Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beyond the All-Star Game, the Angels Have Deeper Concerns

     By Ross Newhan

     Angel executives have been tied up preparing for Tuesday night's All-Star game for weeks. It would benefit their club if they took a quick look at the American League West standings heading into the final weekend before all of their All-Star work reaches fruition.

     The sagging and punchless Angels, swept in a four game series at Chicago, have fallen six games behind an MVP candidate named Vlad Guerrero and his explosive Texas Rangers.

     What's really important for those Angel executives should go far beyond the All-Star game to the July 31 trade deadline

    . This will be the real first test for general manager Tony Reagins, and another measure of owner Arte Moreno's committment. The reality is that the Angels need more than a power hitting first baseman and third baseman.

      They need another front line pitcher, and they are haunted by last year's tragic death of Nick Adenhart in an automobile accident.

      The Angels turned Adenhart's death into an emotional wave that they rode to their fourth division title in the last five years.

      Now, we're getting a true picture of what the loss of their top pitching prospect meant to the club.

     The Angels have added Joel Piniero and Scott Kazmir since Adenhart's death, but neither has been the reliable starter that Adenhart appeared ready to be.

     There is no consistency behind Jered Weaver, and there is am absence of consistent offense in support of the unreliable pitching--a description with which the Angels would argue.
      "I guess we will always wonder how Nick's career would have turned out," Tim Mead, the club's longtime vice president of communications, said, "but really it's a subject that hasn't come up this year. We thought we started the year with five solid starters. If, at times, they haven't been as solid as we had hoped, the fact remains that our starters lead the American League in innings. I'm not saying that rules out anything, but it does indicate a measure of reliability."

     Can the Angels pull off a major trade, a question that became even more critical on Friday when the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee, the best available pitcher on the market, from Seattle in a six player trade?

    Lee is the ace the Rangers needed, and now the Angels are left to pursue Dan Haren or a lesser pitcher, and to find out if they have enough to trade for the power of Adam Dunn?

    The reality is that there is little left at the top of the farm system, and unless a team is willing to take draft choices, cash and low minor prospects, Reagin probably has his work cut out.

    It is easy to give $90 million to Torii Hunter when Moreno gives the OK. Filling the Angels needs before the deadline will be much tougher unless it comes down to a released player of Hank Blalock's caliber

    The Angels have been dominant in the West for almost a decade. It is difficult to think that they won't sustain that dominance again, but this is a stronger Texas team offensively, defensively and on the mound, and if the Angels aren't there in September, the last thing their fans are going to rejoice in is that they hosted the All-Star game.

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