Three Keys for the Angels in 2014

With less than one month until the regular season, the Angels have several items to determine this spring. In order for this season to be a success, there are three key things that need to happen.

First, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols need to come back to form that got them their big contracts. Albert Pujols is back to full health after missing the last two months of last season due to a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. During his time with the Angels, he has produced a .275/.338/.485 batting line with 47 home runs. However, in his 11 years with St. Louis, he hit at a .328/.420/.617 rate with 445 home runs. Josh Hamilton, meanwhile, is also coming off of a down first year in Anaheim. He hit at a .250/.307/.432 rate with 21 home runs. This year, he has added 20 pounds and is back to where he was in 2012 with the Texas Rangers. If the Angels have these two at 100% behind Mike Trout, this could be an excellent line up.

Next would be setting up a solid rotation; a rotation that can go deeper than just Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Garrett Richards is expected to make the rotation, but there are two more spots up for grabs. If they can’t fill those last two spots with solid arms than the Angels will be looking at a repeat of last season. This year Jerry Dipoto has made low-cost moves bringing in two possible options in Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Hector Santiago has spent his 3 years in the majors with the Chicago White Sox having a combined 8-10 record with a 3.41 ERA. Only being 26 years old, he has a lot to prove with a new team. Santiago has one thing he has going for himself since he’s the only active pitcher to throw a screwball. Tyler Skaggs, on the other hand, is only 22 years old and has 13 major league games under his belt. The last two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks he is 3-6 with a 5.43 ERA. These are the front-runners for the last two spots on the staff, unless they happen to make a signing before the season starts.

Finally, the Angels will need to come out with a strong bullpen. So far this offseason, they added some new arms with sidearmer Joe Smith being the most notable. Smith spent the last five seasons with the Cleveland Indians going 18-11 with a 2.76 ERA. This is a big piece for a bullpen that ranked 13th among the 15 American League teams in earned run average. Sean Burnett looks to be back to full health for the beginning of the season, having undergone season ending elbow surgery after only pitching 9 .1 innings in 2013. One solid arm in the bullpen is Ernesto Frieri who looks to be the Angels closer this year after having to compete for the role last year when Ryan Madson was injured. He has gone 6-6 with 3.15 ERA and 60 saves with the Angels in two seasons.  Hopefully this season they will be able to come in and close the game out and hold leads. This was, in my opinion, the weakest are for the Angels last season.

If they can improve on the three things above, the Angels may be able to make the postseason.

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Tags: Los Angeles Angels

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