This certainly is NOT where we intended to be.
After another 3-1 loss against the Rays on Sunday (completing the Sweep for Tampa Bay), the Angels have lost 7 of their last 10 and are beginning the slow decent to the bottom of the league. It's thankfully going to take a few more weeks of futility to catch the likes of Minnesota and Atlanta, but it's certainly the direction this team is headed.
I've been a baseball fan for 18 years now, and I've seen some downright bad Angels teams. But this one might take the cake.
Questionable front office moves have led to a bit of a stale-mate talent wise. Pujols' contract isn't getting cheaper. Trout is almost getting paid what he deserves. Josh Hamilton is getting paid tens of millions of dollars by the Angels to play for Texas. Plus there is a lot of money tied up in players who aren't worth most of it.
So rather than address needs in the offseason (Pitching, Left Field, Organizational Depth), a bit of money was spent to fill those holes, but not with anything above replacement-level talent (Sorry not sorry, Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry). The front office didn't have a lot to spend, and they certainly don't have the prospects to trade anymore.
The Angels' last "real" piece in the minor league system is Kaleb Cowart, but he is a "B"-Level Prospect at best and could only really net the Angels more replacement-level talent. Essentially putting a band-aid on someone who just lost an arm.
So what do the Angels do? I have no idea. I don't get paid enough to make these decisions, but I'll tell you a few things they SHOULD NOT do.
1. Trade Mike Trout under ANY circumstances - Except one: He asks REALLY, REALLY nicely after another year of this miserable play from the other 24 guys on this club. If this team finds itself 10 games under .500 to start May 2017... and Trout wants to go somewhere with a chance to win... maybe you let him at that point. But in 2016, he needs to remain in Anaheim. There are VERY few teams that even have the combination of Big League and Minor League talent to even net a player like Trout. A team like the Red Sox might have that combo, with young Major Leaguers like Henry Owens, Xander Bogarts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr., plus hot prospects like Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Anderson Epinsoza to fill out a trade... but even if that deal could even come close to happening, why would Boston cripple their future at so many positions just for one guy? And why would the Angels take a chance on 8 guys who still might not equal the production of Mike Trout? It doesn't make sense for either side, and that's the only team with enough young players that I'd even begin to consider... so no... there is NO purpose to trade Mike Trout (unless Washington loses their minds and wants to send us Harper+Prospects, and even then... probably not worth it).
2. Trade away ANY prospects - Honestly, with how decrepit the farm system already is, there is no need to make it worse. No one player is going to save this season for the Halos. Even if some drunk GM is willing to send an Ace Pitcher our way for Cowart and whatever other junk we have, it will probably be a short-term deal that leads to MAYBE an 80 win season... and then what? We are back where we started, except that pitcher is in Colorado (probably) and half our rotation is still hurt to start 2017. Maybe start calling up guys like Cowart and Victor Alcantra and Kyle Kubitza... see if they have anything to contribute to this team, because most of the guys who are already here cannot.
3. Attempt a Full Rebuild - I get it... we have some pieces that could be used to net some okay prospects in an effort to build our farm system. Calhoun, Simmons, Cron, Tropeano, and even vets like Escobar and Street could net some decent offers, and I'm all for trading a few of those guys away to build the minors, but if we trade all those guys, get maybe a dozen decent prospects for them... all this team is left with in 2017 is Trout, Pujols and a Garret Richards who is still probably 3 months away from pitching off a mound. Instead, understand that this year is a wash, keep some of our younger talent and remember... a good chunk of money is coming off the books at the end of 2016.
So... how does 2017 look? CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver both enter free agency. I cannot imagine a scenario in which either of them are in an Angels uniform next year, which opens up a total of $41 Million next year. Right there, you could turn that into 3-5 above-average big leaguers in spots like Catcher, 2nd Base, 3rd Base, Left Field, Rotation or Bullpen guys.
Combine that with a couple trades this July, and you've got a mostly okay Major League team, with a decent amount of organizational depth and Josh Hamilton's contract set to expire in 2018.
This team might be at least another two (long) seasons away from contending for a championship, but at least a "mostly okay" team will put butts in seats, which is going to be a big problem for the team going forward in 2016.
That brings about my final point. Don't stop supporting this team. There is a lot to like in the players we've got left. Mike Trout is obviously an insane talent who is almost worth the ticket price alone... but you've also got Kole Calhoun who is putting together an impressive season at the plate, Albert Pujols chasing historic numbers each night, and guys like Santiago, Tropeano and an aging Jered Weaver trying to hold the rotation together. It's going to be a long season, but it's always darkest before dawn.