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1. ANAHEIM ANGELS

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page H12

It's a good sign for a team when the biggest turmoil emanating out of camp is what name to put on the road uniforms. Anaheim? Los Angeles? What the heck, let's go back to '80s-vintage "California."

Whatever they are to be called, the Angels are a fine-looking team -- winners of 92 games and the division title in 2004, and arguably much better this season.


Led by Garret Anderson, these Angels in the outfield could hit 100 home runs. Anderson, in left, will be joined by Steve Finley in center and Vladimir Guerrero in right.

_____ Breakdown _____
 baseball
Lineup
2B Chone Figgins
1B Darin Erstad
RF V. Guerrero
LF Garret Anderson
CF Steve Finley
3B Dallas McPherson
DH Casey Kotchman
SS Orlando Cabrera
C Bengie Molina
Rotation
RHP Bartolo Colon
RHP Kelvim Escobar
LHP Jarrod Washburn
RHP John Lackey
RHP Paul Byrd
Closer
RHP Francisco Rodriguez

Best move: Upgrading at shortstop by signing Orlando Cabrera and letting David Eckstein go.
Biggest loss: Losing 3B Troy Glaus to free agency will loom large unless youngster Dallas McPherson is for real.
Top rival: Oakland Athletics.

___ Team Capsules ___
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
NL East
NL Central
NL West
1. Cubs
4. Mets
4. Reds
   
 
AL East
AL Central
AL West
 


Just look at this outfield. Garret Anderson in left. Steve Finley in center. Reigning MVP Vladimir Guerrero in right. That could be 100 homers, right there.

This is a team the anti-"Moneyball" folks can love. The Angels have never seen a pitch they couldn't take a hack at. In fact, they finished dead last in the league last season in walks.

But let's talk about defense -- which was an offseason priority for GM Bill Stoneman and his lieutenants. The Angels were good last year; this year, they could be the best in the league. By trading malcontent Jose Guillen, shifting Anderson back to left and adding Finley, the defensive potential of this outfield is nearly as impressive as its offense.

At the same time, the Angels made a significant upgrade at shortstop, jettisoning overachieving David Eckstein and adding Orlando Cabrera -- a pivotal player for last year's Boston Red Sox team that swept the Angels in the first round of the playoffs.

The rotation will be solid, if unspectacular, from one to five, with Bartolo Colon at the top and newcomer Paul Byrd adding depth at the bottom.

If there are question marks here, they are in reference to a couple of youngsters who are stepping into critical roles -- Francisco Rodriguez, who takes over as closer after two excellent seasons as Troy Percival's apprentice, and third baseman Dallas McPherson, whose 40-homer season in the minors last year made the Angels believe they could do without Troy Glaus.

As for the name . . . These guys are so good, they can get by with one name only. Prince. Madonna. Fabio. Angels. Dig?


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