Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Times in Six Years

For the fifth time in six years, the Angels have won the American League West. For those first 29 years of my life, I don't think I ever thought I'd see this kind of sustained success. And what makes it better is that I no longer think it's likely to end any time soon.

I posted this in a Baseball Think Factory thread, but I think it's worthy of its own post here. And
If you told me the day Teixeria signed with New York that:
  • Vlad, Hunter, Lackey, and Santana would miss significant time (as in months);
  • Saunders would suck hardcore for a while, then go on the DL before finally returning to form;
  • Shields would miss almost the whole season;
  • Speier would get worse;
  • Adenhart would die;
  • Escobar would not recover;
  • Arredondo (remember how many people wanted him as the closer?) would suck donkeys;
  • Kendrick would suck bad enough to get sent down at one point;
  • That 31 starts would come from Shane Loux, Matt Palmer, Trevor Bell, and Sean O'Sullivan;
  • That Brandon Wood and/or Sean Rodriguez would still not arrive;
yet they'd still clinch the division with a week to go, I'd probably be pretty surprised. If you had told me all those things, yet still said that at one point late in the season they would start 9 guys hitting over .300, I'd try to have you committed.

Before this year, I thought the window was closing for the Angels. Now, after what I've seen this year, I'm more convinced then ever that the window is wide open. The lesson? Do not ever doubt any team that is managed by Mike Scioscia.
Four fifths of the infield is made up of young, team controlled players. Two thirds of the outfield is locked up for the next few years. Four fifths of the starting rotation is either locked up or team controlled for the next couple years. The best pitchers in the bullpen over the last few months have been the up and comers. And three more excellent prospects got big league experience in the starting rotation, which should only serve to make them better down the road when their time truly comes. Top prospects in the system continue their development, and the team took advantage of multiple high picks this season to help restock the low minors.

On top of all that, the players who may leave via free agency are all highly paid. If the Angels lost all four of John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, and Vladimir Guerrero, they would cut $44.5 million from the payroll (including almost $10MM from Kelvim Escobar). They would need to sign a big bat for the outfield, and that's probably it. One of Bell, O'Sullivan, or Palmer could pitch in the fifth spot of the rotation, and Wood could take over at third base. This team is set up to compete for a while longer.

Is this a good time to be an Angels fan or what?

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