I was initially responding to another post, but figured this perhaps deserved its own thread. Im a regular poster on Angelsbaseball.com site, but came here to see if there were fewer chicken littles pronouncing the sky is falling because the Angels havent signed every high profile FA to hit the market the past few years.
So that brings me to this offseason. Still the east coast sports media and many on the Angel fans site paint the Angels offseason as everything from strange to a monumental disaster. But lets look at when they have accomplished since last years trade deadline.
They trade for one of the top 20 starters in baseball in Dan Haren. Under contract another few years, Haren matches up with or overmatches practically every #2 in baseball and moves everyone else down where they do the same, Santana set to dominate at 3, Pineiro at 4 and Kazmir the big wild card can do some incredible damage at 5 if he finds his old breaking stuff and holds his own even if he doesnt.
They then directly address the teams biggest achilles heel over the past two seasons by bringing in two of the top set up arms in the game... both of whom happen to be lefties. Combine these new veteran arms with the young power arms finally poised to do some damage in Walden, Kohn, Cassevah, Thompson, Bulger and Jepsen. Even if only some of them are ready, this pen has gone from the teams biggest weakness to one of its strengths. Oh and lets not forget a healthy Palmer who can fill that Darren Oliver role. It even makes the rotation stronger as the starters dont have to worry about what unique ways the pen will find to blow their quality starts.
Then the Angels shed the salaries of two guys who didnt figure big in the team or Scioscias plans in Rivera and Napoli and replaced them with a guy who figures to be a center point of the team on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Protection to Morales and Hunter, team leader, great attitude... and a power hitting run producer. Vernon Wells was a huge pick up... and when you factor in the Salaries of Rivera, Napoli and the cash back, he comes cheaper than either Beltre or Crawford.
Outfield defense another of the teams nightmares goes from among the worst in the game to among the best. Two gold glove center fielders now flank the most exciting defensive young outfielder in the game. Outfield defense alone should shave half a run off of the team ERA as catchable ball after catchable ball fell for hits or split the gaps last season.
Callaspo also aquired during the trade deadline is a great option at #2 in the order as a guy who uses the whole field, is among the toughest in the league to strike out and has hit over .300 when healthy 2 of the past 3 years. This allows the Angels to slide Abreu into the leadoff role and solve the problem at the top of the order. His tremendous bat control along with Abreus gives the Angel rabbits Bourjos and Aybar along with Abreu himself plenty of opportunities to run.
All of this was accomplished since the end of last season and through the offseason... but all too many chicken littles cant see past the failure to sign Crawford or Beltre this year, and previous FA failing with Texierra. So lets bring this full circle... Morales who won 1st base when Tex wasnt signed turned out to be a better fit for the club and the clubs biggest impact player. Now this year Wells is positioned to be a much better fit and bigger impact player than either Crawford who is a speed guy getting paid as though he was a game changer and Beltre who in his 13 year career has been way more mediocre than special. Break down the career numbers and you find Wells is a bigger slugger, better run producer and exactly what the Angels were looking for.
So tell me again why the Angels arent a better team going into 2011 than they were going into 2010. And why some are still insisting they were the biggest losers of this offseason. With Bourjos ready to come into his own, Conger, Grichuk, Chatwood, Reckling, Trumbo and oh yeah Trout on the way this is a very good time to be an Angels fan.