Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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By Chuck Richter - AngelsWin.com Executive Editor

So the 2012 Angels season is over, so you know what time it is. It's that time again when our collection of writers and contributors get together and discuss what went right, wrong and more over the course of the completed season. It's also time that when we open up the gradebook to show you the fans how we at AngelsWin.com graded several categories of Angels Baseball.

So without further ado, here's what our guys at AngelsWin.com had to say...

AngelsWin.com Round Table Discussion on the Angels 2012 Season

Q: (Chuck Richter) – What was your most memorable moment of the 2012 Angels Season?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  The emergence of Mike Trout.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Its got to be Mike Trout's (first) home run saving catch. That is the memory that we'll look back on as the defining moment in the rookie year of the Greatest Angel.

A: (John Taylor) -  Jered Weaver's no hitter. It was one of those days where everything was working well. The team hadn't been playing well up until that game, and they honestly needed Weaver to put up zeros that night. I remember halfway through the game thinking to myself, "I don't think the Twins can get a hit off of him." My highlight of the year.

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Mark Trumbo's walk-off HR against the Yankees.  It goes to show how much Trumbo carried the club before his dive in the second half.  I attended that game and the stadium absolutely exploded when it launched off his bat.  It was very similar to a playoff game.  Plus, it's always nice to see the look of disbelief on the face of A-Rod.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  Most memorable moment has to be Weaver's no hitter. I know that I've already posted my personal reasons for this moment (click here), but from a pure fan perspective, the fact that I actually attended a no-hitter in our home park was something pretty special. The energy was amazing, and really unique. It was almost like the buzz started in the 6th or 7th inning, a quiet rumble to the stadium. That rumble grew and grew and in the ninth was downright explosive. Every out brought the thunder, and you could see the team just feeling it, too. Hunter making the grab, Weaver's hands on his head in disbelief...and throw in the after-the-fact commentary that Iannetta caught a chunk of the game with a broken wrist and you have something pretty amazing to behold.

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  My most memorable moment of the 2012 season is quite possibly my most memorable moment as an Angels fan.  At this year's AngelsWin.com Spring Training Fanfest, I had the opportunity to interview Arte Moreno!  First off, I can't believe Arte agreed to come speak to us.  Second, I can't believe I was the one selected to interview him at the event.  What an honor!

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Trout robbing the HR against Baltimore. It took that highlight for Mike to get the national attention he deserved.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  Albert Pujols' walk-off hits. There were a bunch, right? A few? A couple? One? Ummm... That one time when he got a sac-fly in the 7th to bring the Angels within 3 was rad!

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  Mike Trout, not any specific moment, just Trout  in general. Angel fans were lucky to watch this kid play this year  and it's exciting to think we have the potential to watch 15+ years  of him roaming the outfield for the Halos.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  The play of Mike Trout!

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Watching our new superstar, Mike Trout, demolish opposing pitching and playing stellar defense in center field. I'm hoping that Bourjos (an even better CF in my opinion) plays center and Trout moves to LF in 2013. The defensive shifts and alignment will seriously impact our run prevention.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - Jered Weaver's no hitter is definitely the most memorable moment for me because not only does the pitcher have to have his "A" game, but the team does as well. Almost every no hitter (or perfect game) will have a couple of great catches and a couple of great plays in order to achieve the accomplishment.

A: (David Saltzer) -  My most memorable moment was April 28, 2012—Trout’s first game this season after getting recalled. I knew that he would be a special player, but I had no idea just how special he would be. I remember watching him in the stadium after he was drafted—the way he studied each opponent as if he knew that he could hit him. The level of focus and dedication that he showed from the time he was drafted until now was just unbelievable. I knew that he would make the team better, but couldn’t dream he’d be that good.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – What was your least favorite moment?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  The Bullpen collapse in Texas.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  There are a few games in the last couple months of the season that would fit, but probably the one that stands out the most is August 1 vs. the Rangers. The Angels had just beat the Rangers two games in a row in Arlington to reduce the AL West deficit to 3 games, and then were up 7-1 going into the bottom of the 6th. The Rangers fought their way back to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th at 7-7. In the top of the 10th inning, Albert Pujols hit a 2-run HR and the Angels took a commanding 10-7 lead and it felt like it was the turning point of the season. But then Ernesto Frieri and Jason Isringhausen gave up four runs in the bottom of the 10th, including a game-winning two-run single by Elvis Andrus. The Angels went 5-13 in their next 18 games to dig themselves into a hole they never could quite pull themselves out of, despite a red-hot last five or six weeks. 

A: (John Taylor) -  Pretty much all of April. The team had played so well coming out of spring training, but hit the wall when the season started. It's hard to imagine how different the team that ended the season was, from the team that started the season.

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Blowing game 3 of the pivotal series against Texas in early August.  Just when it seemed like the Halos were ready to make their run to the top of the division, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  After this point, the Angels went on a skid until September where it was too little too late.  Had the Angels won that series in Texas, I think the season would have turned out very differently than it did.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  Least Favorite moment is a little harder to quantify. At the time, I think the game against Texas, in Texas, that we coughed up the big league comes to mind. Especially in retrospect, it seems to have been a major momentum swing for our team and our mojo. The play at the plate when Morales got thrown out, after NOT being pinch run for that late in the game, was a gut punch. I honestly think that if the Angels win that game, they don't go on the bigger tailspin, and maybe play some extra meaningful games this October. Oh, hindsight...

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  Unfortunately this one is pretty hard ... because there's just so many to choose from.  I think I'll go with the Sept 15th game against the Royals in KC.   Greinke was pitching a gem and the Angels were up 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th with 1 on and 1 out.  Scioscia pulled Greinke (God knows why) and puts in Frieri.  On his first ptich, Butcher blasts a 2 run homer over the CF wall ... game tied.  The next batter, Salvador Perez, pings a 1-1 pitch off the LF foul pole for a walk-off game winner.

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Aug 1st against the Rangers. Angels score 3 in the top of the 10th only to watch Texas score 4 to end it.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  Every CJ Wilson start after the all-star break.

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  Every at bat from Pujols in a key situation late  in the game. We kept waiting for that one big defining Pujols moment, and it seems like it never actually happened.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  Scioscia's mis-management, specifically Aug 1, 2012 vs TEX.

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  That 6-5 loss a few weeks back. That hit me in the gut particularly hard for some reason.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - Watching the last game of the season knowing there will be no playoff baseball in Anaheim.

A:(David Saltzer) -  August 1, 2012 - the loss in Texas. The Angels went into the All-Star Break hot. From June 1st, they were 22-12. Coming out after the break, they sputtered. For the rest of July, they were 9-9. But, on August 1st, everything just fell apart. They were up 7-1 against Texas in the 4th and then failed to score again until the 10th. By the 5th, the lead was down to 7-5. The bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, so, by the end of the 9th, we were tied 7-7. The Angels posted 3 runs in the top of the 10th to take a 10-7 lead. That should have been a safe lead—3 outs and 3 runs should be safe. But the bullpen gave up 4 in the 10th, and we lost. Over the next 18 games, the Angels went 5-13, and with that, they lost the season. More than the horrid start to the season, the momentum that died that night in Texas killed the season.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – What went right & what went wrong?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  The offense was reasonable consistent throughout the season.  There was a lapse in the starting pitching after the AS break, but that improved.  The biggest disappointment was the quality of the bullpen.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Mike Trout went right. Torii Hunter went right. The offense overall, after Hatcher was fired, went right. The defense went right. The bullpen went wrong. 60% of the rotation went wrong for much of the season (Wilson, Haren, Santana). Albert Pujols in the first month and a half and a portion late in the year, and his overall (lack of) clutch performance went wrong. Mark Trumbo went wrong in August and September (although showed signs of improvement in the last week).

A: (John Taylor) -  Mike Trout, need I say more? What went wrong: The entire team never played well at the same time, until September. The Angels would go through a stretch where their offense was lethargic (see: April), and the pitching would keep them in the game, then the offense would get hot, and the bullpen would blow it, then came August where we would be down by 5-7 runs by the 5th or 6th Inning due to the starting pitching. It didn't seem to come together until September, and by then, they needed the A's and Orioles to falter down the stretch (which they didn't).

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Mike Trout clearly went right this season.  The tremendous numbers don't even do him justice because of the Gold-Glove type defense that we as fans witnessed all year.  Truly a season for the record-books.   What went wrong? The bullpen.  I firmly believe that if the bullpen were just slightly tweaked, the Angels would have made the playoffs.  The painful season's from Jordan Walden, Jason Isringhausen, and LaTroy Hawkins really put a damper on the team. 

A: (Scott Fowler) -  I think the what went right was easy enough to see. I think the team, after a horrid start, put together some chemistry and minus a few mid and late season swoons, played damn good baseball. I think the chemistry thing really made a difference. That said? We had Trout, Torii and Trumbo's first half were unbelievable. I think Albert finally became Albert, though he didn't ever really leave his mark on any game. Weaver further established his role as one of the best three pitchers in the game.  Beyond that, I think Haren's back, and what we've just learned for CJ's bonechips, Santanas beachballs down the middle of the plate, our starting pitching really let us down. It's one thing to make your rotation carry you for stretches of the season, and our offense at times made it difficult for them. You have to win games early, not give up walks, and get aggressive. To be honest, I think if the team really did know CJ was hurting and was trying to compensate for it with new arm slots and release points, then I think they were partly to blame. It also means that, at least internally, the team thought a wounded-wing-Wilson was better than any other options to start. Not sure I'd agree with that, but again, hindsight...20-20.

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  Let's start with what went right:  Mike Trout went right!  When you look at the team's numbers before Trout's call up and after his call up, it's crystal clear where the team's season turned.  You can point to a million things that Trout did for the team, but I'll highlight two.  First, he ignited the fan base!  After the signing of Albert and CJ, the Big A was packed for the first several weeks of the season.  But as the team went further and further into the tank, the fans began to stay away.  Albert wasn't hitting home runs and the team was losing ... not a lot to cheer about.  Trout reignited the fans!  Second, Trout gave Torii new life!  Much like the fans, Torii was reignited!  It was so much fun to watch the two of them in the outfield together! Now ... what went wrong:  Well, the first month of the season was had no hitting.  That was problematic.  Then, when the bats got going, our pitching fell apart.  CJ starts the season of well (earns an All Star nod), and then completely fell apart the last half of the season.  Haren never seemed to have things working well.  Santana was ... well ... Santana.  "I'm a home run pitcher."  Yeah, no kidding.  And the bullpen was just wildly inconsistent.  Outside of Weaver's tremendous year (Cy Young worthy!), our pitching really let this team down.

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Trout being called up in April and batting lead off. What went wrong was the pen…. again.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  RIGHT - Trout and Hunter. WRONG - Haren and Santana.

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  What went right? As a team, not much...as  individuals you had some amazing performances. What went wrong...two  huge missteps that doomed the season, April and August. Losing the  extra innings game against Texas appeared to big a huge kick in the  gut that the team took a few weeks to bounce back from.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  RIGHT - the offense (after Scioscia stopped jerking around).  WRONG - the bullpen (because Scioscia jerked around).

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Our team defense throughout the year, Jered Weaver, and our offense after the month of May was what went right. The horrible April start and the inconsistent bullpen and starting rotation is what went wrong.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - The 2012 Angels were hot and cold and despite being one of the best teams in baseball near the end, just couldn't pull it off.  At times the pitching was lights out and other times the pitching was ice cold. Santana and Haren were anchors to the rotation and even worse, Santana's caviler attitude didn't help the situation. Haren seemed like he knew he was letting everyone down and tried to "right the ship",  but Santana gave the impression that he didn't care. Santana noted that he was a "homerun" so why not try and work on your control to keep walks down and stop making mistakes which turn into homeruns. Hopefully CJ Wilson will be healthy for a full year and provide stats like he is capable of. Greinke was an awesome addition and helped. The offense just needed to be more consistent after the coaching change. I think a full year of Eppard as the hitting coach will pay huge dividends. I think Pujols feels like he should have contributed more (and he should have)  even though he had a good year, it wasn't a "Pujols" year. Eppard and Pujols live fairly close to each other and I'm sure they will be meeting up in the offseason to work out a plan. Both Torii Hunter and Mike Trout provided much more than anyone expected and were the reasons the Angels rebounded from such a horrible start.

A:(David Saltzer) -  What went right? Trout, Weaver, Hunter, and Pujols (yes, I’m saying Pujols—are you really going to complain about a 30 HR and 100+ rbi season all while switching leagues????). After years of watching an anemic offense, the Angels improved it dramatically, finishing tops in the Majors in BA, 4th OPS, 4th in runs, and 5th for SLG and OB%. That’s including the horrid start to the season. If anyone had told us in 2011 we’d be seeing that level of offense, we’d be thrilled.  What went wrong? The bullpen. You cannot give wins away night after night and expect to play in the post season. The bullpen blew 22 saves, most in the Majors. Cut that in half and we’re still watching the team play right now. Other things that went wrong include the overall rate at which we gave up homeruns. As a team we gave up the 6th most HRs in the Majors (186). You can’t win if you give up runs in bunches. That wasn’t just a bullpen problem—our whole pitching staff couldn’t keep the ball in the yard as well as they have in the past.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – Should there be any management or coaching changes before the start of the 2013 season? If so, why? If not, why?

A: (Bruce Nye) - No management or coaching changes are necessary, but 2013 is the critical year.  With a revamped bullpen and  the new players used to playing here and together, there is no excuse barring catastrophic injury for the Angels missing the playoffs.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Mike Scioscia's track record warrants another chance. It might be time for a new pitching coach, though. I don't think Butcher is "the problem" but he's no Bud Black.

A: (John Taylor) -  I've never been on the "Fire Scioscia" bandwagon, but the truth is, he might be wearing out his authority, but who out there is any better? If Tony LaRussa would come out of retirement, I would say replace Scioscia, but honestly would Ozzie Guillen or Terry Francona do any better? I really don't think so.

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Yes, I believe so.  Mike Scioscia has had some terrific years with the Halos, but I think his time is up.  His head-scratching moves this year came at an alarming rate and rarely ceased to fail.  There's a reason that managers usually don't last more than a decade.  I'd like to see the Angels try to coax Sandy Alomar Jr. to the managerial position.  It's time to turn the page on Scioscia.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  I've banged the drum about Scioscia all season, thinking that he was ill-equipped from a style perspective, to manage the team of players he currently has. Now that the season is over, and Francona (My ideal replacement, if it came to that) is not an option anymore, I don't know that, barring a La Russa comeback, there's any better coaches out there. Do I think Scioscia needs to change some of his decisions? Absolutely. Do I think he mismanaged the staff and the pen? Totally. I think he went to a relatively bare cupboard with regards to the pen, especially given how our starters stumbled out of the All Star Break. As much as I vilify Scioscia among friends and family, and other angelswin.com readers, I still don't know if the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know. If Scioscia can adapt his style and give the starters a better leash....I think he gets one more year. That said, I'm not a huge Butcher fan. Someone said that if a student fails a class, blame the student, but if the who class fails the class, blame the teacher. I think a change w/ Butcher send Scioscia a pretty significant message, and it probably couldn't be WORSE. . .

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  I'm not on the "Fire Scioscia!" bandwagon.  Though, I will admit that I find myself questioning him more and more.  If we were to make a change in the coaching staff, I'd say Butcher is the guy to go.  I've never been impressed with the results he's got out of his pitching staff.

A: (Nick Mancini) -   I say Sosh should stay knowing he’s in the hot seat. There just isn’t any other better option out there anyways. Butcher should keep his job and see how 2013 starts. If the pitching can’t get it together, then he has to go.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  Replace Butcher. Someone needs to be held accountable for the poor pitching performance this year.

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  No. You could make the case Butcher should clear  out his locker but he's still the same guy who was pitching coach to  some great staffs over the year. It's tough to blame Butcher for the  horrendous pen the Halos were saddled with this year.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  At a minimum, Butcher should be replaced. The pitching failed and the buck stops at the leader.  I would love to see Scioscia gone. His ego has to go. He has bought into the myth that he is the best manager in baseball... and that is a dangerous thing.

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Flat answer is no. S-C-I-O-S-C-I-A may have made a questionable call here and there but sometimes tactical decisions don't work out and players have to execute properly. Pitching was up and down but frankly some relievers shouldn't even have been on the roster so how is that Butcher's fault? They all deseve another chance and Mike is one of the better managers in all of MLB. Replacing him wouldn't be as simple as some would like to believe.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - No, but Mike Scioscia should be on the hot seat. If the Angels are not performing they way they should by mid-season, I could see a change. 

A:(David Saltzer) -  No. First, the Angels have announced that they aren’t going to make any changes, so, I’m not going to argue against their decision. Second, there aren’t necessarily better people out there right now that I want back. Sure, it’s easy to scapegoat Butcher, but everyone knew our bullpen was shaky at best. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t have a reliable set of arms out there night after night. And yes, Scioscia’s decisions were questionable at times, but then again, there were times when his options were limited. When the starters struggled, it taxed the bullpen. When the bullpen struggled, he had to tax the starters. The one or two games where his decisions really didn’t work out weren’t as much a factor to the season as the poor bullpen. A team has to convert as many wins as their offense gives them. Failing to cash them in comes at a huge price as it taxes the bullpen and makes winning future games less likely.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – Were you happy with the results from Albert Pujols in his first full season with the Halos?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  Yes, but I expected more in critical situations.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Definitely not - Moreno paid for more than .859 OPS and 4 WAR - which is a good player but not a great one. Given his terrible start, I expect some bounce-back next year, maybe something like a .900+ OPS and 5+ WAR, but I don't think we'll ever see the vintage Pujols of 2010 and before.

A: (John Taylor) -  No, and that's a pretty emphatic NO, because never at any time during the season did I feel like he carried the team, nor did I feel like any pitcher feared him like in the past 10 seasons. I would be happy with a .285/30/105 from Kendrys Morales, but for Albert Pujols I do see it as a letdown. I haven't written him off yet, but if he regresses anymore I would seriously be worried.

A: (Scott Stedman) -  April Albert Pujols or May-September Albert Pujols?   Since May 15, his numbers were nearly Pujolsian (.964 OPS) and that is while dealing with a calf injury.  If April were different, we would be talking about a very productive and powerful Pujols.  But, because his April was historically bad, I would have to say that I was not happy with Albert Pujols's performance this year.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  I think overall, yes. Do I think the guy was epic? No. Do I think he was spectacular and clutch and the best hitter of a generation? No. Was he great? Sure. Minus the first 6 weeks, he had an Average Albert year. That said, as I hinted to above, I don't know that he left his mark on any game, at least not in a big way. I can think of spectacular moments this year from Torii, Trout, Trumbo, Weaver, Frieri, hell, even Aybar and Callaspo, but I don't remember a big Albert moment.

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  In the end, I'd give him a C+.  30 HRs, 50 2Bs and 105 RBIs is certainly a solid season, but I feel like I saw at least 100 mile high pop-ups to the infield.

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Slightly disappointed. Take away his horrid April, his numbers were almost on par to his 2010/2011 numbers. Now that Pujols is acclimated to LA, I expect a much better 2013.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  No. Quite disappointed.

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  No. As noted above, there never was that  defining Pujols moment. Some nice numbers when you subtract April,  but all in all it seemed like those big hits in big situations  weren't there. It's a small window to make this contract worthwhile  and the Halos should be worried.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  I am satisfied.  Considering what he did without showing up in April & part o May - satisfied.

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Overall yes, but April and May made me very nervous.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - Albert had a great year by almost any other player's standards, but didn't give a "Pujols" season to the Angels. I believe he will take that burden seriously this offseason and will have a monster season in 2013.

A: (David Saltzer) -  Yes. Happy, not thrilled. Any time we can get a 30 HR season and 100+ rbi season from a player, I’m happy. Considering that he changed leagues, was away from his family to start the season, had a child, etc. I was happy with his season. He is a tremendous athlete and a tremendous clubhouse presence. He was there for his team and was as much a cheerleader as offensive leader. I expect that he will do better next year, and look forward to it.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – Who should win the AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? Why?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  Winning a Triple Crown is formidable, but MVP is not just most valuable offensive player, it should measure defense as well, so Mike Trout.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Well this topic has been done to death, so I'll keep it short. I've gone back and forth on this one. A few weeks ago I was arguing for Trout then, when Trout cooled off and Cabrera continued to mash in the most meaningful stretch of the season, I started feeling that Cabrera deserved the award. But then Trout had a strong last couple weeks and it is hard to ignore the huge different in their WAR. In the end, Trout was the best player in the game by a good margin. Cabrera had a small edge with the bat that was more than made up for by Trout's baserunning and defense. My final vote is Trout, although I doubt he wins it - the voters won't be able to get around the Triple Crown and the Tigers making the postseason.

A: (John Taylor) -  The Angels were 6-14 before Mike Trout, and ended up 83-59 since he was called up. Cabrera can have his Triple Crown, but this award is for the Most Valuable Player, not "best statistical player" (although an argument can be made that Trout has both of those covered over Cabrera, if you're looking at more then the Triple Crown categories).

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Who should win it? Mike Trout.  Who will win it? Miguel Cabrera. Trout is clearly the more rounded player.  Cabrera flashes 2 maybe 2 1/2 tools consistently while Trout shows 5 tools everyday.  Yes, Cabrera won the Triple Crown blah blah blah.  I can pick out 3 stats that Trout led in and state he is the better player, too.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  I think it should go to Trout, and even minus my homer glasses, I think my answer would be the same. I'll be honest, though, part of me is a total and complete baseball romantic, and the Triple Crown achievement is pretty special. I think though, that the Triple Crown, especially this time, is really reliant on the rest of the leagues performance overall. To that end, i know that the east coast bias will help, and I know that the fact that Cabrera's probably a marginally better hitter than Trout. If it were the MVHitter award, its Miggy all the way. Trouts intangibles on the field and on the basepaths are the difference maker here. I think if you look at just the panic he causes in infielders, something those of us who watch this team religiously get to do on a regular basis, you see them edgier when he's at the plate. More mishandled balls, more bobbles, more infield  base hits. One of the biggest things I've seen said in regards to this years MVP vote has been this: Who would you want at the plate with the game on the line, Miggy or Trout? I say miggy. But if I'm the pitcher on the mound? I say I don't care, as long as Trout's roaming CF. Ask Prince Fielder about that one. Oh, and for giggles, Ask Verlander who he'd rather face in that moment.

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  Miguel Cabrera was the best hitting in baseball this year.  You need not look past the Triple Crown to quickly identify that.  And if they give out a Most Valuable Hitter award, I'd champion a vote for Cabrera all day long.  However ... this is not a Most Valuable Hitter award.  When you look at what Trout did at the plate, what he did on the base paths, what he did in the field and how all of those things completely change the trajectory of his team, there is no question that Trout is far and away the AL MVP.

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Miguel. While Trout’s season was a milestone for a rookie, Cabrera’s season was a milestone for a career. It’s hard to overlook a Triple Crown winner with his team getting in the playoffs. If the Angels made the playoffs, this would be a much more difficult decision.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  Cabrera. Triple Crown might be a fabricated accomplishment, but it is still really freaking cool.
A: (Sean Scanlon) -  Obviously we are pretty biased, being part of  AngelsWin.com. I don't think there is a wrong answer. Trout is  probably the best overall player in the league but it's hard to argue with Cabrera winning the triple crown and being a key reason the Tigers saved their season and eeked out a playoff spot.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  Trout.  Its the MVP not the MVH!

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Really? Cabrera had a great season but Mike Trout was the most valuable player, period.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - Some might say I am biased, but I think Trout should get it. Cabrera is expected to put up those types of numbers, but Trout is a Rookie. Rookies are not supposed to put up numbers like he did and make it look so easy. Trout even missed the first month of the season and still had the season he did. If he started in Los Angeles instead of Salt Lake, this wouldn't be as big of a discussion as it is. The triple crown is one hell of an achievement though so if there is anytime for co-MVP's it's probably this year and if Trout was a co-MVP, it wouldn't bother me one bit.

A:(David Saltzer) -  Trout—no brainer. Add in the defense alone and it is not even close. Factor in the speed, and Trout’s a runaway for the award. Then look at all the extra chances that Cabrera got to hit with men on because he hit deeper in the lineup, and Trout was a more efficient run creator. My bet is the writers won’t give it to him (they will figure that ROY is enough and split) but that won’t due justice to the unbelievable year that Mike Trout had.


Q: (Chuck Richter) – Two part question: What are the Angels biggest needs heading into the offseason? -- Who do you go after via trade, free agency & do you extend Santana and/or Haren?

A: (Bruce Nye) -  The biggest need is pitching.  If Greinke cannot be signed, then Haren and Santana should be signed to lesser value contracts.  If Greinke is signed, Santana's contract should not be extended.  The next vital area of concern is the bullpen.  Hawkins and Isringhausen should be replaced with younger arms.

A: (Jonathan Northrop) -  Stabilize the pitching staff by signing or trading for a top tier reliever and signing Zack Greinke to a contract. I'd take Haren's option but opt out on Santana. I'd also give Torii Hunter a one or two year contract and get rid of Wells once and for all. Otherwise the lineup is set. Hopefully Jerry Dipoto remembers that this is a very good team that started slow and had some challenges but, with a little tweaking, can win 95 games next year.

A: (John Taylor) -  Part 1: Re-sign Zack Greinke; also a power hitting 3B, but looking at the free agents that would most likely have to come via trade, and a quality #4 or #5 guy in the rotation (bring Joe Saunders back.) You could have a rotation of Weaver, Greinke, Wilson, Saunders, Richards, and with the news of CJ having played the second half of the season hurt, he is bound to improve next season, or at least have another good first half like he usually does. Part 2: Honestly it's time to cut loose Ervin Santana. He is just a slightly better redux of Ramon Ortiz, and he will never develop into a consistent pitcher. I would also let go of Haren. His drop in velocity the last few years is worrisome. I think he loves playing here with Weaver, and CJ, but he is regressing.

A: (Scott Stedman) -  Bullpen.  Bullpen.  Bullpen.  I wouldn't even touch the offense, bring back Torii and keep the same lineup.  I would re-sign Greinke if possible and let Santana and Haren walk.  Look to sign Kyle Lohse or Shaun Marcum and let Jerome Williams finish off the rotation.  I'd love to see Dipoto try to strike a deal for Astros closer Wilton Lopez.  Maybe Hank Conger would look good in an Astros uniform?  Also, a flyer on Joakim Soria couldn't hurt.

A: (Scott Fowler) -  Ok, so let's handle the Haren/Santana thing real quick. Haren, dump the option, sign a cheaper 2 year deal w a third option, and go from there. I think Haren is still a workhorse, and I think the back thing this year may have been a fluke. Santana can't leave fast enough, just as long as he doesn't end up in Texas, or Tampa Bay, where he'll either throw no hitters against  (Arlington) or become a perennial cy young candidate a la Rodney in Tampa.  I think internally, we need a more well rounded lineup, but the off-season needs for position players begins and ends with Torii. I think resigning him, as the motor that moves the team, is the most important decision facing JDP right now. Obviously, if Torii is move number 1, re-signing Greinke is 1a. He really seemed to settle down and find his footing here in Anaheim, and I can only hope he likes it here enough to want to stick around. I'd like a 4 yr deal w/ a 5th mutual option, but that market will be interesting. I like that we re-upped Iannetta, I think a full season of his GREAT at bats and clutch moments will be great. The pen's a mess, but there should be enough middle relief options out there. I'd love to get Iwakuma signed, as we'd win by losing with that move, as not having to face him 3-4 times in Seattle would help pad his wins and overall numbers. I'd love to see Bourjos earn a real spot in LF, and by some mircale we ship Wells away, anywhere, then I'd like to keep him around. If not, I'd like to see if we could package something w/ him for Brett Lawrie in Toronto. I think he'd be a dynamic pick up and play great 3b, but thats more of a random move, not really need based.

A: (Geoff Stoddart) -  We need bullpen help.  Badly!  I don't re-sign Santana ... but I think I'd give Haren another shot.

A: (Nick Mancini) -  Biggest needs are pitching! Bullpen needs a lot of  help. Downs will be 37 next year leaving Frieri the only reliable young arm. I really haven’t dissected the FA’s this offseason.  I feel the Angels need to keep at least Santana or Haren. I’m leaning toward Haren and hope his problem was only his back that will heal during the off season. His career numbers are better than Ervin’s and believe he will have a bounce back year.

A: (Adam Dodge) -  1.) Bullpen! 2.) I would absolutely extend Greinke and make that my top priority.

A: (Sean Scanlon) -  BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN. I'd pickup Santana's option, and see if you could  bring Haren back with a smaller deal, maybe one year with an option.  The Halos are probably going to need to look at dealing someone like  Bourjos to get the bullpen help they despearately need. Even if they  don't re-sign Hunter, you can go find a decent outfield bat. To me  the biggest question the Halos have is who is the real Mark Trumbo...a lot of decisions hinge on the answer to that question.

A: (Brian Ilten) -  Sign Grienke, let Santana and Haren go.  Sign Torii.

A: (Robert Cunningham) -  Biggest needs are the starting rotation and bullpen. Renegotiate Dan Haren, sign Zack Greinke, and, if possible, trade for James Shields. Bullpen needs help so maybe Affeldt? The bullpen is the biggest challenge to upgrade in considering there are not very many good options out there. Resign Hunter as well in a 4th OF capacity.

A: (Rick Dykhuizen) - Sign Greinke and let Haren and Santana go. If either Santana or Haren are signed again, they should be in the bullpen.

A:(David Saltzer) -  Re-signing Zack Greinke and Torii Hunter are priorities number 1. We gave up a lot for Greinke, and a rotation of Weaver, Greinke, Wilson is enough to keep us in the hunt for the foreseeable future. With Richards, Maronde, and Schugel getting close, I can see the Angels keeping one of Haren or Santana (but not both). After that, they need to fix that bullpen. They need a conveyor belt from the 7th inning on. Although Frieri did well this year, he was a bit exposed towards the end, and I could see him more in an 8th inning role. That would move Walden, Jepsen and Downs into 7th inning roles. They need to trade for a closer. And, as much as I don’t want to see it happen, and as much as he is one of my favorite players, I can see them having to bite the bullet and trading Bourjos for a young closer.

--
Time to open up the grade book. Here's how our panel of writers graded different categories of Angels Baseball in 2012. 

Offense: (Chuck Richter, B+), (Bruce Nye, A-), (Jonathan Northrop, B), (John Taylor, B+), (Scott Stedman, A), (Scott Fowler, B+), (Geoff Stoddart, B-), (Nick Mancini, A), (Adam Dodge, B+), (Sean Scanlon, C), (Brian Ilten, B+), (Robert Cunningham, A-), (Rick Dykhuizen, B), (David Saltzer, A)

Defense: (Chuck Richter, A-), (Bruce Nye, B+), (Jonathan Northrop, A), (John Taylor, A), (Scott Stedman, B+), (Scott Fowler, B), (Geoff Stoddart, B-), (Nick Mancini, B), (Adam Dodge, A-), (Sean Scanlon, B+), (Brian Ilten, B+), (Robert Cunningham, A), (Rick Dykhuizen, B+), (David Saltzer, B)

Starting Pitching: (Chuck Richter, C-), (Bruce Nye, C+), (Jonathan Northrop, B), (John Taylor, B-), (Scott Stedman, C+), (Scott Fowler, B-), (Geoff Stoddart, C), (Nick Mancini, C), (Adam Dodge, D), (Sean Scanlon, C+), (Brian Ilten, B+), (Robert Cunningham, B-), (Rick Dykhuizen, C), (David Saltzer, B-)

Bullpen: (Chuck Richter, D-), (Bruce Nye, D), (Jonathan Northrop, C), (John Taylor, C-), (Scott Stedman, D), (Scott Fowler, D-), (Geoff Stoddart, C-), (Nick Mancini, D), (Adam Dodge, D), (Sean Scanlon, D-), (Brian Ilten, C), (Robert Cunningham, C), (Rick Dykhuizen, C), (David Saltzer, F)

Coaching Staff: (Chuck Richter, C-), (Bruce Nye, No Grade), (Jonathan Northrop, C), (John Taylor, D), (Scott Stedman, C), (Scott Fowler, C-), (Geoff Stoddart, C), (Nick Mancini, C-), (Adam Dodge, C), (Sean Scanlon, C), (Brian Ilten, D), (Robert Cunningham, B+), (Rick Dykhuizen, B+), (David Saltzer, B)

General Manager: (Chuck Richter, C+), (Bruce Nye, B+), (Jonathan Northrop, B), (John Taylor, A-), (Scott Stedman, A), (Scott Fowler, B+), (Geoff Stoddart, B+), (Nick Mancini, B), (Adam Dodge, B), (Sean Scanlon, TBD), (Brian Ilten, A), (Robert Cunningham, B+), (Rick Dykhuizen, B+), (David Saltzer, A-)

Ballpark Experience: (Chuck Richter, A-), (Bruce Nye, A), (Jonathan Northrop, NA 3,000 Miles Away), (John Taylor, B+), (Scott Stedman, A),  (Scott Fowler, B+), (Geoff Stoddart, A-), (Nick Mancini, B), (Adam Dodge, NA), (Sean Scanlon, B), (Brian Ilten, B), (Robert Cunningham, A), (Rick Dykhuizen, NA), (David Saltzer, A-)

Entertainment Value: (Chuck Richter, B+), (Bruce Nye, B), Jonathan Northrop, A), (John Taylor, B+), (Scott Stedman, B+), (Scott Fowler, B-), (Geoff Stoddart, B+), (Nick Mancini, C+), (Adam Dodge, C+), (Sean Scanlon, B+), (Brian Ilten, A-), (Robert Cunningham, A+), (Rick Dykhuizen, B), (David Saltzer, B+) 

Summary: Most of what our AngelsWin.com writers & contributors have said I concur with. Mike Trout was a joy to watch, Torii Hunter was rock solid in the second half when Mark Trumbo was MIA, which really for me is the 2012 season in a nutshell. This team rarely fired on all cylinders at the same time, and when they did in June-July & September, we all witnessed a championship caliber ballclub that we hoped to see coming out of the gate from Tempe.  

I wish we could get a mulligan in April & on my Birthday, that August 1st game against the Rangers. What a fine day it was up until the latter stages of that contest. The day went from such a high to an extreme low. I went from getting gifts & blowing out candles to wanting to punt my neighbors cat into the next county. That feeling of being kicked in the balls reverberated around the world for all Angels fans watching. It also didn't help the Halos as they didn't quite play to the level we expected until September, costing them not only a shot at the division, but ultimately the playoffs.

Albert Pujols had the numbers, but as I've said over the course of the entire season, that big late inning hit eluded him which resulted in a universal "MEH" reaction from the fans when Pujols name came up. Again, thank God for Mike Trout. He saved the season for the Angels, for the fans & put them in contention till the very end.  He's without a doubt the most valuable player in the American League. Miguel Cabrera is already getting a Triple Crown trophy. Trout performed at a high level on both sides of the ball, especially defensively, so if Cabrera gets the nod, the writers association needs to change the MVP acronym to the MVH (Most Valuable Hitter) award.

I'll echo what my brethren here have said in that we need to re-sign Greinke, Hunter and if Haren will restructure his contract, Danny. Let the headcase that is Ervin Santana go & sign or trade for a couple good bullpen arms. I wouldn't spend any money on additional offense like a David Wright or Josh Hamilton, but if there's a trade that can be made that would net us a power hitting 3B like Pedro Alvarez or Chase Headley, I'd go for it.

In closing, it's disappointing not being able to watch your team play in October for the third straight season. Be that as it may, this team is good so I'm confident that Jerry Dipoto & Arte Moreno will do whatever it takes and get this team to the next level after witnessing two straight years of bullpen woes & misfires. 

So Angels fans, don't fret or be dismayed, as I know it's a long time till spring training. There are two words that will bring you peace, comfort and joy throughout the holiday & off-season. 

MIKE TROUT !!!
Love to hear what you think!

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