Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2008 L.A Angels of Anahiem Fantasy Team Preview

It seems like every season the Angels are looked at as being a dangerous squad, who always compete and no one wants to play. Then after a good season, they make the playoffs, and get knocked out for one reason or another. Owner Arte Mareno shows the bravado of a good owner. He isn't afraid of spending money if it means being more competitive, and gets the team closer to a championship. This offseason's signing of Torii Hunter, a year after signing Gary Matthews Jr. shows that. Manager Mike Scioscia has a knack for pushing for pushing the right buttons, and getting all he can out of players. They Angels go into this season a near lock to win the N.L. West again, and we take an indepth look at the players that will help them do it, and what that can do for Fantasy Baseball Team.

New Faces

SP- John Garland
CF- Torii Hunter
Projected Starters
C-Mike Napoli
1B- Casey Kotchman
2B- Howie Kendrick
3B- Chone Figgins
SS- Erick Ayabar/ Maicer Izturis
LF- Gary Matthews Jr/ Juan Rivera
CF- Torii Hunter
RF- Vladimir Guerrero
DH- Garret Anderson

Projected Pitching Staff

John Lackey
Kelvim Escobar
Jered Weaver
Jon Garland
Joe Saunders

Closer- Francisco Rodriguez
Set Up 1- Scott Shields
Set Up 2- Justin Speier
Long Reliever Darren Oliver

Angel's Hitters to Draft

1) RF- Vladimir Guerrero- One of the best hitters in the game. Vlad has lost a bit in the power department, but he is still an RBI machine and can hit for average. The Angels will boast one of their most potent offenses in years, and Vlad will be right in the middle of it.

2) CF- Torii Hunter- Hunter can can hit for power and steal a base making him a duel threat for fantasy owners. The average will be nothing spectacular, and he will battle nagging injuries because he plays center field so hard, missing a day here and there, but he still is a good bat and a valuable addition to any fantasy team.

3) 3B- Chone Figgins- He is 3B eligible, but Chone has shown the ability ton play all over the field. If Anaheim's offense struggles early they could call upon power slugging prospect Brandon Wood to play third and return Figgins to his uber utility role. Regardless Figgins will be a shoe in for 40 stolen bases and to score a 100+ runs no matter where he playing on the field.

4) 2B- Howie Kendrick- Love this kid. Pencil him in to go 15/15 with a .310+ average, and 80RBIs. He had a fluke wrist injury last season that cost his time and hurt his over all numbers. This could cause him to fall in your draft a bit lower than he should be taken.

5) 1B- Casey Kotchman- Had a solid first year as the everyday first baseman hitting .296, with 11HR and 68RBs, with a .372OBP. He is going to have to build on these numbers this season, which we expect him to do. Expect him to hit in the.290 range with 20HR and 90RBI. He is a solid 1B to take when the upper tier players are gone.

6) DH Garret Anderson- Anderson for years was an underrated bat in the middle of the Angels line up and was a lock for 25HR and 100RBI. By the time Anderson finally started to get the fantasy accolades he deserved he became brittle and injury prone. Anderson missed 53 (about 1/3 of the season) games last season, and still managed 16HR with 80RBI. Extended over a full season that projects to 24HR and 120RBI, right on par with what he normally does. If he can stay healthy expect another good season from Anderson, but he is ranked this low because there is little chance he does stay healthy for the entire season.

Pitchers To Draft

1) Francisco Rodriguez- One of the best if not the best closer in all of baseball. K-Rod can strike guys out, doesn't blow many saves, and is on a team that will give him many save opportunities. 40 saves, with an ERA under 3.00 is what he managed last season, expect similar numbers this year.

2) John Lackey- Proved himself to be one of the best pitchers in the American League last season. He is a workhorse, who doesn't miss starts and can strike guys out. Expect him to win between 15-18 games.

3) Jered Weaver- Started the season late because of an injury, Weaver showed some growing pains last season, but remains one of the bright young pitchers in all of the game. With a healthy spring training and a full year of experience under his belt, Weaver could really take it to the next level this season.

4) John Garland- A durable starter is still young at 28, in a contract year, and has won 18 games multiple times in his career. He struggled though parts of the 2007 season, but so did the entire White Sox organization. Look for an ERA in the high three's or low four's, and about 15 wins, given the good run support he should receive in Anahiem and the fact to reiterate, HE IS IN A CONTRACT YEAR.

5) Scott Shields- If this was football, we would refer to this as "handcuffing" your closer pick. Just in case K-Rod goes down, it would be nice to have the guy next on the totem pole. K-Rod has averted serious injury thus far in his career, so he could be due.

6) Justin Speier- Shields suffered through injury and inconsistency last season, so Speier could handcuff the handcuff.

Maicer Izturis- The switch hitter can play all over the infield and is the definition of a solid utility infielder. Last season he hit .288, with 7SB and 6HR. He could be called upon to take over the SS position if/when Erick Aybar fails. You could do much worse with a late round pick. It is always good to have a player who is eligible to play any position on a team, in case of injury, or if you have a bunch of players who are sharing an off day and need a bat to plug in. Don't expect all star numbers, but he could be a nice addition to any fantasy team.

Juan Rivera- Coming off his best season in 2006, when he hit .310avg., with 23HR and 85RBI, in only 124 games, Juan Rivera was picked as a guy who was going to have big 2007 season. That was until he broke his leg playing winter ball, and it cost all but 14 games of the 2007 season. Heading into 2008, he still might be a decent sleeper pick despite Anaheim's clear outfield depth. Guys like Vlad, and Garret Anderson, will need rest and injury will surely be a factor at some point, so there is a decent chance he gets a shot at some point in 2008. He is worth a late round flier, if you are lacking good outfield depth.

Players To Avoid

Erick Aybar- He never hit a ton or even walked a decent amount in the minors. he can run though, and could steal 30 bases next season, while hitting .260 with 3-4 homeruns. If he struggles to get on base, the Angels could replace him soon, as they have 2 players on the roster already in Chone Figgins and Reggie Willits who play a similar, little power, big speed, game.

Kelvim Escobar- When you look at his 2006 and 2007 season stats they are too similar to think that 2007 was a bit of a fluke. He posted 11 wins in 2006 and 18 in 2007, a difference of 7 games over the span of one season. He ranked 8th in run support in the A.L., and managed to stay remarkably durable, given his injury riddled past. It seems as if every season, Escobar can take the mound, but is always nicked up with one injury or another. He will enter the 2008 spring training limited with a sore shoulder. His past stats and history show that 2007 was an aberration more than it was the norm, or something to expect again.

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