Beginning in 1947 and continuing through 1964 the New York Yankees won 16 American League pennants and 10 World Series titles. In 1965 the Yankees finished 9 games below .500 and in 6th place. Yankees fans were shocked. How could a team that made a habit out of winning pennants and championships fall so far so fast? This is an important question for the Angels because if they don't make significant moves this off season they could end up experiencing the same fate as the Yankees of the 1960s.
The 1965 Yankees had future Hall of Fame players Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and former AL MVP winners Elston Howard and Roger Maris. But in 1965 Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, and Roger Maris were getting old. Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer and Tom Tresh were above average but not the type of players a pennant winning team is built around. Young players such as Bobby Murcer, Jake Gibbs, Roy White, and Roger Repoz never developed into the championship-caliber type of players the Yankees front office believed they would. In 1966 the Yankees finished behind the Washington Senators and Kansas City A's in last place. It would be 9 more seasons before the Yankees would reach the post-season.
This period of New York Yankees history should not be lost on the Angels. Beginning in 2002, the Angels have won a World Series championship and 4 division titles. But unless drastic changes are made during this off season, the 2009 version of the Angels could follow the same path as the 1965 Yankees. Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson are getting older. The Angels have picked up Vlad's 2009 option but it is questionable if Anderson will be back. Torii Hunter and Chone Figgins are both solid players players but neither are corner stones of a World Series winner. Experts have said that Howie Kendrick, Eric Aybar, Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, and Kendry Morales have potential but it remains to be seen if they can produce at the Major League level.
The starting pitching the 2009 Angels will have is something the Yankees of the mid to late 1960s did not have. John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Jered Weaver have all proven to be Major League quality pitchers. There is no arguing that John Lackey is a true ace. But starting pitching alone is not enough to guarantee continued success when the offensive line up has so many holes. Most Angels fans believe signing Mark Teixeira is the most important off season move the team should make. But signing Teixeira is not enough to ensure continued success. It is time for Reagins and Scioscia to attempt to make several changes to this team's lineup through trades and free agents signings to ensure that October baseball is not a distant memory for the Angels.
This entry is also posted on the Angelswin.com blog.