The LA Angels faced devastating injury blow after devastating injury blow last year and finished just fourth in the AL West despite being picked by some to win the whole division.
While this was understandably disappointing to this fanbase, LA Angels color analyst Mark Gubicza isn't necessarily down on the Halos' prospects for the division this year. Talking to me about the 2022 AL West, he said that "it’s a very winnable division."
He did point out that he expects there to be competition, but believes that the Angels can be right in the thick of that competition:
"The Rangers have done some really good things as far as their middle infield depth right now...Seattle I think is solid. Houston may take a step back if Carlos Correa doesn’t go back there. In Oakland, even though they’re in that trade mode and sale mode once again, they just never go away...And so the division’s going to be really good, but I think it’s a winnable division for the Angels this year."- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels Color Analyst
The LA Angels have the lineup to win the AL West in 2022, and Mark Gubicza seems to be well-aware.
Mark Gubicza simply believes that the LA Angels are "one or two starters away."
And he's exactly right. The Halos have the two best players in baseball in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and a strong front end and middle of the rotation (Shohei Ohtani, Noah Syndergaard, Patrick Sandoval, and Jose Suarez). It's all going to come down to how the back-end shapes up.
They re-signed Raisel Iglesias to a four-year deal, and they also made arguably their biggest signing of the offseason in bringing in standout reliever Aaron Loup as well from the New York Mets. The bullpen should be better next year, and there were some younger pitchers who came up last year to get experience who have shown the ability to be strong bullpen candidates.
Some of our young bullpen pitchers in general looked great last year. Heck, 25-year-old Austin Warren was our second-best reliever last year. The pen doesn't look great, but it's easy to find some cheap candidates to bolster our pen.
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We can re-sign Steve Cishek as well, who quietly recorded a strong 3.42 ERA and 131 ERA+ last season.
Gubicza is right. If we can acquire one to two more legit starters, we can take a massive jump this year. And with the two best players in the game in Trout and Ohtani, a major bounce-back candidate in Anthony Rendon, an All-Star at first base in Jared Walsh, and two more exciting young guns in the outfield, the lineup and crop of position players have already arrived.
We can already compete with the roster we have.
Yes, the Rangers loaded up with a couple superstar infielders this offseason, and yes the Mariners stole Robbie Ray from us. The Astros may not be done yet as well, and Gubi pointed out that the Athletics seem to compete no matter what. The Halos have the offensive potential to beat all of them, and if they can bring in a Luis Castillo or a Chris Bassitt, they may end up as the favorites.