Tuesday, April 26, 2011

AL West Preview - Part I

Anaheim Phil Perez arrives in Anaheim thanks to The Butterfly Effect

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare is rising every year. Hospitals routinely charge patients as much as $10 for Tylenol. A trip to the emergency room can cost $200 before you even see a doctor. For the Anaheim Angel’s, an ACL injury cost the team $62 million dollars, or approximately two-thirds of the team’s payroll.

Who knew that when Anaheim’s starting right fielder Pascual Tejera tore his ACL mid-season last year, the butterfly effect set into motion from the injury would eventually grow into an offseason thunderstorm over Philadelphia? With Tejera still recovering on the DL, Anaheim opened up the checkbook and spent $62 million to sign 31-year-old Silver Slugger shortstop Phil Perez (.312/.374/.479) out from under the Phillies. The extremely durable shortstop for Philadelphia saw 654 AB last year and hit 26 homeruns, but he is not blessed with the natural range for short. As such, Perez will get the start at third base with the Angels. The move allows last year’s starting third baseman Victor Sanchez, a nice defender in his own right, to move to right and fill the void created by Tejera.

Capturing headlines, the signing of yet another solid hitter is one of the few moves Anaheim apparently felt it need to make last year in what proved to be a relatively quiet offseason. It’s not hard to see why, though. The team returns the core of its offense that was among the league leaders in average (.283, 4th), on-base percentage (.357, 5th), runs (895, 6th) and RBI (867, 6th). All that offense helped net them 98 wins last year, the AL West crown and even a game 7 in the LCS with eventual World Series Champion Texas.

The positional moves also upgrade the team’s defense that was already above the league average in every category and helped the team finish with a run differential of +116.

Anaheim did suffer one loss of note: starter Brandon Saunders. The free agent took his 13-5 record and 1.29 WHIP in 24 starts to the White Sox in exchange for $13.5 million. That makes the rotation a lot more top heavy in talent, as starting pitchers Geovany Armas, Emmett Williams and Don Watkins combined for just 19 wins in 66 starts on a team that won 98 regular season games. Consider that two of Anaheim’s relievers combined for 18 wins out of the pen.

The good news is that ace Neil Terry will continue to anchor a staff that finished slightly above the league average in both WHIP and ERA. The Angels also signed long reliever Joe Howe from Cleveland for a one-year, $4.2 million deal. Joe worked 107 innings out of the pen last year for the Indians, striking out 95 and collecting a 1.34 WHIP. Whether Anaheim seeks to convert him into a spot starter remains to be seen.

dwb’s take: The Angels were a victory away from a World Series appearance, and the single addition of Perez will help the team on multiple fronts. But are the Angels gambling that the bats will bring victories to the bottom of the rotation? With little pitching help to turn to in the minors and payroll perilously close to the salary cap, Anaheim will need to get very creative if it feels the need to make a mid-season trade for a starter.

No comments:

Post a Comment