2009 MLB Preview: #5 Los Angeles Angels

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Offseason Movement: The Halos added outfielder Bobby Abreu for cheap and also signed former Colorado reliever Brian Fuentes to replace long-time closer Francisco Rodriguez. Along with K-Rod, the club also lost Garret Anderson, Jon Garland and Mark Teixeria via free agency.

Top Prospect: Nick Adenhart, RHP
Some feel as though Jordan Walden is the Halos’ best prospect, but Adenhart is the one that will have the opportunity to make the big league roster this year as a fourth or fifth starter. With Ervin Santana, Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey all sidelined due to various injuries, Adenhart will likely start the season in the starting rotation. He could be sent down as soon as the rest of the starters get healthy, but if he does well he’ll no doubt earn a future spot in the rotation. Thus far in spring training, Adenhart has displayed good command and struggled just once in five outings.

The Big Question: Will injuries and offseason departures doom the rotation?
Ervin Santana led the Halos last year in strikeouts with 214 and posted a 16-7 record with a 3.49 ERA. But he’ll likely miss all of April because of a sprained elbow ligament, while fellow starters Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey will also miss time due to injuries. Furthermore, the club lost closer Francisco Rodriguez (who saved a record 62 games last season) and 14-game winner Jon Garland in free agency this offseason. Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver are locks, but can Dustin Moseley, Nick Adenhart and Shane Loux produce at the bottom of the rotation? Can former Rockie Brian Fuentes adequately replace K-Rod? This pitching staff seemingly has a fair amount of issues entering Opening Day.

Outlook: There’s no doubt that the Angels are the favorites in a weak AL West and should make a return trip to the postseason. But this club doesn’t come without some glaring weaknesses. Brian Fuentes is a downgrade from Francisco Rodriguez at closer, Kendry Morales is a downgrade from Mark Teixeria in the order and Nick Adenhart, Dustin Moseley and Shane Loux are downgrades for Ervin Santana (elbow), Kelvim Escobar (shoulder) and John Lackey (forearm) in the rotation. (Lackey is also somewhat at odds with the club over a new contract.) Again, unless the A’s (possible) or Rangers (unlikely) surprise, the Angels should win the West and have one of the better orders in the American League, led by the ever consistent Vladimir Guerrero, solid free agent addition Bobby Abreu, leadoff man Chone Figgins and versatile Torii Hunter. But it’s highly unlikely that this team will advance far in the postseason with the amount of questions that are surrounding it now.

Projection: 1st AL West

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