The Angels won a franchise-record 100 games last season before their annual ousting from the playoffs by the Boston Red Sox. They didn't go down near as easily as they did in '07, but down is down. Too few extra base hits and hits with RISP - it's a pattern we Halos fans have come to almost expect.
Last season was a little different than the previous few, as the team made a big deadline deal to land "the big bat" to hit behind Vladimir Guerrero in Mark Teixeira. To land Tex, the Halos had to part ways with talented first baseman Casey Kotchman, and even though the trade didn't bear the results Angels fans hoped for, I still think it was a good deal. They had to roll the dice with the team they had, especially the way the pitching staff was performing. Now with Tex donning pinstripes and Kotch across the country in Atlanta, the team looks to Kendry Morales to hold down the fort at 1B. Kendry only got a handful of AB's at the Major League level last season, but has had enough time with the big club the last few seasons to not be considered a complete question mark. He can handle the bat. Even though he hit just .213 last season (in just 61 AB's) he was never over matched. He's hit better than .340 each of the last few seasons at AAA Salt Lake, and, even though AAA's not the bigs, .340 is still impressive. Kendry will hit. His glove may be the biggest question.
The Angels also parted ways with some guy named Rodriguez...the kids called him K-Rod, I think. Yes Francisco Rodriguez saved a Major League record 62 games last season, but if you watched him day-in, day-out, you know he was less than dominant. In reality, he probably was barely a Top 5 closer last season. He blew 7 saves and ended the season with a 1.29 WHIP. He walks WAAAY too many batters and allows more base runners than a top-flight closer should. His replacement, Brian Fuentes, should be just fine. I honestly don't think the loss of Franky will affect the team at all. Thanks for the memories, though.
One of the greatest Angels of all time played his last game with the club last season. Aging left fielder Garret Anderson had another solid season (also his healthiest in years) but the crowded Angels outfield left no room for GA to return. Juan Rivera was re-signed, and looked to be team's every day LF until the club signed veteran Bobby Abreu to a 1-year, $5 million deal. A steal, really, considering Raul Ibanez got 3-years/$30 million from Philly earlier in the off season. Abreu will be a good addition to the Halos' lineup. He is a high on-base guy, has some pop with mostly gap power and can still run a little bit. He should fit right in. Speaking of the Halos' lineup, let's take a look. I'll include last year's relevant stats and what I expect this season.
1. Chone Figgins 3B: 2008-.276/.367OBP/72RUNS/34SB (116 gms). 2009 Proj.-.290/.380/105RUNS/55SB
2. Howie Kendrick 2B: 2008-.306/3HR/37RBI (92 gms). 2009 Proj.-.310/10/55/85RUNS/15SB
3. Bobby Abreu LF: 2008(NYY)-.296/20/100/100. 2009 Proj.-.300/18/90/80/20SB
4. Vladimir Guerrero RF: 2008-.303/27/91. 2009 Proj.-.315/28/110
5. Torii Hunter CF: 2008-.278/21/78. 2009 Proj.-.275/20/80
6. Juan Rivera DH/RF: 2008-.246/12/45 (256 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.285/22/65 (475 ABs)
7. Kendry Morales 1B: 2008-.213/3/8 (61 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.280/13/60
8. Mike Napoli C: 2008-.273/20/49 (227 ABs (WOW!)). 2009 Proj.-.250/25/55 (350 ABs)
9. Erick Aybar SS: 2008-.277/3/39/53RUNS (346 ABs). 2009 Proj.-.275/5/40/65
Of course, all these "projections" are assuming fairly healthy seasons. I still see Naps splitting time with Jeff Mathis, and you can't expect him to keep up last year's HR rate. Aybar will be spelled by Izturis a little bit, but I don't think Aybar did anything last season to not come into '09 as the starter at SS. If Rivera gets more ABs, look for him to sniff 30 HR. We'll see.
If things just go according to plan and the young guys grow up a bit, I think the Halos will score enough runs to win 90-plus games. Now, they're no offensive juggernaut, but Abreu's OBP ability in front of Vlad makes the team much better than it was before his signing. They'll probably finish in the middle of the pack of the AL in runs scored.
I'll take a look at the pitchers in a different post and make a prediction on how the AL West shakes out.