5 Reasons Why the Los Angeles Angels Will Be Better Next Year
Los Angeles Angels Look Ahead to 2014
2013 has been, in a word, disappointing for the Los Angeles Angels. Picked by many in the preseason to be World Series favorites, Los Angeles (51-59) will instead have to struggle just to reach .500 by season's end.
The list of failures is a long one: poor hitting from overpaid superstars (more like superbusts) Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, a slew of injuries, not enough timely hitting, errors, baserunning mistakes and the list goes on. If Angel fans can take cold comfort in one fact, however, it is that nothing more could have gone wrong. This is as bad as it possibly could have gone for the Halos, and that bad luck simply can't continue much longer if one believes in the law of averages, as I do.
We've seen some encouraging signs from management heading into 2014. Clearly GM Jerry Dipoto is focused on rebuilding Los Angeles' lackluster farm system, ranked last in the major leagues by many experts. Though the trade deadline failed to bring the Angels some much needed starting pitching, the Halos did acquire some minor league talent that will shore up their lower-level rosters for years to come.
All that said, the Angels can't coast on potential alone. What follows are five reasons why I believe next season will not be nearly as disastrous (maybe just a little disastrous?) as 2013. Even so, results speak a lot louder than predictions. And until the Angels start producing better results, the fanbase won't be content any time soon. With that, let's move on to five reasons for optimism heading into next year.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.
5. Recovering from Injuries
Every team has to deal with injuries. But the Halos got hit especially hard with the injury bug this year, losing ace Jered Weaver for a month and a half, Pujols for most of the second half, starters Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson for lengthy stretches, relievers Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett and Robert Coello and Peter Bourjos for most of the season. While next year will bring its own injuries, I think it's safe to say that the Angels will not get hit this hard again. That factor alone is worth a few wins.
4. Greater Depth
Depth was a real problem for the Angels at the beginning of the year. Recently, however, a few promising prospects have emerged and made daily contributions to the team. J.B. Shuck, Chris Nelson and Kole Calhoun have all been pleasant surprises for the Halos this year. Nelson's performance has reassured Dipoto that Los Angeles will have a serviceable replacement after Alberto Callaspo was dealt before the deadline, and the play of Shuck and Calhoun means that there will be some tough decisions over outfield playing time when next year rolls around.
3. Josh Hamilton Can't Be This Bad
Does anyone believe that Hamilton is no better than the .223 average he's posted this year? I don't. If he could hit .280 next year with 30-35 home runs and 100 RBI, the Angels would be more than happy. And considering all of those projected numbers are below his career season averages, I really don't think it's too much to ask or expect. Let's just hope he forgets about this year and moves on.
2. Albert Pujols Will Be Healthy
Pujols' season-ending plantar fascia strain may have been a blessing in disguise for the Angels. By forcing him to get surgery before next year, Pujols will no longer play through an injury that has nagged him for the past several years. That injury may explain some of his four-year statistical decline, or so the Angels hope. Either way, 2013 was a bust for Pujols, and he can only get better from here on out.
1. Offseason Acquisitions
Though they made a few small moves, Los Angeles failed to land a solid starting pitcher before the trade deadline. Presumably they will take their chances in the offseason, and they may have a little more to put on the table now that they've shown some roster depth. Perhaps the Halos will move Shuck or another outfielder to clear the glut of talent at the position. Either way, they need an arm and they need it badly. I can't imagine Dipoto would strike out in the offseason after he struck out at the deadline, but acquiring a pitcher is the single best thing he could do. Something tells me he'll do it.