5 Los Angeles Angels Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

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5 Los Angeles Angels Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

5 Los Angeles Angels Storylines to Follow During Spring Training
Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels will be arriving in Tempe, Ariz. on Feb. 18 with several question marks surrounding the team this season. The Angels finished 2013 in third place in the AL West with a 78-84 record. Aside from Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson the starting pitching was atrocious. The bullpen wasn't any better, and though the offense was 7th in all of MLB with 733 runs scored, some of the key components had down seasons.

The Angels made some key moves this offseason in an attempt to strengthen some of the glaring weaknesses on both offense and on the mound. The team signed former Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Joe Smith and received back former closer Fernando Salas in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. This should help get the ball to closer Ernesto Frieri. The Angels also traded away local boy, power hitting outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks for former top prospect Tyler Skaggs and Chicago White Sox starting pitcher, 26-year-old Hector Santiago. The Angels also sent speedy outfielder Peter Boujos to the Cardinals for 2011 World Series hero, third baseman David Freese. Freese will fill the hole at third base that has plagued this team for some time. In an attempt to replace Trumbo's bat in the lineup, the Angels signed 42-year-old Raul Ibanez to DH. Ibanez is coming off of a season where he hit 29 home runs and will provide some pop from the left side of the plate.

The Angels made strides to fill the voids, but they also need some of their big name, high dollar players to step up and help Mike Trout carry the load. The 2013 season saw Albert Pujols miss the final two months with an injury, newly-signed slugger Josh Hamilton had a rough first season with his new club and now Trumbo will be hitting homers in the NL.

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5. Is Second Year Player Kole Calhoun Ready to Be Everyday Right Fielder?

Kole Calhoun
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of outfielders Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos, 25-year-old outfielder Kole Calhoun will be given every opportunity to win the right field job in Spring Training. Calhoun held his own with the big club last season as he compiled eight home runs, 32 RBI and a .271 average in 192 at bats. That projects out to 16 home runs and 68 RBI over 162 games. The Angels will take that if the kid can play defense and keep the average in the respectable .275-.280 range.

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4. Is Garrett Richards is Ready to Step in and Be the No. 3 Starter?

Garrett Richards
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After ace Jered Weaver and No. 2 starter C.J. Wilson the rest of the rotation is up for grabs. 26-year-old Garrett Richards is ready to step in and take hold of the No. 3 starter role for the Angels in 2014. Richards, who in 2013 had a 4.18 ERA in 17 starts, will have to bring the ERA down and become a little more consistent if he wants to stick in the rotation. On a positive note, Richards has nobody behind him pushing for his starting spot so he will be given lots of slack to try to hold down the job.

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3. Can Mike Trout Overtake Albert Pujols as the No. 3 Batter in the Angels' Lineup?

Mike Trout
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols can't remember the last time he was not the No. 3 batter in a lineup. The No. 3 spot in the lineup is always reserved for the team's best hitter. For years that hitter has been Albert Pujols whether it was on the St. Louis Cardinals, the NL All-Star team or the Los Angeles Angels.

The last two seasons Pujols hasn't even been the best hitter on his team. Two seasons in a row outfielder Mike Trout has been runner-up to Miguel Cabrera in the AL MVP voting. In two seasons Trout is averaging 35 doubles, 30 homers, 95 RBI, 41 stolen bases and a .314 batting average. Mr. Pujols, it's time to move down a spot in the lineup because Trout is the best hitter on this Angels team.

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2. Who Will Fill No. 4 and 5 Slots in Rotation?

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation has two rotation spots locked in for 2014 with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and Garrett Richards is trying to hold onto the No. 3 spot. That leaves the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation open for battle. Former Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder -- who hasn't pitched since 2008 because of arm issues -- is attempting a comeback with the Angels. He will battle with newly acquired Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago and last season's acquisition Joe Blanton for the final two spots in the starting rotation.

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1. Can Albert Be Albert in 2014?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last season Albert Pujols looked human. His numbers were down due to a foot injury that required him to shut it down early and have surgery. The "Machine" says he is 100 percent ready to go and can't wait to get to Spring Training. The Angels will need Pujols to be at the top of his game with the loss of Mark Trumbo's production in the lineup.

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