2014 Los Angeles Angels - Team Overview
The Angels are on a very tight budget these days and have little talent in their farm system available to use as a major trade chip. That said, the Angels have done a solid job filling gaps on their roster. The additions of David Freese, Raul Ibanez, Hector Santiago, Fernando Salas and Joe Smith, they should help the team make a run to playoff contention in 2014.
It's the reacquisition of pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, however, that could have the biggest payoff down the road. Trading away power-hitting Mark Trumbo was a tough decision, especially considering that Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have shown signs of decline. Getting Skaggs back, who was traded from the Angels to the D'backs in the Dan Haren trade of July 2010, made this a much easier call.
The 22-year-old Skaggs has struggled in 13 big-league starts, but he still has the talent to be a very good major league starter once he's given the opportunity. He and Hector Santiago should be battling for the fourth and fifth spots in the starting rotation to round out a pretty decent staff. Fernando Salas will also help a bullpen that certainly needed some help in 2013. He has experience closing out games, so if anything goes wrong with Ernesto Frieri, he can step in and secure the ninth inning for the Halos.
The revamped roster puts the Angels in a position to make a splash that could take them from potential playoff contender to legitimate World Series contender without spending much additional money at all. They did not sign any of the top free-agent pitchers, and though it may look like a stupid decision, they do not want to burden themselves with another long and dreadful contract. Sure, it would be nice to have Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or former Angel Ervin Santana, but these guys don't fit into their budget. Financial concerns are compounded by the fact that they will have to pay Mr. Trout fairly soon, and he could well command the largest contract in the history of the game.
It is possible that the 2014 AL West will prove to be one of the toughest divisions in baseball. With the exception of the Astros, every team has gotten noticeably better from 2013, and this division could be a dogfight until the last day of the season.
2014 Los Angeles Angels - Fantasy Baseball Starters
I'll be going into further depth about the Angels' lineup and rotation, but here's a glimpse of the fantasy worth Angels in 2014:
Mike Trout (OF) – He should be the number one pick in every league you play in. He has come in second in the MVP voting for two consecutive years and he is at the ripe old age of 22. Look for 25-30 HR with 85+ RBI and a nice .325 average-- not to mention the man scores runs and steals bags like it is nobody’s business.
Albert Pujols (1B) – Pujols is coming off an injury-shortened season, but he should be fully healthy and is ready to prove once again that he is an intimidating hitter in the show. You can plan on seeing him hit around .290 with 30+ HR and 100+ RBI in a solid bounce-back year. The man is a doubles machine, and if he is hitting behind Mr. Trout, there should be plenty of RBI to be had.
Jered Weaver (SP) – The ace of the staff as well as a general tough guy, Weaver will be back to lead his team again this year. Look for a bounce-back year-- even though he has lost some velocity, he still commands the strike zone and does not like losing.
Josh Hamilton (OF) – What a terrible year he had last year. Josh should be able to turn it around now that he is comfortable in Anaheim. He will have pressure from the media to produce, but if his teammates hit like they are supposed to, he can very easily fly under the radar and produce huge numbers.
C.J. Wilson (SP) – You can lock him in for about 15 wins and a solid 3.50 ERA. He slots in very nicely in the two-spot in the rotation and does not have nearly as much pressure to produce as Weaver does.
Ernesto Frieri (RP) – He is a strikeout machine and is a solid closer. He does scare fans and fantasy owners alike with the amount of free passes, but those do come along with a hectic windup.
Howie Kendrick (2B) - He will be a solid mid- to late-round draft pick for those looking to wait on a 2B. He should hit around .290 with 10-15 HR and give you 60+ RBI-- pretty solid for a guy who could either hit second or seventh. He does seem to have tough time staying on the field for more than 130 games a season, though.