First, the improvements: Left field has plagued the team since
Second base was a problem position the last two years.
Ben Revere, the new fourth outfielder, played competently for five consecutive seasons until an awful 2016. He provides previously unseen depth.
The Angels also still have Mike Trout, the reigning
The following are among the questions the Angels will attempt to answer in six weeks of
What is the new normal for Angels pitchers?
The potential exists for a successful Angels rotation:
Behind them, Eppler has assembled a litany of once-prized prospects, among them John Lamb,
The problem is that Richards will pitch with a tenuous ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, repaired by his own stem cells. Shoemaker is coming back from a skull fracture he sustained in September. And Skaggs is still easing his way back from elbow ligament replacement surgery. In 20 combined major league seasons, Nolasco and Chavez have registered two 200-inning campaigns, both by Nolasco.
Success may then require several strokes of good luck. Eppler acknowledges that injuries are likely to happen — with any pitching staff — but says he has confidence in the depth he acquired.
"I think it's important to understand what history tells us, and history tells us we're gonna use a number of starters," he said Monday. "You hope that when those situations happen they're not happening because of catastrophic injuries."
Who’s on first?
In December, after months of persistent pain,
C.J. Cron was the club’s primary first baseman in 2016. He is unlikely to be in 2017, because
The club will refrain from designing a playing-time plan for Pujols until later in spring training, after taking measure of him. But the 37-year-old has already reported to camp, and he will surely insist on his readiness. He always does.
"The best-case scenario is Albert's ready to go when we start to play games," Eppler said.
In a similar situation last year, Pujols played on opening day but started slowly. He later said his abbreviated spring affected him for most of the season.
How to spell relief?
The enormous free-agent contracts anticipated across the sport did not come to fruition, and some skilled relievers with pedigrees remain unsigned.
The Angels don’t have a set closer, and their biggest bullpen move of the winter was bringing back
"We're happy with the group we have," Eppler said. "Every guy we went out and acquired had a background of both starting and relieving. Oftentimes, you can improve a bullpen by looking at all available pitchers."