Saturday, April 16, 2016

2016 Pre-Season Profile: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

They said it couldn't be done, and yet here we are.  I made it through the entire league.  Our last profile for 2016 is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Angels of California ... Angels.

Last Season
My 2015 Prediction: 1st in AL West, lose in ALDS
2015 Result: 85-77, 3rd in AL West
The Angels definitely disappointed in 2015.  Disagreements between the coach and front office led to the general manager stepping down.  They were looking like a good playoff contender until a surge by the Rangers down the stretch passed up everyone.

2016 Additions / Subtractions

It was a confusing offseason for the Angels.  They had trouble scoring runs last year outside of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.  So what do they do?  They trade longtime shortstop (and solid hitter) Erik Aybar for Andrelton Simmons.  Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in baseball, but a below average hitter.  They let David Freese leave and replaced him with Yunel Escobar.  That was about it.  The Angels had been one of the most active teams in the offseason over the last decade, signing big deals for guys like Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton.  Maybe they started to realize that not many of those signings worked out.  Either way, they needed to do more.

Most Important Hitter
Kole Calhoun
When you fill out your lineup with names like Daniel Nava, Johnny Giavotella, and Andrelton Simmons, you know you are not elite offensively.  Even with Trout anchoring the middle of that lineup, they are below average offensively.  They need someone to help lengthen that lineup.  One of the guys that has been working towards that the last few years in Kole Calhoun.  If the Angels want to have success this season, Calhoun has to have an All Star caliber season.

Most Important Pitcher
Jared Weaver
There are a number of pitchers I could put in this spot from the aging Angels' pitching staff.  C.J. Wilson has been disappointing ever since he signed with the Angels and is now entering his age 35 season.  Matt Shoemaker followed up a great rookie season with a below average sophomore campaign.  However, it's Jared Weaver that needs to have a bounceback season.  This rotation has revolved around Weaver for about a decade.  Last season, he really showed his age and started to falter, posting a 7-12 record with a 4.64 ERA.  If the Angels are going back to the playoffs, Weaver needs to be the All Star he always used to be.

Player to Watch
Kaleb Cowart
Not only do the Angels have an aging roster, but the Angels also have a terrible farm system with no prospects on the list of the top 100 in baseball.  One that is intriguing that might have a shot at playing a role this season is Kaleb Cowart.  He is a third baseman that was a first round pick in 2010 that has really struggled his way through the system.  Finally, he has started to show some of his potential recently.  With some holes in the infield, look for Cowart to possible get a chance this season to show his skill at the big league level.

2016 Prediction
4th in AL West
Despite having the best player on the planet, I see this season as yet another backslide for the Angels.  Their lineup is weak, their pitching is old and sub-par.  The team has passed its window for this current core of players.  It's about time to break it all down and start over.  They are maybe a year or two away from fully blowing the thing up the way the Braves did.  Does this mean Mike Trout's days as an Angel are numbered?  If this is the course they take, they very well might be.

Fearless Prediction
This is Mike Scioscia's last season as Angels' manager.
Mike Scioscia is the longest tenured manager in baseball.  However, with the way the Angels are trending, combined with a feud with the front office last season, and Scioscia's days have to be numbered in LA.  Scioscia is kind of like baseball's version of Andy Reid.  Sometimes, you just need to move on.  He will, and he will soon find a new home where he can be great again.

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