6– Number of days until Opening Day
101,396– Number of signatures at www.budweiser.com/openingday to make Opening Day a National Holiday.
Los Angeles Angels Preview
For the second season in a row, the Los Angeles Angels dug themselves an early hole with an awful April. They finished the 2013 season with a 78-84 record, under performing their 81-81 predicted record by a few games. Heading into year three of Mike Trout reign over baseball, the Angels still have some glaring holes. Combine those with a heavy influx of talent elsewhere in the division and you get the strong possibility of another disappointing season in Anaheim.
Key Additions: David Freese, Joe Smith, Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago, Raul Ibanez
Key Departures: Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos,
OFFENSE: The Angels made a couple of moves this offseason to shore up some holes on their roster, but trading Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos leaves the team without much depth in their lineup. Kole Calhoun will be a full-time starter after breaking onto the scene with a .282 batting average last season. On the other side of the outfield, Josh Hamilton will try to replicate his second half production. After an abysmal June, Hamilton hit .287 after the All-Star break. He is already a bit behind schedule after a calf strain. J.B. Shuck will be the team's fourth outfielder, and some guy named Mike Trout will look to continue post crazy good numbers in center field. Albert Pujols battled plantar fasciitis that significantly limited his production last year and the Angels are hoping for a big bounce back season from him. David Freese should provide some pop at third base if he can remain healthy. Howie Kendrick and Raul Ibanez will produce as well for the Angels should run out a strong lineup everyday in 2o14.
STARTING ROTATION: The Angels' pitching staff posted a 4.24 ERA last season, fifth-worst in the American League. This poor showing was no fault of Jered Weaver, who put up a 3.27 ERA to lead the rotation. Unfortunately, he also spent time on the disabled list and failed to total 200 innings for the second consecutive year. The forearm tightness that bothered him last September has not been an issue so far this spring, but it may be something to keep an eye on going forward, as the Angels' pitching staff will only go as far as Weaver and C.J.Wilson take them. Garrett Richards will slot into the rotation behind Weaver and Wilson after a solid audition to end the 2013 season. Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago round out the staff and both have decent upside.
BULLPEN: The bullpen was a major issue last season, with the Ryan Madson signing never panning out and Sean Burnett only able to appear in 9 2/3 innings. With Dane De La Rosa as a backup option at closer, excellent left-hander Burnett coming back and hopefully healthy and the addition of Joe Smith, it is fair to expect a big improvement for the Angels bullpen. Ernesto Frieri picked up an impressive 37 saves last year and he did it with an astounding strikeout rate. Frieri owns the 9th inning on a short leash as De La Rosa appears to be the closer-in-waiting in Anaheim.
2014 Prediction: It's going to come down to how the pitching staff works out. The Angels are going to have plenty of offense, but the run prevention appears to be lacking. I think the Angels are going to be better this season. I expect them to be a contender and let's not forget they won 89 games in 2012 and had a litany of things go wrong for them last season. I believe we've seen the downside to this team and that was last season and they still won 78 games.
Final Record: 86-76 (2nd Place in AL West)