|Fantasy Take: 2009 Los Angeles Angels|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 03, 2009
The Angels lost save record holder Francisco Rodriguez to free agency, ace John Lackey will start the season on the DL and former five category outfielder Vladimir Guerrero has had knee problems for a couple of years now, robbing him of his speed. But even though their is no top tier fantasy talent on the Angels any more, there is still a bunch of useful players around.
The Best of the Bunch (Elite Players):
Bobby Abreu (OF): Abreu is capable of having one more 20-20 season in 2009 while scoring more than 100 runs while hitting in front of Vladimir Guerrero. He’s inconsistent when it comes to average, but the threat of Vlad behind him should mean that pitchers give him plenty of good pitches to hit.
John Lackey (SP): Lackey is capable of being better than a second tier pitcher, but he’ll start the season on the DL just like he did last year. His elbow is a cause for concern, but if he’s healthy he’s capable of helping you in four categories.
Brian Fuentes (CL): He’s got the job in Anaheim and the Angels managed to give 60+ save chances to K-Rod last year. If the team generates the chances, Fuentes is capable of delivering the goods. He’s certainly one of the top eight closers going into the draft.
The Third Tier (Better than Average Players):
Chone Figgins (3B): At this point in his career Figgins isn’t as much of a factor as he used to be. That being said, he’ll contribute in runs scored, steals and average, but his real value lies in the steals. After an injury plagued 2008 he’ll probably be undervalued on draft day despite the fact that he’s pretty much a lock for 30 steals and could end up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 50.
Torii Hunter (OF): Hunter’s across the board numbers took a bit of a hit when he moved to Anaheim last year as a free agent. You can attribute that to the ballpark, so it’s not likely that he’ll bounce back to his 2007 numbers, but he’s still a solid second/third outfielder capable of putting up a .280-25-90-90-15 season. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Mike Napoli (C): There are very few catchers with the power that Napoli possesses and it looks certain that he’ll get more at bats than he did last year. The average may suffer a bit because of that, but penciling him in for 25+ home runs seems like a wise thing to do.
Ervin Santana (SP): Ervin flashed elite pitcher type skills in 2008 as he broke out. Sadly he’s got some arm issues which will cause him to miss at least a month of the season, but provided there are no lingering effects he’ll be a solid second tier option contributing in all four of the pitching categories for as many starts as he can get.
Question Marks, Cheap Buys and sleepers:
Kelvim Escobar (SP): Escobar hasn’t pitched at the major league level since 2007 when he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and had to have major reconstructive surgery. That makes him an interesting gamble in 2009 especially since his 2007 numbers were so good (18-7, 3.40 ERA, 160 Ks, and a 1.27 WHIP). He’s shown solid velocity in rehab and that bodes well for his chances.
Joe Saunders (SP): Saunders isn’t a power pitcher but more of a middle of the road type pitcher who pitched far better in 2008 than his DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics) predicted he would. He’ll still get the wins, but expect a backslide when it comes to ERA and WHIP. Oh, and he’s by no means a strikeout pitcher. Still there is upside here if you need to gamble late in the draft.
Jered Weaver (SP): Weaver is a great gamble if you are looking for upside - but you are gambling on what so far is fairly raw talent. He’s capable of getting 15 wins with plenty of Ks, but trying to figure out what his WHIP and ERA will look like is anyone’s guess.
Juan Rivera (OF): Rivera will be overlooked in most drafts, but at this moment it looks like he’s earned at least a part time gig between left field and DH. That could earn him enough at bats to make him worth a flyer - especially if you follow him the first few weeks of the season to see how the Angels are using him. If he gets 400 AB he’s capable of going .275-18-70, if he gets 500, all bets are off.
Howie Kendrick (2B): If he can stay healthy he’ll be a solid contributor, mainly contributing in average but with a chance of putting up a 10-10 or even a 15-15 season if he manages to take a step forward. At age 26 it’s certainly possible.
Kendry Morales (1B): It should be interesting to see what Morales really brings to the table now that he’s actually got a full time gig. He’s capable of hitting close to .300 and at age 26 it seems possible that his power numbers could surge past the 18 that he managed last year between AAA and the Majors.
Erick Aybar (SS): He is only useful in the deepest of leagues. He has doubles power and a little bit of speed. That’s pretty much the upside at this point.