ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 23: Bobby Wilson #46 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim warms up before the game against the New York Yankees on April 23, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

2011 Angels Spring Training: Can Bobby Wilson Unseat Angels Millionaire Mathis?

Will Bobby Wilson take ABs away from Jeff Mathis in 2011? Angels fans can only hope!

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2011 Angels Spring Training Schedule

The Los Angeles Angels open their spring training schedule on Saturday with a home game at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They play the Dodgers twice this weekend, once at home and then on Sunday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. Sunday's game will be televised on MLB Network, though it is the Dodgers' broadcast (it is also on Prime Ticket). The first Angels' television broadcast of the spring is Monday's home game against Oakland.

Here is the full spring schedule for the Dodgers, including TV information when applicable. All times are PST:

  • Feb. 26: vs. Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
  • Feb. 27: at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
  • Feb. 28: vs. Oakland, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 1: vs. Cincinnati, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network - delay)
  • Mar. 2: at Texas, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 3: vs. Kansas City, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network - delay)
  • Mar. 4: vs. White Sox, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network)
  • Mar. 5: at Milwaukee, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 6: vs. Arizona, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network - delay)
  • Mar. 7: at Cubs, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 8: vs. Texas, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network - delay)
  • Mar. 9: vs. Colorado, 12:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 10: at Seattle, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 10: vs. Kansas City, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 11: vs. Arizona, 12:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 12: at Cleveland, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 13: at Cincinnati, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 13: vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 15: at San Diego, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 16: at Arizona, 1:10 p.m.
  • Mar. 17: at San Francisco, 7:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 18: vs. San Diego, 1:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 19: vs. Cleveland, 1:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 20: at Colorado, 1:10 p.m.
  • Mar. 21: vs. Cubs, 1:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network)
  • Mar. 22: at Kansas City, 6:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 23: vs. San Francisco, 1:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West, MLB Network - delay)
  • Mar. 24: vs. Milwaukee, 1:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 25: at Oakland, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 26: at White Sox, 1:05 p.m.
  • Mar. 27: vs. San Diego (Angel Stadium), 2:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)
  • Mar. 28: at Dodgers (Dodger Stadium), 7:10 p.m.
  • Mar. 29: vs. Dodgers (Angel Stadium), 7:05 p.m. (Fox Sports West)

The Angels will televise 12 Cactus League games on Fox Sports West, plus two games at Angel Stadium - March 27 against the Padres and March 29 against the Dodgers. The Angels open their regular season on March 31 in Kansas City against the Royals.

For more Angels news and information, be sure to read Halos Heaven.

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2011 Angels Spring Training: Can Bobby Wilson Unseat Angels Millionaire Mathis?

With slugging backstop Mike Napoli unceremoniously sent away in a trade, the heir apparent for Angels backstop seems to be young Hank Conger, a former first round draft pick who got a September cup of coffee. The inexplicable tendering of a contract in excess of a million dollars to the sub-Mendoza Jeff Mathisis jaw-dropping to the casual fan or every single fantasy team owner on earth, but longtime observers know that there is great love for Mysterious Mathis in the Angels clubhouse and were not too shocked.

The only thing now that stands in the way of the worst position player in major league baseball assuming a starting role for the Anaheim Nine would be a stellar spring by Bobby Wilson. Up to now he is probably most famous for a dramatic dustup at the plate with Mark Teixeira in a 2010 game in Anaheim against the Yankees in 2010. The big news on him coming into camp was that he dropped 33 pounds over the offseason. Remember when players were showing up to camp a decade ago having put on 33 pounds of muscle and four hat sizes in one offseason? How times have changed.

Conger is just 23 and has a higher offensive ceiling, but he has to play every day, and barring a drastic turning of the tides, he will be punching the clock in Salt Lake come April. Mathis has proven he cannot even bat his weight while glimmers of league average-ness have alighted Wilson at the plate in the past. For the sake of the Angels offense in 2011, here is to a leaner, meaner Wilson can justify benching or cutting the "Millionaire Mistake" behind the plate.

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2011 Spring Training: Scott Downs And Hisanori Takahashi Brighten Angels Pen

When pressed for an explanation on a disastrous offseason, Angels General Manager Tony Reagins mentioned that the Angels had signed Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi. After losing out on Adrian Beltre and Carl Crawford, this sounded defensive at worst and pathetic at best. But now that the bad feelings of December have melted in the sunlight of Spring Training, let's look at the revamped Angels bullpen and the battles brewing among the hopefuls for membership in it.

The first big tinkering to the pen occurred late last season when Brian Fuentes was traded to the Twins for Loek Van Mil, a tall (7'1") raw right hander who is at least a season away from the bigs. Into this closer vacuum stepped Fernando Rodney, a sloppy reliever who loves to put men on base as if he is the doorman at a downscale nightclub looking to fill up the hall with college kids on a slow night. As a set-up man he was scary and as a closer he is cardiac material. Many bullpen questions for the Angels balance on the question of whether or not Fernando Rodney is going to remain the closer. If he is serviceable in this position, than the bullpen roles become clearer.

With Rodney as closer, Scott Downs becomes the 8th inning setup man. The Downs contract and his reliability demand as much. There is a clause for Games Finished in the Downs contract that adds to his base of five million a year for three years. The team's own website lists Takahashi ahead of Downs closer to Rodney on the bullpen depth chart, but with possible question marks arising form the Angels rotation, the likelihood that Takahashi will be stretched out for starter duty makes Downs the more sure-fire thing here. But these two can be penciled in for the 7th and 8th innings when the Angels have a small lead.

With only three more positions to fill, the Angels suddenly have a wealth of options for bullpen arms to bring into games with the Angels tied early or trailing close late. Jason Bulger is a great mid-90s option if he is back and healthy - and he is in camp. Kevin Jepsen is the most likely candidate to see high leverage innings. He pitched much better in the second half of the season after treatment for a back injury.

Are we at the mop-up man position already? With Bulger's questionable health, look for the best spring training performance out of Francisco RodriguezMichael Kohn and Bobby Cassevah to land a spot in the major league pen, especially if Bulger is done. The two mist intriguing arms in the Angels pen, though, are Texan Jordan Waldenand Australian Rich Thompson. Walden hit a hundred miles an hour in the bigs after a late-season call up. After a few seasons of the AAA-Majors shuffle, Thompson has developed a Mariano Rivera-like cutter that might be the single most difficult Angels pitcher pitch to hit. This could be his ticket to a longer stay in the bigs. Thompson and Bulger are out of options.

If Takahashi ends up taking an emergency spot in the rotation and one of these others is injured, two of these arms are still going back to the minor leagues. If Rodney goes down and/or out, look for Downs and darkhorse Walden to enter into a battle of who has the guts it takes to close. It may not be the best pen in the major leagues, but considering the weak link at closer, how it shakes out in Tempe will be one of the more pleasant stories out of the Spring.

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2011 Spring Training: "Best Shape Of My Life" Isn't Just Talk For Pair Of Angels

Today is the first day of spring training for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as pitchers and catchers reported to Tempe, Arizona. During the offseason, a familiar refrain from players is that they are in the best shape of their lives, a claim which happens so often its hard to take seriously. However, with players now showing up to spring training and taking physicals, the proof is in the pudding, or rather lack thereof.

For the Angels, a pair of players today qualified for "best shape of my life" status. Catcher Bobby Wilson showed up to camp today at 210 pounds, 33 fewer than last season. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times caught up with Wilson, who will compete for playing time and perhaps the starting catching position this spring:

Wilson, who was slowed by knee problems in 2010, hired a nutritionist and adopted a diet heavy on protein, fruits and vegetables "instead of hamburgers, cheeseburgers and chicken fingers with French fries," he said. "It wasn't a 15-day crash diet. It was a gradual weight-loss program. The good thing is I kept all my strength."

In addition to Wilson, reliever Kevin Jepsen dropped 14 pounds from last season, weighing in at 228 pounds according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The first workout with pitchers and catchers for the Angels is scheduled for Monday.

For more Angels spring training information, be sure to read Halos Heaven.

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2011 Spring Training: Angels' Ace Jered Weaver Among Pitchers And Catchers Reporting On Day One

While you are out with your sweetheart on Valentine's Day, the Angels' pitchers and catchers will be icing the first achy muscles of spring down in Tempe, Arizona. The most promising component of the 2011 Angels figures to be their starting rotation. Four men are guaranteed slots:

Jered Weaver (ERA+ was 135 in 224+ IP in 2011, 5.4 WAR). He might have just lost his arbitration battle with the Angels, but the major league strikeout king of 2010 will still be raking in a Verlandersesque $7.3 million and owner Arte Moreno has more than hinted that contract extension talks loom for the Angels ace. He can be a free agent after next season, so look for Weaver to stay focused on his status as the best starter on this team. Weaver is 28.

Dan Haren (ERA+ of 142 in 84 IP as an Angel, 2.8 WAR) would be an ace on just about any other major league team, but the comfort of being a number two should yield a great year. He is familiar with the American League fro his years in Oakland and had two months to get acclimated to the So Cal way of playing under the energy of the Rally Monkey. Haren turns 31 in September and is signed through next year with a club option for 2013.

Ervin Santana (ERA+ of 104 in 222+ IP last year, 3.1 WAR) has yet to consistently fulfill the potential that helped give him the nickname Magic (in SoCal, his first name of course made that choice a slam dunk). He could be a lights-out candidate for Ace and he could be the second coming of mid-decade Ramon Ortiz. Ya nevah know... the kid's lack of consistency is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, but that fastball on the corner sets up a dramatic slider. Problem is when that fastball is not on the corner, it is a batting practice pitch worthy of Single A. Santana turned 28 in January and is signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013.

Joel Pineiro (ERA+  of 106 in 152+ IP last season, 2.9 WAR) had an injury in late July to the muscles around his ribcage. He came all the way back and started three games in late September, so he should be healthy. Pineiro pitched alright for a 4/5 starter. Unlike the above three arms, he is much less of a flyball pitcher and so his presence in the rotation can be used to spell defenders near the fences (not that Mike Scioscia is known for logical player rotations, just throwing it out there). Father Time Pineiro turns 33 at the ned of September and this is the final year of Pineiro's two year deal.

The fifth starter position is where the Angels may have to call on Triple A Salt Lake before the season is through...

Scott Kazmir (2011 stats too embarrassing to print) is in a career make-or-break position. If he heals from old injuries and recaptures some lost form, there is no reason he would not rival Weaver and Haren to be an All-Star caliber starting ace. The problem with this scenario is that Angel Stadium of Anaheim is near, but not located IN Disneyland, where Tinkerbell's fairy dust might actually help such a dream occur. Kazmir will be given a deep look in Spring, but the Angels could just eat his expensive contract and move on. If his strikeouts are up in Tempe and his pitches show movement reminiscent of his great September of 2009, he will be given the fifth spot in the rotation on a short leash. Kamr just turned 27 at the ned of January and is a free agent after this year if the Angels cut him or do not exercise their club option for 2012.

Waiting in the wings:

Trevor Bell started seven games for the Angels in 2011. Underwhelming and still raw around the edges, he just turned 24 in October and will likely be sent to AAA to stretch out as a starter in case one of the above arms goes down.

Matt Palmer turns 32 in late March, and the only question is: Will he be on the Major League roster that late into the spring. Injuries ended his Anaheim tenure in May last year. He was a surprising salve to the staff in 2009, winning eleven games out of nowhere, but was bumped in the Kazmir trade in August of that year. Will he reclaim the fifth starter's spot from Kaz in 2011? Stay tuned...

Hisanori Takahashi was acquired as a free agent for the bullpen and may step into the fifth starters spot, but I am of the belief that the Halo pen is going to need him more than the rotation.

After that, it will take a surprising Spring performance from an Angels arm to be considered for the 2011 rotation, be it the young, raw Garrett Richards or the journeyman non-roster invitee Eric Junge. The Angels have the luxury of that solid 1-3, but as close as they might be to glory, a few sore elbows could put this team into the pitching abyss.

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