The Angels will win the West
September, 5, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
At the end of spring training, I made my predictions for the 2011 season that included the Los Angeles Angels winning the AL West. I stand by this prediction.
This despite the fact that the reigning AL champion Rangers had signed Adrian Beltre -- the top free-agent target whom the Angels had spent the entire offseason trying to sign -- to a six-year, $96 million deal. The offseason saw the Angels also lose out on Carl Crawford to the Red Sox, and their only significant move was a trade for the albatross contract of Vernon Wells. That contract put $86 million of financial exposure on the books for the next four seasons. Conversely, the Rangers also added catchers Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli as well as free-agent reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.
Despite the acquisitions by Texas, my reasons for the picking the Angels included the Rangers' loss of ace Cliff Lee to free agency; the “hangover” from getting to the World Series the previous year; the "Michael Young situation" -- do they trade him or keep him and where does he play? Compounded by the loss of Vlad Guerrero’s leadership and RBIs and whether closer Neftali Feliz might replace Lee in the rotation.
However, a month into the season Feliz was back closing, Alexi Ogando was pitching like an ace and their other young starters, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, started to pitch to their potential. Harrison’s velocity had jumped from 88-91 mph to 92-94; Holland finally found better command.
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