Much has been made of the way the Angels have re-shaped their roster this off-season. While the changes have certainly lacked the style and substance of the Angels' previous winter of moves, Jerry Dipoto insists that he made the team better. The fans and most analysts beg to differ though.
So who is right? Shall we whip out some fancy sabermetrics? Should we do some real deep analytical work? Might we need to search our souls?
Nah, forget all that. It sounds hard and I'm just not in the mood for that. No, instead let us fall back on the tried and true test of the Tale of the Tape. I mean, why do math and stuff when we can rely on a methodology once popularized by a part-time ESPN writer whose primary job was writing for lousy family sitcoms
Enough quibbling about my choice of comparison tools. Let's just do this and have some fun:
2012 Mike Trout vs. 2013 Mike Trout: Trout should get better as he gets older, which is a pretty scary thought (for the rest of baseball). However, I can't shake the notion that his 2012 season will be his magnum opus and thus will never be topped although he should be able to get close to it. That being said, at least in 2013 the Angels get Trout in the lineup from day one, and I think that is the deciding factor. EDGE: 2013 Trout
2012 Erick Aybar vs. 2013 Erick Aybar: Trying to predict Aybar's performance is like trying to predict the last ten minutes of an M. Night Shyamalan film. It's going to be unexpected, probably riddled with mental loopholes and ultimately frustrating. Let's just split the difference and call it a push. EDGE: Push
2012 Albert Pujols vs. 2013 Albert Pujols: Say what you want about Albert's declining plate discipline, but at least we shouldn't have to suffer through another month like the one he had in April of 2012. EDGE: 2013 Pujols
2012 Kendrys Morales vs. 2013 Kendrys Morales: I'll be the first to admit that Kendrys Morales far exceeded my expectations in 2012. I thought for sure that he would take a long time to shake off the rust and probably miss time with minor setbacks. Both of those things kind of happened, yet Kendrys still had a pretty solid year. Now, just imagine what he is going to do next year with no more rust holding him back. EDGE: 2013 Morales
2012 Mark Trumbo vs. 2013 Mark Trumbo: I have no idea. I really don't. His two half seasons were polar opposites. I want to blame his slump on his back/rib injury but even the team seems to be shying away from that explanation. And even if that proves true, his outstanding first half to the season was clearly unsustainable if you look at his BABIP and other peripherals. He could very well bounce back and put up All-Star numbers again or he could fall on his face and revert to Dave Kingman v2.0 form. EDGE: Push, just because I can't justify anything else.
2012 Howie Kendrick vs. 2013 Howie Kendrick: Well, it isn't like he can ground into more double plays. Am I right? EDGE: 2013 Kendrick
2012 Alberto Callaspo vs. 2013 Alberto Callaspo: Callaspo hardly endeared himself to Angels fans last season with his lowly production... which is great news! Last year was pretty much Alberto's worst season as a pro, yet he is still in his prime production years. Regression to the mean mandates that Callaspo is better in 2013. EDGE: 2013 Callaspo
2012 Chris Iannetta vs. 2013 Chris Iannetta: 2012 Iannetta performed about as well as could have been expected, except for the part where he missed half the season due to injuries. If the Halos can get 425 plate appearances out of him at the same general level of production, it should be a nice boost for the Angels. EDGE: 2013 Iannetta, hopefully
2012 Torii Hunter vs. 2013 Peter Bourjos: I could try and point out that Bourjos provides more defensive value than Hunter. I could try and point out that Bourjos has the ability to put up similar numbers with the bat as evidenced by his 2011 season. However, we all know that is a load of crap. We have no idea what Bourjos is going to do and it is highly doubtful that he can replicate Hunter's 132 OPS+ at any point in his career. Got to go with Torii here. He will be missed. EDGE: 2012 Hunter
2012 Bench vs. 2013 Bench: Conger instead of Wilson/Hester? Yay! Romine instead of Izturis? Boo. Calhoun instead of Bourjos? Meh. And yet Vernon Wells remains, only slightly older. EDGE: 2012 Bench
2012 Jered Weaver vs. 2013 Jered Weaver: Will his velocity bounce back? Will his K-rate rebound? Is his back and shoulder fully healthy? I'm going to hedge my bets here and bet that Weaver is a little bit worse in 2013, but evens things out by throwing 50 more innings than in 2012. EDGE: Push
2012 C.J. Wilson vs. 2013 C.J. Wilson: Elbow surgery? I ain't scared of no elbow surgery. In fact, the surgery could be a blessing in disguise as it was about when his elbow started acting up that C.J.'s season really started going off the rails. In fact, Wilson had this same surgery once before and the very next season he had his best season ever as a reliever. So, go ahead, doc. Cut him up and give the Angel rotation a boost in the process. EDGE: 2013 Wilson
2012 Ervin Santana vs. 2013 Tommy Hanson: Now this one is where remembering we are comparing singles seasons is key. Santana was arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball last season with his 73 ERA+. Hanson was no great shakes himself (89 ERA+) and he has some major red flags with his shoulder and switching leagues, but can he really get that much worse that fast? So long as he stays healthy he should be at least a marginal upgrade over Ervin. EDGE: 2013 Hanson
2012 Dan Haren vs. 2013 Joe Blanton: Even with the trip to the DL and the inconsistent performance, there is very little you can point at to suggest that Blanton will be able to be as good as 2012 Haren. Well, you can point to Joe's peripherals but the problem is that he NEVER LIVES UP TO HIS PERIPHERALS! EDGE: 2012 Haren
2012 5th starter plus two months of Zack Greinke vs. 2013 Garrett Richards: The two months of Greinke were pretty great. The four months of Richards and Williams were not so great. They probably even out to a slightly below league average starter over the course of the year. Now, does anyone want to bet that Richards will be a slighlty below average starter in 2013? I'm not saying he can't do it, but I am politely pointing out that he couldn't even beat out Williams for a rotation spot last season. EDGE: 2012 Greinke and others
2012 Ernesto Frieri vs. 2013 Ryan Madson: Wait, why am I not comparing Frieri to Frieri? That's easy. It is because of roles. It is Madson who is going to be taking on most of the end of game duties this year, though their might be a few weeks delay as he rounds into shape. That just so happens to coincide with Frieri's gradual ascent to closer in 2012. Alas, Frieri was simply working his way into Scioscia's confidence but Madson will be working his way into shape and the history of post-Tommy John relievers suggests that could take awhile. EDGE: 2012 Frieri
2012 Scott Downs vs. 2013 Scott Downs: I am pretty firmly in the camp of people who are convinced that Scott Downs' shoulder is going to disintegrate in 2013. That makes this one pretty easy. EDGE: 2012 Downs
2012 LaTroy Hawkins vs. 2013 Ernesto Frieri: And now the flip side of the Frieri coin. Say what you want about Frieri's blown saves down the stretch, he is a damn sight better than Hawkins ever was. This upgrade is massive. EDGE: 2013 Frieri
2012 Kevin Jepsen vs. 2013 Kevin Jepsen: This might be the toughest call of them all. Jepsen was a disaster the first month of the season before getting sent down but then he was amazing when recalled. The question is do we trust the post-recall Jepsen? And how much do we penalize 2012 Jepsen for throwing just 44.2 innings? I don't really know, but I think we can safely say that with the newfound relief depth, Jepsen won't be used nearly as much in high leverage innings and that should pretty much cancel out the increased workload and possibly sustained stellar performance. EDGE: Push
2012 Hisanori Takahashi (mostly) vs. 2013 Sean Burnett: Since Taka got dumped in with a few month left, we kind of have to attribute some of his slot to the other random bullpen detritus that ate up the remainder of his innings. Divvy that up however you like (have to figure at least one month of that is Maronde) and you still don't get anywhere close to the kind of production Burnett is going to provide. EDGE: 2013 Burnett, in a big way
2012 Jason Isringhausen (mostly) vs. 2013 Prospect reliever to be determined : Isringhausen ended up posting a not horrible line in 2012, which is kind of crazy since he was arguably the worst reliever in baseball in the second half of the season. The issue is that we don't know who will get this final spot. It will probably be some combo of David Carpenter, Steve Geltz, Bobby Cassevah, Ryan Brasier or Michael Kohn. I have to think that Dipoto can rotate through that crop quickly enough to find one guy that's half decent and capable of filling the very fillable shoes of Isringhausen. EDGE: Push
2012 Mop-up man vs. 2013 Jerome Williams: Again, another nebulous sort of comparison with Williams of 2012 being part of that comparison and David Carpenter being a large chunk of the remainder. The best kept secret that nobody really cares about here is that Jerome was actually rather decent in his relief role, especially after he had a few weeks to get used to it as he posted sub-4.00 ERAs in August and September. Give him a full season and a secure role and he should be a nice upgrade. EDGE: 2013 Williams
So there you have it. The winner in a landslide is the 2013 Angels with eleven matchup victories versus just six for 2012. There are five pushes though, so a margin of error exists. Still the 2013's have it and you just can't argue with the infallible Tale of the Tape breakdown. It's like science or some junk.