Cause for concern:
- Two straight poor outings from Jon Garland.
- The bullpen continues to be less than impressive.
- Nobody seems to be able to get Raul Ibanez out.
- Gary Matthews Jr. is an out-making machine.
- Despite the flood of offense so far this season, the Angels sit just one game over .500.
- Howie Kendrick can't seem to stay healthy.
- The defense is at times not so good.
- Lackey's throwing again.
- Frankie's velocity was up a bit yesterday, even though his location wasn't great. Maybe getting guys back into their normal roles will help everyone calm down a bit.
- Raul Ibanez doesn't play for the Rangers.
- I'm sorry, I can't think of anything positive about Matthews.
- Howie, when healthy, is on fire.
In Figgins' case, I think we're getting past the point where we can call his success over the last four and a half months of regular season action a fluke. I've mentioned before that I think somewhere between .300 and .310 is a fairly conservative, yet realistic estimate of what he can do this year, and if the plate discipline (12 walks in 50 plate appearances) is real, and I suspect it is (to an extent - I think one walk every 8-9 appearances is a realistic goal), then he could be poised for a very fine season.
Kendrick is Kendrick, and if he's in the lineup, he's going to hit. He doesn't seem to be a guy that pitchers can figure out for very long. As he makes his way around the league a few times, they may catch up to him a bit, but he's had sustained success at the lower levels, and he just seems like the type that will be able to adjust to what the pitchers at this level will do.
As for Kotchman, the average isn't a surprise. I don't expect .370, but it's a small sample, and I do expect him, if healthy, to stay north of .300 all year, and if things break right, .325 or so isn't out of the question. As for the three homers, I'm not surprised. I know the pundits don't expect him to ever show a ton of power, and maybe their right. But what I saw last year and this are: 1) a lot of doubles, which usually portend decent power numbers; and 2) although he didn't hit a lot of homers last year, many of them were LONG home runs. He wasn't hitting shots that scraped the wall. He crushed a few of them deep into the right field seats, which isn't easy to do in Anaheim. Already this year he killed one in Minnesota, AND he hit one out in Seattle that was on a pretty good pitch, not a pitch a guy with little power should have been able to hit out. The predictions are that he'll top out around 25 homers. I think we may see that many, or more, this year assuming good health (a big assumption).
The Angels routinely have trouble firing on all cylinders at this point in the season. They muddle along doing some things well and other things not so well until they hit a summer stretch where they start to assert themselves. That's pretty much what I see happening this year as well.