Finally, the best day of the year is upon us, which I probably shouldn’t be saying since I’m getting married this summer. Since Santa Arte gave us early Christmas gifts at the Winter Meetings, Angels fans have eagerly awaited seeing them in action. If CJ Wilson is the cool Power Rangers action figure, then Albert Pujols is definitely the N64. My reaction to his signing may or may not have been similar to this kid (Note: you’ve seen this clip. I never noticed that the kid goes to open something else, but obviously doesn’t care. That was like when the Angels signed Jason Isringhausen. I was like, “oh, that’s nice, thanks Dipoto,” but really was just more interested in drooling over Pujols highlights).
In Albert Pujols, the best right handed hitter of his generation, and CJ Wilson, an ace that adds to an embarrassment of rotation riches while simultaneously plundering Texas, it’s not unreasonable to think the Angels picked up 6-7 more wins on those moves alone. When you factor in Jeff Mathis’ exile to Toronto (the Jays owed us one) and the move that brought in a catcher in Chris Iannetta that isn’t allergic to hitting, Dipoto and Arte may have bought 10 wins this offseason.
I’ve read all the reasons why the Pujols contract is a dumb signing. And maybe in 5 years it will be. But you know what? I could not care less today. Pujols may not be in his prime anymore, but I did see what Pujols did to Alexi Ogando last year in the World Series, a blast that probably led Ogando to seek out Brad Lidge for counsel. Judging from his 7 spring home runs, he will have no problem hitting this season. And frankly that’s all I care about now. I’m choosing to enjoy the ride and worry about the contract later.
As for the opponents this weekend*, the Angels open up with a three game set at home vs the Royals, a team that served a key role in why the Angels missed the playoffs last season. Despite the Royals winning only 71 games in 2011, they managed to go 7-3 vs the Angels.
* To listen to a breakdown of this weekend’s series as well as the Royals in general, download Halos Daily’s first podcast, The Angels Address, hosted by Hudson. On your commute home, would you rather listen to baseball talk or “We Are Young” again? That’s what I thought.
These aren’t your daddy’s Kansas City Royals. Unless you were born in 2000 and your dad was a fan of the 77-85 Royals team that year, then yeah, these are your daddy’s Royals. The Royals have the longest playoff drought of any club. The last time the Royals made the postseason was their World Series title year, 1985. To make everyone that was alive back then feel old, that’s when Back to the Future came out.
But there is reason for optimism for the Royals. As you may have heard, the Royals are going through a youth movement, most notably with future MVP first basemen Eric Hosmer. I heard the term “legendary” thrown around when hearing about the Royals farm system a couple of years ago. The legends are starting to make their way into the big leagues now, so the Royals could be very good in a year or two.
For now, they appear to be just mediocre with the upside to be good. But hey, if I was a Royals fan the past quarter century, I would settle for good. The starting pitching looks thin this season. Bruce Chen is their Opening Day starter. Luke Hochevar is still a thing. Jonathan Sanchez, who they acquired via trade from San Francisco, looks as if he’s destined for a career known as That Guy Who Threw A No Hitter Once But Most Of The Time Just Walks People. The Royals offense looks very capable of scoring this season, but their pitching will prevent them from truly contending.
Probable Pitchers, according to ESPN
Friday: Jered Weaver vs Bruce Chen
Saturday: Dan Haren vs Luke Hochevar
Sunday: Ervin Santana vs Jonathan Sanchez
3 Bold Predictions of the Week, sponsored by forced Christmas metaphors
1) Iannetta, who excels vs left-handed pitching (.424 wOBA for his career), will be the first Angel to homer this season. Picking Pujols would have been boring.
2) Weaver will get roughed up a bit on Friday (5 innings, 5 runs), but the Angels will still win. Just remember: Bruce Chen.
3) Nobody will remember Jeff Mathis.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewkarcher