Know Thy Enemy: The 2004 Playoff Anaheim Angels

The Boston Red Sox take on the Anaheim Angels at 4 PM today. It’s time for the Red Sox to rip off 11 wins before getting eliminated. The Angels won the AL West crown on the second-to-last day of the season, besting the Oakland Athletics. The Angels are host to the Red Sox for the ALDS. Jeff Howe over at League of the Angels says that “Boston scares the be-jeebus out of me.” Good man, as we should!
He also says this:

There is a mutual respect between these two teams. Between the fans, well, that?s always a different story. Our high exalted leader Evan Brunell, creator of this bastion of baseball blathering and overlord of the Boston blog, takes every chance he gets to remind me of his predicted Sox sweep. Fortunately, he?s not driving that point home by hitting me with an actual broom. That would suck.

This guy is very good with a thesaurus, as you can see. As for my prediction of a Sox sweep …t’would be nice, but it’s more smacktalk than anything.
Anyways, onto ‘Know Thy Enemy’…
C Bengie Molina/Jose Molina Bengie’s season this year was a lot shorter than his other seasons, but he posted numbers almost exactly the same as last year’s. Molina cannot run, and hits low in the order. His increased pop is going to pose a problem for the Sox pitchers, as they can no longer pitch to him and be almost guaranteed of an out. Last year he increased every facet of the game, and he was able to stay within all the improved facets. His brother, Jose, took on a much larger role this season and for a stopgap, did well. He seems to be similar to Bengie of two years ago, meaning next year he could be due for a breakout season. He and Bengie are virtual clones of each other.
1B Darin Erstad/Casey Kotchman Erstad moved to first and experienced a resurgence, having his best season since 2000. Erstad has speed, but his slugging percentage is not very impressive. He gets on base and relies on his wheels and other people to drive him in. Kotchman made the roster off the bench because he is a top-notch defensive first baseman and also manager Mike Scioscia thinks he can come off the bench and deliver good, hard contact (although Kotchman has not had a good season).
2B Chone Figgins/Alfredo Amezaga Figgins, who had most of the time this year at third and outfield, is now a dangerous hitter. He has blazing speed, great defensive instincts, and broke out this season offensively. He is a dangerous man, and we have to be careful about him. Amezaga is a good bench player that can play defensively, but is basically nothing with the bat (although he has hit two grand slams this year, whoda thunk).
3B Troy Glaus/Dallas McPherson Glaus started the season on a tear and then was lost to injury. Many believed it was for the season, but he came back at the tail end of August to fill the DH slot and provide even more punch to the Angels. McPherson will be starting at third and has tremendous power potential, but his average and OBP aren’t so hot. This is at the major league level, mind you. He was Barry Bonds in Triple-A. The absence of Adam Kennedy, lost to injury, moves Figgins to second and opens a spot for McPherson. He will also need to be treated with caution.
SS David Eckstein Eckstein bounced back (somewhat) from a dismal 2003 season even though he is still not close to his 2002 levels. He plays with heart, grit, and pride. If you take him lightly, he WILL burn you. His statistics don’t show anything impressive, but he is an important part of this Angels team.
LF Jeff DaVanon/Curtis Pride For the last two years, DaVanon has been important to the Angels, coming off the bench and sliding into the spot of injured oufielders. Now that Jose Guillen is suspended, DaVanon most likely will be getting the call to start the games. He hits for a fair average, has a good batting eye and can pound the ball. Also another person you don’t care to make a mistake to. Pride came up as a call-up. The man born in 1968 has bounced around the major leagues, never really getting a chance. After impressing the Angels with his speed, defense, and hitting skills, he made the postseason roster. (Granted, that’s largely due to the suspension of Guillen.) He will come off the bench in the late innings.
RF Vladimir Guerrero The probable MVP winner. That’s all you need to know to know this – stay away from the dude.
CF Garret Anderson Anderson had injury woes this year and saw his slugging percentage dip radically from his previous years. He however still is an offensive force and has been a lifetime Angel.
In summation, this Angels lineup can bash. Pitchers beware.
SP Jarrod Washburn/Bartolo Colon/Kelvim Escobar/John Lackey The starting rotation doesn’t scare anyone, but they can get the job done. Washburn went 11-8 in a short season and posted his highest ERA since 1999. He is the Game One starter because they were not allowed to set up their rotation, having had to play to the wire. Colon started slow, but finished strong with a record of 18-12 and a 5.01 ERA. One more scoreless inning and his season ERA would have been under 5. May and June were his only horrendous months and August and September have seen his ERA under 5, so he’s capable of winning. Escobar is in his first year with Anaheim and finally had a full season starting. He did well, 11-12 with a 3.93 ERA and absolutely victimized by a lack of run support. Escobar has been their best pitcher but (lucky for us) doesn’t get runs to work with. Lackey is available in the bullpen for Games 1 and 2. He also struggled early on, but ended the season 14-13 with a 4.67 ERA.
RP Francisco Rodriguez/Ramon Ortiz/Kevin Gregg/Scot Shields/Brendan Donnelly This is basically the best bullpen. K-Rod had 84 IP, with a 1.82 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and .172 BAA. Ouch, ouch, ouch, and ouch. We need to stay away from K-Rod. Ortiz is a deposed starter, and pitched well in the bullpen. Total, he had a 4.43 ERA in 128.0 IP (34 G 14 GS). Gregg was an important part of the bullpen, the seventh inning man, throwing 87.2 IP with a 4.21 ERA in 55 games. Shields had a career high in appearances (60) and threw for a 3.33 ERA in 105.1 games. He is their man in the middle innings and can shut is down. Donnelly was a great reliever in the past. He started the season injured, and only had half of a season. In that half, he proved himself as fearsome as ever.
CL Troy Percival Percy has 316 career saves (106 in the last three seasons) and posted a 2.90 ERA with 33 saves. A free agent, this could be his last year in Anaheim as K-Rod waits to take over. Expect him to chomp at the bit to go out in a blaze of glory.
That’s as far as my research took me – I could not find who the final two players would be. You can rest assured though they are not an important part of the team, they are bench players. It is possible they may play an important role in this series, but we’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope they don’t come from nowhere and win the series for the Angels.
See you at 4.