51 games in and the Anaheim Angels are 26-25. Considering the injuries that they had to deal with in the first two months, being .500 at this point should be considered a success for the defending AL West champions. The Angels were the favorite to repeat this season, with a slight acknowledgment that Oakland might give them a run at the title. That threat has vanished as Oakland has completely fizzled and but for an outside shot that the Seattle Mariners return to their early season form, the AL West will be decided between the Angels and the Texas Rangers.
The Angels might be the better team on paper now that they are healthy, but there’s the matter of a 4.5 game lead to make up and primarily for that reason, the Angels are listed at about a 40% chance of making the post season. The next four to six weeks will say a lot in this division.
What is interesting for the Angels is that they have a lot of soon to be free agents that are likely to command significant attention in the off season and if the Angels were to so choose and sell this year, they might be able to thoroughly re-stock a farm system that has been light on producing hitting talent. Vladimir Guerrero, Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu and Robb Quinlan all have expiring contracts. The pressure for the Angels to keep Guerrero around might result in them making a bad financial decision, ditto on Figgins.
On the pitching front, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar along with swing man Darren Oliver are free agents after this season. Lackey might be in the same situation as Guerrero, a team and fan favorite who looks to be on the verge of being paid far too much money for a significant decline phase.
If instead the Angels decide to giddy up and go for it one more time and are buyers this summer, the question of where to add is obvious, as always in the line up. The rotation, even with the injuries, has been fine and the bullpen adequate, but the offense is once again impotent especially on the right side of the infield.
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