Chone Figgins finally gets a starting job he can settle into

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 12:08 pm

29 year old switch hitter Chone Figgins will be the starting third baseman of the Angels this season. The days of him playing all over the field appear to be over. Figgins hit .267 with 93 runs scored, 9 homers, 62 RBIs, 52 steals and a .712 OPS last year for the Angels. Figgins will need to improve his defense at third base as he didn’t show much range and made 10 errors there in 34 games. Look for Figgins to be an average defensive third baseman now that he can concentrate on one position. Look for his batting average to come back up this season and for him to have a good year.

26 year old Maicer Izturis started a lot in the second half of the season at third base, but with the emergence of Howie Kendrick at 2B, Izturis will be the back up at 3B, 2B and SS for the Angels this season. Izturis also had a rough time on defense at 3B as he made 12 errors in 87 games and didn’t show much range there.

30 year old Robb Quinlan also could play some third base for the Angels this season. He played 18 games there last season and only made 1 error even though he doesn’t have much range. He could fill in if the Angels get in a pinch because he’s a good hitter.

26 year old lefty swinging Dallas McPherson will miss the whole season after having back surgery. That is a shame because McPherson played pretty well for the Angels last season as he hit .261 with 7 homers, 13 RBIs and a .776 OPS in 40 games. McPherson didn’t have much range at third and he made 3 errors in 31 games last season. Hopefully McPherson comes back strong in 2008 for the Angels.

Angels in good hands as shortstop with Orlando Cabrera

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 11:48 am

32 year old Orlando Cabrera had one of the best seasons of his career last season and the Angels need him to do it again. Cabrera hit .282 with 95 runs scored, 9 homers, 72 RBIs, 27 steals and a .738 OPS last season. His defense was a little suspect as he made 16 errors and his range looked a little short last year. Look for Cabrera’s defense to be improved this season and he should hit at least as well as he did last year.

26 year old Maicer Izturis will be the main back up for Cabrera. He played in 10 games at shortstop last season and made 1 error. He should be able to handle shortstop easily on defense and hit a little bit if the Angels need him to play a lot here.

23 year old shortstop Erick Aybar would probably get the call to the majors if something happened to Cabrera or Izturis. Aybar has a career minor league batting average of .311 with 179 steals in 543 games. He also played in 34 games for the Angels last season and hit .250 with a .575 OPS. Aybar played in 19 games and made 4 errors for the Angels at shortstop last season. I would think that it was just nerves, but he made a lot of errors in the minors so he will have to improve on defense to stick in the majors. He will hit though.

The future is now at 2B for the Angels

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 11:31 am

The Angels let Andy Kennedy leave as a free agent to make room for prized prospect Howie Kendrick. Kendrick is a 23 year old pure hitter that had a .361 batting average in 1,475 at bats in the minor leagues for the Angels. He also played in 72 games for the Angels last season and hit .285 with 4 homers, 30 RBIs, 6 stolen bases and a .730 OPS. Kendrick was also flawless in 28 games at 2B but he didn’t show good range. He has been a solid defender his whole career in the minors and should do very well now that he can concentrate on playing only 2B. Look for Kendrick to hit over .300 for the Angels this season.

26 year old switch hitting Maicer Izturis will be Kendrick’s main back up and he will also back up at 3B and SS this season as he takes over Chone Figgins’ old job of utility man. Izturis had a solid year with the bat for the Angels as he hit .293 with 5 homers, 44 RBIs, 14 steals and a .777 OPS in 104 games. Izturis only played 4 games at 2B for the Angels and he didn’t make an error. Look for Izturis to play well for the Angels, but he won’t play near as much as he did last season.

The Angels look good at DH

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by High Heat on Monday 12 February 2007 at 11:28 pm

When Juan Rivera broke his leg in Winter Ball, the Angels moved quickly and signed 31 year old Shea Hillenbrand to be their DH. Hillenbrand defies logic as he doesn’t strike out much, but he doesn’t walk much either. It’s amazing that he continues to hit for a decent average despite swinging at everything. Over the last three seasons, Hillenbrand has hit for a .293 average and he has averaged 77.3 runs scored, 18 homers and 76.7 RBIs! He has only walked 71 times over the last three seasons but he still continues to hit and he will again this season for the Angels.

28 year old Juan Rivera really came into his own last season. He hit .310 with a .887 OPS, 23 homers and 85 RBIs in only 448 at bats. It’s a shame that Rivera broke his leg in Winter Ball because he could have put up huge numbers as a full-time starter for the first time in his career. When he comes back, he could push Hillenbrand over to first base.

The Angels will likely go young at First Base

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by High Heat on Saturday 10 February 2007 at 9:05 am

The Angels will likely open this position up for a three-man competition. 24 year old lefty swinging Casey Kotchman appears fo have a slight edge heading into Spring Training. Kotchman must overcome the effects of the mononucleosis that ruined his season last year. He only hit .152 last season with 1 homer and 6 RBIs in only 79 at bats with a .436 OPS. He showed tremendous potential in 2005 as he hit .278 with 7 homers and 22 RBIs in only 126 at bats. And that is the Kotchman the Angels hope they’re getting this season. He is a very slick defender and didn’t make an error last season. The infield will be better off if Kotchman is at first base for the Angels.

Switch hitting 23 year old Kendry Morales will get another opportunity to compete for the starting job this season. He looked nervous in his first season in the major leagues, both on offense and defense. He only hit .234 with 5 homers, 22 RBIs and a .664 OPS. Those are not good numbers for a first baseman. He hit very well in AAA last season as he hit .320 with 12 homers, 52 RBIs and a .879 OPS. The Angels need him to hit more like he did in the minors if he’s to start for the Angels this season. He also needs to improve on defense as he made 5 errors in only 453.2 innings.

30 year old Robb Quinlan hit great last season for the Angels. He hit .321 with 9 homers, 32 RBIs and a .835 OPS last season. It’s likely that Quinlan will get a lot of at bats against lefties for the Angels even if he doesn’t win the starting job. He is a solid first baseman on defense as he only made 3 errors in 384 innings there last season.

31 year old Shea Hillenbrand will DH most of the time. But when Juan Rivera returns from his broken leg he could return to first base.

Angels Catchers

Blogged under Front Page,Positional Preview for Season,Uncategorized by High Heat on Monday 5 February 2007 at 4:16 pm

This will be a wide open battle between three flawed catchers in Spring Training. The one who appears to have the most talent is 25 year old Mike Napoli. He had a great start to his career, but only hit .164 in the second half of the season after pitchers quit throwing him fastballs…which he crushes. He hit .228 as a rookie last season and scored 47 runs, hit 16 homers and drove in 42 runs in about half a season. The Angels probably would put up with his low average as long as he maintains his power and keeps playing good defense. He does need to work on making better contact as he whiffed 90 times in only 268 at bats. Napoli has a strong arm as he threw out 30% of the base stealers that challenged him. He needs to harness his arm strength as he made 8 errors and allowed 2 passed balls and that needs to improve.

31 year old Jose Molina has been a backup his whole career, so he’s not likely to win the starters job. He only hit .242 with a lousy .642 OPS last season. Molina threw out 42% of runners who tried to steal on him, but he also had 8 errors and 5 passes balls…so he has some things to work on when Spring Training comes. He likely will be the backup for the Angels in 2007.

The Angels gave 24 year old Jeff Mathis the starting job out of Spring Training last season, but he didn’t do much and was quickly sent to the minors. He only had 8 hits in 55 at bats last season for the Angels (.155 avg). He didn’t pout when he was sent to the minors and hit a solid .289 in AAA with a .763 OPS. He will get a chance to battle for the starting job in Spring Training but he is clearly #3 on the Totem Pole going in.

New Faces in 2007

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Uncategorized by High Heat on Thursday 1 February 2007 at 11:42 pm

The Los Angeles Angels felt that they just needed a couple of pieces to win the A.L. West this season. The spent almost all of their money on offense. The first big piece they signed was center fielder Gary Matthews. Matthews is one of the best defensive players in the game and he had a super year with the bat last season. Matthews hit .313 with 102 runs scored, 19 homers and 79 RBIs as a leadoff hitter. One has to wonder if he’ll ever approach those numbers again because it was a career season in his walk year. The Angels then signed Shea Hillenbrand after Juan Rivera broke his leg playing winter ball. Hillenbrand is a solid hitter as he’s got a batting average of .293 over the last three seasons and he’s averaged 77.3 runs scored, 18 homers and 76.7 RBI.

The Angels only have brought in a couple of pitchers but they both have a good chance to make the bullpen for them. Lefty Darren Oliver had one of the best seasons of his career last year with the Mets as he compiled a 3.44 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. The Angels had big trouble with lefty hitters last season and they’re hoping Oliver can fix that. The Angels also acquired hard throwing righty Chris Resop in a trade with the Marlins. He will probably be the first guy in if a starter gets tired.

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