Those close to me know that there is nothing I despise more in life than when I get shortchanged at Panda Express and Angels baseball. My hatred for the Angels began on Oct. 27, 2002 when the Angels won the World Series. You can often overhear me calling that the worst day in sports history. Despite my unreasonable hatred for the Angels and their fans, they have the pieces to make a playoff run in 2013.
You are probably reading this thinking, “An article by a young writer about how awesome Josh Hamilton is and that he will put the Angles over the edge. I have already read 74 of these.” While I do think the Hamilton deal was pretty good, the small and lesser-known moves the Angels made will push them into the playoffs.
The casual Angel fan knows about the Hamilton deal but is probably unaware of the other improvements the Angels have made. The diehard Angel fan should be more excited for this season than they were for last season.
Last season, after the acquisitions of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, Angel fans acted as if The Beatles reunited. ESPN and Fox Sports were crowning the Angels as the new American League powerhouse. Being the incredibly intelligent and handsome man that I am mixed with my Angel hatred, I was skeptical.
The Angels and their general manager Jerry Dipoto have made a few under the radar moves that have greatly improved the team. Getting rid of overpaid players like Kendrys Morales, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana will end up benefiting the Angels in the long term and short term.
One important move the Angels made was acquiring new starting pitching. The Angels will not have the best starting rotation in baseball but it will be serviceable. The rotation will consist of Jared Weaver, CJ Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas, and Joe Blanton.
Weaver is a Cy Young candidate every year and Wilson will be better coming off of his injury. But the most underrated trade in the offseason was when the Angels traded the overpaid Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for Jason Vargas. In 2012 Vargas made 33 starts with a record of 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA. He had career highs in innings pitched, WHIP, and strikeout to walk ratio. Vargas could end up being the Angels second best pitcher in 2013.
The Achilles heel of the 2012 Angels was their bullpen. The Angels added two excellent relievers to fix that problem. They added Ryan Madson, a closer who missed the 2012 season with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Madson was a good closer for the Phillies in 2011 and the Angels got him on a one year low risk deal. Madson will take over as the closer which will push Ernesto Frieri into the setup man role where he will thrive.
The other reliever they added is Sean Burnett, who they acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Dan Haren. Burnett pitched in 70 games in 2012 with an ERA of 2.38. Burnett is one of the best left handed relievers in baseball and getting him for an aging Dan Haren was a steal.
Pitching is the key to playoff baseball success. The Angels were weak in the pitching department in 2012 but are very strong in 2013. The Angels lineup has some holes in it and there will be nights that they do not score many runs, but the pitching should be good enough to keep them atop the AL West.
The Houston Astros, the worst team in the major leagues by far, is now in the AL West. The Angels will play them 18 times and I think it is pretty safe to say the Angels will win at least 12 of those games. The Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers are very good but on paper the Angels are better.
The American League is stacked. It is full of playoff contenders and new teams add themselves to the mix every season. The 2013 Angels will be just as good as the Orioles, Rays, and Athletics. I have enjoyed the past three years of laughing as the Angels ended their season in September. This season I am expecting to be on my couch in October with a bag of popcorn and tears down my cheeks as the Angels make a deep playoff run.