Where They Stand: Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim | Sharapova's Thigh

Alright, why the hell won't my sign work against the Red Sox?

Since we're all huge baseball fans here at the Thigh, we've decided to examine each MLB team and where they currently stand. We'll look at how the team did last year, changes that happened or could happen with the team this offseason, and how it looks like the team will do in 2009 as of now. We'll even toss in the hottest thigh associated with each team.

2008 Outcome: 100-62, finished 1st place in the AL West and with the best record in the AL. Lost the ALDS to the Red Sox in 4 games.

What They've Lost: Mark Teixeira(Signed with Yankees: 8 years, $180 million), Francisco Rodriguez(Signed with Mets).

What They've Done: Signed outfielder Juan Rivera to a 3-year, $12.75 million deal.

As for what the players have been involved in, promising young shortstop Erick Aybar was in a heated brawl in the Dominican Republic earlier this month. He was hit by a pitch, and charged the mound with his bat. Fans got in on the melee as they began throwing things at the players, and the players then threw things back at the fans. Apparently some of the fans were injured, and a group of them named Aybar in a lawsuit. So it's very possible he could be suspended for a portion of the 2009 season.

Needs: Closer, First Baseman, A Starting Pitcher, Catcher Situation Solved, Left Side Of The Infield Figured Out.

The Talk: Rumors swirled that the Angels could be a possible destination for outfielder Manny Ramirez, but general manager Tony Reagins said the team will not sign the right-handed slugger, and they're likely going to go with the outfield they have of Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, and Juan Rivera. They also have Reggie Willits, Gary Matthews Jr., and even super-utility man Chone Figgins that can play in the outfield.

Considering all of that depth in the outfield, it sounds like they will not re-sign 36-year-old free agent outfielder/designated hitter Garret Anderson, who's spent all 15 seasons of his terrific career with the Angels. To me he might be the most underrated hitter of the last decade by the way, the guy just drives in runs.

Rumors of a Jake Peavy deal still being possible, but that seems like a longshot at this point. As of right now their starting rotation would likely consist of John Lackey(12-5, 3.75 ERA in 2008), left-handeder Joe Saunders(17-7, 3.41 ERA ), Ervin Santana(16-7, 3.49 ERA), Jered Weaver(11-10, 4.33 ERA), and the fifth spot is unknown. If I had to take a guess right now it would be the 22-year-0ld top prospect Nick Adenhart(1-0, 9.00 ERA). Adenhart struggled with his control in 3 major league starts, and then struggled in his return to the minor leagues. He has nasty stuff though and it's likely his confidence was a bit shaken, but I think he'll get it together and show flashes of being the top of the rotation starter that the Angels believe he can be. Regardless, if their top 4 starters perform as expected, they can live with struggles in the #5 spot.

Prospect Brandon Wood has a ton of power but needs to show more discipline at the plate(only 4 walks in 157 plate appearances in 2008) and cut down on the strikeouts(43). If he can show he's improved in those hitting aspects in Spring Training, he'll probably make the club, and can play third base and shortstop.

Free Agent Signing/Trade Prediction: Brian Fuentes.

The loss of Francisco Rodriguez leaves the Angels without an obvious closer. Fuentes would fill that hole, but he reportedly wants 3 years, $30 million. Since the left-hander's already 33, it's understandable why nobody's been willing to give him such a contract. The Mets were the team rumored to be most interestsed in Fuentes when the offseason began, but they signed K-Rod to end that discussion. There's also been talk of teams such as the Brewers or Cardinals getting Fuentes, but unless he lowers his contract demands quite a bit, they can't afford him. The Angels can, but I still think he gets either a year less or a couple million less than he wants.

Young Player To Make 2009 Impact: Kendry Morales.

They're likely going to go with him at first base to replace Mark Teixeira. I've always liked this guy's potential. He has plenty of power, and can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. The 25-year-old switch-hitter's had a superb winter in the Dominican Republic and his defense is improving. He's been around for a few years, but has yet to get over 200 at bats and should get the chance this year.

2009 Outlook As Of Now: Even with the losses of Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez, can anybody really challenge them in the AL West? They clinched the division on September 10th, and won it by 21 games. Everybody else in the division seems to be at least a couple years away.

Winning the division shouldn't be their main concern though, it should be finding a way to go deep in the playoffs, specifically beating the Boston Red Sox. When the Angels won game 3 against the Red Sox of the ALDS, it snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Boston ballclub. The Red Sox of course then won game 4, knocking the Angels out of the playoffs yet again.

Look, you can't replace Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez. Teixeira is arguably the best defensive first baseman in the game, and he's a lock for 30+ homers, 100+ RBI, and a .950+ OPS(on-base + slugging percentage). As for K-Rod, all he did was set the MLB saves record in a season with 62 in 2008. If you're one of those "saves are so overrated" people, well K-Rod also had an ERA under 3 each of the last 5 seasons, struck out many more batters than innings pitched every year, he's never hurt, and his highest WHIP in a season is 1.288. He's the definition of filthy.

Considering they'll almost win the division surely, this would be a great chance for the Angels to see what they have out of their younger players. If guys like Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar, Brandon Wood, and Nick Adenhart don't pan out in the first few months of the seasons, Tony Reagins has the financial flexibility to go out and make a deadline splash just like he did in 2008 for Mark Teixeira.

This should be a very good team, but will probably have another first round exit in the playoffs unless they get tremendous production out of their young players, and make a big move or two.

Hottest Thigh Association: Lauren Conrad.

The babe known by many as "L.C." from the MTV shows Laguna Beach and The Hills, dated former Angels Minor League third baseman Doug Reinhardt. He was a 10th round pick by the Angels in 2004. He's in the Baltimore Orioles system now, but Lauren of course lives in Orange County so we'll give her the Angels' thigh. Like you really care about the reasoning.



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