With their 11-0 whitewashing of the Texas Rangers last night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a spot in the 2009 postseason and their third straight AL West title.
If there was a year the Angels were going to stumble and not make the playoffs, this was it. They had the horrific tragedy of Nick Adenhart in April, it seemed like their entire starting rotation was on the DL in April and May, Brian Fuentes is their closer, their bullpen has been a mess all season, Torii Hunter has spent time on the DL, and Vladimir Guerrero runs like Mark Eaton at this stage of his career.
But under the steady hand of Mike Scioscia, the Angels stayed the course, played great baseball, and proved once again why they are one of the best run organizations in baseball.
The Angels organization has gotten to a point where they can lose Mark Teixeira in the offseason, plug in Kendry Morales, and Morales turns in an MVP season. Next year, when they lose Chone Figgins to free agency, they will probably plug in Brandon Wood and I am guessing Wood comes through with a big year.
My point is that the Angels have become an organization of interchangeable parts. No matter who they plug in, they believe that person will succeed.
That is the mark of a great organization.
Going into the playoffs the Angels biggest concern is their bullpen. It’s usually their offense which is the concern, but not this year. Their offense, led by Bobby Abreu and the before mentioned Figgins is just fine.
But unlike in past years, this year their bullpen is the Angels biggest problem. I have a hard time believing Brian Fuentes is a championship closer. I also have a hard time believing Darren Oliver can get a lefty out in a big spot in the postseason.
However, like past years the Angels will play the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Can the Angels finally beat the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs?
It remains to be seen.