Despite Missing Out on Major Offseason Acquisitions, Angels Believe They’re Contenders

February 25, 2011 – 7:30 am by Eric Schmoldt

For a while there, the Los Angeles Angels seemed like the only contenders from the America League West. With Mike Sciosca at the helm, a solid pitching staff and a reliable Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup, the division was theirs to lose.

Then they lost it. And then some. The Angles, without Vlad, finished third in the four-team division last year, 10 games behind the Texas Rangers.

This offseason, the Angels were expected to contend for high-powered free agents Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. They contended, but didn’t win either, leaving many to wonder if the Angels can regain their status as the team to beat in the West. Maybe that’s not the case, but Scioscia believes his team will at least contend. As spring training really begins, we’ll have to wait and see.

Mike Scioscia joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton to discuss the roster heading into spring training, why the big names didn’t sign with the Angels, if Vernon Wells can be a power hitter in Los Angeles, if last year was just a blip on the radar and the progression of Scott Kazmir.

What he thinks of his roster heading into spring training:

“I like our team. I think, sure, there are some high-profile things that didn’t work out for us … you look at [Carl] Crawford and [Adrian] Beltre, ok, they didn’t work out, but we were prepared. We got a terrific player in Vernon Wells who’s going to be very important to us. … I really don’t pay a lot of attention to a lot of the bashing that’s going on. We have a good club; we’re going to be contenders.”

Why didn’t the sales pitches to the big names didn’t happen?:

“I think some of those contracts got away from a lot of teams. … Boston really jumped up and signed Carl Crawford and the same with Texas. There’s always reasons why a player might or might not choose a city. … We were runners up for both of them and moved on.”

Will Vernon Wells be a home run hitter in Los Angeles?:

“Toronto’s maybe a little more of a hitter-friendly park … but Vernon Wells has legitimate power. I don’t think it’s going to have a huge influence on what he’s going to do. You might see a home run drop off … but he’s a good hitter with legitimate power. He’s going to be productive.”

Was last year a one-year blip or a major concern?:

“Well, we hope it was a one-year blip. We’re in this for the long haul. We feel we have a championship-caliber club. We feel we’re contenders. … We fully intend to be a stronger team, we fully intend to be a club that’s going to get back into the playoffs and where you want to be.”

On starting pitcher Scott Kazmir:

“He’s been kind of an enigma for the last couple years. … He had problems with his command, his velocity … and was really trying to be a left-handed fastball, changeup pitcher and it didn’t take him very far. … He’s going to be much further ahed this year than he was last year.”

Listen to Mike Scioscia on XX Sports Radio in San Diego here

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