5 Questions Los Angeles Angels Must Answer During Spring Training
Los Angeles Angels: 5 Questions Team Must Answer During Spring Training
The Los Angeles Angels are headed into Spring Training after another season of failing to meet their lofty expectations. These high expectations were set after having a second consecutive offseason with a big free agent signing with last year's addition in former Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract. The team also acquired pitchers Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson via trade.
Last season for the Halos was full of disappointments. Their pitching staff had the seventh-highest ERA (4.23), was tied for fifth-highest BAA (.261), and allowed the fourth most hits (1475). The Angels' problems can be exemplified by pitcher Joe Blanton, who had arguably his worst year in his nine-year career as he posted a 6.04 ERA with a 2-14 record and .317 BAA before losing his starting rotation spot.
As for the Angels' defensive woes, they had the fourth-highest committed errors (112) and ranked 27th in fielding percentage (.981). However, the Angels possessed a top-10 offense statistically that was seventh in runs scored (733), fourth in hits (1476), seventh in RBIs (696) and fifth in BA (.264) and OBP (.329).
But within their potent offense, Hamilton struggled in his first year with team as he batted .250 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs, which were significantly lower numbers from the year prior, where he batted .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs.
Also, first baseman Albert Pujols was on pace for another 30-home run and 100-plus RBI season before suffering a torn plantar fascia ligament in his left foot that forced him to miss the last two months of the year.
So without further ado, here are a five questions that the Angels must answer during Spring Training.
Bob Garcia is a sports writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bgarcia90. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
5. Who Will Fill the Back End of the Starting Rotation?
Los Angeles now has six starting pitchers under contract heading into Spring Training. The only thing that is for certain are the top two pitchers in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson; after that, it will be four pitchers jockeying for three spots. So for Mark Mulder, Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards, Spring Training will be their audition for one of the three spots left in the starting rotation.
4. Can Raul Ibanez Handle Full-Time DH duties?
With Ibanez slated to be the Halos' full-time DH this season, he will need to prove in Spring Training that he can withstand the workload of a full 162-game season at the ripe age of 41. He struggled monumentally in the second half last season as he had just five home runs with a .203 BA. It will be highly important for Ibanez to show that he can be a consistent source of production in the DH spot for the Halos for the 2014 season.
3. Is David Freese the Long-Term Answer at Third Base?
David Freese is coming off a down season, though his struggles could be attributed to the back injury he suffered last Spring Training. With a fresh start and a good bill of health heading into camp in 2014, Freese will be looking to not only make an impact on the team, but also make a case as the team's long-term solution at the hot corner.
2. Is Josh Hamilton Past His First Season Struggles?
Despite his problems at the plate in the first half of 2013, Josh Hamilton finished the year hitting .323 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in the final month. Heading into Spring Training, the former AL MVP will be looking to see if he can carry that strong finish forward and get started on the right foot.
1. Who Will Step Up in the Bullpen?
The Angels' bullpen was a merry-go-round last season, and they made moves to improve this area of weakness. They signed free agent reliever Joe Smith and acquired Fernando Salas as part of the David Freese trade. With a new-look bullpen, the Halos will need to figure out this who can be a reliable arm in their bullpen.