A.L. West Preview: Angels Ready For Championship Run

Joe LaTengo | Updated Mar 05, 2012

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Arte Moreno bought the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from the Walt Disney Company in 2003 for $180 million. Little did anyone know at the time that the former advertising mogul would go on to make some of the biggest splashes ever seen in baseball.

The Action: This past off-season, after back-to-back years out of the playoffs, Moreno shook things up by firing general manager Tony Reagins and hiring former pitcher Jerry DiPoto as his new GM.

Moreno wasn’t done there. He then laid out $331 million for two players: $254 million for a 10-year contract to 1B Albert Pujols AND another $77 million for five years to lefthanded starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. Moreno and the Angels could afford to do that, since their new broadcasting contract with Fox Sports pays the club $3 billion over the next 20 years.

One other move saw pitcher Tyler Chatwood traded to the Colorado Rockies for catcher Chris Iannetta, who is an offensive upgrade on Jeff Mathis (now with the Blue Jays) and Hank Conger.

It’s A Lock: Manager Mike Scioscia will have Pujols playing at first base and batting third in pretty much every lineup card he fills out, and Albert has been making quite an impression at spring training. The addition of Wilson should make the strong starting pitching staff — including Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana — even more intimidating. Howard Kendrick will be counted on to fly under ther radar again and overperform at second base. Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos will be expected to continue their development in the outfield.

Hedge Your Bets: The club may be losing faith in young closer Jordan Walden, who had hot and cold stretches in 2011. Big-swinging Mark Trumbo, who has been cleared to resume baseball activities after fracturing his foot, will be tried at third base along with incumbent Alberto Callaspo, former Seattle Mariner Russ Branyan and perhaps Maicer Izturis. Kendrys Morales will attempt to claim the DH spot affter spending two years recovering from an ankle injury suffered while celebrating a home run. LF Vernon Wells needs to find his game again after enduring the worst season in his professional career. Outfielder/DH Bobby Abreu has been unhappy this spring because it appears there is no everyday position for him, but the veteran might have to learn to suck it up.

The Payoff: The MLB futures betting has the Angels favored to win the West division title and the league pennant, and ranked just behind the Phillies and the Yankees for the World Series championship. With the kind of firepower they’ve acquired, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see them go all the way.

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