If new general manager Bill Stoneman can swing that Matt Walbeck for Pedro Martinez blockbuster....
Last season, surprisingly, Anaheim's staff was something of a bright spot during a hellish year of finger-pointing, whining and an inordinate number of injuries. The Angels' 4.79 ERA was fifth lowest in the American League, and opponents batted just .269. But Anaheim didn't even try to re-sign its ace, 12-game winner Chuck Finley.
Scioscia admits the Anaheim pitching is questionable. To offset it, he's hoping that his lineup, which has the potential to put up; big numbers, remains healthy enough to do so. Last year the nine hitters in the Angels' projected lineup missed 440 of a possible 1,458 starts. First baseman Mo Vaughn sprained his left ankle on Opening Day and missed 43 games. Shortstop Gary DiSarcina broke his left forearm when he was struck by a coach's fungo backswing and was on the disabled list for three months. Outfielders Tim Salmon and Jim Edmonds, the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters, respectively, were plagued by various maladies and played a combined 153 games. Though Anaheim was 11th in the league in homers and last in batting in 1999, this year's offense, which also features leftfielder Darin Erstad and third baseman Troy Glaus, has plenty of firepower. "This is one of the most explosive lineups I've ever been with," says Vaughn, whose .281 average was his first below .300 since 1993. "When I was in Boston, this team always scared me. The thing is, last year we weren't together."
In 1999 the Angels' clubhouse atmosphere was toxic. Vaughn ripped Edmonds for waiting until the season started to undergo right shoulder surgery, which kept him out until August. Randy Velarde, now with the A's, Vaughn and other players met with G.M. Bill Bavasi in June to protest a proposed contract extension for manager Terry Collins. Collins resigned in September. Finley was the subject of nonstop trade rumors.
"This is a new season, a new feel," says Vaughn. "We all saw Mike Scioscia when he was catching with the Dodgers—a hard-nosed guy who knew how to play the game. Now we've got someone to play hard for, someone we respect."
But unless Scioscia can pitch, his leadership probably won't be enough.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]