmir/Wood), though rarely do they ever seem to pay off by the end of the season.  They never seem to have any shortage of homegrown talent either, though we are all oh so familiar with how Mr. Wood did for us this past year.  Then there is my personal favorite team trait which happens to be none other than health… a factor that always seems to fail the Halos at some point during the season.  So, with less than a week now before Opening Day in Kansas City on the 31st, I thought it only necessary that I share with everyone my Do’s and Don’ts for the 2011 season.

DO put stock in Kendrys Morales to make his triumphant return to the lineup sooner rather than later, but heed my warning!  DO NOT bank on Kendrys being healthy throughout the season. 

I would almost personally guarantee (seeing as I deal with feet on a daily basis – career shoesalesman) that it will be a long, strenuous, and unpleasant road for Kendrys’ fans and his feet to get back to the point where he can rely on them 100%.  He may play 100 games, but the end result will not be much more than marginally better than his 2010 campaign.

That being said of Morales, I would most definitely keep your eyes on Mark Trumbo to absolutely flourish at first base.  Trumbo is going to get a chance now to do what every little leaguer dreams about growing up, to be an everyday star in his own backyard.  Mark has certainly shown this spring that he has the power to step in and knock a few out of the ballpark when given the chance, his team leading five home runs are proof enough of that.  Is he going to be a strikeout risk?  Of course he is… that is an inherent risk when you tell a guy to swing with the sole purpose of jacking one out of the stadium (e.g. Trumbo has 5 HR’s to 17 K’s this spring, Ryan Howard has a similar stat line with 4 HR’s and 14 K’s).  DO keep an eye on Mark Trumbo!

DO count on Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter to be especially rested in the outfield this season, but no thanks to soon to be 37 year old and slowing Abreu or an injured Reggie Willits. 

No, you can give all that credit to the freshman CF Peter “The Cheetah” Bourjos who according to Hunter and Wells both has been given the task of running down everything between the left field and right field foul lines.  The move to the corners for the two veterans is going to allow them to rest some aging legs, while allowing them to focus on hitting, scoring, and joining efforts to mold their protege replacement.

The dubious honor of taking over center for Bourjos has not only catapulted him into the defensive forefront, but has also gained the attention of spectators and speculators everywhere who all seem to pose the same question… Is he that good?  I surely think so, and with not only his speed, but his bat showing this spring as well (17 hits in 44 at bats and a SLG of .591) I hope I’m the first to say that he will be a 15/30 guy this season with every capability of increasing those stats in the years to come.  DO keep your eyes on Peter Bourjos, if you can keep up!

DO look to Jered Weaver to repeat his All Star year from 2010, and perhaps even improve upon last years league leading strikeout numbers (233).  He is already showing signs of dominance in the Cactus League this spring with only 12 hits allowed in 13.1 innings, but more importantly, a WHIP of .900 and a SWIP of 1.30 (for all us fantasy geeks and gurus out there) that clearly display why he was one of the most formidable pitchers in the majors last year. 

Dan Haren is the lesser known (amongst Angel fans) ace in the Angels rotation, who boasted a misleading 12-12 record in 2010, not nearly the illustrious record a pitcher of his caliber would hope to finish with.  This spring Dan has not looked all that out of form.  I think that if he can work on getting to an early lead in the count and keeping the ball down in the zone, Haren will see his strikeout numbers climb and his hit counts diminish.  Jered and Dan are a heck of a one-two punch, and with a little bit of run support and a healthy 3-4-5 (Santana, Kazmir, Pineiro) behind them the Angels staff should be able to compete with any rotation in the AL.

The Halos are definitely struggling to overcome setbacks this spring.  I myself cannot wait to see how long it really takes for Morales to return to a contributory status.

I am almost beside myself that the Angels have yet to give Wood either a position or his papers.  Another year batting .146 is going to get him fired, and I will be the first one to say that I thought he was better than what we saw last go round.  We all know that Brandon has got the talent, but so do hundreds of players that have come and gone.

I think Wood is still the answer to the Halos prayers at 3B, but what we need is a Troy Glaus, not a Kelly Gruber.  I cannot wait to see if Scott Kazmir can finally find the pitcher we all watched ushering batters back to their seats on the bench in ’08.  Make the adjustments (more mental than physical) and finally be the third ace this team really needs.  From Crash Davis to you Scott… “Don’t think.  You can only hurt the ballclub!”

My final DO‘s and DON’Ts to kick off the 2011 season…

Halo fans, DO NOT expect the unexpected.  There are a ton of changes that are going to occur throughout the season.  The finished product will not be the same 25 men you see sitting in that dugout on opening day.  There are at least three players that stand to start out the season on the DL.  There are equally as many that have shown more than occassional signs of wear and tear throughout this spring training. 

To begin the season, it is what it is… the best possible 25 men we can throw at our opponents, and hope for the best!  That being said, DO get out there and support our Angels!  I think we will have every reason to celebrate this 50th anniversary in championship style!