Josh Hamilton makes Angels clear favorites in the AL West


The tough free agent luck continued for the Texas Rangers as one of their premiere hitters will not be back for them in 2013. Josh Hamilton decided to head for the west coast and sign with division rivals, the Angels. It was another piece of bad news for Texas as they came up short in the chase for Zack Grienke and a possible trade with Arizona for Justin Upton isn’t looking good given that the D-backs want Elvis Andrus.

As for the Angels they add one of the top hitters in the game to go along with Albert Pujols who was their big signing last off-season. At $125 million over 5 years, Hamilton will need to produce, unlike another $20 million Angels outfielder, Vernon Wells. The Halos now have a surplus at outfield with Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, AL MVP finalist Mike Trout and Wells to go along with Hamilton. A trade seems imminent and Bourjos is the likely candidate. At this moment the Angels will likely look to put Bourjos together as part of a package to get another quality pitcher. They currently sit with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson as their top 2 with Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson in the rotation as well. Another starter would be a good option so the Angels may throw their hat into the R.A. Dickey sweepstakes. The bullpen is looking pretty solid with Ernesto Friere, Scott Downs and new addition Ryan Madson coming off Tommy John surgery so a starter is the likely option.

Any way it winds up the Angels are even scarier than last year and on paper they are head and shoulders above the rest of the AL West. Unless the Rangers start filling their newly formed holes or Seattle stops playing the bridesmaid on this year’s free agent crop, L.A. may run away with the title. Houston should wind up in the same place as they’re used to fitting in the NL Central and the A’s aren’t likely to repeat last year’s run, regardless of how many people watch “Moneyball”.

So is Hamilton worth the money? I don’t believe he is, mainly because he is injury prone. The start he had to last season was amazing but he missed some games and then cooled off with his average dipping to .285. In his five years with Texas he has hit over .300 twice and driven in over 100 runs three times, which is very good but without the health problems it would be even better. A big concern is his massive 2012 strikeout total of 162. Whether that can be attributed to injury or his personal issues, it needs to be corrected and Hamilton will be looking to avoid the sort of weak start that Pujols had last season. Pujols was able to recover and put up respectable numbers but more was expected of him and the expectations for Hamilton are just as high. It should be very interesting to see how the Angels come out of the gate and whether all the money they are spending can get them to the playoffs and beyond.
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