Big League Stew - MLB

Can we all just take a minute to appreciate the Los Angeles Angels?

After a weekend sweep of the Twins in the Metrobaggie, the Halos have moved their record to an AL-best 63-40, even if you, I or roughly 97 percent of the rest of the baseball world didn't realize it until right now.  

Heading into a series in Chicago, the Angels are 5-1 on their current road trip and are really in a remarkable spot, especially when you consider that ...

... Vladimir Guerrero(notes), Torii Hunter(notes) and several starters have logged serious disabled list time, hurdles that other teams (Mets, Cubs) keep using as a crutch while LA keeps on plugging along.

... Ervin Santana(notes) (7.31) and Joe Saunders(notes) (5.07) haven't lived up to expectations, making the starting rotation a lot more shaky than most people thought it would be.

... K-Rod left for the Mets in free agency, taking his MLB-record 62 saves with him. So, too, did first baseman Mark Teixeira(notes) after a short playoff push stint in 2008.

... the squad had to overcome the worst possible scenario, the death of a teammate, when Nick Adenhart(notes) died in a car crash back in April.

... the Rangers have issued a strong challenge to the Angels' reigning AL West supremacy, going 7-2 against the Angels thus far.  

So how have the Angels put themselves into a position for their fifth division title in six years and their second straight AL-best mark?

It's a combination of things, really, though let's give GM Tony Reagins his due.

Not only has Brian Fuentes(notes) proven capable of filling K-Rod's closing shoes, there's no doubt in my mind that Bobby Abreu's(notes) $5 million plus incentives deal and the cheap re-signing of Juan Rivera(notes) rank as the steals of the offseason.

Throw in the blossoming of first baseman Kendry Morales(notes) — a Cuban expat that Reagins helped oversee as head of LA's player development — and I think Reagins currently has the strongest case for MLB's Executive of the Year honors. 

Of course, I'm sure that everyone in Orange County will agree that this will again be a waste if the Angels decided to reprise their recent playoff failures — they have only one LCS win to show for all their regular season success — so there's still plenty of work to be done. 

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