Top 5 Los Angeles Angels Offseason Needs
Top Five Issues Angels Must Address for 2013
The Los Angeles Angels entered the 2012 MLB season as one of the favorites to win the World Series. The Halos failed to make the playoffs, however, and the club is now left to wonder what they can do to earn a postseason berth in 2013.
The Angels face an ever-growing list of obstacles, particularly a suddenly stacked American League West division. Mike Scioscia, Jerry DiPoto and company need to do everything in their power to build a juggernaut capable of competing with the powerful Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers.
Los Angeles did fight to the bitter end in 2012, finally ending their playoff push with two games to go in the regular season. As flawed as they were, contending with the likes of Oakland and Texas is no small feat. If Jerry DiPoto, Mike Scioscia and company make the right adjustments heading into the 2013 season, they may once again taste the glory of October baseball.
It's going to be a long winter, and it would take a whole lot to top the moves the Angels made in their previous offseason. The Angels shouldn't look for blockbuster deals like those of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson; instead, they will most likely work under the radar to fix a couple of key flaws. A lot of the things they need to do are not particularly glamorous. Los Angeles might land a big name or two, but they'd have to free up a whole lot of payroll space first. Here's a list of what the Angels must do in order to build on this season's solid performance.
Let's take a look at the Angels' five key needs as they turn the page on 2012.
5. Third Base
Defensively, the position is in good hands. Alberto Callaspo, Maicer Izturis, and even Mark Trumbo split starts at the position throughout the season. The defense at third has been stellar, but Callaspo, who normally plays at the hot corner, is not a consistently good hitter. His bat has come through for the Angels in a pinch several times, but a .252 average on the season with 53 is underwhelming at best. The Angels need much better production at the position if they hope to compete with their improved American League West rivals. Aramis Ramirez looms as the best option available for 2013.
4. A Healthy Rotation
C.J. Wilson, acquired over the 2011-2012 offseason, looked to be Jered Weaver's partner in crime as the two mowed down opposing hitters in droves. Unfortunately, things did not quite turn out the way the Angels had hoped. Wilson struggled mightily in the second half of 2012, failing to earn a win in July and most of August. From early July to his final start of the season on October 1, his ERA ballooned from 2.33 to 3.83. The culprit: a bone spur in his elbow, which he had removed after the season.
Elsewhere in the rotation, Dan Haren had trouble early due to back issues, and Jered Weaver missed a couple of starts with early back issues and a late biceps injury. If the Halos could have stayed healthy on the mound, they'd probably be in the playoffs and Jered Weaver could be the clear-cut favorite to win the AL Cy Young. If the Angels decide to re-sign Zack Greinke, a healthy Halo starting rotation could be the most dangerous in baseball.
3. Do Something—Anything—With Vernon Wells
Albert Pujols had a good year, but he's still somehow in the running for the most idiotic contract in Major League Baseball. Pujols doesn't even belong in the discussion, nor does anybody else in MLB, for that matter. The honor still belongs to an Angel, though.
Outfielder/lump Vernon Wells earned about 18 million dollars simply by showing up to work when asked, which was apparently the most the Angels could have asked for. The former slugger hit .230 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI. Somehow, Los Angeles must find a way to either dump his contract on a team willing to take him or make Wells the highest-paid peanut man in history. There has to be some productive use for Wells at this point, but one thing's for sure: it's not as a baseball player.
2. Re-sign Torii Hunter
While the Wells signing was a failure, Torii Hunter may go down as one of the most beloved Angels in the history of the franchise. Four years Vernon Wells's senior, the Angels right fielder hit .312 in 2012 (the first time he's hit above .300 in his long career) and still has a fantastic arm. Hunter was a major reason the Angels stayed in contention in the second half of the season, delivering clutch hit after clutch hit. Hunter could not have said “sign me” any louder in 2012. The Angels need it to happen; the outfielder's competitive fire and positive energy has proven invaluable to the club in his Halos tenure.
There was no bigger weakness for the Angels than their bullpen. A portrait of inconsistency, the 'pen was a ticking time bomb waiting to send the Halos straight to the loss column in every outing. The club desperately needs some middle relief and a closer. The only bright spot was former starter Jerome Williams, who made a name for himself cleaning up starters' messes when they were knocked out of games early.
Since Francisco Rodriguez left for the Mets in 2009, the Angels can't seem to find a reliable closer. Names like Fernando Rodney, Brian Fuentes, and Jordan Walden have occupied the spot, all with disastrous results for the club. Now that the Angels have plenty of firepower on offense and in the rotation, the bullpen is the final liability for the club, and it's a big one.