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American League capsules
Question of the Day
Los Angeles Angels
2010: 80-82, third place.
Manager: Mike Scioscia (12th season).
Projected Lineup: 3B Maicer Izturis (.250, 3, 27 in 61 games), SS Erick Aybar (.253, 5, 29, 22 SBs), DH Bobby Abreu (.255, 20, 78), 1B Kendrys Morales (.290, 11, 39 in 51 games, will start season on DL), RF Torii Hunter (.281, 23, 90), LF Vernon Wells (.273, 31, 88 with Toronto), 2B Howie Kendrick (.279, 10, 75), C Jeff Mathis (.195, 3, 18 in 68 games), CF Peter Bourjos (.204, 6, 15 in 51 games as a rookie).
Rotation: RH Jered Weaver (13-12, 3.01, AL-leading 233 Ks), RH Dan Haren (12-12, 3.91, 216 Ks with Arizona and Angels), RH Ervin Santana (17-10, 3.92, 169 Ks), RH Joel Pineiro (10-7, 3.84), LH Scott Kazmir (9-15, 5.94).
Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (4-3, 4.24, 14 saves in 21 chances), RH Kevin Jepsen (2-4, 3.97), LH Hisanori Takahashi (10-6, 3.61, 8 saves in 8 chances with the Mets), LH Scott Downs (5-5, 2.64 with Toronto; out until late April), RH Jordan Walden (0-1, 2.35), RH Matt Palmer (1-2, 4.54).
Hot Spots: C, 1B, bullpen. With a strong spring behind the plate and with the bat, Mathis appears to be winning his competition with Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger to become the Angels’ everyday catcher after Napoli’s departure. Morales is expected to begin the season where he started the last _ on the disabled list. That means a lineup shift could pull the young Bourjos out of center field until the Cuban cleanup hitter returns. The bullpen competition is down to just a couple of spots, with Matt Palmer and Rich Thompson fighting to stick with the big league club or get released. Scot Shields has retired after a brilliant decade as a setup man.
Outlook: After their first losing season since 2003, the Angels are hoping to come back strong with much the same roster from last season, but hopefully with fewer injuries and more production from the heart of their order. Their only major offseason addition was a big gamble on Wells, the slugging outfielder who had spent his entire career in Canadian obscurity. The rotation remains formidable, with Weaver and Haren providing an enviable 1-2 punch for an apparently solid bullpen. Scioscia has ranked this club among his most talented in a dozen seasons in Orange County, but the Angels must create more consistent offense to earn a seventh postseason appearance in 10 years.
2010: 61-101, last place.
Manager: Eric Wedge (1st season).
By John McAfee
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