Lackey’s FIP last year seemed like an outlier. He had produced 3 straight seasons of low 3s FIP before last years injury cut his season shorter. He might be recovered from that ailment and back to at least mid to high 3s FIP, which is worth alot more than a 4.5
I think the Angels would be insane not to try to add a bat in trade this summer.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have posted much, much better defensive numbers this season, helping their pitching staff to be very good over the last 3 weeks — a rotation ERA of 4.00 in that span — and the rotation is pitching deep enough to keep the bullpen rested. I wouldn’t count any of the 4 teams out of it.
They should probably try to acquire Vladimir Guerrero. That should give them a pretty good offense. Nothing wrong with an OF/DH combo of Vlad, Hunter, Abreu, and Juan Rivera. Morales is coming along well at first, Napoli is a monster behind the plate. Figgins is valuable in the leadoff spot where his high OBP and nonexistant SLG works. That leaves 2B and SS. Howie needs to improve his pitch recognition but I’d rather stick with him and hope he develops instead of a trade (not that good hitting 2B are that easy to get in trade anyway). And then SS, where the best option is probably Maicer Izturis, who is about middle of the pack in that position.
I just don’t see a spot where it’s easy to add a bat right now.
At least among the more saber-friendly sites I read, the Angels were considered slight favorites in a bad division. They just aren’t good enough to expect them to run away with it, even if all their pitchers were healthy.
I don’t see Lackey or Santana working deep into games for a while after they come back so the Angels will be leaning on their bullpen more than ever. Even if their middle relief improves the fact remains that Shields is simply unreliable at this point and Fuentes has been very shaky.