2012 Organizational Rankings: #4 – Anaheim

Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York NL
#19 – Los Angeles NL
#18 – Colorado
#17 — Miami
#16 — Diamondbacks
#15 — Cincinnati
#14 — Chicago NL
#13 — Milwaukee
#12 — San Francisco
#11 — Washington

#10 — Tampa Bay
#9 – Toronto
#8 – Atlanta
#7 – Detroit
#6 – St. Louis
#5 – Philadelphia

Anaheim’s 2011 Ranking: 12th

2012 Outlook: 65 (3rd)

If you want to find a weakness on the 2012 iteration of the Angels, you can. It’s very possible, for example, that the team’s second-best position player is a prospect (Mike Trout) who’s likely to spend a great deal of the season in the minors. It’s very possible, moreover, that one of the players by whom Trout is blocked (Vernon Wells) will fight to produce something north replacement level. Finally, the team lacks a capital-S Starter both at third base and designated hitter, which isn’t — traditionally speaking, at least — a recipe for success.

Here are a couple things the Angels do have, though: probably the league’s best starting rotation and also Albert Pujols. The ZiPS projection system — which, like most projection systems, is conservative by nature — projects the Angels’ top-four starters (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana) to post a collective WAR of about 18.0. By comparison, only three starting rotations (Philadelphia, Chicago AL, Texas) posted WARs better than 18.0 in 2011 — and even the Angels themselves, sans free-agent signing C.J. Wilson, posted a fourth-place 17.8 WAR. As for Pujols, this is a player for whom a 5.1 WAR — what he posted in 2011 — is considered sub-par. All told, Pujols plus the team’s four best starters should be worth close to 25 wins. Were the rest of team to be average, the Angels would be expected to win ca. 96 games.

That the Angels have some disparity in talent within their own roster is actually maybe a net-plus: as opposed to previous versions of the club, which featured similarly talented players across the entire roster, this is a team that could conceivably be upgraded at the trade deadline.

2013+ Outlook: 55 (9th)

The same traits that will help the Angels in the short-term might (emphasis on might) work against them in the long. This is Albert Pujols’s age-32 season, for example, which means he’s in the decline phase of his career. Yes, it’s an advantage that the decline began at a peak of around eight or nine wins per annum, but it’s also the case that the Angels will be paying him $30 million in his age-41 season. Regardless of what a win is worth on the open market in 2021, it’s reasonable to expect that Pujols won’t be worth his paycheck then. Furthermore, the Angels have quite a lot of money invested in pitchers — or, at least, in two pitchers. Weaver and Wilson are due just under $140 million total between 2013 and ’16, when each of their contracts end. Their health and continued, respective excellence will be key to the health and continued excellence of the club.

That said, so far as future outlook is concerned, having good players is better than not having them (see: Astros, Houston). Between the present roster and what appears to be substantial financial resources (see below), the team is likely to remain above average, barring catastrophe.

As for what sort of talent to expect out of the Angels system, the answer to that question is problematized a bit by the presence of aforementioned uberprospect Mike Trout. Our Marc Hulet ranked the Angels’ minor-league system 19th overall in the majors. A couple of lists using John Sickels’ prospect ratings confirm Hulet’s ranking. But it’s important to note that Trout is a considerably better than any other player in the system — and, without him, that system would certainly rank in the 20s somewhere. C.J. Cron, Jean Segura, Garrett Richards: each has upside, certainly, but none profile as elite players in the way that Trout does. Reinforcements, in other words, are not necessarily on the way in droves from the minor leagues.

Financial Resources: 64 (4th)

Since his purchase of the club in 2003, Arte Moreno has exhibited a strong drive to increase the exposure of the team and to take a greater share of the Los Angeles market, the second-larget metro area in the United States after New York. While Moreno’s efforts to that end have sometimes bordered on the absurd (he is, for example, largely repsonsible for the team’s name change, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), there have also been tangible results. Since 2003, the team has drawn more than three million fans in nine consecutive seasons — a threshold it had never crossed before 2003. The Angels recently signed a 20-year deal with Fox Sports worth roughly $3 billion. And the franchise is now the eight-most valuable among the league’s 30 teams, per Forbes’ methodology — a substantial increase over the 20th-place finish in 2003.

Nor has Moreno been hesitant about reinvesting (at least some of) that money into the team, giving his GMs considerable capital with which to construct their rosters. The Angels enter 2012 with the fourth-highest payroll in the majors, at about $145 million. Even after former GM Tony Reagins appeared to handcuff the team by trading for Vernon Wells — and the $80-plus million remaining on his contract — prior to the 2011 season and overpaying for Torii Hunter before that, Moreno approved an extension for Jered Weaver last August and then substantial long-term deals for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason. Those latter three deals will account for over $60 million in 2016, the last year of both Weaver’s and Wilson’s contracts. Even with the the Wells’ conract having disappeared, it might be a challenge to surround those three core players with enough talent in 2016.

Baseball Operations: 52 (11th)

For how little we might know about the actual inner workings of this or that front office, we know that much less about the inner workings of the Angels’ front office, specifically, as it’s composed almost entirely of different people than it was a year ago. Mere days after the Angels finished their season 10 games behind the division-winning Rangers, GM Tony Reagins resigned. Farm director Abe Flores and assistant GMs Ken Forsch and Gary Sutherland were also dismissed.

Moreno hired Jerry Dipoto, who worked in scouting and player development with the Diamondbacks, to serve as the team’s next general manager. Before his move to Anaheim, Dipoto was probably most well known (among FanGraphs readers, at least) as the interim GM who traded Dan Haren and his relatively team-friendly contract to (coincidentally) the Angels in exchange for Joe Saunders and some minor-league arms in July of 2010. While the move was generally regarded as one-sided at the time — and mostly represented an attempt by Arizona to clear payroll for the D’backs — it actually did net the team left-hander Tyler Skaggs, now one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

Besides that, we know relatively little about Dipoto as GM. He hired Scott Servais, the director of a talented Texas Rangers farm system — and also a former teammate of Dipoto’s — to serve as his assitant GM. He signed Pujols and Wilson. And, perhaps most notably, he traded Jeff Mathis to Toronto.

Overall: 61 (4th)

The Angels enter 2012 with one of the best players in baseball, probably the best pitching staff in baseball, and a healthy revenue stream. Given the Angels’ significant financial commitments to Pujols, Weaver, and Wilson through 2016, the club’s success is largely tied to the success of those three players. That said, owner Arte Moreno has showed a willingness to increase payroll in order to remain competitive, which should help the club stay in the mix for playoff appearances for the foreseeable future — and to benefit further from the revenue bumps for which those playoff appearances will be responsible.

We hoped you liked reading 2012 Organizational Rankings: #4 – Anaheim by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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