Angels' offense will need to improve in-house
Strong pitching has Halos in close pursuit of Rangers for AL West
CLEVELAND -- The Angels' underwhelming offseason gave way to an equally underwhelming first half to the 2011 season. Had the Halos sealed the deal with Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre at the free-agent bargaining table or had the effects of Kendrys Morales' leg-snapping grand slam celebration not lingered into another season, they might have trotted out a more reliable lineup on a nightly basis. In turn, they might have more adequately supported their impressive pitching staff.Reality intervened, of course. And there have been points this season -- i.e., when Texas rattled off six straight wins to start the season and 12 straight before and after the All-Star break -- when reality has seemingly sided with the Rangers. It sided with them again Monday night, as Jordan Walden blew a ninth-inning lead against the Indians, just as the Rangers were trampling the Twins with 20 runs. And yet, the standings at large don't lie. The Angels enter play Tuesday just four games back of the Rangers in the American League West standings, with a 55-48 record that would be good enough to lead either of the Central divisions. So what do you make of this Angels team shortly before a Trade Deadline at which they are expected to be relatively quiet? A Trade Deadline at which the Rangers might very well make a major move? Sure, maybe the Halos will bring in another arm to augment a bullpen that actually has the third-best ERA in the AL, but don't look for any impact bats to be added to manager Mike Scioscia's stable. It's basically up to those already here to determine if the AL West power shift that took place in 2010 is going to be sustained, or if an Angels franchise that once dominated this division will do so again. Scioscia, naturally, looks at in-house upside and assumes that this team is going to remain in the thick of things if it taps into its potential.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.