SI.com 2003 Spring Training 2003 Spring Training


Anaheim Angels

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2002 Finish: 99-63, 2nd, AL West 2002 Payroll: $62,436,618 (16th)

 
Projected Lineup
SS David Eckstein
CF Darin Erstad
RF Tim Salmon
LF Garret Anderson
3B Troy Glaus
1B Scott Spiezio
DH Brad Fullmer
C Bengie Moilina
2B Adam Kennedy
Projected Rotation
LHP Jarrod Washburn
RHP Kevin Appier
RHP Ramon Ortiz
RHP John Lackey
RHP Aaron Sele
CL Troy Percival
 

By John Donovan, SI.com

Sure, everybody loves the Anaheim Angels now. Everybody loves that move'-em-over, take-the-extra-base style of play.

Well, where the heck was everybody last April?

The Angels began last season as an intriguing possibility, then promptly stumbled to a 6-14 start. They rebounded, though, and came out of the toughest division in baseball with 99 wins. They beat the Yankees in the divisional round, the Twins in the ALCS and barreled into their first World Series, against the San Francisco Giants. A thrilling come-from-behind win in Game 6 of the Series and a workmanlike win in the Game 7 clincher, and the Angels are suddenly baseball's darlings.

General manager Bill Stoneman, who resisted the urge to retool last offseason, has kept the Angels remarkably intact and ready for a run at a repeat. They won't take anyone by surprise, though. And that loaded bandwagon brings with it some heavy expectations.

Still, the Angels remain the scrappy (43 come-from-behind wins in '02), hard-working team that wowed everybody last fall. Solid starting pitching, a very good bullpen and a bunch of role players who know their roles make the Angels a team to watch. Maybe even one to fall in love with again.

With their championship team mostly intact, the Angels merely will tinker in spring training in Tempe, Ariz.

Anaheim will want to keep an eye on aging Kevin Appier, who gave the team a surprising 14 wins last season, just to make sure he can hold up another year. The Angels will be looking to get ace lefty Jarrod Washburn and the rest of the rotation -- especially Aaron Sele, coming off shoulder surgery -- off to a good start to avoid the catch-up ball they had to play all last season.

But, really, when the biggest pieces you lose from a World Series team are Orlando Palmeiro and Alex Ochoa, you're doing OK. The biggest challenge for Mike Scioscia, the only returning manager in the division, may be to keep the fire under this unassuming bunch of winners. That's something Scioscia should have no trouble doing.

John Lackey won Game 7 of the Series as a rookie last season and now will step up into the rotation to see if he can build on that success (9-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 18 starts). What the Angels want, especially with the iffiness of Sele and Appier in the rotation, is roughly twice as many starts and innings from the young right-hander.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched in only five regular-season games in '02, but his presence in the playoffs made all the difference for the Angels. The hard-throwing right-hander was 5-1 in the postseason with a 1.92 ERA in 18 2/3 innings of relief, earning a place in '03 as a setup man for closer Troy Percival.

Arrivals: OF Eric Owens (from Florida as a free agent), LHP Rich Rodriguez (from Texas, signed to minor-league contract).

Departures: OF Orlando Palmeiro (to St. Louis as free agent), OF Alex Ochoa (to St. Louis as free agent), RHP Al Levine (to St. Louis as free agent), RHP Lou Pote (signed with Hanshin Tigers of Japanese league).

They have all the pieces that made them go in '02 -- David Eckstein, Darin Erstad, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, Scott Spiezio, the whole crew -- so the Angels, at least, ought to be in this thing. But this thing, the AL West, is a tough one. Getting past Oakland (the A's, remember, won the West last season, relegating Anaheim to the wild card) and Seattle may be harder than anything the Angels might have to face in the postseason.


 


 
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