Los Angeles Angels: Derek Holland

Have the Angels closed a Texas-sized gap?

December, 21, 2011
It's funny. As much as last season felt like a return to contention for the Angels, they still finished 10 games behind the Texas Rangers, who advanced to the World Series.

Same as the year before.

But owner Arte Moreno apparently had seen enough of that, because -- flush with money from a new TV deal -- he splurged, signing the best free agent hitter, Albert Pujols, and the best free-agent pitcher, C.J. Wilson. And that guarantees him?

Well, frankly, nothing. On paper, the Angels now look like one of the top few teams in the American League, but Texas returns virtually intact (minus Wilson) and just won the right to bargain with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish over the next month. Texas spent $51.5 million just to get to the bargaining table with Darvish's people, which tells you what they think about Wilson (who signed for $77.5 million) and what they think about Darvish (who had a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts for the Ham Fighters last year).

For a player-by-player "tale of the tape" between the two teams, check out David Schoendfield's breakdown of what he calls "maybe baseball's best rivalry," here.

Oh, and by the way, one of the premier sluggers of this era, Prince Fielder, is still out there and indications are the Rangers will be major players for his services.

"We believe we have the best team," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler told Texas reporters shortly after the Angels' winter shopping spree.

Until the Angels unseat Texas, Kinsler is probably right. The Rangers don't have as many proven commodities in their rotation, but if Derek Holland continues to improve and if Neftali Feliz does as well moving from the bullpen to the rotation as Alexi Ogando did, they have the makings of a formidable staff.

Josh Hamilton may not be quite as good as Pujols, but he's a frightening slugger when healthy and the rest of Texas' lineup is deeper and more powerful than the Angels'. The bullpens are comparable.

What we have are the makings of a Yankees-Red Sox-style spending war shifted thousands of miles west, with one team mirroring another team's off-season moves. It's probably the last thing small-market owners want to see, but it's made the AL West a more exciting place and, in a few months, we get to see all that firepower go at it.

Angels face a steady dose of lefties

May, 14, 2011
The Angels face a left-handed starting pitcher in four of the next five games, which means -- if precedent holds -- their lineup will see a steady dose of Jeff Mathis.

That's not necessarily good news for the offense, considering Mathis is batting .186 and the other main catcher, Hank Conger, is hitting .282 with more than twice as many RBIs. But the Angels have little confidence in Conger's right-handed swing. The switch hitter has gotten just five at-bats against lefties.

Conger said he toyed with abandoning right-handed hitting last year at Triple-A, but he felt uncomfortable in the left-handed batter's box against lefties.

"It's a little tough when you don't see many live pitches," Conger said. "But it's just inconsistent and I think they kind of know that."

Here is the Angels' lineup against lefty Derek Holland and the Rangers' against Dan Haren:


1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Bobby Abreu DH

3. Maicer Izturis 2B

4. Torii Hunter RF

5. Howie Kendrick LF

6. Alberto Callaspo 3B

7. Mark Trumbo 1B

8. Jeff Mathis C

9. Peter Bourjos CF


1. Endy Chavez CF

2. Elvis Andrus SS

3. Ian Kinsler 2B

4. Michael Young DH

5. Mitch Moreland RF

6. Adrian Beltre 3B

7. David Murphy LF

8. Yorvit Torrealba C

9. Chris Davis 1B



Garrett Richards
11 2.55 127 123
BAM. Trout .310
HRM. Trout 22
RBIM. Trout 69
RM. Trout 64
OPSM. Trout 1.007
ERAG. Richards 2.55
SOG. Richards 127