Looking to 2011. Angel's Outlook. Available Free Agents.

I've put together the Angels prospects for 2011.    I realize it's early but we're also 10 games out of first place and just got swept by one of the worst teams in baseball.  It think looking ahead is both justified, constructive, and probably beneficial for our sanity.

I think the below are the secure positions for 2011 that I don't anticipate will change barring a major blockbuster trade.

Secure Positions:

First Base:  Kendry Morales
Second Base:  Howie Kendrick
Shortstop:  Erick Aybar
Right Field:  Torii Hunter

I think these 4 players are secure for 2011.  Aybar and Kendrick could be a bit better at the plate, but their quality middle infield defense is worth the weaker bats.   Hunter and Morales are both good hitters.  

Starter #1:  Dan Haren
Starter #2:  Jered Weaver
Starter #3:  Ervin Santana
Starter #4:  Joel Pineiro

This front 4 is probably the best 4 man rotation in baseball.  I don't think anyone can argue with that and I don't think any Angel fans should be complaining.

Bullpen #1:  Fernando Rodney
Bullpen #2:  Kevin Jepsen
Bullpen #3:  Jason Bulger
Bullpen #4:  Michael Kohn

I'm under the impression Fuentes isn't coming back next despite the fact he's the best guy in the bullpen right now.  This is less a testament that Fuentes is good and more an illustration about how poor the bullpen is.   I'm of the opinion Shields is also gone after this season leaving us with the above 4.  If Bulger, Jepsen and Kohn can get it together that's a pretty decent bridge to Rodney, who is hardly lights out but could be a serviceable closer.   The Angels could go buy an expensive closer for next year and then make Rodney setup again, use Thompson or Rodriguez and call it a day, or they could get/promote another specialist or two and dump the likes of Rodriguez or Thompson from the roster.   

Aside from the above we have the uncertain positions.

Uncertain Positions:

Center Field:  Peter Bourjos

This is uncertain because we don't know what Bourjos will do at the MLB level.   If he manages to stay above the Mendoza line and provides excellent defense he's going to be in Center Field next year.  If he fails the Angels will be forced to go outside the organization.

LF and DH:  Bobby Abreu / Juan Rivera / Mike Napoli

Both Abreu or Rivera are mediocre at the plate.   The Angels don't have room for both of them unless they decide Mike Napoli is the everyday catcher or move him in a trade.   Assuming Scioscia keeps Napoli as a DH / Backup Catcher one of the left fielders needs to go.   Another option is to dump both of them or one of them and Napoli and then put the remainder at DH and go sign another OF.   Since all three are defensive liabilities these players must hit well to be considered valuable.  Napoli is decent but the other two are sub .800 OPS which is unacceptable for players playing the corner outfield slot and doing it poorly.   This needs to improve.   A trade needs to happen and if it doesn't yield a starting OF then a FA signing needs to as well.

Here are the available OF next year (asterisk denotes team option for 2011):

Alfredo Amezaga LAD
Frank Catalanotto NYM
Carl Crawford TB
Coco Crisp OAK *
Michael Cuddyer MIN *
David DeJesus KC *
Jody Gerut MIL
Jose Guillen KC
Willie Harris WAS
Brad Hawpe COL *
Austin Kearns CLE
Jason Kubel MIN *
Magglio Ordonez DET *
Marcus Thames NYY
Jayson Werth PHI

If Rivera and Napoli are both moved I could see Abreu going to DH leaving the OF open for one of the more athletic guys above.

C:  Mike Napoli / Jeff Mathis / Bobby Wilson / Hank Conger / Ryan Budde

Spring training will probably give us more information about Conger's readiness.  He's not known as a defensive whiz though which means there may need to be some additional roster changes here.     We have an all hit no D "catcher" in Napoli,  a prospect with the same traits and then two catchers who can't hit.   I'd probably like to see Mathis traded for a bag of balls and then Conger promoted as a primary catcher with Wilson and then Napoli DHing or catching in a pinch.   I don't see the Angels going outside the organization for this position since there is so much depth here.   The question is:  Which one is getting moved?

3b:  Alberto Callaspo / Macier Izturis / Brandon Wood

Pencil in Callaspo as the starting 3b for 2011.  However if the Angels can swing a deal involving Izturis/Wood for just about anything the Angels could be in a position to upgrade at 3b via trade or FA and make Callaspo the roving utility infielder instead. 

Here are the available 3b:

Third Basemen
Garrett Atkins BAL *
Jorge Cantu FLA
Eric Chavez OAK *
Pedro Feliz HOU
Bill Hall BOS *
Brandon Inge DET
Mike Lowell BOS
Melvin Mora COL
Nick Punto MIN *
Ty Wigginton BAL

Starter #5:  Matt Palmer, Trevor Bell, Scott Kazmir

Aside from a FA signing these are your candidates for the back of the rotation.  I don't really see a problem here since having a really deep and pricey rotation hasn't helped the Angels  in the past, but history shows us that the FO never thinks we have enough pitching so it wouldn't shock me at all if we grabbed another one.    Here is the FA list:

Starting Pitchers
Bronson Arroyo CIN *
Jeremy Bonderman DET
David Bush MIL
Daniel Cabrera LAA
Jorge De La Rosa COL
Jeff Francis COL *
Jon Garland SD *
Aaron Harang CIN *
Tim Hudson ATL
Cliff Lee TEX
Ted Lilly LAD
Braden Looper MIL
Noah Lowry SF
Kevin Millwood BAL
Jamie Moyer PHI
Vicente Padilla LAD
Nate Robertson FLA
Ian Snell SEA *
Jeff Suppan STL
Javier Vazquez NYY
Brandon Webb ARI
Jake Westbrook STL
Dontrelle Willis SF
Chris Young SD *

Bullpen #5 and #6:  Francisco Rodriguez / Rich Thompson / ??????

This is the area that needs some serious work but signing expensive BP arms hasn't had a great track record historically.   There will be at minimum one addition to the pen.  Hopefully multiple for the sake of our sanity.  Franciso Rodriguez and Rich Thompson are also options here but I would hope the Angels have the good sense to upgrade.

Relief Pitchers
Jeremy Affeldt SF
Grant Balfour TB
Jesse Crain MIN
Scott Downs TOR
Chad Durbin PHI
Kyle Farnsworth KC *
Pedro Feliciano NYM
Jason Frasor TOR
Brian Fuentes LAA *
Chad Gaudin NYY
Matt Guerrier MIN
Aaron Heilman ARZ
Mike Lincoln CIN
Brian Moehler HOU
J.J. Putz CWS
Chad Qualls ARZ
Jon Rauch MIN
Arthur Rhodes CIN
David Riske MIL *
Mariano Rivera NYY
J.C. Romero PHI *
Bobby Seay DET
Scott Shields LAA
Brian Shouse BOS
Matt Thornton CWS *
Kerry Wood NYY *

From a budget perspective the Angels will likely be increasing payroll unless they can somehow jettison larger contracts like Abreu or Kazmir.   They can probably afford a single big signing but nothing beyond that.   I can see them landing another impact starter, major bullpen help or an impact outfielder via FA but not all three.   If they want help in multiple areas they are going to have to get creative with trades.    The notable weaknesses are the bullpen, outfield defense (ranked 25th UZR), and on base percentage (also ranked 25th).   They all need to be addressed for 2011 or we're just going to repeat fighting for 3rd place in the AL West.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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