Friday, November 30, 2007



By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Senior Editor

In my previous article I mentioned how Angels owner Arte Moreno, GM Tony Reagins, Manager Mike Scioscia and Preston Gomez are in the Dominican Republic right now. The reason could be to just visit their Dominican Baseball Academy or possibly take a detour south to Venezuela to meet with Miguel Cabrera or Johan Santana in hopes of working out a contract extension before a possible deal is agreed upon, but it could also be to meet with Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez.

Ramirez, who played in Cuba for Pinar del Rio, is married to a Dominican citizen. Once he establishes residency in the Dominican and goes through the U.S. government’s “unblocking” process–a procedure aimed at preventing Cubans from funneling money back to the Castro government–he will become a free agent.

Alexei Ramirez led Cuba’s Serie Nacional in home runs last season with 20 and was a member of Cuba’s top-level national team for the last three seasons, winning an Olympic gold medal in 2004 in Athens and playing for Cuba’s World Baseball Classic team, which placed second to Japan. His birthdate has been listed as being either April 25 or Sept. 22, 1981, depending on different international tournament records.

Although the Angels say they like slick fielding Erick Aybar or Maicer Izturis for the vacant SS position, adding a shortstop with some pop who would be a lot less expensive than trading for Miguel Tejada along with taking on his contract and possibly dealing with the alleged reports linked to the Mitchell report, might be more prudent.

Ramirez, who went 6-for-16 (.375) in the WBC, has played shortstop for Pinar Del Rio but has also played the outfield and second base for Cuba in international competition. He hit .335 with a .574 slugging percentage this season for Pinar del Rio, the same team of ex-defector Jose Contreras.

At any rate, GM Tony Reagins has pulled off two surprise attacks thus far, why not one more for the trifecta? This signing wouldn't hinder any talks moving forward with Miguel Cabrera either and would reunite ex Cuban teammates in the World Cup in Kendry Morales, who I'm sure the Angels would use in negotiation talks should Ramirez be on their radar.

Funny, he's got a little of Orlando Cabrera in him, watch and see for yourself as he rounds the bases after a game winning dinger!


By Chuck Richter - Senior Editor Angelswin.com

According to a Marlins source, Florida wants what the Angels have in a catcher (Jeff Mathis) who they're high on and a centerfielder (Reggie Willits). Even though he could still be a part of a packaged deal to Florida, it's worth noting that this source did not mention Howie Kendrick's name, but that they would be more interested in a young arm or two coming back in the package, or perhaps a third baseman, possibly Dallas McPherson? It's highly unlikely that the Angels would send Brandon Wood in this deal, especially if they're asked to part with a young pitcher along with Mathis & Willits such as Adenhart or Saunders.

The Marlins position prospects are a ways off but they're loaded with starting pitching prospects, 1 year or less away from the big leagues. The source said that while they want position players coming back in a Miguel Cabrera deal, they'll require at least one young arm in any deal for Miguel Cabrera.

Catcher Jeff Mathis who they covet, they'll get a good defensive catcher with some offensive upside that can work with the Marlins young up and coming arms.

In Miguel Cabrera's absence, Hanley Ramirez would move to the 3rd spot in the lineup counting on a good lead-off hitter who they currently don't have to get on base to potential create runs from the meat of their order in Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida and Mike Jacobs. Reggie Willits had a .390 on-base pct. and takes a lot of pitches, with the ability to steal 30-45 bases easily in a full season.

It's also worth noting that of all of the teams interested in Miguel Cabrera, none of them have both a young catcher & centerfielder that can start in 2008 to offer in the same deal.

Another thing according to this source, the Marlins would like to get a Cabrera trade done before Monday's winter meetings in Nashville as they would like to use that time to focus on other team needs. With owner Arte Moreno, Tony Reagins, Mike Scioscia and Preston Gomez in the Dominican Republic right now, just a short 2 hour plane ride south to Venezuela where Miguel Cabrera & Johan Santana reside in the offseason, there could be something to this.

As always, stay tuned....

Thursday, November 29, 2007



By J. "Angelsjunky" Northrop

Part Five in my Series:
  1. Introduction and Catcher
  2. First Base
  3. Second Base
  4. Shortstop
  5. Third Base
  6. Left Field
  7. Center Field
  8. Right Field
  9. DH and the Bench
  10. Starting Rotation
  11. Bullpen
  12. Conclusion

THIRD BASE

HISTORY

Third base completes the infield and mirrors the other positions: a few stars sprinkled amidst a long line of mediocrity. For the first twenty-one years—from 1961 to 1981—the Angels never had a starting third baseman for more than three years straight, with players such as the following, in chronological order: Ed Yost (in his last two years), Felix Torres, Paul Schaal, Aurelio Rodriguez, Ken McMullen, Al Gallagher, Dave Chalk (who also played shortstop for a few years), Ron Jackson, Carney Lansford, and Butch Hobson.

In 1978 Carney Lansford was a promising 21-year old rookie, finishing 3rd in the ROY voting behind Lou Whitaker and Paul Molitor and ahead of Alan Trammell, hitting .294 in 121 games. It was a promising time for the Angels: After seven straight losing seasons they finished 87-75, with a team including Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Brian Downing, Nolan Ryan, and Frank Tanana. Yet Lansford did not develop, hitting .287, falling to .261 in 1980, leading to a trade to the Red Sox that brought in Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson. In many ways this was a pivotal time for the Angels, who having caught a whiff of success decided that it was best to focus on free agency and trades over player development, which paved the way to the Gene Mauch years of contention (1982, ’85, ’86) with a core of aging stars. The Angels only had Hobson for a year, then trade him to the Yankees for two spring training weeks of Bill Castro. But this opened the door for 31-year old free agent Doug DeCinces. DeCinces proceeded to have a career yeare in 1982, and perhaps the best year ever by an Angel third baseman with an Adjusted OPS+ of 149, just below Troy Glaus’s 150 of 2000—but also with stellar defense. It was the beginning of a six-year stretch, the longest by an Angel, at least until Troy Glaus came along.

After DeCinces was released by the Angels in September of 1987 (to play 4 games with the Cardinals before retiring), young Jack Howell was the heir apparent to third base. After years of aging free agents, the Angels went for a youth program, with a talented lineup core that included Howell, Wally Joyner, Mark McLemore, Dick Schofield, and Devon White. Yet none of them fulfilled early promise, at least for the Angels—McLemore and White had their best years elsewhere, Joyner and Schofield were consistent but unspectacular, and Howell simply never became a good player (although he did come back to the Angels in 1996 for a brief stint after five years away from the major leagues during which he won the Japanese Central League MVP in 1992).

Throughout the 1990s a slew of mediocrities played the hot corner: an aging Gary Gaetti, Rene Gonzales, and Spike Owen. Tony Phillips played well for a year, the spark-plug of the upstart 1995 Angels that endured a historical collapse. And then prospect George Arias disappointed, followed by a couple of decent years from Dave Hollins.

Finally in 1998 we got our first glimpse of the 3rd pick of the 1997 draft: Troy Glaus. In 1999 he showed promising power by hitting 29 HR, and then in 2000 he had one of the best years by an Angels hitter, hitting .284/.404/.604 with an Adjusted OPS+ of 150 and an AL leading 47 HR. He hit 41 HR the next year then 30 in 2002, including a World Series MVP award. But he was injured for much of 2003 and 2004, causing hopes of a perennial 40+ HR slugger to fade (I remember many, including myself, predicting that he would eventually hit .300 with 50 HR—but his age 23 2002 season proved to be an early career year, and Glaus’s career as an Angel, while very good for half a decade, was yet another disappointment in Angels history.

After top prospect Dallas McPherson destroyed the upper minor leagues in 2004 (.317 BA with a .670 SLG, 36 2b, 14 3b, and 40 HR in 135 AA and AAA games), Glaus was let go of—Dallas the heir apparent. But McPherson had trouble with his health and never really hit well and then missed all of 2007. For most of the last few years Chone Figgins and Maicer Izturis manned the hot corner: both solid players, but both natural middle infielders. As of this writing, as we approach the 2007 winter meetings, the hot corner remains vacant—with hopes (and fears) of trading for either of the Two Miguels, Cabrera or Tejada.

2007 REVIEW

  • Chone Figgins (29) – 115 games, .330/.393/.432, 41 sb
  • Maicer Izturis (26) – 102 games, .289/.349/.405

After a strong spring, Chone Figgins missed the first few weeks of the season and then was absolutely terrible for the first month or so. Then he got fire, having his best season at the plate—hitting .330. Maicer Izturis also played 53 games at 3B, hitting very well down the stretch. Dallas McPherson spent the season recoving from surgery.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

2009 will likely be Chone’s last as an Angel; he will be a free agent thereafter and his best comparable is the highly overpaid Juan Pierre. Expect Chone to look for that kind of money and for the Angels to (wisely) refuse to pay it. Thus the chances that Figgins will be traded by July are great—the Angels should start looking now, while his stock is high (he has been rumored in a trade for Tejada, but it is debatable who is better than whom). Izturis is one of those players that is almost too good to be a platoon player, but not quite good enough to start on a championship-calibre club. But he is a very valuable player to have around, the team’s new “super utility” player. He may even improve on 2007’s numbers and get 400 or so at-bats in various roles.

Most Angels fans have written Dallas McPherson off, and certainly it is unlikely that he will become the star that his tremendous 2004 promised. Through 117 major league games he has compiled a mediocre .247/.294/.461 line, but to give him some slack, it did seem that every time he settled in and started hitting, he got injuried. But the hard truth of the matter is that he will turn 28 in July of 2008 and he is no longer a prospect. Chances are he’ll start 2008 in AAA and hope for a bench role or a trade.

The future of third base is a complete unknown—there is simply no way to predict who will play the position in 2008 and beyond. It could be any of the following players: Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Chone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, Dallas McPherson, Matt Brown, Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez…Of course Cabrera is the most favorable choice, at least with the bat, but I have discussed this elsewhere.

2008 PROJECTION

  • Figgins – 140 games (70-80 as an Angel), .300/.370/.400, 50 sb
  • Izturis – 100 games, .290/.355/.410

UPGRADE?

About a year ago it looked like Brandon Wood was going to be moved to 3B, with Erick Aybar, Sean Rodriguez or even Hainley Statia taking over from Orlando Cabrera in 2009. Yet Aybar and Rodriguez have not developed as hoped, and Statia still hasn’t played above A+ ball, and only adequately so at that, so look for Wood to resume his role as the future at shortstop, perhaps sooner than later now that O-Cab is gone. This returns 3B to a state of flux, and the most likely position for the Angels to look for an upgrade. However, unless the Angels can pull off a blockbuster for Miguels Cabrera or Tejada, or even Garrett Atkins, there are few options that are significantly more desirable than what they already have (Izturis, Aybar, McPherson, Brown). After recent bad experiences with mediocre signings, if they trade don’t expect the Angels to settle for less than a Cabrera or Atkins.



By Chuck Richter -Senior Editor Angelswin.com

Read into this as little or as much as you want. I was told by my sources that the Orioles have an offer into the Angels that would net them Brandon Wood and Joe Saunders for their best player, Miguel Tejada. The ball is in the Angels court. The winter meetings are ahead and while the Angels 1st option is the other Miguel from Florida, the team has other options in place, unlike last offseason.

Owner Arte Moreno said Wednesday that he thought the Angels had a trade in place for Miguel Cabrera not once but twice this month, only to have the deal fall apart because the Marlins increased their demands at the last minute.

"They came back and asked for more," Moreno said. "They're doing it to everybody. The Dodgers thought they had a deal [for Cabrera], and it changed on them. [The Marlins] maneuvered us against the Dodgers. We both need a third baseman."

It's also worth mentioning according to another source that the Orioles want Joe Saunders but the Angels are more interested in sending them Ervin Santana.

Losing the Angels #2 prospect in Brandon Wood would be tough, but Tejada has the experience, he's a gamer, hits for a nice average (hit over .300 5 times in his career) and will supply some pop in the middle of the lineup. The acquisition would enable the Angels to keep 2B Howie Kendrick, their leadoff hitter Chone Figgins and their top prospect Nick Adenhart.

If the Angels acquire the 2004 HR derby champion in Miguel Tejada instead of Miguel Cabrera it would cost them significantly less which would enable them to make some other things happen, including adding some help in the bullpen or pursue stud hurler Johan Santana with top prospect Nick Adenhart, Reggie Willits, Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and Ervin Santana available.

On a side note, according to the same source, the Orioles chances at signing Eric Bedard are slim to none but will not trade him this offseason unless they receive a kings ransom.

The trade winds are blowing fans. Fasten your seat belts as Tony Reagins and Co. are prepared to blow you away!

Discuss this here

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Miguel Cabrera would sure look good in Red, but at what cost?


Instant Gratification or Long-term Success?
By J. "Angelsjunky" Northrop

I’m going to pause with my ongoing series on The Angels: Past, Present and Future to offer a perspective on the currently most pressing issue of Angeldom: Miguel Cabrera and more so, what this means to the Angels, now and in the future.

I will gladly admit my bias in terms of baseball philosophy: Primary emphasis on player development, minimal free agency and trades--only to fill specific needs or weaknesses but almost never at the expense of the future. It just seems obvious to me: If you have to pick, choose "the foreset" over the "tree", the instant gratification of the big bat with big numbers. Is it not better to have a healthy and full farm system to draw from rather than one depleted through trades for high-priced, aging players? Are not the franchises that are the most successful over long periods of time the ones that focus on player development? And have we not seen the downfall of franchises when they opt to emphasize free agency at the expense of the farm?

Now it is not so black and white. A team can emphasize player development as primary while still occasionally signing a big name free agent and/or making a blockbuster trade. And of course ever so often a free agent is worth the multi-year huge contract; signing Vladimir Guerrero a few years ago is a case in point, a marquee player in his prime (28) to below-market value because of a supposedly bad back. Miguel Cabrera is also a very special case: He is not a 30-something at the tail-end of his best years, but a 24-year old superstar that should just be getting going. To put it another way, Miguel Cabrera is no Mo Vaughn. At an age when most players are just breaking into the big leagues, his numbers so far are only equaled by Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers.

How much should the Angels give up for a player like Miguel Cabrera? The deal that seems to be required is Howie Kendrick, Nick Adenhart, Reggie Willits, and Jeff Mathis, or some variation of similar packaging. That is, a young second baseman on the verge of stardom who could compete for a batting title as soon as next year; a top pitching prospect who could be anything from a #1 to #3 starter; a natural lead-off hitter capable of a yearly .370 OBP and 40 sb; and a former top catching prospect who should still be at least a good platoon player, perhaps even eventually an above average starting catcher. Is Cabrera worth this high cost?

Just how good is Cabrera?

Much is made of the fact that Cabrera is only 24—2008 will be his age 25 year (that is, he will turn 25 before July 1st). He has already played 720 games, compiling a line of .313/.388/.542 and a career 143 Adjusted OPS+ (Guerrero’s is 148). His individual season OPS+ have been 106, 130, 151, 159, 150. To give a frame of reference, an OPS+ of 150 is MVP-calibre--that means that Cabrera’s last three seasons have been of MVP quality. As for his defense, he is very average: he has a lifetime fielding percentage of .954, which is also the NL average for 3B over his career. His range factor per nine innings is slightly below average: 2.52 to 2.70.

Despite these impressive numbers—more so because they have been accomplished before he has seen his 25th birthday—there are two relatively minor quibbles to take note of. His last three seasons have been virtually identical. Impressive, yes, but still no sign of further improvement. This does not mean that he will not have another career spike, but it is also possible that what we’ve seen is what we’ll get. Secondly, while his career defense has been average—both at 3B and in LF—his 2007 defense, 154 games at 3B, was markedly below average: a .941 FP (.954 league average) and a rf/9 of 2.51 compared to 2.68.

But let’s not quibble too much: the young man is a terrific hitter and even if he doesn’t improve will remain one of the ten or so best hitters in the game. Any team would love to have a player whose three most similar players through age 24--according to Baseball Reference’s player Similarity Scores--are Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr, and Frank Robinson, three of the hundred or so best players to ever play the game.

How much is Miguel Cabrera worth?

In one of my blog entries I gave a system for rating players in tiers:

  • 1st tier: Superstar – Among the best players in the game (e.g. A-Rod, Johan Santana, David Ortiz).
  • 2t: Star – Among the best players in the league at their position; all-star (e.g. Victor Martinez, Chase Utley, John Lackey).
  • 3t: Borderline Star – Very good player with occasional star-calibre season; possible all-star (e.g. Mike Lowell, Kelvim Escobar, Steve Finley in his prime).
  • 4t: Quality Regular – An average or above average player (e.g. Bengie Molina, Mark Grudzielanek, Adam Kennedy as an Angel).
  • 5t: Mediocre Regular/Quality Bench – (e.g. Darin Erstad as a first baseman).
  • 6t: Poor Regular/Decent Bench – (e.g. Jose Molina).
  • 7t: Scrub – How did he get to the major leagues? (e.g. Erick Aybar in 2007).


Furthermore, I offered a tentative valuation whereby, as with chess pieces, you can assign a point-value for each tier. From 7t to 1t: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15. These numbers are, of course, arbitrary—but allow me to play with them a bit.

Now Miguel Cabrera is, and should remain, a 1t player--a true superstar. I am tempted to call him "just" a 2t star based upon his excellent hitting but merely mediocre defense, but his age and potential puts him up a notch. His 143 Adjusted OPS+ is only surpassed by nine active players, and equal to Gary Sheffield, Todd Helton, and Chipper Jones.

What about the four Angels mentioned above? It is hard to say, but potential-wise there is a range:

  • Kendrick - 3t to 2t
  • Adenhart - 4t to 2t
  • Willits - 4t
  • Mathis - 5t to 4t

If we use the point-system, Cabrera is worth 15; Kendrick 7-10, Adenhart 5-10, Willits 5, and Mathis 3-5. So the Angels package is worth between 20-30 points--up to twice Cabrera's value...if they fulfill their potential.

Is this really an accurate assessment of comparative worth? Not really, but as an intellectual exercise it illustrates some important issues. In fantasy baseball it is usually a good idea to trade two good players for one great one as the latter are far more difficult to come by than the former, and you can always pick up a decent player having a good year on the waiver wire. But that is fantasy baseball which A) includes an artificially bloated waiver wire, and B) Is usually played for just one season.

The second point (B) is the important one. The Angels probably have enough talent that they could trade for both Miguel Cabrera and Johan Santana. Think about that for a moment...

...Holy crap!!!

OK. Both are far from the quintessential aging free agent star; Cabrera will be 25 next year, Santana 29. Both are among the ten most valuable commodities in all of baseball. These are the packages that the Angels could offer for them, and probably be successful:

  • Cabrera: Howie Kendrick, Nick Adenhart, Reggie Willits, Jeff Mathis.
  • Santana: Jered Weaver, Brandon Wood, Ervin Santana, and maybe another decent prospect.

That is a lot of young talent. Certainly the Angels would (finally) be on a level with the Red Sox, and for years to come. But how many years? Around 2010 some of the regulars would be in serious decline, with little money or young talent to replace them. Not to mention that signing Santana and Cabrera long-term, in addition to Guerrero and Torii Hunter, would lock up an enormous amount of money in just four players: over $80 million a year just for those four. Focusing such a large portion of a franchise's resources on a few players is enormously risky.


I am not suggesting that there is an easy answer here, for certainly a team featuring three bonafide superstars in Guerrero, Cabrera, and Santana would be something to watch--and considering that they are all Latino would only drive revenue through the roof for the Los Angeles metro area baseball club. We also have to remember that Arte Moreno, from everything that I can tell, is a business man first, a baseball man second. That means that the bottom line for him is profit. And so far he has done quite a job, with a team valued at almost three times what he paid for it (I forget the source for that--but I read it somewhere on the internet ;)). He has also said, on more than one occasion, that he wants to make this team successful for the long-term, which is certainly something to be hopeful about.

But as a baseball fan, and multi-decade Angels fan, I want to see the emphasis on the farm system, on the players that I, that we, have followed up through the organization for the last few years, since around the time that the Golden Era of Angels baseball began in 2002. I want to see Howie Kendrick win multiple batting titles, as if we were getting Rod Carew again but this time in the first half of his career, not the second. I want to see if Nick Adenhart can receive the torch from John Lackey, who received it from Chuck Finley, as the team's homegrown ace. I want to see if Brandon Wood can fulfill the promise he showed in his historic 2005 season. I want to see if Jered Weaver becomes the Angels answer to Tom Glavine. And so on.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Miguel Cabrera and/or Johan Santana wearing Angels uniforms. I would love to see our team march into Fenway without the characteristic feeling of dread that we all feel come October. And I'd love to win the World Series again. But I'd rather do it with our own players. Someone it just seems more...meaningful.

I want to see our own young players remain Angels, even if it makes a World Series win less of a seeming sure thing. I want to see if the Angels, our Angels--not imports, no matter how flashy--can win it all.

The Angels are at a pivotal point in their organizational history. Five years after their first—and very surprising—World Series championship, we have seen three playoff appearances in four years, including two first round sweeps to the Red Sox. Everyone can agree that the Angels have been just a little shy of greatness—a very good team, but not quite good enough. In addition to Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera or Johan Santana would likely change that—Cabrera and Santana would almost certainly change that, vaulting the Angels to equal footing with the Red Sox. But so too might the natural maturation of Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood, Casey Kotchman, Jered Weaver, Nick Adenhart, and the rest of our young players. As I’ve said, this is not a clear-cut, black and white decision. It is not either/or--for certainly the Angels can trade for a Cabrera or Santana and still retain much of their core youth. But let us hope that they don’t go overboard and lose sight of the long-term for instant gratification. Let us hope...

Discuss this article with the author and other Angels fans

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The Venezuelan with a Golden Arm

By Chuck Richter - Senior Editor Angelswin.com

When the Twins offered Santana a four-year extension - beginning in 2009 - for a total of $80 million, which he rejected, it was an obvious rejection because Santana certainly will clear more than that on either the free-agent front or via another team that acquires him in a trade.

Santana, who will turn 29 in March, is perhaps the major league's best pitcher, having won two Cy Youngs and adding a Gold Glove this past season. The lefty went 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA and 235 strikeouts, and in his last five years, has gone an incredible 82-35.

Tony Reagins learned one thing from Bill Stoneman in that he's not tipping any moves before executing this offseason. The Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland trade took us all by surprise, as did the signing of Torii Hunter on the eve of Thanksgiving. Why the media continues to speak of Miguel Cabrera & Miguel Tejada in potential Angels trades, don't be surprised if the Angels get in on the Johan Santana sweepstakes if they're not already.

Clubs that could fill the 3 position voids on the Twins roster which are at third base, centerfield and starting pitcher are the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and our Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees could offer Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy or Phillip Hughes and Wilson Betemit. The Mets could offer either Carlos Gomez or Lastings Milledge along with either Mike Pelfrey or Phillip Humber. The Mets would be lacking a third baseman in a potential deal. The Red Sox would have to offer Jacoby Ellsbury & either Clay Bucholz or Jon Lester to the Twins for Santana's services. The Dodgers may have the best mix of players available in Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw, Andy LaRoche, Matt Kemp or if Colletti can finds that GM Bill Smith is a sucker, Juan Pierre. A Dodgers trade for Johan is unlikely however as they're looking to improve their offense going forward.

A little side note to the Yankees package. I still don't get why baseball people or the media is buying into the Melky Cabrera hype. Sure Phillip Hughes or Ian Kennedy would be a nice acquisition for the Twins, but Melky & Wilson Betemit or Austin Jackson aren't exactly a worthy return for the former Cy Young winner.

The Angels on the other hand may have exactly what the Twins need in centerfielder Reggie Willits, 2B/SS Sean Rodriguez, 3B Brandon Wood & either SP Ervin Santana or SP Joe Saunders.

Reggie Willits would provide the club with a centerfielder to replace Torii Hunter, a legitimate leadoff hitter that would get on base in front of sluggers Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer. Sean Rodriguez could plug a hole at 2B or at SS providing some pop at one of the middle infield positions over former Angel, Alexi Casilla or SS Jason Bartlett. Brandon Wood at 3B would be the prize of the package providing the Twins with the 20+ home runs missed by Torii Hunter and solidifying a position of weakness in their organization.

The Twins who are deep in starting pitching in their organization would be tacking on another young starter in either Joe Saunders or Ervin Santana.

If the Angels landed Johan Santana they wouldn't need to trade for Miguel Cabrera or Miguel Tejada as they would keep slugging 2B Howie Kendrick, while replacing Orlando Cabrera's production with Torii Hunter's. Figgins would remain the third baseman (with eyeballs on Dallas McPherson) while Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis battle for the SS job in ST. The offense would improve upon the '07 club as Kotchman, Kendrick and a 2nd half healthy version of Garret Anderson would provide some offensive punch behind Hunter & Guerrero. The club could also tender Juan Rivera a contract providing some offensive depth in case of injury or possible platoon with Garret Anderson at DH/LF.

The Angels could also expand the deal and send Kotchman & a prospect for the 2006 AL MVP in Justin Morneau along with Johan, making it a blockbuster among Blockbuster deals. A report out of a Southern California 570 AM radio station said that Justin Morneau might be headed to Anaheim for Casey Kotchman and Ervin Santana. Morneau a season after his MVP campaign, made only 4.5 million dollars and is said to be frustrated with the Twins in contract talks for an extension. He is however arbitration eligible through 2010 so it would make you wonder why the Twins would do this.

Let's forget about the Morneau talk, Johan Santana was the focus of this article, it's probably a bogus rumor anyhow. Be that as it may, these are the types of things you can expect from the Ninja, so don't be shocked if there is another out of the blue surprise attack coming soon.

One thing is for certain, Johan Santana is a true ace, a #1 starter and would be just the arm the Angels could lean on in the playoffs much like the Boston Red Sox had in Josh Beckett.


Regardless, it's good times as an Angels fan to be discussing possible acquisitions from the likes of Miguel Cabrera or Johan Santana. Sure beats the days of signing Hubie Brooks, Von Hayes, Cecil Fielder, or frenzy board talk after trading JT Snow for Allen Watson. The 2007 AL West Champion Angels are on the verge of putting a beating on opposing AL West foes for the next decade. Good times, good times indeed.

Friday, November 23, 2007

http://losangeles.angels.mlb.com/ana/photo/ph_history_timeline_fregosi.jpg
By Johnny Bardo - Angelswin.com Columnist

Part Four in my series:
  1. Introduction and Catcher
  2. First Base
  3. Second Base
  4. Shortstop
  5. Third Base
  6. Left Field
  7. Center Field
  8. Right Field
  9. DH and the Bench
  10. Starting Rotation
  11. Bullpen
  12. Conclusion

SHORTSTOP

HISTORY

Of the infield positions, the Angels have seen the most consistency at shortstop, at least over the last two decades or so. After a couple of years of Joe Koppe (who?) in 1961 and '62, Jim Fregosi took over the position for a nine-year stretch that remains the benchmark for Angels shortstops. During his Angel career, Fregosi hit .268/.340/.403 with an OPS+ of 116 in 1429 games, during a decade--the 1960s--with some of the lowest batting numbers in baseball history (remember, Carl Yasztremski won the 1968 AL batting title with a .301 average!). Fregosi was a six-time All-Star and ranked between 7th and 28th in MVP voting during eight of his Angel seasons. He also won a Gold Glove in 1967.

Fregosi left the Angels at the age of 30 in 1971. Why let go of a perennial All-Star shortstop? Well, he was traded to the Mets for an erratic but talented 24-year old pitcher by the name of Nolan Ryan. Fregosi was never the same player—his highest post-Angels game total was 101 for the Mets in 1972; he was sold to the Rangers the year after and dwindled away to retirement in 1978. As for Ryan, well...you know the story (and see my later installment).

While the Angels got a steal in Nolan Ryan, the shortstop position suffered after Fregosi’s departure with seven different players starting the most games at shorstop from 1972 to 1980, a mixture of once-good players at the tail-end of their careers (Leo Cardenas, Freddie Patek and Bert Campaneris); a couple of players that never amounted to much of anything (Rudy Meoli and Mike Miley); two-time All-Star Dave Chalk declined quickly in his late 20s; and Rance Mulliniks was traded with Willie Aikens for a brief stint of Al Cowens and Todd Cruz. Cowens was traded to Detroit for strong-hitting first baseman Jason Thompson, who for some reason was traded to the Pirates for two virtual nobodies, Mickey Mahler and Ed Ott.

Confused? I am too, but the point being that the position suffered in the 1970s, leading the Angels to trade for 29-year old three-time Boston All-Star Rick Burleson. After an All-Star season in 1981, the position seemed locked up—but it wasn’t to be. Burleson got injuried and never recovered, playing in 11, 33, 7, and 93 games over the next four years as an Angel. When he was healthy he was good, but he was let go of after the 1986 season, despite hitting well in those 93 games, picked up by the Orioles then released in mid-season of 1987, never to play again. For the Angels, Tim Foli filled in until slick-fielding Dick Schofield took over in 1984.

From 1984 to 1999, shortstop was dominated by two players: Dick Schofield and Gary DiSarcina, near replicas of each other. Both were good defenders, if not quite Gold Gloves (neither ever won), and both were mediocre hitters. Compare their career numbers:

  • Schofield: 1368 games (1086 as an Angel), .230/.308/.316 (73 OPS+); 4.45 Range Factor compared to 4.01 league.
  • DiSarcina: 1086 games (all as an Angel), .258/.292/.341 (66 OPS+); 4.48 Range Factor compared to 4.16 league.

The similarities are eerie, especially the exact same games played as an Angel.

After a transition year in 2000--with Benji Gil as the primary shortstop--David Eckstein took over for a four-year span, with solid offense and defense. He was considered the "spark-plug" of the well-balanced 2002 offense that won the World Series, but fans complained about his weak arm. Eckstein was not offered a contract after 2004, the Angels instead opting for the higher-profile slick-fielding of Orlando Cabrera, coming off a stellar stretch run and postseason performance for the Red Sox that drove his stock up, perhaps leading to his over-valuation, garnering a four-year $32 million contract. Cabrera disappointed in his first year, at least with the bat (although statistical analysis shows significant defensive decline from his hey-day with the Expos) but improved in 2006 and 2007, leading the Angels on the diamond and in the clubhouse.

Just a week ago Orlando Cabrera was traded to the White Sox for Jon Garland. We all knew his time as an Angel was limited with Brandon Wood waiting in the wings—not to mention Erick Aybar, Sean Rodriguez, and Hainley Statia. But this trade took everyone by surprise, and as of this writing the shortstop position is a big question mark.

2007 REVIEW

  • Orlando Cabrera (32) – 155 games, .301/.345/.397, 20 sb.

Cabrera suffered a late season slump that diminished the impact of a season in which for most of it he hit over .320. He may not be the vacuum-like defender he was in Montreal, but he was very good, better than Eckstein, and at least equal to DiSarcina and even Schofield. With his overall performance the last three years and the value that he brings in through the trade to the White Sox, his contract must be viewed as a success.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

Who knows? The Angels have a plethora of options, but none seem obvious choices to immediately succeed Cabrera. Brandon Wood has the highest upside, but probably needs another year, or at least half-year, at AAA. Even then it may take him awhile to learn to hit major league pitching. Erick Aybar has not evolved at all as a hitter; his excellent glove will garner him a roster spot, but who knows if he’ll ever hit enough to hold a job, at least with the championship-calibre Angels. Sean Rodriguez had a disappointing 2007 and looks fated to be a utility player and Statia looks like yet another decent-bat, good-glove shortstop that, after the A-Rod-Jeter-Nomar triumvirate changed our expectations for the position, no longer excites. Chone Figgins can field the position in a pinch, but is more of a natural second baseman; Maicer Izturis might be the most likely in-house option, at least until Brandon Wood is ready.

Which brings us to out-of-house options, namely 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada, who will turn 32 early next season. With Vlad Guerrero (32 next year), Garret Anderson (36), Gary Matthews (33), and Torii Hunter (32), do the Angels need another 32-year old? Tejada’s numbers have declined over the last few years, from a career-high 131 OPS+ in 2004, to 128, 126, and 109 last year. But a repeat of his 2007 numbers (.296/.357/.442) would still be an improvement at the position, and he did battle injuries last year--so if he can return to his 2004-2006 level of play, he would be an enormous asset--and at less trade expense than Miguel Cabrera.

It should also be noted that Tejada's defense has declined, with a career low Range Factor of 4.09 last year (compared to the AL league average of 3.97), much lower than his career average of 4.57. Yet his fielding percentage has stayed remarkably consistent, equaling his career average of .971.

We will probably have to wait until the December winter meetings to see what happens, and if the Angels pass on the high cost of Miguel Cabrera and the risk of an aging Miguel Tejada, we could possibly see a spring training battle for the position. If the Angels don't trade for a big fish, expect Figgins and Izturis to get the most at-bats at third base and shortstop in 2008—who will be where is anyone’s guess.

2008 PROJECTION

  • Maicer Izturis (27) – 130 games, .300/.360/.420
  • Erick Aybar (24) – 70 games, .250/.290/.330, 20 sb
  • Brandon Wood (23) – 60 games, .230/.290/.440, 12 hr

UPGRADE?

Maicer Izturis could surprise those that didn’t see his late season performance, when he was one of the most potent bats in the lineup, hitting .304/.365/.430 after the break. He should get his at-bats, whether at 3B, SS, 2B, or anywhere the Angels need him. But the future of the position is Brandon Wood. Upgrade? It all depends upon what unfolds—but the Angels certainly don’t absolutely need to.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


By David Regan, Rotowire.com (Angelswin Contributor)
November 22, 2007

When I heard about the Hunter deal late Tuesday night, it wasn’t the money (5 years, $90 million) that surprised me (although the amount is astronomical).

It was the team that signed him.

The Angels? Not the Rangers. Not the White Sox. Not the Dodgers.

The Angels?

The team with an already solid defensive (though slightly overrated in that regard) center fielder in Gary Matthews Jr., he of the $50 million contract just a year ago?

Yep, those guys.

Clearly this was a move that took most of the baseball world by surprise. We heard about Hunter dining with Rangers owner Tom Hicks, about his dining also with White Sox GM Kenny Williams, but there was zero indication (at least to this writer) that the Angels were looking to upgrade in the outfield. Willits, Anderson, Rivera, Matthews, and of course, Guerrero make for an enviable set of outfielders (and a DH) already.

Why then Torii Hunter? Simple: Arte Moreno had the money, it improves the lineup, and this isn’t the last move of the offseason for Tony Reagins.

First let’s take a look at what Hunter brings to the table:

Career batting line: .271/.324/.469 – not so good

Great clubhouse guy. Check..Scioscia will love this guy.

Defense? Above average, but according to every defensive metric, those skills are already in decline. Still, he’s an upgrade over Matthews.

2007: .287/.334/.505 – career highs in RBI (107), 2nd highest SLG, and 18 SB

It was a year that clearly was good enough to get him $90 million, but an .839 OPS is solid, but is it worth paying $90 million to a 32 year-old outfielder with declining defensive skills? Of course not. Hunter was probably headed back to the Twins in 2008 before catching fire after the All-Star break (.301/.342/.558). By the end of the season, it was pretty clear the Twins weren’t going to be able to re-sign him, as not only do they have Johan Santana to extend, but Justin Morneau is going to get his money soon as well. They made a half-hearted three-year offer to Torii, but in reality, there was very little interest in bringing him back and considering Hunter’s age and contract demands, it was a wise move.

So now that we’ve established that the Twins made the right decision in letting him walk (don’t forget the two draft picks they receive as compensation), but was this a good move for the Angels?

Let’s assume that Reggie Willits is gone in some sort of trade this winter. With Hunter aboard, that still seems to leave Juan Rivera on the outside looking in. With all the problems Garrett Anderson has had staying healthy and Vlad Guerero’s balky back, Rivera is nice insurance to be sure. How many of us remember that in 2006, Rivera had a better year (.310/.362/.525) by far than Hunter did last year? Perhaps the Angels are still worried about his leg or they think 2006 was a fluke, but could this move have more ominous reasons?

I’ll throw it out there: HGH. Do the Angels know something more about the controversy surrounding Gary Matthews Jr. than they are letting on? Let’s not forget that in Matthews’ walk year, he had by far his best year (.866 OPS) before dropping off to a more Matthews-like .742 in 2007. Sure, Arlington helped him in 2006, but that year, Matthews also had an .827 OPS on the road, so it wasn’t all due to park factors. Could his production have been chemically-aided? Perhaps. We’ll probably never know, but to give a guy $50 million due in large part to his defensive prowess in center field only to move him to left (like the Dodgers may do with their own awful 2006 free agent signing Juan Pierre) is simply mind-numbing. There’s nothing to indicate that Matthews is facing an HGH or steroid-related suspension, but then again, we’ve yet to crack open the Mitchell Report.

It will be interesting to see what comes next for the less-than-passive Tony Reagins. At the very least, Angels fans are abuzz with the gunslinger mentality he’s brought to a relatively staid organization in very little time. Whether this was actually a great move or not remains to be seen, as it all depends on how things shake out this winter. If we’re seeing Matthews in the lineup at the expense of Juan Rivera, then that would be a shame.

So what’s next? Miguel Cabrera? Miguel Tejada? Joe Crede? There’s going to be more moves, perhaps one significant move. We’re already starting to get the sense that Florida is coming to their senses in realizing that the Dodgers aren’t going to give up three or four premium young players for Cabrera, but will Reagins part with Kendrick, Wood, and Adenhart? It’s possible. Adenhart could be viewed as expendable, Figgins would play 2B with Kendrick gone, and Mike Scioscia seems confident with Erick Aybar and/or Macier Izturis at shortstop (I have my doubts about that pair). Tejada would cost significantly less, perhaps “just” Adenhart, Aybar, and a guy like a Jeff Mathis. Let’s go with that deal and see how the Angels lineup would look on

Opening Day:

3B Figgins
1B Kotchman – the ideal #2 hitter
RF Guerrero
CF Hunter
SS Tejada
DH Anderson/Rivera
LF Matthews/Rivera
2B Kendrick
C Napoli

This seems to leave Brandon Wood out of the picture, but the Angels may choose to have him work on his contact skills in Triple-A until there’s an opening at the big league level. These things have a way of sorting themselves out and we’ll certainly be watching.

Discuss this article here

Photo & Article By Eric Notti - Angelswin.com Contributor

In a surprise move that has the United Nations up in arms, Tony Reagins the new General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, has launched a surprise attack against mainland China.

Shortly after the 11 pm announcement that the Angels have agreed to contract terms with center fielder Tori Hunter, Reagins launched a massive offensive against Communist controlled China.

Tony Reagins said after completing his first free agent signing on the job, why he chose to invade China. "We continue to explore opportunities to get better." Reagins explained, "If something presents itself that makes sense, we're going to go after it. The deal today gives us some flexibility and an opportunity to do some other things down the road."

Asked if that may lead to the trade for Miguel Cabrera or go after Osama Bin Ladin.

"I can't confirm or deny." Reagins said. "I don't think anyone is untouchable."

The Chinese army was caught completely by surprise as the generals where busy blogging about their days events. Before they could log off Beijing had fell to Reagins army.

"Tony is not done; he's going to keep pushing forward," Manager Mike Scioscia said, referring to new General Manager Tony Reagins' attempts to take China is less than 2 hours. "Obviously, there's a lot of focus on the offense, and now he has the tools to do the things we need to do." said Scoscia, making reference to Arte's willingness to fund Tony's pursuits.

Asked about his new role as an invader and conqueror, Reagins was very upbeat.

"It's really an honor and a privilege to play at this level and a lot of things have to go right." Reagins said as he ordered an assault deeper into the mainland, "You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to perform at a high level. It's just not easy to do."

Regardless of the outcome, Reagins has certainly made a big splash in not only the baseball world but the global community as well. Although he has not acknowledged it, the Angels have easily won the battle for off season supremacy in the nation's second largest media market.

In related news, Ned Colletti invaded Korea Town in downtown Los Angeles this morning but his army was beaten back by two old ladies with brooms and the family pet poodle.


Tony Reagins
Angels General Manager
General of the First Expiditionary Forces in China

Photo by Cyrus Melchor
By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Senior Editor

Even though the Angels just signed CF Torii Hunter to a 5 year deal worth 16 million a year, they're still not done. According to my sources, the Angels have shown more interest in Baltimore Orioles SS Miguel Tejada in recent days. A source close to Angelswin.com revealed that while the Angels are still interested in Miguel Cabrera, the Florida Marlins asking price is just too steep right now and their focus has shifted to Tejada who would fill the void left by Orlando Cabrera.

In my Miguel Cabrera piece I showed how the Marlins third baseman would be the ideal acquisition for the Angels and how they should make him their #1 option. Be that as it may, if the Marlins asking price doesn't go down they need a solid backup plan. Miguel Tejada to SS is a huge upgrade over Orlando Cabrera offensively and it would allow the Angels to keep Howie Kendrick at 2B, using Aybar (SS), Figgins (CF to replace C-Pat) & Ervin Santana in a deal for Tejada. This would let Brandon Wood and the rehabbing Dallas McPherson to battle it out in spring training for the third base job.

The Angels who saw top free agents; Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and potential trades for sluggers fall through last year seemed poised to make a big splash this offseason. Hunter was a good signing for many reasons, including improving the offense, but they're still not done. The Angels have the starting pitching, outfield & middle infield depth to acquire either Miguel Tejada or Miguel Cabrera.

Tony Reagins is a man on a mission. Stay tuned!!

Photo By Cyrus Melchor

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter to a five-year deal worth about $90 million. Hunter, who is a seven-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, is coming off one of the best of his nine full Major League seasons for the Twins. Hunter, 32, batted .287 with 28 homers and a career-high 107 RBIs, playing 160 games. He made the American League All-Star team for the second time in his career and finished 15th in the AL MVP balloting.

Discuss the signing with other Angels fans

Monday, November 19, 2007


Photo by Jason Suttor
By Chuck Richter - Angelswin Senior Editor


The Los Angeles Angels on Monday traded shortstop Orlando Cabrera and $1.5 million to the Chicago White Sox for starter Jon Garland, a deal that has insiders speculating over what could be next for the Angels.

The Angels have been active in trade talks for Florida's Miguel Cabrera and this could signal they are close. Depending on the players that go to Florida – second baseman Howie Kendrick, Reggie Willits, Jeff Mathis, right-handed top Prospect Nick Adenhart and either lefty Joe Saunders or Ervin Santana have been rumored, while Jered Weaver could be dealt in a larger deal that would send Dontrelle Willis along with Miguel Cabrera to Anaheim.

The Angels would then have Cabrera at third, Erick Aybar or Brandon Wood at shortstop and Chone Figgins or Maicer Izturis at second base.

According to our Angelswin.com sources, the Angels could very well be on the verge of making this deal with the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera and as a backup plan, go hard for Miguel Tejada to play SS, if the Dodgers ante up and give the Marlins what they're asking for. They're said to be asking for Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp & Andy LaRoche, but will Colletti budge?

One thing is for certain, Tony Reagins is making an impression early on amongst his peers and the fans. He appears to be a man on a mission, a mission that is mapped out

Stay tuned, the rumors are getting as wild and juicy as that Thanksgiving turkey this Thursday, as the stove is already HOT.
http://msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/070517/070517_chisox_hmed_5p.hmedium.jpg
Cabrera/Garland Trade
By David Regan - Rotowire.com
November 19, 2007

Periodically this off-season, I’ll be chiming in with my non-biased thoughts and opinions regarding the Angels’ off-season transactions. As a brief biographical note, I write for Rotowire.com during the baseball season and I am good friends with Chuck Richter.


Today, we’ll be looking at the unexpected Jon Garland – Orlando Cabrera trade.

Back when the Angels signed Cabrera to that four-year, $32 million deal in December 2004, I admit I was highly critical committing four years to a guy coming off a .264/.306/.383 season with the Expos and Red Sox. It seemed former GM Bill Stoneman had over committed to a guy who, sure, had a big hand in breaking the Red Sox’s 86-year World Series drought and sure he was a very good defender, but $32 million for a .689 OPS?

The deal looked even worse when in 2005, Brandon Wood hit 43 home runs for High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Cabrera hit .257 with eight home runs. The last two years, however, Cabrera improved to OPS’ of .738 and .742, including a .301 average in 2008. Cabrera has also been an above-average defender, finishing 11th among major league shortstops in 2007’s Fielding Bible Awards (a much more reliable indicator than the Gold Glove awards). At the same time, Wood has been shifted to third base and has seen his stock regress, as his propensity for strikeouts has hurt him at the upper levels.

I admit, today’s deal leaves me confused. It’s certainly not about the money. Garland is scheduled to make $12 million in 2008 before becoming a free agent. Cabrera will earn $9 million and is also slated to hit the open market next off-season.

Angels fans must have some questions about this deal. Let’s try and answer a few of them:

1. What do the Angels do at shortstop?

Internal options would seem to be Brandon Wood and Erick Aybar. I’ll say right now that I don’t see Aybar as the team’s long-term solution. He showed relatively nothing (.237 in 194 at-bats) in 2007 and would seem to be a long-term utility man. Wood? Well they moved him to third, but from what I’ve heard, he can handle the shortstop position defensively at the big league level, but the Angels have to be wary of his 69.8% contact rate in AA/AAA the last two years. It wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to turn the job over to Wood, but I’m not sure the Angels go that way. If Wood isn’t the choice, then free agent options include former Angel David Eckstein (looking for a four-year $36 million deal – good luck Dave), Cesar Izturis, and Royce Clayton. Not exactly the most attractive options.

Prediction: Wood gets the job.

2. Does this pave the way for a deal for Miguel Cabrera or another third baseman?

I wouldn’t be surprised. The Angels now seem to have a surplus of starting pitching with Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Garland, Santana, and Saunders. Would the Angels consider dealing Kendrick and Weaver for Cabrera? Perhaps. An infield of Kotchman, Figgins, Wood, and Cabrera would certainly be enticing.

Prediction: Trade for Cabrera or Miguel Tejada.

3. Is Jon Garland any good?

Before you get excited about a possible contract year effect for Garland, take a look at the 2007 performances of free agents Andruw Jones, Kip Wells, and Jason Jennings. The best thing we can say about Garland is that he’s reliable. Garland has logged at least 190 innings in each of the last five seasons and with the way the disabled list is littered with pitchers each year, there’s something to be said for such consistency. In 2007, Garland was 10-13 with a 4.23 ERA for an awful White Sox team after coming off back-to-back 18-win seasons (thanks to very good run support). Of most concern for Angels fans has to be the huge dip in his strikeout rate last year to 4.2 per nine innings. That’s beyond mediocre and when you consider that his walk rate jumped up as well, Garland simply didn’t have a very good season. Some will note that three very bad starts skewed his ERA and that is true – if you throw out his worst three starts, Garland’s ERA dips from 4.23 to 3.31, but don’t most starters’ ERAs drop dramatically if you do the same?

The bottom line: the Angels got a #4 starter who is going to eat innings. Nothing wrong with that. They also received the flexibility to trade a starter should the opportunity arise, but it wouldn’t surprise me if in 2008, both Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana had better final numbers (or close to it) than Garland. His ERA should improve in a more hitter-friendly ballpark, so perhaps I’m underestimating him.

4. What’s next?

No one knows, perhaps not even Tony Reagins, but one thing is clear: the Angels aren’t done. If the season were to start today, they would have six viable starting pitchers (not necessarily a bad thing concerning the injury factor) and the starting left side of the infield would be Aybar, Wood or Izturis at SS and Figgins at 3B. That won’t be the case opening day. If I had to guess, one of the Miguels will be an Angel on Opening Day and depending on the price, Angels fans should be hoping for Cabrera rather than Tejada. Other options would seem to include Scott Rolen, Troy Glaus, or Joe Crede.

Saturday, November 17, 2007



Angelswin.com interview of GM of LA Angels - Tony Reagins

Tony Reagins (born 1967 in Indio, California) is the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of American Major League Baseball. He was promoted on October 16, 2007, having previously held the position of director of player development since 2002.

Interview conducted by Lou Garcia - Angelswin Representative

Angelswin - First of all, congratulations. Everyone at AngelsWin.com is happy about your promotion and we're looking forward to some good things in the future.

Tony Reagins - Thank you very much.

Angelswin - So, Tony, what's the journey been like the last 16 years?

Tony Reagins - It's been a real good experience starting from where I began as an intern working my way up through the organization and working under some very good and talented people as far as ownership groups and general managers, farm directors and scouting directors.

From the business standpoint and marketing side i've worked with some very talented people that really gave me an opportunity to grow and gave me a chance to advance and 16 years later here I am.

Angelswin - Who would you say were the most influential people, perhaps from both sides - the baseball and the marketing side of the business?

Tony Reagins - From a baseball standpoint, probably Bill Bavasi and Bill Stoneman. Both of those guys were probably the most influential, taught me different things. From a business standpoint, I learned a lot from many people. John Savano, he gave me a chance and Tim Mead has been good over the years giving advice - just a number of people that took the time when they didn't have to, to give me an opportunity.

Angelswin - What's it like to work under Arte Moreno?

Tony Reagins - It's been great. Great relationship. He wants to know what's going on as far as the baseball side of things and the business of the Angels in general. He's been a tremendous owner.

Angelswin - You probably have a lot of incredible memories over the last 16 years. What would you say are the one or two that you cherish the most?

Tony Reagins - Number one was winning the World Series in 2002. That was probably the pinnacle - just going through that whole experience. Other fond memories are to be able to watch Jimmy Reese hit fungos and watch him dialogue with the players and just the relationship he had with everyone. That's a very fond memory. Being able to speak with Mr. Autry. Those guys had been in the business for a long time and Mr. Autry's passion for winning. After winning the World Series you thought about that a lot. Those are some of the fond memories

Angelswin - What do you think you can bring to the Angel organization? How do you see yourself like Bill Stoneman and in what ways do you think you're different?

Tony Reagins - I think we both really believe in scouting and development. I think one of my strengths that I bring to the organization is that I know our minor league system very well and have a strong belief in developing players and developing players that play for the Angels.

Angelswin - So what's it been like since the press conference announcing you as the new General Manager?

Tony Reagins - It's been busy. Upbeat. Getting to know the other general managers has been a fun part of the job, getting to know the personalities. I still don't know how all of them work, but getting an idea, especially in this theater because I didn't know a number of them personally. I did have some relationships with some of the guys but when you're at this level that's a little bit different, so that's been great to be a part. Getting to know and talk to these guys and picking their brains and seeing what needs they may have and what needs we might have that may be a fit.

Angelswin - About the job. Is there a lot of communication? Is it constant? Is it an every day thing?

Tony Reagins - Yes, you talk to clubs every day. At least I've been talking to clubs every day. You'll get calls from other general managers, so yeah, there's been discussions.

Angelswin - On that subject, Bill Stoneman was arguably the best GM in Angel history, yet he was often criticized in the media for not pulling the trigger. Is this something that was his decision? How much influence does Arte Moreno have in this and do you know what it's going to be like during your tenure?

Tony Reagins - Well, I think Arte allows the baseball people to run the baseball department. When you talk about not pulling the trigger on anything I think you're referencing a deal, for one, it takes two sides to make a deal. I think at the end of the day, what you look for is - does it make your team better? If it makes your team better you move forward. If it doesn't, you don't. The easiest thing to say is no. If it does not make your team better, you don't do a deal just for the sake of saying i did a deal. If it sets your organization back, it probably doesn't make sense.

Angelswin - With the philosophy you mentioned of developing players ...

Tony Reagins - Yeah, but just in any deal in general you want to make sure it's good for your organization. Hopefully if you make a deal it's a win-win situation where both teams benefit, but our responsibility and my responsibility is the Angels and pushing us forward. Obviously we've had success over the last few years and we want to continue to have success but we just won't do things just for the sake of doing things.

Angelswin - I imagine since you were the Director of Player Development, it gives you an advantage as far as maybe trading away prospects . In that light, there has been speculation and rumors that a player like Miguel Cabrera is available for prospects, namely Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick and Nick Adenhart. Do you see any scenario where you would include all three of those players in one deal?

Tony Reagins - Like you said, that's speculation and it's really not smart to comment on speculation. I think if you operate your business guessing, you're going to put yourself in a tough situation, so i think you have to deal with factual information, rely on your scouts, rely on the resources that you have available to you - I'm talking about myself- then you make the best decision for your club. Obviously again, I think one of my strengths is that I know our system and we're looking to improve.

Angelswin - Can you confirm or deny ...

Tony Reagins - I can't confirm or deny.

Angelswin - Fair enough. Looking forward to 2008, is there a payroll limit that's been set? Is it flexible? If there's a player that's available you think is going to benefit the organization is that something that Mr. Moreno might consider maybe raising it?

Tony Reagins - At the end of the day, you look to improve your club, which is the bottom line. There's a number of scenarios that can happen that will allow us to improve our club. You want to make a decision that makes economic sense, but more importantly, baseball sense. If you tie those two things together, I think you're moving in the right direction.

Angelswin - Obviously not the most powerful lineup. Good lineup, scored a lot of runs, but based mostly on moving runners over, hit & runs, making contact. Is the power aspect of the lineup something you're looking to improve this year - maybe getting a little protection for Vladimir Guerrero ?

Tony Reagins - I know it's been said that power, the home run, has been missing from our lineup, but we've been able to score runs, we've been able to manufacture runs, we've been able to steal bases, we've been aggressive on the base paths, we play solid defense, we've pitched well both in the bullpen and our starting rotation. If it was today, I'm real comfortable with what we have right now. If we have a healthy Garrett Anderson, a healthy Vladimir Guerrero and a healthy Gary Matthews Jr. along with the other parts of our club, it's a pretty good club.

Angelswin - What areas are you looking to improve?

Tony Reagins - We'll look at anything. Obviously if we can add some offensive punch, we'll look at that, but in discussions it's not limited to one specific area. We're just looking at every opportunity we have to make our club better.

Angelswin - If you could label a player as untouchable or a keeper, does anyone on the roster fall into that category?

Tony Reagins - I don't think anyone is untouchable. I think there's a number of players that you would have to give some strong, strong thought to if you were deciding to move that player, but I don't think any player is untouchable.

Angelswin - What would you consider a successful 2008 ..

Tony Reagins - A World Championship

Angelswin - ...offseason ?

Tony Reagins - Offseason? Being able to acquire or add some offense if we can. But, like I said, if today was the Opening Day of the 2008 season, and I had a healthy club intact that I have right now, I'd be fine going to war with those guys.

Angelswin - Since Bill Stoneman has now taken on the role of Senior Advisor, how much influence is he going to have in the organization as far as potential trades or acquiring players ?

Tony Reagins - One, I think you can probably speak to him, but I've learned a lot over the years from Bill. I trust his opinion, along with Ken Forsch, Gary Sutherland, Eddie Bane, Abe Flores, Tory Hernandez and Mike Scioscia. All of these gentleman have input. I think it's important to tap into the resources that you have, and Bill is one of those resources. He's going to be around. Probably not as much as he has in the past, but he'll be around and he has a cell phone so I know that I can call him any time I have a question. He'll be a sounding board for me and offer his opinion.

Angelswin - Was there ever a player you thought you were certain would be a solid major leaguer that never quite panned out for whatever reason?

Tony Reagins - I think when you see youngsters at a very young age, 17, 18, 19 years old, you see potential. Any one specific player? I probably wouldn't comment on a specific player, but just in general you see a player with tools that you think these tools will play out in the major leagues but for one reason or another it doesn't work out that way. There are some examples but I don't want to mention specific names but I thought this player could pitch in the major leagues or play in the major leagues for a long time and it didn't happen.

Angelswin - Was it more mental?

Tony Reagins - Yeah, I think a couple of things come into play. Development, both mentally and physically, and an injury. You know, it's not easy to get to the major leagues . If it was you'd have however many people in the world playing ...

Angelswin - I'd be playing in the majors

Tony Reagins - Exactly! It's really an honor and a privilege to play at this level and a lot of things have to go right. You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to perform at a high level. It's just not easy to do.

Angelswin - On the other end of the spectrum, maybe you can name somebody who's actually exceeded that potential and became a huge contributor either for the Angels or that went on to play somewhere else?

Tony Reagins - I like stories of perseverance. Guys that continue to just grind it out. A name that comes to mind just off the top is Nathan Haynes, who was probably in the minor leagues for 10 years, had 8 surgeries, had chances to give it up but kept fighting and had a shot to be at the major league level this year. That's a fun story.

Angelswin - And not a bad hitting coach right ?

Tony Reagins - Yeah !

Angelswin - Ok Tony, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tony Reagins - I grew up down in the Coachella Valley in Indio, CA . Grew up there and went to college at College of the Desert then went to Cal State Fullerton. Played baseball when I was younger. I was a good athlete, but was a pretty good football player and basketball player. Injuries probably derailed my sports career and I just thought it was important to get an education and do some things that I wanted to do and an education was part of it. After my college years, got the internship here and you kind of know the rest of the story.

Angelswin - Other than baseball, what's your favorite sport?

Tony Reagins - I go back and forth between football and basketball. Probably more football.

Angelswin - You probably don't have much time to watch, do you?

Tony Reagins - No, but I make sure to watch the Dallas Cowboys.

Angelswin - What do you do for fun?

Tony Reagins - Hang out with my family. That's very important. I have a young daughter that's 22 months now.

Angelswin - Congratulations

Tony Reagins - Thank you. She's fun . My wife and family's important to me. We have another one on the way that'll be here hopefully in February.

Angelswin - Again, congratulations ! Just in time for baseball season.

Tony Reagins - Yeah, thank you. I'm wondering how I'm going to navigate through that time period, but I think we'll make it work.

Angelswin - I guess that wraps it up. I had a great time . Thank you, Tony, we really appreciate you taking the time to do this. AngelsWin.com thanks you.

Tony Reagins - Hey, no problem. I was glad to be able to do it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


By Johnny Bardo - Angelswin.com Columnist

Part 3 of 12.
  1. Introduction and Catcher
  2. First Base
  3. Second Base
  4. Shortstop
  5. Third Base
  6. Left Field
  7. Center Field
  8. Right Field
  9. DH and the Bench
  10. Starting Rotation
  11. Bullpen
  12. Conclusion

With all the Miguel Cabrera for the entire Angels farm system talk, I have been hesitant to write the installment for second base (and busy), but we could be waiting for months so here goes…

SECOND BASE

HISTORY

As we move from catcher to first base and then over to second base, a pattern begins to emerge: historical mediocrity for the Angels. It may sound like a downer, but take a look for yourself: the Angels have had very few star players, and only one or two players that could be called superstars. I’m not sure where the system originated, or if I’m drawing from different sources, but I like using the following terms for different tiers of players:

  • 1st Tier: Superstar – Among the best players in the game (e.g. A-Rod, Johan Santana, David Ortiz).
  • 2T: Star – Among the best players in the league at their position; all-star (e.g. Victor Martinez, Chase Utley, John Lackey).
  • 3T: Borderline Star – Very good player with occasional star-calibre season; possible all-star (e.g. Mike Lowell, Kelvim Escobar, Steve Finley in his prime).
  • 4T: Quality Regular – An average or above average player (e.g. Bengie Molina, Mark Grudzielanek, Adam Kennedy as an Angel).
  • 5T: Mediocre Regular/Quality Bench (e.g. Darin Erstad as a first baseman).
  • 6T: Poor Regular/Decent Bench – (e.g. Jose Molina).
  • 7T: Scrub – How did he get to the major leagues? (e.g. Erick Aybar in 2007).

As in chess, the value for each tier, if represented numerically, isn’t from 1-7, but something like, from scrub to superstar: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15. Or something like that. But you get the point: One superstar is worth approximately one star and a quality regular, or two borderline stars.

Looking at the first three positions covered, how many superstars have the Angels had? None. The only player that could reasonably be argued to ever have been among the best players in baseball would be Rod Carew, but not as an Angel and not as a first baseman. Mo Vaughn was a star for the Red Sox, but not really a superstar—at least if you re-calibrate his impact for hitting context he played in (the steroid boom days of the 90s) and the team he played on (as players for Yankees and Red Sox especially tend to get a bit over-rated).

Stars? Also none. But wait a minute…how about Bobby Grich?

Bobby Grich may be one of the most under-rated players of the last thirty years. What?! Are you a raving fanboy, you ask? Not really. Let’s take a look. His career averages were .266/.371/.424 in 2008 games from 1970 to 1986; he was an Angel for the last ten of those years, hitting .269/.370/.436 in 1222 games. By today’s standards those are hardly impressive—good, but not star-calibre, at least on the surface. But don’t forget that Grich was also a Gold Glove winner four times (albeit never as an Angel), and had a career Adjusted OPS of 125 (124 as an Angel), better than Derek Jeter (122), Derrek Lee (124), Jorge Posada (124),and future Hall of Fame second baseman Jeff Kent (124). It is also better than Kirby Puckett, Roy Campanella, Tony Perez….need I go on?

And just how good is Grich among all-time second basemen? Well, stat guru Bill James in his The New Bill James Historical Abstract (2001) rated him as the 12th best two-bagger of all time. That’s right between Frankie Frisch and Lou Whitaker. It is hard to weed through all of the names on the all-time Adjusted OPS list, but as far as I can tell Grich is only behind a handful of players for whom second base was their primary career position: Roger Hornsby (175), Nap Lajoie (150), Jackie Robinson (132), Joe Morgan (132), and Rod Carew (131), all Hall of Famers. Grich's 125 rates better than Charlie Gehringer (124), Ryne Sandberg (114), and Craig Biggio (111), all Hall of Famers or soon to be in the Hall of Fame. You could almost make a case that Bobby Grich himself deserves enshrinement in Cooperstown, but that's a topic for another day.

At the least we can say that Bobby Grich was a very good player for a decade and a half and undoubtedly the best second baseman the Angels have ever had. Until now. Or do I speak too soon? I do, for two reasons: Will Howie Kendrick be the center piece to reel Miguel Cabrera in? And will he develop enough plate discipline to truly blossom as a hitter?

(A quick side note: you may be wondering, where’s the rest of the history? Well, I’ve decided to focus on those aspects of Angels history that I find the most interesting…I could list you some names and numbers, but you could look them up just as easily as I; what I hope to do here is capture some of the essence of the Angels, highlighting those aspects that I feel define the franchise. To put it another way, these entries are not meant to be encyclopedic but rather impressionistic).

2007 REVIEW

  • Howie Kendrick (23) – 88 games, .322/.347/.450.

Not bad for an injury-marred first campaign. Within another year or two Howie Kendrick should could be the pride of the Angels; within another decade he could have three or four batting titles to his name. That said, his complete lack of plate discipline is troubling: 9 walks to 61 strikeouts does not a future batting champion make. At times he looked like Tony Gwynn, racking up multiple hit games by the bushel (especially in September); at others he looked like a terrible mockery of Vlad Guerrero (or Vlad in the playoffs!), reaching and whiffing on balls well outside of the strike zone. But his minor league record—a .359/.402/.567 in 375 games over six seasons—bodes well, and speaks of a very rare talent.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The key for Kendrick’s peak potential is plate discipline: he doesn’t need to be a walking machine, but he does need to master the strike zone and learn to hold off on bad pitches, which tends to be reflected statistically in walk to strikeout ratio. Even Vlad’s is good—he may not walk unintentionally that much, but he also doesn’t strike out that much. Pro-rated to 155 games, Howie’s walks and strikeouts would be 16 and 107…do you see those numbers attached to a batting champion? If he doesn’t develop the very least we will see from him is more of the same of 2007: an average above .300 with plenty of doubles and a few triples and HR. If he does settle down a bit and wait on some pitches, the sky’s the limit, even a few years over .350 with 70-80 extra base hits. With talent like Howie’s, I’m betting on the latter.

2008 PROJECTION

  • Kendrick - 150 games, .330/.370/.480, 45-50 doubles, 10 triples, 15 HR.

UPGRADE

Ask again in ten years. Kendrick may be the most promising Angels position prospect ever. If the Angels trade Kendrick, an upgrade is possible but probably unnecessary--the Angels have plenty of options in Chone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, and even Erick Aybar or Sean Rodriguez. But none so sweet as Howie Kendrick, who may turn out to be The Greatest Angel to Not Really Be An Angel.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

http://redsox.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/cabrera-after.jpg

By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Senior Editor

Well no Big-A-Rod in Anaheim. According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, Alex Rodriguez will likely be guaranteed about $280 million over 10 years from the Yankees, with the chance to go over $300 million through incentives. Heyman says agent Scott Boras is in intense negotiations with the Yankees to complete the deal.

Now that we forget about Pay-Rod's 50 Hr's in Anaheim, is Plan B or perhaps to Tony Reagins in Co., Plan A in full force? The Angels and Dodgers are said to be the leading destinations for power hitting 3B Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins in a trade that would have to include Howie Kendrick and at least Nick Adenhart or Brandon Wood. Angelswin.com's top 2 Prospects.

According to a League source, a deal could come before Thanksgiving.

The question is this: Is trading a legit a .300 hitting middle infielder with the capability of slugging 40-50 doubles and 15-20 HR's while stealing 20 bases worth the cost of including another top prospect and perhaps more, worth it?

While I would NOT include Nick Adenhart, said to be a future #1 starter by scouts (see our Arizona Fall League article from David Regan) & Brandon Wood (The Angels #1 prospect last year), because of the Angels depth, I wouldn't be upset for the likes of Miguel Cabrera. Nor would it create a hole in what I feel is a deep minor league system. (More on that later).

Cabrera, a 24-year-old Venezuela native, is coming off a season in which he posted career highs for home runs (34) and RBIs (119). He batted .320, marking his third straight season of hitting at least .320. Some scouts have even said that Miguel Cabrera reminds them allot of Albert Pujols, with 40-45 HR power coming later.

Imagine this lineup going into 2008:

2B Chone Figgins
SS Orlando Cabrera
RF Vladimir Guerrero
3B Miguel Cabrera
DH Garret Anderson
LF Juan Rivera
1B Casey Kotchman
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
C Mike Napoli

That lineup will produce runs and with the Angels pitching staff, wow!

After making $7.4 million this past season, Cabrera is in line to receive more than $10 million in arbitration for 2008. The four-time All-Star is eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. The Angels could be working on a contract extension behind the scenes already, as they should be for the price they'd be paying for Cabrera.

The critics of this potential deal say that Miguel Cabrera is overweight and a risk or that his defense isn't very good at the hot corner.

But Cabrera, 24, said that he already has been working out with a goal of reporting to spring training in the best shape of his career according the Palm Beach Post.

"I'll keep at it in order to get to spring training in the best shape possible - to have the best season possible for the team I end up on.'' Cabrera, who was in Venezuela on Tuesday and could not be reached, said he was surprised the Marlins are trying to trade him this winter.

"I've been at it for four weeks now at a gym that specializes in professional athletes, and I'll be there until the spring," said Cabrera, a native of Venezuela, in a story posted Tuesday on LasMayores.com, the Spanish-language affiliate of mlb.com.

As far as defending his defensive shortcomings at third-base in which he made 23 errors in '07, Miguel Cabrera ended up having as many errors as defensive wiz, Ryan Zimmerman (23), just 2 more errors than All-Star David Wright (21) and 3 more than the assortment of players the Angels sent out to the hot corner in 2007.

One would think the Angels are in a better position to make this trade before the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers will be forced to not only deal Andy LaRoche, but also Matt Kemp or James Loney, and either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley. The Dodgers don't have the starting pitching depth the Angels have and to lose either Billingsley or Kershaw, counting on older injury-prone arms like Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf at number 3 & 4 in their rotation would not be wise.

The Angels on the other hand, if they lost Kendrick, could remedy that in a hurry with Chone Figgins, the Angels 2007 Co-MVP. Losing Adenhart would sting, but we have Joe Saunders & Ervin Santana at the back end of the rotation, with Nick Green and a host of talented young arms moving up to High-A Ball, Rancho Cucamonga in '08. Remember as I mentioned previously, the front of our rotation which includes John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Jered Weaver are solid and are set to stick around for a while.

I would try at all cost to keep Brandon Wood so that we could give him another full season in Triple-A, Salt Lake but at a new but old position (SS). He could supplant Orlando Cabrera in 2009 after his 4-year deal has been fulfilled. Sending them 3B Dallas McPherson & CF Reggie Willits along with Kendrick and Adenhart could be a possible counter.

One thing is for sure, even without Howie Kendrick and recently traded away Alberto Callaspo and Alexi Casilla, the Angels are still loaded at the middle infield positions. Maicer Izturis, Sean Rodriguez, Erick Aybar, Hainley Statia, Ryan Mount, PJ Phillips, Andrew Romine & Ivan Contreras.

The Angels are loaded with depth and as much as it hurts to see a a quality guy and incredible player like Howie Kendrick go, you have to give up to get, and deal from your strengths to improve your weakness.

Miguel Cabrera is a middle of the order phenom that will not only protect Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup and improve the club obv, but give us a legitimate chance against top tier teams in October. That in itself after a painful 3-0 thumping at the hands of the Red Sox in the 2007 ALDS should prompt Reagins & company to pull the trigger.

So is Miguel Cabrera worth the cost of high profile young talent? This guy says, YES! It certainly worked for the Boston Red Sox in the Josh Beckett trade. Cabrera at 24 already has an impressive resume and a World Series ring. The World Series is the goal and if you can assemble a strong and balanced team without depleting your depth, you do it.

Consider this as you walk away from this article.

Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Cabrera would be the best 1-2 punch in any lineup in all of Baseball.

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