I’m standing by my pick of the Angels

Back in March, I picked the California Angels (yes, I still call them that) to win not only the American League West but also make it all the way to the World Series.

I thought they had the best pitching to win the West. I thought the weight of Toronto being taken off Vernon Wells’ shoulders would have led to a resurgence in his bat. And with Kendry Morales due back at mid season, they would get a nice jolt.

And I also figured in a short playoff series, the combination of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana would have them win both the Division Series and the ALCS.

Well that pick looks… well… not so good now.
But unlike my out of the blue picking of Oakland in 2009, I am standing by my pick.

Yes their offense is awful. They keep grounding into double plays and they’ve been shutout as many time this year as they had all last year.

Morales isn’t coming back, Wells has been a total bust and here we are in Mid June with the Angels 5 games under .500.

But here’s the thing. There is talent in the lineup. Mark Trumbo has shown some pop, Howie Kendrick is a decent hitter and Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis all have ability. They are in a funk.

Hitting is easier to fix than pitching, and this Angels team CAN pitch. Weaver and Haren are still pitching well, even if their win loss record doesn’t reflect it. Young Jordan Walden has stepped into the closer role.

The Angels need to make a move and they need to make it sooner rather than later.

If they could bring in a player to give the team an offensive spark, the effect could be felt up and down the line up.

Imagine a player like Carlos Beltran plugged into the lineup. Remove him from the purgatory of Flushing and have him play in an outfield with Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos (would there be a better defensive outfield in the game?)

And having him go on one last contract run could mean the likes of Abreu and Hunter and Trumbo could see more fastballs.

And also remember the Angels are only 5 games back of the Rangers with about 2/3 of the season to play. AND the Rangers always have a tough time of it in August.

(Even last year, the Rangers had a losing August. They just had such a big lead that none of the other AL West teams could take advantage of it.)

Give this lineup a new spark and the Angels could start scoring more runs and getting on a roll. Just take a look at the Red Sox to see how quickly things can turn around for a talented club.

But Arte Moreno and the management have to make a deal involving some prospects too.

Last year they made the right move, realizing that they got the best of what they could out of Joe Saunders and packaged him off for Dan Haren.

In the past the Angels have held on to players long before they have any worth in the majors or as trade bait.

(Dallas McPherson? Robb Quinlan? Brandon Wood?)

Bring Beltran to Anaheim and see the line up click.
Then see that 5 game deficit crumble.
Then see one of my picks look pretty good.

Yup. I’m standing by my pick.

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The reawakening of Vernon Wells – My latest for The Hardball Times

In my latest for The Hardball Times, I speculate about Vernon Wells and the potentially joyful season he might be having for the Angels. My reasons are not based on stats but rather emotions, which means the commenters will probably hate my guts.

Ahh well.

You can read the whole article here.

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An untradeable player has been traded

In each of the last two seasons I have included Vernon Wells in one of my How can they trade that untradeable contract? posts.

One for the blog after the 2009 season… one for The Hardball Times after the 2010 season.

Well, it took Adrian Beltre, Carl Crawford and just about every other player in creation to turn down the Angels to do it… but the Blue Jays found a suitor.

Vernon is heading to Los Angeles.
And then drive about an hour south and wind up in Anaheim. But let’s for the sake of argument call it Los Angeles.

I personally think it is a terrific move for the Angels.
Wells is a stand up guy with talent. And he should fit in well with the organization and the lineup.

Please spare us all the indignity of breaking down his play and his WAR, VORP and OPS+. That’s not what this move is about.

As I wrote before, this is about a change going to do him good.
He signed that gigantic contract to stay in Toronto. And it became his legacy and identity.

He even had to wear the hairshirt and indignity of having to admit he wasn’t worth the contract.

It was time for a change of scenery. As much as he clearly loved Toronto, and as much as I thought him having a Todd Helton moment would have been super cool, he had to go.

I had him for two years in a row going to the Cubs. I thought the natural surface and a fresh start with a fan base would be ideal. But now he is off to a model organization with a good pitching staff, Kendry Morales should be back and no doubt Torii Hunter will welcome him with open arms.

He’ll be playing for a potential Hall of Fame manager and will no doubt be in a pennant race.

And he won’t have the constant reminder that his contract his too big.

Can you say “relaxed”? Can you “rejuvenated”? Can you say “big season for a guy who actually made the All Star team in 2010”?

Not bad for an untradeable player.

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