The Angels won 86 games in 2011. That win total allowed them to stay home during the playoffs and do some housekeeping in the front office. Had they won 98 games, the team would have made the playoffs and been considered one of the best in baseball. An extra two wins a month and the Angels are back on top.
While fans will point to the underperforming offense, roster and/or financial restraints might make it more likely the Angels try to pick up those wins via pitching. After all, DiPoto recently revamped Arizona's pitching staff and was a pitcher in his MLB career.
The two up and down performers were Ervin Santana and Hisanori Takahashi. Both guys went through rough spells and both had time during the season in which the pitched well. The two ended up with nearly identical ERA+'s (112,111) and WHIP's (1.220, 1.221). Overall, the end numbers look good, not great, but the progress Santana made in the second half was very encouraging.
In the small sample size department, Bobby Cassevah seemed to come on strongly at the end of the year. Not to go Lyle on you, but I could see that he was gaining confidence along with some command as the season rolled on.
From here, it is a sharp decline which leads directly to Fernando Rodney and the AL leader in blown saves, Jordan Walden. In a sad situation, Rodney might not have been the worst pitcher on the 2011 roster; Horacio Ramirez gives him some really good competiton. Rich Thompson just never seems able to establish himself, and the FRod2 experiment has yet to get off the ground.
So, due to roster and/or financial restraints possibly limiting major moves for everyday players, I believe DiPoto will follow a path similar to the one taken in Arizona this past year and revamp the pitching staff. Here are some names and how they might help the Angels of 2012.
The In-House Options
Tyler Chatwood walked 71 batters in 142 innings, Jerome Williams fought his way from independent ball to the bigs, and Trevor Bell always seems to be in Sosh's doghouse. Garret Richards has a tremendous fastball, but could use some help with his secondary pitches. My best bet here is that Chatwood and Richards head to Salt Lake while Williams and Bell have an audition for the #5 spot in the rotation with the loser getting Bell's familiar role.
The Beauty Pageant:
Heath Bell -- a stud closer who could teach Walden (5 years of club control) the ropes for a couple of years.
C.J. Wilson -- fills out a starting rotation that would be the best in the AL. Bonus: we get him from Texas.
Ryan Madson -- if you can close in Philly, you can close anywhere. My #1 choice.
David Aardsma -- well known name with closing experience and the proverbial "power arm."
Joe Saunders -- his stuff plays well here and he is a fan favorite.
Hiroki Kuroda -- solid vet who prefers SoCal, good fly ball pitcher.
Hong-Chih Kuo -- a non-tender candidate with closing experience.
Octavio Dotel -- he's pitched for everybody else in MLB. Why not the Halos?
The liklihood of the Angels looking outside the organization for at least one starting pitcher and one bullpen arm seems high. While it is difficult to project WAR and contributions from bullpen arms from year to year, it is safe to assume that the addition of an arm or two, plus the subtractions of Rodney and crew could help the Angels win that extra game or two per month.
Obviously, there are many more names available than I listed. What are you thoughts? Who do you think would help?