Scott Kazmir has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels after a deal reportedly didn’t go down prior to the July 31st trading deadline. Almost a month later, the Angels have bolstered their rotation.
In what has been a tough season (8-7, 5.92 ERA) for the still very young southpaw, the Angels may have been attracted to go get the kid after two solid starts in which he went seven and a third giving up three runs against Texas and going six innings of one-run ball in which he struck out ten against Toronto.
Perhaps the 25-year-old is turning a corner on a terrible season thus far, so the Angels, who look to take the AL West grabbed the strikeout pitcher hoping for some results as September nears.
Their rotation has had a rough year as well. Along with the tragic loss of Nick Adenhart, both Ervin Santana and John Lackey started the year on the disabled list. Here’s how they’ve been in 2009–
John Lackey — 8-7 // 4.16 ERA
Ervin Santana — 7-7 // 5.94 ERA
Joe Saunders — 10-7 // 5.27 ERA
Jered Weaver — 13-5 // 4.03 ERA
Trevor Bell will likely be out which leaves that fifth spot for Kazmir, who’s statistics fit right in with the rest of this struggling rotation. For now, the Angels can get away with the struggling pitching because they hit so well. They do all the little things correctly.
Come playoff time, that may not be the case. The playoffs are about how well your pitchers step up and put your team into a position to win (along with the little things). Kazmir was just there last year and he’s faced the Yanks and Red Sox many, many times before. So if they happen to meet in the playoffs, his knowledge of their hitters will help out the Angels’ staff.
Season Preview: Los Angeles Angels
Projected MLB Rank: 5th — AL Rank: 2nd — AL West Rank: 1st — Record: (93-69)
American League West Champions
So where’s the competition out west for the Angels? The A’s could be considered a challenge, but I think they’re too young this year. The Rangers will never win become a playoff threat until they get some pitching. Then the Mariners, well, I have them ranked last in the league.
So that provides the Angels with a bunch of wins even if their number one and two pitchers are out until about May. Those pitchers, John Lackey and Ervin Santana are two of the best pitchers in the AL. While they’re on the DL, there are five others who will need to fill the void for the time being. Jered Weaver should improve on his 4.33 ERA and 11-10 this season, but nothing drastic. Joe Saunders did a great job for the Halos last season winning 17 games. The lefty also posted a 3.41 ERA in 31 starts. Dustin Moseley will probably be the fifth starter once Lackey and Santana return. Moseley does get roughed up once in a while so there are other options. Nick Adenhart is one of those options, he’s still 22 years old and has some good stuff to do well in the majors but he hasn’t had too much success recently. Shane Loux is another option and will probably start the season in the rotation but once everyone is healthy and back–Loux will be back, in the minor leagues.
Don’t be suprised if Brian Fuentes posts over 50 saves this season. The way the Angels play baseball provides the closers with many chances for saves. Fuentes saved 30 games for Colorado last season along with a 2.73 ERA and almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings. Scot Shields has great stuff and should continue to be effective coming out of the bullpen as he posted a 2.70 ERA last season. Jose Arredondo may be the seventh inning guy. In 52 games last year, the 25 year old compiled a 1.62 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP. Then there’s Darren Oliver who posted a 2.88 ERA last season. Very reliable bullpen.
This lineup is great. Bringing in Bobby Abreu to replace Garrett Anderson was a nice move. The Angels are so outfield heavy now (as Gary Matthews Jr. now has no place to start). Then there’s Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Chone Figgins and Juan Rivera. The household names.
The players that fly under the radar out in LA will not go unnoticed this season. Secondbaseman Howie Kendrick is a hitter. If he can stay healthy, expect an average over .300 with stolen bases and great defense. Kendry Morales finally gets the firstbase job all to himself. So he will develop this year getting the chances everyday. Mike Napoli presumes to be the starting catcher. He hit 20 homeruns in 78 games last season. If he played a full season, he could even hit 35 homers and put up 75 or so RBIs. He compiled a .586 slugging percentage with an on base percentage 100 points higher than his batting average. Erick Aybar has had a nice spring training and will be at short for his defense this year, but if he starts to get hot at the plate–he will definately be the starter.
All in all, the Angels have the offense and are in the division that can afford to lose their top two starting pitchers for about a month. There’s really not much to the story here. Division champs.