When the Angels won the World Series in 2002 they arguably had the best farm club in the major leagues, leading many baseball insiders to assert that Mike Scoscia could possibly reel in another title to Anaheim before the end of the decade. Well, its now 2010 and the Angels are officially eliminated from postseason play and are on the verge of their first losing season since 2003.
It’s not that these prospects never made it to the big leagues. They did. However, with the exception of Kendry Morales, none of them have lived up to the hype that followed them. The Angels were expected to be strong down the middle with players like second baseman Howie Kendrick, shortstops Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood, and catcher Jeff Mathis. However, Kendrick has made all those people (including myself) who predicted him to be the next batting champ sound like the same people who predicted that Y2K would be the end of life as we know it. Meanwhile, Aybar has proven to be remarkably inconsistent. On the other hand, Wood has proven to be remarkably consistent….at striking out. And Mathis’ career average is below the mendoza line. Another prospect that was highly touted was shortstop Alberto Callaspo, who the Angel’s traded away to make room for the inconsistent Aybar and the talentless Wood. But recently, Callaspo, who has proved himself capable of everyday duty, was reacquired from the Royals to replace Wood at third base, thus giving Angel fans a sigh of relief desperately needed.
Aybar, left, and Kendrick, right, are just some of the Angels who need to perform up to their capabilities if the Angels are to win another World Series title anytime soon
On the mound, Ervin Santana has shown himself to be an above average pitcher every other year. This year he has been good but we may have to wait until 2012 to see him perform that well again. On the corners of the infield there have been a couple of disappointments, notably Dallas McPherson (Who?..you ask)and Casey Kotchman. McPherson was a highly rated third base prospect who made Troy Glaus (2002 World Series MVP) expendable and has since fallen into obscurity after a brief stint in the majors. Kotchman, although a fan favorite, has not yet shown himself to be an everyday player but has proved himself to be a valuable bargaining chip in trades, going from Anaheim to Atlanta to Seattle to Boston in less than 2 years. Perhaps, the only prospect that has worthily endeared himself to Angel fans has been Kendry Morales, the Cuban switch-hitting slugger who fell victim to a season ending ankle injury in June.
The prospects for another World Series title in Anaheim in the next few years look dim, to say the least. However, with a healthy Morales and a revamped bullpen the Angels could change their fortunes as long as these prospects are willing to shake off their early disappointments and become late bloomers.
And the Zen Master says, “We’ll See…”