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Running down the rosters: Los Angeles Angels

Feb 8, 2012, 6:10 PM EDT

Baseball player Albert Pujols wears an Angels cap after he is introduced by the Los Angeles Angels during a news conference at Angels Stadium in Anaheim Reuters

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be projecting 25-man rosters for each of the 30 teams. I’m starting today with the Angels.

The winter’s biggest spenders, the Angels are now again poised to threaten a Rangers team that appeared to be in pretty good position to set up its own little mini-dynasty in the AL West. Texas still has more depth and minor league talent to play with, but the Angels have the better rotation and now arguably the game’s best hitter anchoring the lineup.

Rotation
Jered Weaver – R
Dan Haren – R
C.J. Wilson – L
Ervin Santana – R
Jerome Williams – R

Bullpen
Jordan Walden – R
Scott Downs – L
Hisanori Takahashi – L
LaTroy Hawkins – R
Rich Thompson – R
Bobby Cassevah – R
Trevor Bell – R

SP next in line: Garrett Richards (R), Bell, Brad Mills (L), Eric Hurley (R)
RP next in line: Kevin Jepsen (R), Michael Kohn (R), Francisco Rodriguez (R)

The Angels would still like to add one more reliever, probably Luis Ayala. Scott Linebrink is another possible fit. It’s disappointing that they haven’t picked up any quality rotation insurance. Mills, who was acquired from the Jays for Jeff Mathis, doesn’t really qualify. Their big four starters have stayed remarkably healthy lately, but there’s always the chance one will go down, and Williams is far from a sure thing in the fifth spot.

Lineup
SS Erick Aybar – R
2B Howie Kendrick – R
1B Albert Pujols – R
DH Kendrys Morales – S
RF Torii Hunter – R
LF Vernon Wells – R
3B Alberto Callaspo – S
C Chris Iannetta – R
CF Peter Bourjos – R

Bench
C Bobby Wilson – R
1B-3B Mark Trumbo – R
INF Maicer Izturis – S
OF Bobby Abreu – L

Next in line: C Hank Conger (S), INF Alexi Amarista (L), INF Andrew Romine (S), OF Mike Trout (R), OF Ryan Langerhans (L)

Obviously, that projection hinges on both Morales (ankle) and Trumbo (foot) being healthy for Opening Day. Morales’ status is still very much in doubt. If Morales starts off on the DL, then Abreu and Trumbo figure to platoon in the DH spot, opening up a place for Langerhans on the bench.

If Morales does prove healthy, then there’s the chance the Angels will send Trumbo down with the idea of playing him at third regularly. He’ll get reps at the hot corner this spring, but it’s doubtful that he’ll manage to overtake Callaspo or Izturis on the depth chart there right away.

It’s clear that the Angels expect to start Trout off in the minors. Perhaps that would change if he swims circles around Wells this spring, but I doubt it.

There will be a battle between Wilson and Conger for the backup catcher gig. Since Iannetta figures to play plenty, the Angels will probably send Conger down and let him start in Triple-A. I’m pretty sure Conger would be able to help while catching twice a week and DHing another once or twice, but the Angels won’t have that kind of playing time open for him.

  1. lyon810 - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    That bullpen is bleak. Can someone call Scot out of retirement?

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      Scott Downs is great.

      • lyon810 - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        The word “great” is tossed around too lightly nowadays

      • lyon810 - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:38 PM

        and for what it’s worth, I was not referring to Scott Downs

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:52 AM

        Great? Try the left-handed stuff dreams are made off…..

  2. seanthegreatest - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Looks like lots of trade bait. Maybe flip Abreu for an arm in the bullpen? Plenty of depth in the OF?

  3. footballnut2011 - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    This should be a fun team to watch. I really hope they pick up a solid middle reliever.

  4. Ari Collins - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    It’s a testament to how bad the Angels offense was that adding Pujols doesn’t make their offense better than “good”.

    That rotation could be killer, though.

  5. lyon810 - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    In terms of bullpen rankings, how do the Angels finish anywhere outside the bottom 5?

    • Ari Collins - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      You’re aware that Walden had a 2.98 ERA last year, Hawkins a 2.42, and Downs a 1.34, right? And all those guys are returning?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:48 PM

        Err. Obviously Hawkins isn’t returning, since he was with the Brewers last year. But considering the Angels were #10 in bullpen ERA last year and added Hawkins, I doubt they’re going to be bottom 5.

    • crackersnap - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      How does the bullpen rank as improved? Well…

      1) For starters, getting rid of Rodney is a huge addition by subtraction.

      2) Last year Walden (AL All Star) was set to start the season as the 7th inning guy, not closer. He was thrown into the closer role by accident. This year he enters the Spring as the closer and can prepare accordingly. Just cutting his blown saves in half puts the Angels back in the Wild Card race using last year’s results. And he is purportedly developing a 3rd pitch this Winter.

      3) Downs was arguably the top bullpen arm in baseball last season. Admittedly, we cannot separate him from how Scioscia uses him but there were times when he would enter in the 8th, get 3 outs on 4 pitches, and then be sat back down. His value is nto getting near enough credit.

      4) Hawkins, as old as he is, can still throws in the mid 90′s. Experience plus speed is a plus to this staff.

      5) Cassaveh has another year under his belt, and was credible last year. This is a natural upgrade as well.

      6) Having 4 starters capable of dominance totally reduces the need to use bullpen arms, taking the stress off the bullpen in the first place. Just adding Wilson to Weaver/Santana/Haren will improve the pen, and we still have the chance to see Jerome Richards as the 5th man in the rotation all year. If he pitches as well as he did last season (which is an “if”), top to bottom this rotation improves the 2012 bullpen.

  6. packerpride03 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I wanna see trout play if that means hunter or wells has to sit that’s fine

    • lyon810 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:13 PM

      no question Wells sits, Hunter’s bat far outweighs (testament to how bad Wells is more than how well Hunter can hit) that of Vernon

  7. buffalomafia - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    We will see! Go Yankees!

  8. jason1214 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Moreno, should’ve fired the previous GM the MINUTE he flipped Mike Napoli for Wells.
    That idiotic trade is why the Angels have no payroll flexibility to add rotation/bullpen help
    They also have too many 1b/dh types. Too bad Morales/Trumbo can’t play 3rd or LF.

    • crackersnap - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      They have more payroll flexibility than you think. They had enough to sign Pujols AND Wilson. And, when all is said and done, the payroll difference between 2011 and 2012 (including all the arb raises and Pujols and Wilson, etc.) should be less than $10 million.

      • jason1214 - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:59 PM

        AND they’d have $$ more and a better lineup with Napoli vs Wells.
        Just because they have a brand new cable deal doesn’t mean its an endless piggy bank.
        If they have any injuries in that rotation they will struggle. Rangers have a much deeper rotation and probably a better lineup already.

      • paperlions - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:36 AM

        If they have so much payroll flexibility….then why did they say they could only sign Wilson because Pujols agreed to a backloaded contract?

        I’m sure they have more future flexibility, but the mega-TV deal has not kicked in yet.

  9. foreverchipper10 - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    K-Rod comeback? Really?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      That’s the other Francisco Rodriguez. He’s spent time with the Angels the last two years, amassing a 4.43 ERA in 61 innings.

      • foreverchipper10 - Feb 10, 2012 at 5:57 PM

        I thought that was who you meant but the link is to K-Rod. It is my understanding that those happen automatically for you guys when you post. Just thought I’d let you know.

  10. judahbenhur - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I agree with your lineup, but there could be two variations. Callaspo hitting second at times may make sense because he is a contact hitter and had the highest on base percentage on the team. And you want that in front of Pujols. Kendrick would then hit sixth. And when Trumbo plays third Kendrick hits second and Trumbo sixth behind Hunter. But as longs as Morales is in that lineup it looks deep, talented and powerful. Abreu is great insurance and the ability to keep Trout and Conger at triple-A playing and improving bodes well for the future.

  11. judahbenhur - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Paperlions: The Angels have over 50 million coming off the books after this season. If Wells has a bounce back year they should be able to move him in the last two years of his contract, and even with eating a significant portion of his contract they would save even more. Morales is still inexpensive, as is Trumbo, Trout, Bourjos and Walden. With a TV deal that pays them 150 million per season there is no way the Pujols contract cripples the team as you suggest.

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