My 2010 Opening Day Prediction



Batting Order

SS - Aybar

RF - Abreu

CF - Hunter

1B - Morales

DH - Guerrero

LF - Rivera

2B - Kendrick

C - Mathis/Napoli

3B - Wood

Pitching Rotation







On the Batting Order:

It is becoming quite evident that the demand for Chone Figgins is quite high. Brandon Wood is the biggest reason why the Angels should not get into a bidding war for Figgins, even though he is coming off a career year. While the jury is still out on Wood and the debate will surely rage on all season long on whether or not he is ready, now is the time to find out. The resigning of Bobby Abreu ruled out any possibility of moving Figgins to the outfield in order to make room for Wood at third. If the Angels are ever going to give Wood a chance they either need to do it now or trade him before his value declines.

While many believe Vladimir Guerrero is finished, I do not and I think his 2009 postseason is evidence of that. As much as many fans like to criticize Big Daddy, he hit .378 and had 7 RBI in 9 games to go along with a surprising three walks, two of which were key to the Angels winning games.  There is no debating that Guerrero is past his prime, he's entering his age 35 season and he spent seven seasons diving around the concrete outfield at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. However, I am convinced there are still at least two productive years in Guerrero's future and it would kill me to see him spend them with anyone else but the Angels. Guerrero's power numbers from this year hold very little relevance in my mind because of how much time he missed and how much he played through pain, but his .295 batting average is very respectable. While Vladdy won't ever come close to matching the numbers from his 2004 MVP season, I do believe he is capable of putting together two seasons similar to what he had in 2008 where he hit .303, had 27 home runs, and 91 RBI.

The bottom line is that Guerrero is Hall of Famer. All that's left to be decided is whether he goes into the Hall as an Expo or as an Angel. And sorry Angels fans, but if Vladdy leaves this offseason he'll be inducted as an Expo given the numbers he put up in Montreal. I'm from Montreal and Guerrero is the reason I am now an Angels fan so I honestly have no preference what logo appears on his plaque, but Arte Moreno should care and he should want Guerrero to be enshrined with an Angels hat on.

If Guerrero does come back, I think we can all agree it is time to move him out of the cleanup spot. Kendry Morales has the power to hit in the middle of the order and be productive, as he proved in August while both Guerrero and Torii Hunter were on the DL. Guerrero's home for the rest of his (Angel) career should be in the fifth or sixth hole where there will be less pressure on him but where his still dangerous bat can make any lineup extremely deep.

If Erick Aybar can continue to learn from Bobby Abreu's plate approach, he can be a more than suitable lead-off hitter. Assuming Kendrick isn't the centerpiece of a trade, like he's been rumored to be, I eventually envision him as a number 2 or number 3 hitter, but for now Bobby Abreu fills that slot very nicely. Torii Hunter put up near career numbers in less than 120 games and is certainly capable of at least matching his numbers from last year in a full season. While he may have been streaky, Juan Rivera showed us what he could do with a full dose of playing time and I see know reason why he shouldn't repeat or improve on his 2009 numbers either.


On the Pitching Rotation:



It would break my heart, and the Angels hopes at a pennant, if John Lackey signs with the Yankees or the Red Sox. The issue isn't whether or not the Angels want to get into a bidding war with the American League East, they simply don't have a choice. John Lackey is the ace of their staff when healthy. The plan B appears to be a trade for either Roy Halladay or Edwin Jackson, but as it's been debated, those options may require giving up too much of our core. In my opinion, resigning John Lackey is an absolute necessity if the Angels want to be serious World Series contenders.

As for the rotation as a whole, it would be without a doubt one of the deepest in baseball with each pitcher capable of winning 15+ games. Especially if Ervin Santana can rebound and find his 2008 All-Star form, this rotation could boast a number one starter (Lackey) and three number two starters in Scott Kazmir, Jered Weaver, and Ervin Santana. Personally, I don't think that Joe Saunders is as good as those three, but he will likely end up as our fourth or fifth starter and he's a guy that a lot of teams would love to have as their number three.

The Bottom Line:

When it comes down to it, there's no reason to mess around with a roster that won 97 games. The team that the Angels put on the field this past season did some amazing things under incredible circumstances. If we can manage to go three for four on our big free agents, losing only Chone Figgins, then I believe we will have the pieces in place to make another strong run at a title.



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