Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Featured autograph - Brandon Wood / Angels 2010 recap and preview for 2011

The ways the Angels bumbled in 2010 wasn't solely Brandon Wood's fault - except he has not shown the ability to hit Major League pitching.

Wood is a relatively young kid at 26 and seems healthy - so 2011 is another year where Angels fans hope he can begin to establish himself as a competent Major League player. If he doesn't do it soon, Wood will be thrown among the set of Angels prospects who have failed to live up to expectations.

This is sort of a recap and a preview - after the Angels had enjoyed much success for much of the 2000s, the team stumbled in 2010.

1.) Hitting performances took a dip - Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Juan Rivera, Erick Aybar. While Matsui and Rivera are gone, the Angels are hoping Vernon Wells can provide some stability in the lineup and guys like Abreu and Aybar bounce back.

2.) The team in 2010 never really gelled for a prolonged period of time with the injuries suffered by various players - Jeff Mathis got hurt, lost Kendrys Morales for the season, Joel Pineiro got hurt, Maicer Izturis couldn't play a full season due to nagging injuries.

3.) Scott Kazmir imploded
- he's a guy who at 27 may need to learn how to pitch and make the transition from thrower to someone who has to rely on guile. The days were he can overpower hitters with sheer stuff seems to have passed him by.

Still the Angels' rotation have a good trio in Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren - Pineiro comes up as the No. 4 starter and if Kazmir can do something to revive his career, then the Angels have a staff that is as good or better than the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers.

4.) The Angels' bullpen wasn't good in 2010 and closer Brian Fuentes was dumped for a notable 7'1'' pitcher in Loek Van Mill - Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi look to improve the depth, even though Fernando Rodney can be a question mark at times.

In 2011, the Texas Rangers will likely take a step back because Cliff Lee went to Philadelphia and they chose to let Vladimir Guerrero leave - perhaps the Athletics may be a 'breakout' team if the 'complimentary' hitters [David DeJesus, Matsui and Josh Willingham] the team acquired in the off-season stay relatively healthy and be productive.

I cannot root against my Angels however and believe they will at least get back into the playoffs in 2011 - not that 2010 hasn't created some doubt about that reality happening, but there is a good team in place in Anaheim and despite not signing Carl Crawford and/or Adrian Beltre, they can go and win the American League West.

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