Monday, May 9, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?

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.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nancy Drew and The Case of the Missing Offense

Man, what a rough couple of games.  I was trying to stay mostly positive after Monday's game, but game 2 was almost a carbon copy of game 1.  Andrew "Babyface" Heaney had a little more trouble than Garrett Richards did but the bullpen did a better job of limiting the damage.  Still basically the same outcome.

In fact, Heaney was mostly effective outside of that one rough inning... similar to Richards... the offense was a nonstarter (aside from one pity run) once again... and no one was playing with any intensity, especially in the middle of the lineup.  

Over the first two games, the Angels 2-3-5 hitters have one hit and six strikeouts in 22 At-Bats to start the season.  The only hit was a fairly pedestrian single by Kole Calhoun in his first AB of the season.  Former MVP Mike Trout has 3 of those Strikeouts and I don't think Albert Pujols has hit the ball past second base yet this season.

It would be one thing if it was just a chunk of our lineup not hitting effectively for a couple games... whatever, no big deal... but it just feels like there is zero intensity out there right now.  On offense, no one is really working the counts (Neither Cubs starter needed more than 93 pitches to get through 7 innings of work), no one is showing a ton of hustle on the bases or on defense... it just feels like this week has just been a continuation of Spring Training.  

This team is talented, or at least shows the promise of talent, at just about every position.  Things will start to fall into place.  But the start to the 2016 season has been harder to watch than an episode of Big Bang Theory with the laugh track removed.


The Rangers are in town with Derek Holland on the mound.  Hector "Which One Are You Gonna Get?" Santiago is on the mound for the Angels.  Trout and Pujols have great career numbers against Holland, if they are going to get out of this rut, tonight is the night.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When a Cub Becomes a Bear

Well, that was certainly one way to start the season.

Some positives to start off:

+ Carlos Perez looked like he belonged behind the plate at a big league level.  He called a good game, was always cool under pressure and blocked the plate like a champ.  For a team that likes to build it's pitching around a great catcher, Carlos Perez could be that next guy, and it's exciting to watch.  Also, he was one of only three guys to get on base against Jake Arrieta last night.

+ At least we aren't the San Diego Padres right now...

....And the Negatives... I'll try to keep this to just three:

- Four Total Bases... FOUR.  I know Arrieta is the reigning NL Cy Young.. but FOUR total bases?  The Cubs managed three in the first inning.  The equipment manager should probably check the bats to make sure their aren't any baseball-sized holes comically drilled into them.

- Garrett Richards' consistency.  He was either striking guys out or putting them on base last night.  Only 3 came around to score on his watch, but nine guys reached base safely... His stuff can be nasty, but he needs to be able to locate it over and over again.

- The Bullpen looked ROUGH.  I know they were coming out in mostly a losing effort, but that's no excuse for six runs over four innings. My least favorite Angels tradition is crappy bullpens, so this is a bad start to 2016.

All that being said, we are less than 1% into the 2016 season and the Angels were facing one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Sorry San Diego, but I'll say it again... at least it wasn't 15-0...

You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.


Tonight sees Jon Lester and Andrew "Babyface" Heaney on the mound... there is pretty much nowhere to go but up from here.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Baseball is Back! Wait, Is That Guy One of the Ballplayers?

The 2016 MLB Season is upon us, and the Angels have some new faces this year!  Let's get to know them a little better in my quick (read: two sentences or less) new player bios!  Sorry, Art Donovan, player weights are not included, but I can assure you that all these guys are one of the players.


Geovany Soto - Catcher:  Long-Time Cubs catcher who has spent the last few seasons tormenting Angels fans in Texas and Oakland.  Will be alright defensively, mostly there to mentor and develop Carlos Perez.  (Related: I miss Chris Iannetta already.)


Andrelton Simmons - Shortstop:  The Best Defensive Shortstop in Baseball right now who is improving offensively and is only 27-years-old.  Easily the Angels' most important new player.

Yunel Escobar - Third Base: Okay with a glove and a Bat, although he has a knack for getting on base.  Can't possibly be worse than David Freese, probably.

Ji-Man Choi - First Base: 24-Year-Old who is getting his first taste in the majors after years in the Marlins and Mariners organizations.  Probably will only stick around at this level until Pujols is 100%.


Daniel Nava - Left Field: Had that one good season in Boston.  Has hit a ton in spring training but will likely continue to split time in Left Field.

Craig Gentry - Left Field: Had that one good season in Texas.  Has great speed, but will be splitting time with Nava.


Al Alburquerque - Reliever: Spent a number of seasons as an inconsistent reliever for Detroit, will now be an inconsistent reliever for Salt Lake City.

I was only going to include players on the opening day roster until I realized that NO new pitchers are on the 25-man roster... so I threw Alburquerque in there since he was the biggest name the Angels added to the bullpen this offseason.

I was going to go into this huge outlook on the season, but decided this was more fun than over-analyzing every little thing trying to figure out if the Angels would win 78 games or 83 games.

If things go well, maybe semi-regular updates will continue, but I'm certainly not promising anything (because then we'd start 5-14 with Trout hitting .178).

Enjoy the 2016 Angels Baseball season!