Keys to success for Angels in 2014

BY foxsports • February 27, 2014

After making waves the last two offseasons, the Angels were relatively quiet this year, and they enter spring training without the preseason hype from years past. Despite acquiring Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson in 2012, and outfielder Josh Hamilton in 2013, Angels stumbled out of the gates the last few seasons, and they're hopeful a strong start can snap a four-year stretch without making the playoffs.

As the Angels get set to take on the Cubs Friday at 12 p.m. on FOX Sports West, Angels broadcasters Mark Gubicza, Victor Rojas and Jose Mota share their keys for a successful season.

2. Defense. The defense needs to be like the defense of old for the Angels. Catching the ball and focusing on fundamentals will make the pitching staff much better. If you give only three outs per inning, the pitchers will gain confidence. And catching is a part of the defense also. Great game calling and framing pitches is vital to the team.

3. Health. If Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and David Freese are healthy, this could be the best offense the Angels have had in years. Mike Trout, Erick Aybar, Raul Ibanez and the rest will follow and feed off of these three main run producers.

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will be sidelined for at least two weeks because of a strained calf muscle.

2. Defense MUST catch the ball. It doesn't matter how good the pitching is, if guys aren't catching the ball behind them, it's going to be a long season. Angels had the fourth most errors in MLB in 2013, and that stat cannot be repeated.

3. Win often in April. This division is way too tough to dig yourself into a hole as the Angels have the last two seasons. Halos need to come out of April at least 3-5 games over .500 to take pressure off guys in the clubhouse and shift it to rest of the division.

2. Catch it/Throw it: The Angels allowed 52 unearned runs as a result of opening the door to the opponents in key situations and prolonging innings. There's an urgent need to be better at every position, from the catchers and pitchers doing a better job controlling the run, to positioning, to communication. It took a toll on the guys on the mound, as the Angels threw way too many pitches overall (in the A.L., only the Astros threw more).

3. Beat the A.L. West: To win the division, you must have the upper hand in the face-to-face matches. The team was 12 games under .500 vs. A.L. West foes (vs. Texas 4-15, Oakland 8-11, Houston 9-10, Seattle 11-8). The series in early April is just as big as the one in late September. Efficient execution of the plan against the teams you see the most has to be a priority, especially with all the information available, and with the addition of a staff member that will be providing information even as the game is progressing.    

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