Friday, June 20, 2008

I like the Angels.

I was fortunate enough to finally be able to watch the Angels play this week, an opportunity I only get about six times a year...when the Yankees are playing them, so I don't pay too much attention. This time around, however, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were playing my Mets.

Early in the season, I openly questioned how the Angels were performing so well without their top two pitchers, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar. The unwritten trends of baseball indicate that when a good team's top players go down, the children of a lesser god step up (see: Yankees since Wang injury, Cardinals since Pujols, injury not including the last three games). But after watching games one and three of the series (and about three innings of game two), I have a much clearer picture of how good this team actually is and why they're so good.

The Mets may have won two of three in the series, but the Angels were clearly the better team.

The Angels aren't the most powerful team, representing the bottom 10 in the entire MLB in both runs scored and home runs. They aren't in the top 10 in staff earned run average, either. Somehow, Anaheim has the fourth best winning percentage in baseball. Right behind the Rays, I might add.

The team chemistry is amazing. They have so much fun out on the diamond. They remind me of the '04 Red Sox, the only difference being the '08 Angels don't have a chip on their shoulder. It's debatable whether that makes them better or worse, but I don't think it's right to compare because of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the '04 Red Sox. Basically I'm saying the Sox of that season were better, but it would be counterproductive to this blog to admit it. Oops.

Anyway, let's start on offense. A star-studded outfield consists of the most intimidating batter in baseball, Vladdy Guerrero, gold glover Torii Hunter, and the overpaid but valuable Gary Matthews, Jr. Garrett Anderson is the backup outfielder/DH. To put it in terms Mets' fans can understand, it's like not having to depend on Moises Alou to start everyday, but just using him in certain situations.

Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman highlight the infield, with uber-role players Howie Kendrick, Reggie Willits, Robb Quinlan, and Erick Aybar chipping in here and there. None of these guys hit for an overly impressive average, but this team is more capable than any other of stringing together three or four hits or getting a two-out hit with runners in scoring position.

The starting pitching, as I said before, is not amazing, but with Lackey having just returned, it's going to get a lot better and take a lot of pressure off of the guys who have stepped up early in the season. Joe Saunders has 10 wins, Ervin Santana, who was a disaster last year, is 8-3, and Jon Garland and Jered Weaver each have six wins.

The bullpen has weakened over the years, with the loss of Brendan Donnelly, Kevin Gregg, Troy Percival, etc...but it is still strong with Scot Shields and of course, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez to seal the de

This team swings 2-0, is not afraid to steal second, and they know how to get people out. The Angels are the second most complete team in baseball right now. Red Sox/Angels is going to be a fantastic ALCS and should probably be considered the World Series, because whoever wins that series is taking the whole thing.


ERnie said...

The Angels make me sick and you're eliminating the Rays already!?

Travis Miller said...

let's be honest. The Rays aren't going to survive the summer heat from the Yanks and the BoSox. They will finish third in the division though! One place higher than I predicted in February! They'll probably finish close to .500 too

ERnie said...

One can hope.

Travis Miller said...

why do you hate the angels?

ERnie said...

They're an AL team, they own the Dodgers, and that stupid marketing thing didn't help me like them either... LA of Anaheim crap.

Michael J. Clark said...

as a dodgers fan, ernie is contractually obligated to hate the la angels, just like you hate the yanks.

Travis Miller said...

My hatred for the Yankees is not a contractual obligation. It's common sense given everything that goes on in and around that team.

How can you like a team that supports admitted juicers like Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte?

ERnie said...

I hate the Angels, Yankees and the god damned Cheatriots

Michael J. Clark said...

how dare you ernie? a cheap shot like that.

ERnie said...

Cheap shot, the truth... its all the same when it comes to that!