The purpose of this blog is not to knock on the Texas Rangers who are in first, because by the way they've been playing, they clearly deserve to be in first. The purpose of this blog is to point out major weaknesses in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's (could it get any longer??) organization. I will not only point them out, but I will give possible fixes as well.
1. Mickey Hatcher
For an organization that has been trying to preach patience at the plate for the past two seasons, it seems to me that Mr. Hatcher is the wrong person to do it. In 12 major league seasons as a player, Hatcher only drew 164 walks. 164!!! And they want this guy to teach patience to their hitters? Can we please try to re-hire Rod Carew? Maybe give Tim Salmon a job? I mean, I realize Hatcher and Scioscia are good friends, but something needs to be done if this team is going to reach the World Series again.
The whole infield is a weakness. You have absolutely no power at third in Chone Figgins, and while he is a valuable player, he can be played elsewhere. Then you have the Maicer Izturis/Eric Aybar platoon at shortstop. Neither have power, and neither stay healthy, so tell me the benefit of having either one on your starting lineup? Aybar can make some flashy plays, but I'd rather have a solid defensive player with some pop than a flashy defensive player with no pop. At second you have Howie Kendrick, and while I jumped on his bandwagon at first, he has disappointed me to say the least. Hailed by many (including me) to be a future batting champion, he is batting .236 with 35:10 K:BB ratio. Maybe it's time to send him down for a little bit. In my opinion, you move Figgins to second, call up Brandon Wood to play third, Send down Izturis and leave Aybar on the bench and call up Sean Rodriguez to play shortstop. Don't move Kendrick to the bench, let him go back down to AAA and work out the kinks and see if he can't make it back to the big leagues. As for first? Move Napoli to first and trade Kendry Morales.
I understand that the Angels didn't want to pay a hefty contract to K-Rod, but imagine Fuentes NOT in the closer's role, but setting up K-Rod? I like that duo better than I do the Putz-Rodriguez duo in New York right now. Remember this is the same team that gave Gary Matthews Jr. an $50 million contract for 5 years, after he batted .313 ONCE. That was about 50 points higher than his career average, and he did that at age 32. So why can't we dish out $50 million for arguably one of the best closers in the game? Now look at our bullpen! A model of consistency for the past 10 years is now in shambles. We had a warning that Scot Shields was going to be ineffective early last year when he struggled and we didn't trade him while his value was still high and now we're paying the price. Jose Arrendondo who excelled last year has struggled mightily this year due to more pressure being on him and has been subsequently sent down to AAA to work on his command. Rookies such as Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger have struggled, prompting the Angels to sign 40 year old Rudy Seanez to bring "stability" to their bullpen. This whole bullpen is a mess and there's no easy fix. You just have to wait for them to work things out.
4. Aging players
Vladamir Guerrero. I swear, if we re-sign him I will cry. He has not only CHOKED in the playoffs (with the exception of his game-tying grand-slam in 2004), he has started to become completely ineffective and nobody fears him any more. His rediculous swing is starting to have an effect on his body (DL stint earlier this year for a torn pectoral muscle in his chest) and he's missing waaaaay too many balls and is a liability in the outfield. I feel the same way about Gary Matthews, Jr. If you've read this far, you understand that I think the $50 million contract he received was rediculous and completely undeserved. Torii Hunter is getting up there in age, and even though he leads the Angels in most offensive categories, you have to wonder how long he can keep it up. He is still an amazing outfielder though. Bobby Abreu is getting older and even though he's still a good hitter, it seems he's lost all his power which is really what this team needs. We need to trade Guerrero before the deadline and see if we can't get some major league ready prospects for him, because I don't think we'll re-sign him and if we let him walk, we get 2 extra picks, but neither will be major league ready.
Fix these area's and we'll overtake Texas and win the West again.