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What a Difference a Year Makes...Part 1

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Alright folks the 2007 baseball season upon us, so I thought I’d take a look at who the Angels will likely start in the field, compared to the squad that the Halos fielded going into ’06.

Catcher:
2006: Jeff Mathis/Jose Molina
2007: Mike Napoli
Impact: Positive

Going into last season, the Angels had let Bengie Molina go so that they could hand Jeff Mathis the job behind the dish, with Jose Molina expected to get some time there as well. We all know Mathis struggled to handle the staff, wasn’t able to hit his weight (the kid is listed at 185 pounds, so the fact that he couldn’t even hit .185 says a lot), and pretty soon the Angels sent him back down to the farm.

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When Mathis went down, in came unheard of Mike Napoli. The real Napster started out on a tear and ended up showing some pop with 16 homers, although he struggled in the second half of the year and ended up hitting only .228. One thing to note is that pitchers who threw to Napoli had an ERA of 3.76, and when you compare that to the 3.82 that Pudge Rodriguez had in Detroit, and the 4.40 that Bengie Molina had in Toronto, it’s easy to see that Napoli worked extremely well with the pitching staff. Nobody’s going to confuse Mike Napoli with Johnny Bench, but he definitely provides much needed stability for the Halos.

First Base
2006: Casey Kotchman
2007: Casey Kotchman
Impact: Positive

Going into last season, Casey Kotchman was primed to have a breakout year, but due to a bout of mononucleosis he ended up missing the majority of the season. Although I’ve never heard of a guy being limited to 29 games because of the kissing disease (it’s really hard for me to refrain from making Jose Lima and Michael Vick/Ron Mexico jokes), what’s done is done and Kotchman is tearing the cover off the ball right now. The big question is whether or not he can stay healthy for the entire season. If he can’t, expect former Cuban national star Kendry Morales to get a long look.