A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ANGELS
The question is whether this club is gonna be the offensive juggernaut it's been in the past.... Albert Pujols is moving with no restriction. He's 35, so expect some drop-off, but if he can stay healthy, he'll probably give you a big year. I'd give him some rest and play C.J. Cron at first base.... Everybody has ordained Mike Trout as the best player in baseball, and rightfully so. There are no weaknesses to his game. You want your baddest guy hitting third, and no disrespect to Pujols, but that is definitely Trout.... Collin Cowgill is a base stealer, a line drive hitter. Players with his skill set, if you run them out there every day, that's when they get exposed.... Last year David Freese's back side was collapsing a little bit. He had an uppercut. If he goes back to driving the ball gap to gap, he'll be solid.... Jered Weaver's delivery is so deceptive and he can make the ball move both ways. He came into camp 20 pounds heavier to be a little more durable.... Garrett Richards throws downhill, at a tough angle for righthanded hitters, and throws 97 on top of that—he is nasty.... Last year it looked like C.J. Wilson was scared of the middle of the plate. There was nothing wrong with his velocity or anything. I think it's just in between the ears.... I expect Cam Bedrosian to be a setup guy and possible closer down the line. He has a heavy ball with late life through the zone.... Not having a lefthanded go-to guy in the bullpen concerns me in the AL West, where you'll have to get out a Robinson Cano or a Prince Fielder.
By trading second baseman Howie Kendrick for Andrew Heaney—an understandable attempt to free up payroll room and bolster the back end of a shallow rotation—the Angels opened a big hole in their lineup. The team traded for Josh Rutledge from the Rockies, nominally to take over at second, but also has holdover Grant Green and prospect Taylor Featherston in the mix. The most interesting option, though, is former Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella. Giavotella was a bit mistake-prone in Kansas City, and he never did hit the way he was supposed to (.277 OBP in parts of four seasons). He has, however, a career .384 OBP in 413 Triple A games, with doubles power. Rutledge, the front-runner, has a career .308 OBP—but just .274 outside of Coors Field. With Giavotella and catcher Chris Iannetta, the Angels would have a high-OBP bottom of the lineup, putting more runners on base for Kole Calhoun at leadoff and, most important, Mike Trout in the number 2 slot.
LEAGUE RANK 2
MANAGER MIKE SCIOSCIA 16TH SEASON WITH ANGELS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TROUT)