I always think its cool to see Angels' fans where I least expect them. Years ago, and what I mean by "years" ago is back I when I was growing up in the '60's and '70's, you never saw Angels gear "out in public". It was almost like a secret society. When I learned Sean Smith, the creator of Chone projections was an Angels fan, it got me curious as to how an east coast guy became a fan of a west coast team. "I first got into baseball in 1982. I don't really remember how it happened, probably starting with Reggie Jackson (my dad is from NY and a big Yankees fan). I just really fell in love with that team, although I probably only saw them play a few times before the playoffs, this being 1982 and Extra Innings or MLB.TV being a long way off. I do remember that by playoff time, I was hooked, watching every game, and after game 5 just lost it and burst out crying. Reggie might have been the player to draw me to the team, but by the end of the year Downing was my favorite player. Still is. I named my cat after him, though Brian Downing Kaat is a completely different type of player."
In part one of this article, Sean stated that he projected Casey Kotchman's season because the Angels were rumored to be trading for Paul Konerko. I asked Sean how Kendry Morales, Kotchman's eventual replacement was going to do in 2009, "I think Kendry will hit for a high average, show some power, and play solid defense. He's not a patient hitter, at all, so he probably won't be as productive as the triple crown stats say he is. He's destined to be overrated by the casual fan and underrated by statheads. Kind of like Garret Anderson. I think he'll pick up the slack for GA. He's not a great player, but is all right. That kind of player is nice to have when he's cheap, not so nice when you are paying 14 million for him."
Another player I wanted Sean's opinion on was Brandon Wood. "I'm not as sure about Wood. His winter ball experience must have been embarrassing.", said Smith, referring to Wood's release from his Dominican winter league team after hitting .167 in 13 games. "He probably needs to be shown a lot of patience for him to develop into a quality big leaguer, and with Figgins, Aybar, Izturis, and Sean Rodriguez (who hit even better than Wood at AAA last year) I'm not sure he'll get that full opportunity this year. If it's a tight pennant race, I'm not sure they can afford to. I sincerely hope I'm wrong because I'd love to see Brandon hit .265 with 30 homers." When asked about which Angel player was going to be a bust, the Halo fan in him came out, "A bust? Nobody." But then he added, "if I have to pick one maybe Howie Kendrick. I'm worried about the injuries and inability to lay off the slider outside stalling his development. With his lack of patience, he has to hit .300 to be an asset, .270 would be a disaster. I really hope this doesn't happen, I want to see .330 with 15 homers out of him, but I'm worried." The player Sean picks to have a big year is Jered Weaver, "Weaver will take the step forward to become an ace, like Lackey, Santana, and Saunders have before him. My projections see him as the equal to Lackey and Santana."
Last week, Baseball Prospectus came out with their predictions for season standings. Prior to the Angels signing Bobby Abreu, their PECOTA based projections had the AL West being won by the Oakland A's by 3 games over the Angels. Since the Abreu signing, Baseball Prospectus has revised their projections, moving the Angels into first by 2 games. When I asked Sean if he uses his Chone system to project season outcomes, he stated that he did and it has been very good at picking the winners, "Since I started, I've been right in the AL west 3 teams in a row (hate to say I called 2006)." Sean says his team projections are completed and he says, "It's on my blog, and has the good guys winning the division by 5 games." I asked Sean about this year's race with Oakland, "I think the Angels are still the best team. I'm not that scared by Oakland, their pitching could really stink and adding Giambi when you have Cust means one of them has to stink up the field. Which puts more pressure on the unproven pitching. The Angels do not look like a powerhouse this year, so the division will be a lot closer, but I still think they have the best talent. I could see the Angels winning the division with 85-88 wins this time. Who knows? Maybe an 86 win team can do in the playoffs what the 100 win team could not. Baseball is a funny game."
-- Be sure to check out Sean's websites Baseball Projection (www.baseballprojection.com) for player projections and Angels All the Way (www.lanaheimangelfan.blogspot.com) to read Sean's take on the Angels --