|Run Creation||AL Rank|
The Angels welded an improved offense to their already solid pitching staff to win the AL West. Howie Kendrick and Casey Kotchman had breakout seasons, lightening Vladimir Guerrero's load. Free agent signing Gary Matthews hit just .252/.323/.419, certainly not the type of performance the Angels were paying for. Orlando Cabrera had one of his best offensive seasons, and Chone Figgins, now the everyday third baseman, had his best year as a pro, upping his OBP to .393.
The rotation remained strong, with John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar both having career-best seasons. These two strong performances covered for a regression from Ervin Santana and Bartolo Colon's injuries. The bullpen was again solid, anchored by typical seasons from Francisco Rodriguez and Scot Shields.
Important Offseason Transactions
11-19-07: Traded SS Orlando Cabrera to Chicago (AL) for RHP Jon Garland
11-21-07: Signed CF Torii Hunter to a five-year contract ($90M)
Bartolo Colon left via free agency.
The Hunter signing allowed the Angels to move one of their other three outfielders to DH, filling a hole and improving the defense at the same time. Garrett Anderson would seem to be the logical choice to move off the field, but he hasn't embraced the idea. So the Angels have moved Gary Matthews there by default. Juan Rivera seems to be the odd man out in the outfield - he'd be a nice fit for the Indians if the Dellucci/Michaels platoon doesn't work out.
Dealing for Garland now looks prescient, as the Angels have already lost Kelvim Escobar for am extended period of time, not to mention losing John Lackey to start the season. The Angels replaced Orlando Cabrera internally, opting to go with former Indian Maicer Izturis, who hit well (.289/.349/.405) last season.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Angels have always been a very aggressive running team, relying on speed rather than power to score runs. Their bullpen has been a strength for several years.
The Angels' main weakness is power; they hit only 123 home runs last season, and only one player (Guerrero) had more than 20 homers.
Even with the injuries to Escobar and Lackey, the Angels still are the class of the division. They could still use another power bat, and dumping Matthews would be a bonus, but the Angels' main goal should be keeping everyone (especially Vladimir Guerrero and Howie Kendrick) healthy.