Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lineup Against the Wall: (Eff It. They'll Always Be the) California Angels

Well, kids. We've just about made it. We're one week away from Opening Day 2009, and it's high time we had a look at the clubs that'll be participating in this campaign. This here feature is one of the many brilliant ideas crafted by proud new father Old No. 7, and in an effort to even the work load and make things interesting, I've suggested that all three sides of the Iron Triangle participate in this little exercise. I've suggested a number of things over the years, but they're usually bad ideas. Very bad ideas. We'll see how this one pans out, but for now, let's see how things look on the American League side of Los Angeles baseball this year. I'll bet you know by now just where we can accomplish such a thing. Before we head there, take note that I a) have no idea what rock'n'jocks means, nor do I intend to investigate, and b) must mention that (unfortunately) none of the above-pictured Angeles were non-roster invitees to this year's spring training.

The Angels are a fascinating club in many regards. Aside from the fact that they have die-hard fans that go by monikers such as Blanche Feverpiss, they embody a special brand of baseball. They successfully plug in a million little pieces of talent to all necessary parts of the roster, and they get an intelligent baseball mind to run the show. Their post-season exit in 2008 was, to me, one of the year's biggest surprises. I won't go so far as to speculate how well they'll do in October this year, but I will say that if I had to pick one team in all of baseball that was a sure-fire division-winner/post-season qualifier, it'd be California. Just why is an interesting combo of the aforementioned well-spread talent, baseball smarts, and because their division is just damn awful. But it's also because they're good, even if they employ third basemen whose parents missed the spelling bus in remarkable fashion. Let me Chow you what I mean.

In the off-season, they lost Mark Texeira and Francisco Rodriguez, two roster spots which leave some holes. They have, however, a pretty impressive lineup, nonetheless, which I imagine looks a little something like this:

1) 3B Chone Figgins
2) CF ToreEye Hunter
3) RF Big Bad Vlad
4) LF Bobby Abreu
5) SS Erick Aybar
6) 2B Howie Kendrick
7) 1B Kendrys Morales or Robb Quinlan (easily the biggest gap to fill in Tex's absence)
8) DH options in newly acquired Juan Rivera, Gary Matthews, Ryan Willits or Maicer Izturis (if you have to), and
9) C Mike Napoli, who I feel will thrive with the starting job this season.

In the rotation, you have:

1) John Lackey
2) Ervin Santana
3) Joe Saunders (the three of whom combined for 45 Angel wins in '08)
4) Jered Weaver, and
5) Dustin Moseley.

Now, this combo only gives you one lefty, but it's a solid one-through-three, not a bad four, and, well, five just might pan out okay for you.

The meat of the bullpen looks pretty solid as well. The top three Angels relievers averaged at a 2.40 ERA while killing the strikeouts-to-walks ratio (167-67), and scraping together 23 wins, which leads to K-Rod's replacement in Brian Fuentes, who just happened to net 30 saves last year for a pretty bad Rockies club.

Now, take all that, throw in the Seattle Mariners, who will likely stink up the joint again, the old college-try Oakland Athletics, and a surprisingly (spring-training) feisty Texas Ranger club, and you may as well just hand L.A. the pennant. Stranger things have, of course, happened, but I wouldn't gamble on the West being won by anyone else. Not this year, anyway.


Cecil said...

Let's see-that's DeCinces on the left, yes? And then Baylor, Reggie and Rod effin' Carew.

Man, I fucking loved Rod Carew.

Dylan said...

Decinces? Wipe the steam off of your specs...that is OF Fred Lynn.
Post-Sox-twighlight-contract-WestCoast..Fred Lynn.

Cecil said...

Freddy Lynn? Shit, you're right--I forgot he played for the Los Anaheim Angels of California.