Thursday, April 05, 2007

The great rivalry resumes

We're starting the first series against our arch-enemies with two pitchers who wouldn't even be in the rotation if everyone was healthy. That's OK though, as they aren't going up against Hudson and Zito. We just have to beat Chad Gaudin and Joe Kennedy.

Now that we've all had a chance to watch our major offseason addition play for us, I have to say Bill Stoneman did good. He's shown good patience at the plate, a very welcome addition to this offense, and if he keeps playing like we've seen so far he'll easily score 100 runs.

But his defense is what really makes him stand out. Gary Matthews Jr. is an outfielder with wall presence. Its a combination of instincts, athleticism, and willingness to give up your body to make catches. He makes the big plays to save lots of runs that recent Angel centerfielders just could not make. Figgins made great plays occasionally, but he just wasn't a natural center fielder, which is no knock on him, its just that for the vast majority of his baseball career, he's been an infielder. Steve Finley could not make those plays. Garret Anderson couldn't get back to the wall fast enough to even try for those plays.

Casey Kotchman has been the hitter we all hoped he could be.

There were a few stories this spring about Garret Anderson being healthy for the first time in years and ready for a big season. Usually you take stories like that with a grain of salt. Even if he's healthy now, what are the odds he avoids hurting himself later in the year? Not to mention 35 year olds do not usually play as well as they did at age 30 regardless of health.

So far though, Garret has looked like the real deal. He ran well scoring on a Hillenbrand single, and he hustled to beat out a DP grounder, on a play that I'm positive the 2006 Anderson would not have made close. He's not going to match his 2002-03 seasons, but if he can keep his legs healthy all year, I think he may have one more .300-25-100 season in him.

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