Arte Moreno needs to sell the Angels. He doesn't deserve them. First there was that whole ridiculous name thing - you aren't fooling anyone, Arte, because Anaheim still isn't L.A.. And now there is the assumption that you can build a team by taking the best player on the planet, surround him with mountains of inadequateness, and think that that is good enough. Rarely has talent been wasted like it has in the case of Mike Trout. It's just ridiculous - he's an eternal MVP candidate, but with no help even he can't make this team relevant. It's just plain sad to watch.
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And, at the risk of spoiling the next thousand or so words, it's not going to change in any hurry. This team is a mess, and Moreno and company just don't seem to care. They won 98 games three years ago and have been on a freefall since. I am not and have never been a fan of this team, and it still makes me mad. I can only imagine what it feels like to actually be invested in this mess.
Angels 2017 Projected Lineup
We have to start with Trout. There is nothing you can say about the guy that would be too much. He's just that good - historically profound. He's a production machine, and he creates serious headaches for pitchers deciding if and how to pitch to him - which creates ripple effects in the lineup. He's all that and more - and he's still not near his traditional prime.
The biggest issue this team has is that truly moronic deal with Albert Pujols. He's nothing more than a pretty solid DH at this point, and he's 37. The teams will be paying him an average of $28 million for the next five years, though - and there is nothing they can do about it. What seemed like an overly optimistic deal when it was signed is now an anchor around the neck of the team. As long as he can stay healthy his best contribution is that he can keep pitchers somewhat honest when facing Trout, but he robs the team of so much flexibility that it's hardly worth it.
The team didn't entirely stand still. Left field was a massive issue last year, so they added both Cameron Maybin and Ben Revere. Maybin will likely be the primary starter, but Revere will get his chances. They will be a huge improvement defensively, and that is the one thing that we don't have to worry about with this team - they will be defensively elite. And with Yunel Escobar and Kole Calhoun in the top two spots in the order, they will be setting things up for Trout and Pujols. Beyond that, though, it's much tougher to be optimistic. There is just far too much pressure on the top of the order to deliver offense because it isn't coming from anywhere else.
Angels 2017 Projected Rotation and Closer
The rotation could potentially be solid, but it's far from inspiring. Garrett Richards is the ace of the staff, but he's coming back from elbow injury, and instead of Tommy John surgery he opted for stem cell treatment. Whether it works or not is a question. Tyler Skaggs is coming back from Tommy John surgery instead of the alternative, and he made only limited appearances in relief late last year. A full season of starting is a lot to ask. Matt Shoemaker is dealing with a recovery of his own as he was drilled in the head with a line drive last year. He was pitching well before the injury, but that's a serious mental hurdle to overcome. The rest of the rotation is filled out with has-been RIcky Nolasco, and Jesse Chavez, who is a middling reliever masquerading as a starter. With so many questions, depth would be important, but that's a problem. They have two guys working to come back from Tommy John surgery, a guy rehabbing a broken elbow, and stud-prospect-turned-bust Alex Meyer. They can't afford injuries, but you sure can't bet on this rotation staying healthy or productive.
Angels Futures Odds
Oddsmakers don't like this team that much - and you can't really blame them. BetOnline has them at +900 to win the AL West, which puts them far behind the three significantly better teams in the division - the Astros, Mariners and Rangers. At +3300 to win the American League pennant, they sit behind 10 other teams in the pecking order. At +6600 to win the World Series they are a serious underdog, ahead only of the truly awful teams in the league.
Mike Trout is listed at +1600 to win the home run title this year, which seems about fair - he can do everything, but there are others who go deep better. Albert Pujols is also listed at +10000, but that seems like a sucker bet if I have ever seen one. Trout, though, is an overwhelming favorite to win the AL MVP for the third time in four years - he's at +125, and Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado are next at +650. Not surprisingly, they don't have a pitcher listed in the Cy Young race.
Angels 2017 Predictions
The season win total is set at 79.5. The "under" is attractive here. If everything went just right - the rotation collectively has career years, Pujols reverts to earlier form, the defense is world class, Trout is Trout, and the rest of the roster produces results then this team could easily win 85 games or so. Aside from Trout, though, and perhaps the defense, I'm not willing to bet on any of that. I just don't like this team, and in a very tough and deep division that features three playoff contenders they are really going to have issues. And it's all your fault, Arte.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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