Spring Training Checkpoint — Part 2
On March 11, I posted an article reviewing spring training and how it might affect the prospects.
Now that we’re further down the road, it’s time to take another look and see how things stand.
FIRST BASE — Casey Kotchman has locked down the first base job. He’s batting .341 with three homers and two doubles. More importantly, he’s healthy. Give him a full season of good health and all the naysayers will be proven wrong.
Howie Kendrick is lighting up the Cactus League.
SECOND BASE — Howie Kendrick is batting .400 with three doubles, two triples and two homers. Neither Kotchman or Kendrick are eligible for the Rookie of the Year award, but by September many Angels fans will wish they were.
SHORTSTOP — Orlando Cabrera will be the shortstop barring injury, with Maicer Izturis the backup. The Angels are giving Erick Aybar every opportunity to make the roster as a utility player, viewing him as the possible eventual successor to Cabrera.
THIRD BASE — Chone Figgins broke a finger and it’s estimated that he’ll be out five to six weeks. Maicer Izturis and Robb Quinlan will hold the fort, with an outside possibility you’ll see Shea Hillenbrand there once or twice. Brandon Wood and Matt Brown are not an option; they still have work to do in the minors.
LEFT FIELD — Garret Anderson is batting .458. Those who’ve been trashing him because his numbers dropped due to injury are going to look pretty foolish if he stays healthy all year. Erick Aybar played LF in a game earlier this week, giving him another opportunity to make the roster as a utility player.
The Angels are giving Erick Aybar every opportunity to make the Opening Night roster.
CENTER FIELD — Gary Matthews Jr. is 11 for 40 with three extra-base hits (all homers). Now that he’s issued the "statement" demanded by Arte Moreno regarding the report he once ordered human growth hormone, the media seems to have lost interest and Matthews is free to concentrate on baseball. Aybar, Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy have been competing for what were thought to be only two available slots, but with Figgins’ injury all three might make the Opening Night roster.
RIGHT FIELD — Vlad Guerrero is only 9 for 36 with one homer but all he has to do is get ready for the season. Murphy and Willits have a little RF experience, with veteran Curtis Pride in the mix if he’s needed.
CATCHER — A news story surfaced suggesting the Angels might be shopping Jose Molina, but I doubt it. That would leave Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis as the big-league catchers, and neither has proven he can handle the job over the long haul. I still think it’ll be Jose Molina and either Napoli or Mathis; at this point, it looks like Napoli’s bat will trump Mathis’ superior defense, so look for Jeff to return to Triple-A Salt Lake where he’ll play full-time. Mathis needs to step it up at the plate; with Molina slated for free agency after the season, the Angels will need him in 2008.
STARTING ROTATION — John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, and Ervin Santana remain healthy. Jered Weaver has been building up his pitch count, but it looks like he’ll miss one or two starts before he’ll join the parent club in April. Bartolo Colon seems to be ahead of schedule, but Joe Saunders will be in the rotation until both Weaver and Colon return. News reports have either Dustin Moseley or Hector Carrasco the leading candidates to fill the fifth slot until Weaver and Colon are ready.
BULLPEN — Many candidates remain for the one available bullpen slot. Moseley and Chris Bootcheck would seem to be the leading candidates, although others such as Chris Resop and Marcus Gwyn remain in the mix. This one should go down to the wire.
Hopefully this weekend I’ll start posting photos from my minor league camp trip. When you include hotel, gas, and other expenses, it probably cost me somewhere around $700. If you enjoy all the content on FutureAngels.com, please consider a donation or voluntary subscription. So far I’ve received $150 in donations for 2007, which is exceptionally generous. The donations not only help with the travel costs but also the addition of new features such as this blog, the bulletin board and the polls. Sales of the photos help a little but it’s never enough. So if you want to see more, please consider helping out.
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