The Angels had a surprising amount of turnover from last year’s team. In deeper objective baseball analysis, we tend to ignore things like team chemistry, and search for more quantifiable metrics to judge players’ value to their teams. I’m not ready to concede that the 2013 Angels are a bad team. They might not be the team I thought they were, but they probably aren’t going to battle Houston and Miami for the top pick in the 2014 draft.
It’s possible that the departure of one or several players on this club had a positive effect on this team on paper, but a negative effect in terms of clubhouse chemistry. The obvious candidate for this is Torii Hunter, who everyone in Southern California seems to love, but maybe the losses of Maicer Izturis and Bobby Wilson had a larger effect than we thought.
Throughout the year we’ll keep an eye on players from the 2012 Angels and see how they’re performing, and how they appear to be helping the greater cause of their new clubs. Here’s a look at each player who played a relatively important role on the club last season, and how they’ve fared thus far in 2013.
Jordan Walden, RP, Braves | 4 G, 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR | 2.25 ERA
The Angels traded Walden to Atlanta for starter Tommy Hanson, and he’s been solid early this season. After allowing a run in his first appearance, Walden has pitched three straight scoreless innings in as many games.
Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers | 26-for-63 | .413/.439/.587
After raking in the second half of last season (.344/.388/.472 over the Angels’ last 81 games), Hunter has continued his mashing early this season. The outfielder made known his disappointment over not returning to the Angels this offseason, and while his numbers are pretty heavily bloated early this season (.481 BABIP!), his contract could still make the Halos look silly for “replacing” him with Josh Hamilton.
Maicer Izturis, IF, Blue Jays | 7-for-43 | .163/.200/.326
Izturis left the Halos for a three-year, $10 million contract with Toronto. The plan was for him to play a similar role to the one he played in Anaheim, but injuries have opened up second base for Maicer, and he’s played in 12 games this season.
Ervin Santana, SP, Royals | 3 GS, 22 IP, 20 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 19 SO, 4 HR | 2.45 ERA
After a down year in 2012, Santana is off to a hot start in 2013. Last season Santana had a handful of dominant outings, including a one-hit shutout in June. While he’s twice gone eight innings in this young season, he may have struggles ahead of him. The early signs look dooming for the Halos, but it’s a young season and Santana could take steps back as the season unravels. Still, two dominant eight-inning gems would have been nice for a back-of-the-rotation starter in Anaheim.
Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Mariners | 14-for-54 | .259/.355/.389
Shipped to Seattle for Jason Vargas, Morales is off to a solid start to his career away from the Big A. The offense-suppressing environment of Safeco Field hasn’t really had a chance to affect him yet, as the club has played just six home games thus far. Morales hasn’t tapped into his power yet, but it also took him quite a while to do so last season.
Dan Haren, SP, Nationals | 3 GS, 13.1 IP, 26 H, 12 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO, 5 HR | 8.10 ERA
The Nationals took a chance on Haren as their fifth starter, and the early returns have been less than favorable. Relative to his career norms, his line drive and fly ball rates are sky high. Without looking at the Pitch F/X data, I’d assume that Haren has elevated or hung his pitches early this season. Haren claimed to have been feeling great early in spring training, but had a hiccup in the middle of March.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post “I didn’t have to see the radar guns. I could see the way he was throwing. I was ready to go hit.”
In the offseason the Halos opted to buyout Haren for $3.5 million, rather than pick up his $15.5 million option. Today, that looks like the right move, but I wouldn’t put a successful season past Haren.
Vernon Wells, OF, Yankees | 13-for-44 | .295/.380/.591
Wells has swung a hot bat for the Yankees thus far. In a move that reeked of desperation, the Yankees sent a few low level minor leaguers to the Halos and ate $11.5 million of Wells’s contract. The outfielder has had a strong opening week, but it seems unlikely that he’s captured his youth. If Vernon Wells hits this way all season, the Angels won’t be stupid for trading him. He simply didn’t have a place on this roster, and it was a good move for the Angels to save some cash, regardless of how Wells performs over the remainder of his contract.
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Mets | 7 G, 5.1 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0 HR | 6.75 ERA
Hawkins was a solid middle reliever for the Halos last season. The 40-year-old may be on one of his final tours.