The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are known for making splashy moves, whether at the trade deadline or during the offseason.
By now, fans in Anaheim are accustomed to bold acquisitions like the move that lured in perennial All-Star and eventual Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, which has them asking the question, “What happened this year?”
Although the team has been among the AL West favorites over the past few years, they have yet to take the next leap. After winning the division last year with the best record in the entire American League, the Angels were swept by the eventual league champion Kansas City Royals. While they may have just run into a hot team, there’s still little explanation for laying an egg in a playoff series where you control the home field.
This poor performance makes the team’s lack of movement in the offseason and at the trade deadline so confusing. While the team recently led the AL West at the All-Star break, they’re now finding themselves a half-game back to the upstart Houston Astros as of August 10th. The Texas Rangers are also vying for a playoff spot, sitting just four games behind the Angels.
It certainly doesn’t help when both of those competing franchises made moves at the trade deadline to bolster their starting rotation, with each adding a top rotation left-hander in Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir.
While it can be argued the Los Angeles Angels didn’t need much help from the pitching standpoint (they are among the league leaders in team ERA, batting average against, and strikeouts), they certainly can use some help at the plate. The team ranks near the bottom of the league and entire MLB in runs scored and batting average, which says something considering the years Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun are having.
However, the dropoff after those three is steep, especially in the power department. While Eric Aybar is a decent table setter, and David Freese can provide spurts of powers, the Angels will certainly need more if they hope to make the playoffs, let alone compete.
There wasn’t a shortage in quality veteran talent either, which makes staying put unfathomable. The Angels could have certainly put a package together for Ben Zobrist, Brandon Moss, or Carlos Gomez. Instead, they chose to limp in with the acquisition of David Murphy, who is the midst of pretty poor power season by his standards.
While it was understood that players like Troy Tulowitzki would be difficult to come by given the asking price, there’s no reason the Angels couldn’t have offered something for a hitter slated in the two, six, or seven hole.
Instead, the Angels will do their best to keep pace with the Astros and suddenly surging Rangers, hoping to gain a seat at the playoff dinner table.
They will also do their best to improve on a disappointing end to the 2014 season, and will most likely be relying on their stable of arms to do so.