As of late this afternoon, the Angels opener tonight against the Oakland A's was not sold out. How is that possible? Coming off a 100-win season and having made the playoffs in 5 of the past 7 years with a World Championship in 2002, why is the OC not backing the Halos with a full house?
Tony Reagins and ownership went for broke last year when they traded Casey Kotchman for Mark Teixiera. They knew that there was a chance they would lose Tex to free agency, and ultimately they did. Arte Moreno made a totally credible offer to Teixiera, but the Yankees have the ability to trump anyone.
The Angels rarely do the sexy thing. Angels fans are underestimating the productivity of Bobby Abreu, who they signed as a free agent. Last year with the Yankees, Abreu posted an .842 OPS (.371 OBP and .471 SLG). That's would've been the 4th-best OPS for the Angels last year, trailing only Mark Teixiera (.962), Mike Napoli (.960) and Vlad Guerrero (.886). Abreu can play left field, and he's a natural rightfielder, giving Mike Scioscia some real flexibility.
Having spoken to both Reagins and Scioscia, I know that they are very confident in Cuban 1B Kendry Morales. In 377 Major League at bats, he's got 12 homers, 45 RBIs, a .249 BA and just a .302 OBP. He's also very limited defensively. If you're looking for an optimistic view, he has an .892 OPS in parts of 3 AAA seasons at Salt Lake. My hunch is that this guy will be streaky, but will ultimately struggle more than he succeeds. If the Angels need to add a piece at the trade deadline, it could be a first baseman.
The surprise for the 2009 Angels, I predict, will be Juan Rivera. The organization has invested real money (3 years-$12.75M) in this former Yankee farmhand. People forget that in 2006 when he got 448 at bats, he smacked 23 bombs with 85 RBIs with an .887 OPS. If he stays healthy, he is going to mash this year.
They will need to survive the first 4-6 weeks while they await the return of John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar, but they will survive. And, the postseason is about getting hot at the right time. Once they win the division, there is no reason that Lackey, Santana and a smokin' bullpen can't get trhem back to the World Series.