What is the one area of concern the Angels must address heading into spring training?
Rice: I think the Angels need to find a consistent lead-off hitter and a consistent left fielder as well. It would be nice if they could kill two birds with one stone such as a Dexter Fowler. I’d like to see a line-up with a lead-off man Cole Calhoun 2, Mike Trout 3, Pujols 4, Cron 5, Yunel Escobar 6, Andrelton Simmons 7, Carlos Perez 8, Nava/Gentry 9.
Cardone: The bullpen is a reasonable area of concern in 2016. It was below league average in nearly all categories in 2015 and didn’t do anything to improve in the offseason. Huston Street and Joe Smith are only getting older, and for the second straight offseason the front office traded away a live, young arm (Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Gott) for a hitter. Al Alburquerque was a nice addition, but won’t be much of a game changer out of the ‘pen.
Lea: This will sound cliche, but injuries have to be the major concern here. Last season, the Angels won 85 games with Wilson and Pujols for a majority of the season with Weaver also being in and out of the lineup. I think in order for this team to make a legitimate run for the post season they have to be healthy.
Quesada: Some of their stars are getting older — just ask Pujols, Weaver, Wilson and Street among many others. There aren’t many more chances for this team to make a big push as a unit. Pretty soon, Trout, Garrett Richards, and Calhoun will be playing with a bunch of who-are-those-guys prospects, many of which are still far underdeveloped. The Angels experiment of building around Trout through free agency failed miserably (minus the 2014 season), and now that those players are aging and doing it quickly, the team has to face the reality that they are maybe three years removed from putting one of the worst farm systems in the league on the field at Angel Stadium.
Avise: Left field is clearly their biggest glaring issue and will be all season. Lead off too. I’d love to see a true lead off hitter come our way as well but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t hate how they look at any other position. I’m a big Johnny Giavotella supporter but if the Angels can work out a deal to bring David Freese back and move Escobar to 2nd, I think that makes them better all around too.
Ludwig: Their two biggest concerns in the offseason, leftfield and second base, went unaddressed this offseason (unless you count signing Nava and Gentry, which I don’t). Now, their biggest concern has to be the lack of a leadoff hitter. The spot might have to go to Escobar or Nava by default, because they’re the only players on this team besides Trout that get on base at an above average clip (career .350 OBP for Escobar, .358 for Nava). However, they both lack the speed you would expect from a typical leadoff hitter (career high stolen bases in a season for Escobar: 6, 4 for Nava). Nava had a dreadful 2015, and Escobar is expected to regress this season after his fluky good season with the Nationals (.347 BABIP vs. career .306), so it appears that the lead-off spot might again be a huge problem for this team.
Next: Is the division within reach?