Originally written on Monkey with a Halo  |  Last updated 12/21/12
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The December 21st, 2012 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim including Vargas and park effect, how pitchers adjusted to Hamilton, debating if the Angels improved and much more... The Story: The park factor change from Safeco Field to Angel Stadium should be about the same for Jason Vargas. The Monkey Says: As many have pointed out before, Vargas has had great success at the Big A in his career.  Small sample size is a factor there as is the possibility that he is just a tough match-up for this particular Angel roster, but it definitely bodes well for his numbers not taking too much of a hit this season. The Story: How pitchers adjusted to Josh Hamilton last season after his torrid start. The Monkey Says: This all makes sense, but I also think there was a lot more going on with Hamilton during his tough stretch than just him seeing fewer fastballs.  He had a much-discussed problem with quitting tobacco that may have affected his focus at the plate. The Story: Have the Angels actually improved? The Monkey Says: Plenty of people, myself included, have taken a shot at this topic, but really it is a fruitless endeavor because we make assumptions about future performance that we can't possibly ever really know. The Story: Have the Angels actually improved? This time according to WAR. The Monkey Says: Like I said, EVERYONE is going after this topic.  And, again, you can't really apply this kind of analysis and come up with any kind of a reliable solution, especially since WAR is scaled to the specific season in which the performance took place.  Theoretically, a guy can post the exact same counting stats in 2013, but have a different (albeit only by a little bit) WAR value.  But since we are looking at it this way, I think there are some dangerous assumptions.  A 4.5 WAR for Bourjos seems ambitious, as does the 1.7 WAR for a post-Tommy John surgery Ryan Madson.  I think once the projection systems come out for 2013, we will see that the WAR spread is much more in favor of the 2012 Halos. The Story: The Angels are done dealing, but their division rivals aren't. The Monkey Says: I still think the Halos will find a way to dump Wells, but that is pretty much it.  I think Oakland might be more or less set as well, though I don't think one can ever assume Billy Beane is set to stand pat.  The real intrigue comes from Texas, who just added the uber-hateable A.J. Pierzynski, but still needs to find a big bat to replace Hamilton.  They could go out and sign Swisher, LaRoche or make an unexpected trade, but it certainly seems like they will be hard-pressed to field a lineup as potent as the last few years. The Story: Rob Neyer thinks the "win-win" trade between the Mariners and Angels may not have actually been a win for Seattle. The Monkey Says: I agree with his central point that this move makes a bad Seattle team only slightly better, but as a Seattle resident, I kind of get it.  People here give zero ***** about the Mariners.  They think they will never ever improve the roster, specifically the lineup.  They had to go out this season and land a "big bat" with a semi-recognizable name to try and fool the fans into thinking they are headed in the right direction.  I mean, people here are legitimately pissed the M's didn't land Hamilton, who was NEVER going to sign in Seattle, but the fans think this team somehow has that kind of allure.  It is cute and sad at the same time. The Story: Josh Hamilton moving from Texas to Anaheim only made the AL West race even more jumbled. The Monkey Says: I'm not sure it does.  I have real questions about Oakland being able to be quite as good again in 2013 since they rely on so much youth, which can be a very volatile in performance.  I'm also not sold that Texas is still as good as they were last season, not mention set up to suffer from some kind of hangover induced by their late-season collapse and quick exit from the playoffs.  All three should be good, but, and I realize I am highly biased, I think there is a decent chance that the Angels can win the division by a handful of games. The Story: How does Hamilton's history of substance abuse affect his future? The Monkey Says: It is worth noting that while Hamilton's contract does not have any language in it about drug abuse, MLB has policies in place.  Specifically, if a player is suspended for drugs of abuse, they don't get paid while they serve a suspension.  That's really all the Angels could ask for anywyay.  As for the abuse causing his body to deterioriate, keep in mind that Hamilton was hooked on heroin at one point and there a belief (and possibly a myth) that opiates like heroin actually have a bit of an anti-aging effect.  That could be total crap, but so could be the theory that his hard living lifestyle in his younger days could cause his body to deteriorate more rapidly. [follow]
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