Siberian Baseball

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (95-67, .586, 1st in AL West)

The team that brought you the Rally Monkey, the most ridiculous name in all of professional sports and came along at the right time to spoil Barry Bonds' decade is back to defend their AL West title.

No word if they plan on doing that the same way they won it - by default.

After folding to the Red Sox in 2004, they managed to make it to the second round to fold to the White Sox last year. Nice bit of symmetry there.

The reasons for both years' collapses are pretty apparent by looking to the depth chart. Notice anything? That's right, no depth.

Vlad Guerrero gets hurt and who steps in? Juan Rivera. I couldn't pick any of their three first basemen out of a police lineup and I honestly had to look up which of the Flying Molina Brothers they'd kept this year. It's great to have solid front lines, but there is no talent behind that. As someone who was saddled with Dallas McPherson in an auto-draft last season, I can say with 100 percent certainty that there is no talent behind Chone Figgins.

In 2004 it was Guerrero's injury that held them back against Boston. Bartolo Colon breaking down in last year's playoffs cemented at least one loss to Chicago and plenty of panic in a baseball illiterate town. Not good.

The Angels are always players in the free agent market from year to year and are usually in the thick of the big rumors as well. It's not that they aren't trying, it just seems that they keep coming in as a close second in the free agent chases and that means an aging team keeps on aging.

The big bright spot for the Angels is Francisco Rodriguez, who is a phenomenal reliver despite a stupid nickname. The reason that Troy Percival was sent packing has been rock solid for the past few seasons. Congratulations to Rodriguez who is one of a select few pitchers who has been handed the closer's job and actually flourished.

If all the starters can hold up this season, Anaheim is the most talented team in the AL West. If nature takes it course with an aging team with a history of injury, enjoy watching McPherson and Maicer Izturis in Anaheim in 2006.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
C: Jose Molina; Mathis
1B: Kotchman; Quinlan; Molina
2B: Kennedy; Izturis; Figgins
SS: Cabrera; Izturis; Figgins
3B: Figgins; McPherson; Alfonzo; Quinlan; Izturis
LF: Garret Anderson; Juan Rivera
CF: Erstad; Figgins; Rivera
RF: Guerrero; Rivera
DH: Rivera; Kotchman; Quinlan
SP: Colon; Lackey; Ervin Santana; Escobar; Jeff Weaver
CP: Francisco Rodriguez
RP: Shields; Donnelly; Yan; Carrasco; Gregg; Greg Jones; Romero; Saunders



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