This Just In: Angels Will Be 21 Games Worse in 2010 Than 2009
I opened up the inbox of my emails this morning and was notified via the Baseball Prospectus Premium Newsletter that "a changing of the guard sees the Angels drop to the bottom behind a Rangers/Mariners battle" in its AL West preview. With my curiosity piqued, I clicked on the attendant link and scrolled down to the following excerpt:
Los Angeles Angels
Projected record: 76-86
Why They Might Win: While they have lost Lackey, they still have a very formidable rotation with Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, and Joel Pineiro. Mike Scioscia is among the game's best managers; his teams always outperform the sum of their parts.
Why They Might Not Win: Figgins is a big loss. He was excellent both as a table-setter at the top of the batting order and with the glove at third base. Counting on Brian Fuentes and Fernando Rodney to be the primary late-inning relievers just seems to be asking for trouble.
Player Who Could Surprise: Brandon Wood, whom it seems has been a prospect since Jim Fregosi was the Angels' star, will finally get his chance at the major-league level. PECOTA projects Wood to hit 25 home runs as Figgins' replacement.
Player Who Could Disappoint: Rodney converted 37 of 38 save opportunities for Detroit last season, but PECOTA sees him with a 4.34 ERA this year, a high figure for a guy who was paid a lot of money on the free-agent market to pitch in high-leverage situations.
Hmmm... According to PECOTA, the Angels are going to win 21 fewer games in 2010 than 2009 and finish last in the AL West.
Let me see if I can reconcile that difference. Rely on last year's actual or this year's projected PECOTA or WAR if you must, but I'm just going to spell out the major differences in personnel between the 2010 and 2009 Angels.
Joel Pineiro vs. John Lackey, Brandon Wood vs. Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui vs. Vladimir Guerrero, and Fernando Rodney vs. Darren Oliver. I guess each one of these pairings is going to amount to a loss of five wins. Oops, I forgot to mention that if Scott Kazmir can stay healthy, the Angels will get a full season out of him rather than one month. We'll keep it simple and call six months vs. one month a push. With respect to the rest of the team, which is made up mostly of young players getting better rather than old players getting worse, they will be responsible for losing one more game this year than last year.
You see, last year, the Angels were apparently talented and lucky. This year, the Angels apparently lack talent and are going to be unlucky. Nice.
I just wish BP would put its money where its mouth is and book that 76 as an over/under. I would be the first one in line.