Last year it was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, this year it’s Josh Hamilton.
The Los Angeles Angels have become Steinbrenner-like, but buying up all of the big free agents on an annual basis.
There’s no doubt that they drastically improved their offense, but their pitching rotation took a major hit this offseason.
It’s not the fact that they traded Ervin Santana, but the fact that they traded Dan Haren.
Given that Haren wasn’t able to be the same pitcher that he was in 2011, much less stay healthy, made him expendable. No matter how you look at his 2012 season, he’s still an elite talent that any club would want.
His absence actually affects the rest of the staff more, forcing them to move up in the order and decrease their value in opposing matchups.
Jerome Williams was demoted, opening up three spots in the Angels rotation.
They brought in former Braves SP Tommy Hanson, journeyman Joe Blanton, and traded for Mariners SP Jason Vargas. None of those names impress anyone going into spring camp.
The one improvement that they did make with their pitching staff, was bringing in former Reds project Ryan Madson.
He’s recovering from Tommy John Surgery, but should be ready to go by the second week of the season.
Madson made a name for himself in 2011 with the Phillies, by coverting 32 saves and posting a 2.37 ERA.
The bats will always be there, especially with the emergence of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, but you can’t disregard the losses of Torii Hunter and Kendrys Morales.
Just because Hunter didn’t hit at least 20 home runs for the first time in 6 seasons, you shouldn’t discount the fact that he had a .313 batting average.
The Angels definitely upgraded their offense, with the addition of Josh Hamilton, but they have to get a lot out of their new pitching staff if they’re going to be successful.
Let’s take a look at the re-vamped Angels…
ANGELS PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Mike Trout LF He’s had an unbelievable rookie season, to the point where you can’t possibly expect the same production in ’13, but that shouldn’t keep him from being one of the first players drafted
2. Erick Aybar SS Suffered a quad injury late in the season, but was a solid .290 hitter, not a lot of power, but produces runs, still doesn’t make him elite enough to draft
3. Albert Pujols 1B Each of the past two seasons, owners seem to get down on Pujols early in the season, but he’s still someone that you’d want on your team, still a top 10 overall player
4. Josh Hamilton RF Coming off the best season of his career, 43 HRs, a consistent .280-.300 hitter, might not have many on base with Pujols hitting in front of him, but still a top 10 hitter
5. Mark Trumbo DH The Angels’ version of Nelson Cruz, with at least 29 HRs in each of his last 2 seasons, but a .260 hitter, still a solid asset that you can draft later than what he should be valued.
6. Howie Kendrick 2B His value drastically declined ever since the arrival of Pujols, now Hamilton will push him further down the lineup. Second tier option on draft day for second basemen
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B He has the coolest name in the MLB, but not the game to back it up, a .250 hitter and can barely produce 10 home runs…look elsewhere
8. Chris Ianetta C If you have to consider owning him, you have officially hit desperation…you could do better with someone’s backup catcher that only appears twice a week
9. Peter Bourjos CF Coming off a horrible season, Hamilton’s signing could push him out of the lineup, but the Marlins were interested in trading for him back in December, not a solid pick while he’s still in LA
1. Jered Weaver He’s one of the best pitchers to own in the league, strikeout totals were down, but produced his first 20-win season, he shoudl be one of the first pitchers off the board on draft day
2. CJ Wilson He’s become more of a casualty in LA for fantasy owners. He moves up the rotation, with Haren’s departure, which could decrease his value even more. Constant hand injuries last season has to worry you, when considering taking him in the early rounds of your draft.
3. Tommy Hanson He can barely crack an above .500 record, transitioning from NL to AL is never a good thing, and has never lived up to the hype, tread lightly when considering him
4. Joe Blanton Do you really want to trust a guy that’s never had an ERA lower than in the 4′s? If he was a decent pitcher, he wouldn’t be with his 3rd club in 2 years, look elsewhere
5. Jason Vargas Could actually garner sneaky value by moving from a no.2 pitcher with SEA, to the 5 in LA, with a better offense. He’s a waiver-wire pickup after you realize you’re not happy with your draft and need transition players.
RP-Ryan Madson It’s not fair to judge his value, after needing Tommy John Surgery, but he has the ability to be a reliable fantasy closer, just don’t know if he’ll get a ton of opportunities behind this offense
Mark Trumbo proved last season that he could be a consistent producer, now it’s time for him to become an elite fantasy option. Right now you can get Trumbo is the mid-later rounds, just because he’s labeled as a DH, but that shouldn’t keep you from valuing him more than that. Two seasons in a row of at least 29 home runs, 61 total in that span, and is only getting better. The third year always seems to be best year for any professional athlete, and Trumbo has the tools to become the next big thing in LA. By 2014, he could be worthy of being drafted in the first two rounds, but you can get him in the middle rounds this year.
Nick Maronde is the no.2 prospect in the Angels’ farm system and could make the big league roster this spring. Management is happy with the rotation as of now, but Maronde could come out of the bullpen if he were able to make the club. He had a 2.26 ERA in 20 games last season in the minors, and will look to bring that type of production at the major-league level. There are always injuries that can occur, especially with this rotation, which is why Maronde seems like a reliable candidate to promote in camp. Regardless, he was able to perform well in spot appearances towards the end of last season. He won’t be someone to draft, but he’s a name that you should have on your watchlist from day one.