Enemy Lines


There was an over-under in the press box—whose career is going to start plummeting first, Josh Hamilton's or Albert Pujols's? I'd have to say Hamilton's. He still has outstanding power but maybe not quite as much as he used to.... Hamilton looks like he lost 30 pounds. His presence is going to benefit Pujols. It's going to drive Albert.... I don't think Mike Trout will have any sophomore slump. One of the things that's so impressive about him is how he can adjust to pitchers, even within an at bat.... Trout is really good in center, but Peter Bourjos is better. He's one of the top five defensive centerfielders in baseball. Bourjos has to play there, with Trout in left.... It's not surprising to see power guys with big swings like Mark Trumbo go through slumps like he did at the end of last season. He won't ever be consistent, but he'll always be a big-time home run threat.... The rotation is a concern. They lost Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, two fifths of a rotation that was one of the best.... Jason Vargas is as good as any third starter in the league—he throws strikes and is very good at finding the thin part of the bat.... I'm not sure about Tommy Hanson. When the Braves give up on pitching, those decisions normally don't come back to haunt them.... Their top prospect is Kaleb Cowart, a switch-hitting third baseman. He's probably two years away, which is why they gave Alberto Callaspo a two-year deal.... Their system is lean. This is a team that's built to win now.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics


14th season with the Angels


RH JERED WEAVER 18 2.90 1.08 7.5
LH C.J. WILSON 15 3.56 1.30 7.9
LH JASON VARGAS 10 4.24 1.28 5.8
RH TOMMY HANSON 10 4.67 1.48 8.1
RH JOE BLANTON 8 4.77 1.32 7.6
RH ERNESTO FRIERI 20 2.49 1.11 12.3
RH RYAN MADSON 13 3.31 1.21 9.4



The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 18.2% | 8TH

BY PITCHERS | 19.2% | 19TH

Best Case

Baseball's first 900-run attack since '09 and a stellar defensive outfield lead to a World Series appearance.

Worst Case

Pujols and Hamilton enter decline phases in tandem, creating a franchise-damaging drag on the offense—and the payroll.

Ben Reiter has more on the Angels at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

Ernesto Frieri was a vital part of the Angels' bullpen last year, coming over from the Padres in May and saving 23 games while striking out nearly 40% of the batters he faced, with a 2.32 ERA. But there was a hole in his game: When the righty pitched on consecutive days, he had a 5.25 ERA and a strikeout rate of 27%, and he allowed five of his seven home runs in those 13 outings. Frieri had rarely been used on back-to-back days before joining L.A., but when he was, he had a similar spike in ERA: 4.15, up from 1.98 the rest of the time. Manager Mike Scioscia should stop using the 27-year-old on consecutive days—but he can use him longer on the days he does pitch. Frieri was a starter in the minors and as recently as 2009 made 26 starts in the Padres' system. When he's been asked to throw more than 25 pitches as a reliever, he's been effective: a .176 batting average against in 62 plate appearances ending after the 25th pitch. Not every reliever is wired to throw 70 innings in 70 games. Frieri may need a more 1980s workload.

PHOTOBRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HAMILTON)Josh Hamilton PHOTOSTEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (FRIERI) PHOTOSTEVE JACOBSON (PUJOLS)Hammer of the Angels Since 2008, Pujols has more intentional walks than anyone. With Hamilton hitting behind him, avoiding Albert won't be so easy.