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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On April 30, 2009 @ 6:28 pm In Cliff Corcoran,Game Thread,Series Preview | Comments Disabled

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2008 Record: 100-62
2008 Pythagorean Record: 88-74

Manager: Mike Scioscia
General Manager: Tony Reagins

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Angel Stadium (103/102)

Who’s Replaced Whom:

  • Kendry Morales replaces Casey Kotchman and Mark Teixeira
  • Bobby Abreu replaces Garret Anderson
  • Brian Fuentes replaces Francisco Rodriguez
  • Shane Loux, Anthony Ortega, and Matt Palmer are filling in for John Lackey, Ervin Santana, and Dustin Mosely (all on DL)
  • Rafael Rodriguez and Fernando Rodriguez are filling in for Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen (both on DL)

25-man Roster:

1B – Kendry Morales (S)
2B – Howie Kendrick (R)
SS – Erick Aybar (S)
3B – Chone Figgins (S)
C – Mike Napoli (R)
RF – Gary Matthews Jr. (S)
CF – Torii Hunter (R)
LF – Bobby Abreu (L)
DH – Juan Rivera (R)


R – Jeff Mathis (C)
S – Maicer Izturis (IF)
R – Robb Quinlan (3B/1B)
R – Brandon Wood (IF)


L – Joe Saunders
R – Shane Loux
R – Anthony Ortega
R – Jered Weaver
R – Matt Palmer


L – Brian Fuentes
R – Jose Arredondo
R – Scot Shields
R – Justin Speier
R – Jason Bulger
R – Rafael Rodriguez
R – Fernando Rodriguez

15-day DL:

RF – Vladimir Guerrero (torn pectoral)
RHP – John Lackey (forearm tightness)
RHP – Ervin Santana (elbow strain)
RHP – Dustin Moseley (elbow tightness)
LHP – Darren Oliver (shoulder stiffness)
RHP – Kevin Jepsen (back spasms)

60-day DL:

RHP – Kelvim Escobar (shoulder inflammation)

Typical Lineup:

S – Chone Figgins (3B)
S – Gary Matthews Jr. (RF)
L – Bobby Abreu (LF)
R – Torii Hunter (CF)
S – Kendry Morales (1B)
R – Mike Napoli (C)
R – Juan Rivera (DH)
R – Howie Kendrick (2B)
S – Erick Aybar (SS)

See that 88-74 Pythagorean record from 2008? That’s why the A’s traded for Matt Holliday. The Angels are vulnerable. They greatly overachieved last year. Their offense is more rumor than fact having ranked 11th in the American League last year and having since lost Mark Teixeira, who was worth three wins for them over the final two months. None of their younger hitters has a particularly high ceiling save for Howie Kendrick, who thus far hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy or draw a walk. Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter are starting to show their age, particularly in the field, and while Bobby Abreu represents an upgrade on Garret Anderson, he doesn’t make the team any younger or any more likely to convert balls in play into outs.

Entering the season, the Angels’ hopes of a third-straight AL West title rested on their pitching and the weakness of the rest of their division. The latter seems to be unaltered by the A’s efforts, particularly given the recent injuries to Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez, and Nomar Garciaparra, but the Angels pitching isn’t holding up it’s end of the bargain. Certainly the Halos had to expect some regression from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana following their breakout seasons last year, but a full season of John Lackey was supposed to help counteract that. Instead both Lackey and Santana started the season the DL and have yet to throw a regular season pitch. Both are throwing extended spring training innings now and looking toward returning in mid-May, but they’ll return to pitch in front of what has thus-far been the second-worst defense in the majors according to defensive efficiency.

Of course, the real tragedy (to use that word appropriately for a change), that struck the Angels pitching staff was the death of top prospect Nick Adenhart in a traffic accident following his first start of the year. That loss is immeasurable and unspeakable, but to deal with it coldly in baseball terms, Adenhart was supposed to replace Jon Garland as the team’s fifth starter, at least until Kelvim Escobar proved able to return from a year and a half on the DL. The team’s alternate plan was Dustin Moseley, but he’s also on the DL, as is lefty Darren Oliver, who was used for a spot start, his first in the majors since 2004, before (and possibly resulting in) hitting the DL with shoulder stiffness. With just two of their Opening Day starters still in the rotation, the Angels are tenth in the AL in pitching per runs allowed per game and arrive in the Bronx tonight with a 9-11 record.

I say that the impact of a of the death of a teammate is immeasurable, and it is, but given how rare an occurrence it is, I thought it might be informative to see how other teams have played in the weak of such a tragedy. With the help of my pal Steven Goldman I was able to come up with just seven teams that suffered a player depth mid-season (thus leaving out the 1978 Angels, who lost Lyman Bostock in late September). Those teams were the 2007 Cardinals (Josh Hancock), 2002 Cardinals (Darryl Kile), 1979 Yankees (Thurmon Munson), 1955 Red Sox (Harry Agganis), 1940 Reds (Willard Hershberger), 1920 Indians (Ray Chapman), and 1903 Senators (Ed Delahanty). Of those seven teams, all but two had higher winning percentages after the death of their teammate than before. The two exeptions, the 1940 Reds and 1920 Indians, went on to win the World Series. I’m not sure one can call that an encouraging fact, but perhaps it’s something around which the Angels can rally this season in their attempt to win their weak division.

Tonight, the Angels send 23-year-old Venezuelan Anthony Ortega to the mound. Ortega pitched well in Double- and Triple-A last year, but his weak strikout rate doesn’t portend big-league success. He faced the Mariners in his last and thus far only major league start and gave up five runs in five innings on five hits a walk and two homers. The Yankees counter with A.J. Burnett, who is looking to reverse the downward course he’s been on over his last two starts (combined: 11 1/3 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 4 HR, 10 BB, 5 K).

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