Why This Year Could Reflect 2016 For The Angels

Updated: April 1, 2017

General Manager Billy Eppler is coming off a rather crafty, perhaps sneakily good offseason. A couple signings here and a trade or two there have the Angels looking stronger on paper. After all, the team literally needed to improve. Following their worst record so far in the 21st century, Eppler’s tweaks were a must for him to keep his job in all likelihood. It is still possible (as pessimistic as it sounds) that this year may not turn out too much better than last year. The following trio of reasons shed on light on this not so slightly, yet very plausible possibility.

Mike Trout Gets Inadequate Support

When the team’s defense is thought about, it is reasonable to surmise that they will be among the league’s very best. In fact, it is not a stretch to presume that they could be the best, period. The bigger concern exists when it comes to the Halos’ offense.

Granted Trout is the best player in the universe, he cannot do it all individually. Kole Calhoun will need to take that extra step and be All-Star like for the first time in his career. In an ideal world, Albert Pujols will need to counteract Father Time once more and be as productive as possible. Speaking of which, players like Andrelton Simmons will need to step up to the plate (literally) and do the same. Simba’s defensive prowess is indisputable, but he cannot be primarily a one-dimensional asset. The same goes for the catching tandem the team boasts. Pinches of magic from everyone are absolutely essential.

It may sound pretty harsh and cynical to put this forward. Beyond number 27, though, true consistency is needed in the batter’s box. One of those aforementioned three could be a game-changer in the grand scheme of it all and backup Trout. Maybe that guy will be even someone such as C.J. Cron, whose spring numbers have been far greater than anyone could have hoped for. A breakout type year would certainly be of assistance.

Rotation Cannot Hold the Fort Down

In 2017, nothing else relative to the Angels is more important to their chances of winning than their starting five. It is extremely possible that this group can turn heads in 2017. On the flip side of the coin, arguably too much weight is on their shoulders.

The bottom line with this unit is just how suspect they are beyond Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker. One issue that exists with this pair, though, is that they have only had moments of their career when they are ace like in terms of quality. It has not been sustained over a long frame of time. Needless to say, too, the pair are coming off 2016 campaigns that both ended horribly for them. It is not to assert necessarily that these two and others will not contribute. The Angels will require more than flashes of potential here and there in 2017. Consistency is a must. The health factor is no different.

Assuming that no major injuries plague the Angels’ rotation, they may not be that bad in 2017. But with players like Andrew Heaney sidelined the entire season, hiccups of any kind would be quite a blow to the organization. Each pitcher does not have to be great per se, yet effective. And, in a perfect world, each of them finding a way to stay on the field would be a wonderful blessing. Otherwise, the Angels’ chances to get back to October baseball will be pint-sized at best.

Injuries in General Butcher the Squad

The injuries component branches far beyond the starting five. If this worry only surrounded them, then things would be looking a little bit brighter for the ball club that is within minutes of Disneyland. However, the rotation is not the only department of their club with negative histories.

Ballplayers like LF Cameron Maybin are critical to their chances, but Maybin has not played in more than 100 games three of his last four seasons. The lack of reliability in that regard is a bit spooky to ruminate on. Maybin does have an excellent backup who has been good all spring in Ben Revere. Revere’s 2016 year was not always smooth sailing for him, either, when the health aspect is scrutinized. Simba was injured for a decent stretch of time in 2016 himself, and the infield bat Eppler added this offseason, Luis Valbuena, will be on the DL to start the season. It may all seem minor right now. In spite of that theory, the Angels are already experiencing a bit of bad luck prior to the season even being underway. It is not the best sign to get a load of.

Everyone’s past may not come back to haunt them necessarily. It may seem premature to come to such a conclusion. However, the fact that the injury bug is creeping through the cracks yet again gives reason to be slightly concerned. It is not even close to it being time to violently pound the panic button.  It just not the start that was yearned for. The Angels have depth, yet a lot of it is unproven or unseasoned. Injuries cannot decimate the team in 2017 because they will have no shot at playing in autumn if such a case presents itself.

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