Last week we talked about just how many things would have to go right for the Oakland Athletics to have a successful 2017; we laughed at their pitching depth and chuckled at the very real notion that their efforts are primarily focused on “sucking less,” rather than, say, “winning more.” Unfortunately this is not the case with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim because with renewed health, some intriguing offseason moves, and Mike Trout, they could be a real source of frustration within the division.
All predictions are crap; this is a universal fact. That being duly acknowledged, betting on Mike Trout is about as safe a bet as you can get in this fickle world of baseball. I don’t think we are capable of fully understanding just how good this man is; he’s the best thing to come out of New Jersey, ever. He’s historically excellent and has only played four full seasons in the majors; at 25 he is already set to be remembered as one of the best (and most spectacularly dull) baseball players of all time. Without Trout the Angels would have finished last season with approximately 65 wins, buried beneath everyone in the AL West and all but the Minnesota Twins throughout MLB (it’s amazing how bad the Twins were in 2016). The Angels automatically have an advantage over all other teams, purely because Mike Trout puts on that tomato red uniform every day. Last season the Angels were bad because not even Mike Trout can save a team that ran out of healthy and/or competent starting pitchers by mid August. All of which is to say, each season that Trout starts for the Angels they have at least a smidgen of hope for a successful season and based on offseason acquisitions and renewed health they’ve got more than a smidgen going in to 2017.
Garrett Richards’ health will have major implications for the Angels season and if he can make a successful return from stem cell treatment he has the potential to hitch up next to Trout and drag the Angels into contention...or relevancy, at least. Solid seasons from Matt Shoemaker (Kyle Seager line drive victim) and Tyler Skaggs (2014 Tommy John surgery/2016 command struggles) could push LA further up the ranks as well. The defense-focused FA signings of OF Cameron Maybin and 2B Danny Espinosa should act as extra insurance for this somewhat shaky rotation.
And what happens if it all goes wrong? Well, if it all goes wrong, Arte Moreno’s efforts to clone Mike Trout will fail and Trout will leave baseball to follow his true passion.