Thursday, November 20, 2014

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By Glen McKee, AngelsWin.com Columnist/Satirist - 

There are many things we love here at the AngelsWin.com executive offices.  Beating a dead horse is just one of them; we also enjoy publishing our opinions in a not-so-timely manner.

About two weeks ago a rumor was posted that the Angels were looking to trade either Kendrick or Freese.  AngelsWin founder, Chuck Richter, has recently put the kibosh on the rumor of a Kendrick trade and Freese is virtually untradeable, but that won’t stop me from speculating about whether a Kendrick trade would be worthwhile.  Oh no it won’t!  Let’s go ahead and give a (non-) definitive take on whether the Angels should trade him.

Don’t trade him – it’s really that simple.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already had nine seasons of Howie at 2B.  It seems like just a few years ago he was a hot prospect who was guaranteed to have a few batting titles by the time he has retired.  Dude had hype to spare, and that is part of the problem when considering Kendrick.  You have to step away from the hype to see how valuable he is, even with only a year left on his contract (and that he only has a year left at an affordable price makes him even less tradable).  Forget the hype and just look at his raw stats over those nine years: .293 BA, .347 OBP, .744 OPS.  Compare that to the career stats for the sports media’s favorite rat-boy, Dustin Pedroia: .278, .337, .712.  If you asked just about any writer or casual baseball fan who they’d take between Kendrick and rat-boy, about 115% would take rat-boy despite the inferior stats. 

Howie is like Amy Adams before American Hustle.

Here’s a picture of her in The Muppets and in Talladega Nights:

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Certainly easy on the eyes but nothing that makes you take more than a second glance, especially within the context of movie stars.  

And then she did American Hustle:

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I can’t quite put my finger on what was different for her in that movie (really, I can’t) but it made everybody take notice.  She’s the Howie Kendrick of the Angels.  Easy to take for granted until you see her in the right context, and then you realize what she has to offer.  Hopefully it’s not too late for us with Howie.  
This is especially important when you consider the two possible replacements for Howie.  First is Grant Green.  Grant Green is like Hugh Grant after Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Looking good, lots of potential, and everybody wants to see more from him.  And then this happened:

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If we made Grant Green our starting 2B because we traded Howie, his play would be the equivalent of Hugh Grant getting busted with a hooker while he was shacking up with Elizabeth Hurley.  Grant would be Hugh, and Kendrick on another team would be Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled:

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I won’t cast judgment on Hugh Grant for giving up that to get a little something on the side because we don’t know what was going on with him and Liz, but damn…on the surface that looks like the Hollywood equivalent of trading Napoli for Wells. Now, I’m not comparing Vernon Wells to a prostitute, but yeah – we’ve been down that road and paid the bill, and watched Mike Hurley move on to greater success and a WS championship, while we couldn’t wait to kick Vernon out of our car.  And by the way, thinking of Mike Napoli mixed with Elizabeth Hurley is giving me the oddest feeling that I can’t describe in a family atmosphere. 

The other possible replacement for Howie is Gordon Beckham, and he could be had for arbitration rates which would probably be somewhere over $6 million, which is roughly half of what Howie is making.  In 26 games with the Angels last year he performed above his career averages (thanks, Scioscia and Baylor!) across the board, which means either he likes it here and will continue to perform at that level or that he found a package in the locker room with Brad Fullmer’s name on it and helped himself to the contents.  Well, it’s also possible that playing in Anaheim instead of Chicago would make anybody happier and thus perform better (thanks, Obama!).  Either way, he was certainly decent with us and showed potential to be a good replacement for Howie, and if he tanks we still have Divine Green to pick up the slack.
  
The key word in there is potential and it’s a killer.  Brandon Wood had potential, and so did Mike Trout.  Charles Manson had potential to be a pop star; Dennis Wilson – Dan Haren’s dad as far as looks go – even stole a song from him after Manson was in prison.  That’s how iffy potential is.  Now, I’m not suggesting that Gordon Beckham is Charles Manson, but I’m just saying they both have potential.
  
The bottom line is that we know what we have with Howie, even if it’s only for another year, and we don’t know what we have with Divine Green or Gordon Manson.  We also don’t know what we could get for Howie.  He has one year left so a trade would have to be to a contending team that needs a 2B.  Oakland could use Howie but the only thing worse than watching that dillweed Eric Sogard tear us up would be seeing Howie in an Oakland uniform going deep on Matt Shoemaker, and you know that would happen.  What other contending team needs a 2B and has a pitcher to spare for a trade? After last year’s Trumbo trade I have confidence in Jerry Dipoto, but I doubt there is much out there for one year of a very good 2B.  The potential isn’t worth it. 

Keep Howie and see how Grant Green develops, and give the job to him next year. 

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary at AngelsWin.com we've focused our attention on our writers, mods, contributors & website members. Today we put the spotlight on Dochalo, one of our longest tenured members, writer and a great contributor to forum discussions. Doc is as witty as they come and a fan favorite among all members at AngelsWin.com. As our resident doctor, Jason has provided insight into player injuries and even aided some of our members when ailing with an injury. 

Let's get to know Dochalo a bit more in today's Member Appreciation Interview.

AngelsWin.com: When and how did you first come to AngelsWin.com?

dochalo:  I was an ESPN lurker till 2002 and then joined the board right when it went to hell. Thanks God you created this place or I'd have spent countless hours over the past ten years doing something constructive. I have been here since the start and have a general sense of entitlement as a result

AngelsWin.com:  What keeps you coming back to the site?

dochalo: In the immortal words of Elwood - 'This mall has everything'. Excellent info on my favorite sports related topic.  Inside scoops, great articles, but mostly the forum banter.  The day to day interaction can't be beat.  

AngelsWin.com:  What have been some of your favorite articles and threads?

dochalo: Adam's Foe Fodder articles about the A's. The Munkee thread with the pic of the vomiting chimp. The Vernon Wells trade thread. All of the saber related articles and countless stuff in the hangout.  

AngelsWin.com:  What in-person events have you attended from AngelsWin.com (Spring/Summer Fanfests, Charity Golf, Charity Softball)?

dochalo: Early on I had a little more time to attend the softball games but kids and work have made our schedule pretty hectic these days.  I am hoping that with my new job and weekends free I can start to come around more.

AngelsWin.com:  Why is AngelsWin.com your internet home for the Angels?

dochalo: The people first and foremost.  It's fun to discuss such a broad range of topics with people from all walks of life with such differing experiences and opinions.  Yet the common denominator being the halos.  

AngelsWin.com:  In your opinion, what is AngelsWin.com’s best feature: the articles, charitable events, game-day chat, message boards, Fanfests, podcasts, etc?

dochalo: To me, it's the message board followed closely by some of the articles/features.  So many creative and funny people.  So many perspectives.  
  

Lighter Side


AngelsWin.com:  Where do you live and what do you do?

dochalo: I don't just play a Doctor on tv.  I am a radiologist and love my job very much.  The healthcare world is changing like crazy right now in so many interesting ways.  Not all good.  Not all bad.  I feel very fortunate to be in a position to do what I want as a physician yet have time to be with my family.  

I live in pasadena.  I really like the San Gabriel Valley and I love living in California after being in the midwest for 9 years.  Chicago is a great city but very cold.  Milwaukee is just very cold.  

AngelsWin.com: Why are you an Angels fan?

dochalo: I didn't have a choice.  It's in my DNA.  Dad has been a fan since before I was born.  Played a ton of ball growing up so I am just a huge baseball fan in general.  I was a bit of a closet fan for many years.  My friends would make fun of me as they are all Dodger fans.  I quit being a fan for the 1987 season.  I was at the stadium for THE 1986 playoff game.  I was 14 at the time and actually cried.  It didn't take long for me to restore my fandom.  

AngelsWin.com:  What was your first Angels game that you remember? Who’d you go with?

dochalo: Not my first game, but one that really sticks out is one of the Milwaukee Brewers playoff games.  I went with my Dad and we sat in dead center above the tunnel back before they redid the stadium.  I couldn't see shit even with binoculars.  Grew up in Arcadia and we used to just hop down the 57 to the game in 35mins.  Now it's just a slog to get down there on a weekday.  No offense to anyone, but I am hoping they move the team closer.  :)

AngelsWin.com:  Who have been your favorite players? Why? Any great stories or interactions with them?

dochalo: Home grown players mostly although I loved Vladdy.  It's amazing to have a generational player in Trout on the team right now.  Otherwise, Salmon, Edmonds, GA, Chili Davis, Joyner, JT Snow.  I'm left handed so I tend to like those guys most.  

I been able to hang out with Scioscia a few times.  We play golf with him and a few other guys a couple times.  He was in the foursome behind us and was walking up to the tee when I was teeing off. I hit a hole in one!!  I've seen him a couple times since and he says - 'hey, the doctor who hit the whole in one'.  I thought that might be a cool nickname but my wife refused to call me that.  

AngelsWin.com:  How do you survive the offseason?

dochalo: I enjoy the offseason from about mid November thru January.  Waiting for the season to start those last couple of months is brutal.  Right now is the worst time until the hot stove gets going.  College and NFL football otherwise.  Been getting into hockey a little. 

AngelsWin.com: What’s one thing you’d like everyone in AngelsWin.com to know about you?

dochalo: I am a big soccer fan, but I don't like cats or arnold palmers, and I hate scones.  What a waste.  Shit load of calories and butter but they are still dry.  It defies physics. I am also one of those annoying foodie people, but I've been one prior to it being pseudo cool.  I generally cook for the family most nights. My wife is super hot and super sweet.  I totally out kicked my coverage on that one so I locked her up quick.  My kids are smarter, nicer, and better looking than anyone else's kids.......just like everyone else's kids.

By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

To begin any conversation about the 2015 season, and the preparation for it, we need to generally understand some of the team’s goals, restrictions, and long term needs.

The obvious and overarching goal is to put a winning-caliber team on the field of play to bring home a World Series Championship. Anything less will be on a sliding scale of disappointment for owner Arte Moreno, the front office, coaching staff, players, and the fan base.

Beyond that keeping the team budget below the luxury tax threshold is a goal that Arte Moreno himself voiced as a requirement in 2014. It would seem logical that Jerry is under the same restriction for next season.

The luxury tax threshold for 2015 (and 2016 as well) is $189MM per the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Baseball Prospectus.

If Jerry Dipoto is truly restricted by the threshold, above, then it is likely the Angels won’t start the season with a payroll higher than about $160MM-$175MM.

This is, in part, because Dipoto will likely want to keep some margin available, as the trade deadline approaches, if the Angels need to reinforce or upgrade the roster for a possible playoff run. Also he will need a small buffer of payroll space for injury replacements during the season (40-man call up’s).

Another reason payroll might be an important factor is whether or not the front office wants to sign some of their young or veteran players to long-term extensions.

Several players including Garrett Richards, Grant Green, Kole Calhoun, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Chris Iannetta, Howie Kendrick, and possibly Kevin Jepsen (never thought those words would be seen on e-paper!) seem like potential candidates.

As it currently stands, if the Angels bring back all of their contracted and controllable players and you add in benefits, payroll will be approximately $183MM based on Average Annual Value (AAV) as seen below:

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Major League minimum salaries increased approximately 5.75% from year to year on average over the last 8 years. The $528,750 reflects that average raise although it may be lower or higher from that estimate once a cost of living increase is factored in and it is officially announced. This increase will be fairly negligible to the total payroll discussion.

Also per the CBA, Benefits cannot exceed more than 10% of the preceding year’s base number from year to year. The above number of $11,880,000 represents the maximum dollar amount for 2015. It may be slightly lower but for the purposes of this discussion the difference is negligible.

Per the CBA, players who are not on the active 25-man roster will receive their Minor League salaries unless their Uniform Player Contract indicates otherwise.

If they are called up to the 25-man roster they will receive a pro-rated share of the Major League minimum based on the number of days the Major League assignment is, as compared to the total days of the season. Players who go on the Disabled List still receive their Major League salaries.

As an example last year, when Tyler Skaggs was placed on the Disabled List, Michael Roth was called up from the Minors (best guess making approximately $30,000) to take his roster spot. Roth spent approximately 33 days on the Major League roster through the playoffs. This is about 1/6th of the approximate 180 day season resulting in an additional $78,333 ($500,000 x 1/6 - $30,000 x 1/6 = $78,333).

If, over the course of a season, you call up and send down 20 players like this you would incur an additional $1.56MM to total team payroll. This has to be planned and accounted for, now, when determining what payroll will look like for next season.

Jerry Dipoto and staff will likely offset their payroll goals by $2MM to account for this needed margin buffer. Thanks to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register for the reminder about the 40-man salaries.

For the ‘Non-25 Man Salaries’, the 15 players who are on the 40-man but not on the active roster must have their potential MLB minimum salaries (assumed) removed from the Grand Total calculation. So $528,750 x 15 = $7,931,250 is the total of those salaries and is subtracted out of the ‘Grand Total’ number.

However the same 15 players will receive their Minor League salaries which do count towards team payroll. This number is approximated at $1.2MM total which must be added back into the ‘Grand Total’ calculation.

So ($7,931,250) + 1,200,000 = ($6,731,250) which helps us derive our ‘Grand Total’ calculation.

The $183,015,417 represents the projected team payroll as a snapshot moment in time. Clearly there are arbitration agreements, non-tenders, trades, and free agency signings that will change this number before the season begins.

The number includes benefits, player buyouts (Burnett and Blanton), and the removal of MLB salaries for those players not on the active roster plus those same players estimated Minor League salaries that do count as mentioned above.

What this does do is allow us to better approximate where the Angels stand as far as their payroll obligations. As mentioned above Jerry will likely want some breathing room so shaving at least $11MM (this includes the $2MM injury buffer above) off of the estimated $183MM payroll number would likely be required, possibly more.

This would create the necessary margin needed to operate in-season: $189MM (Luxury Tax Threshold) - $15MM (In-season trade margin) - $2MM (Injury buffer for 40-man call up’s) = $172MM minimum payroll target goal.

Additionally Arte Moreno is trying to figure out the Big-A situation which may have an end result of a large capital layout for a new stadium in the near future. That potential expenditure could also possibly be contributing to a decision to limit or cap spending on team payroll.

The caveat to all of this payroll discussion is that Arte has never been afraid to shell out money to make the team better, so this known/perceived budget issue may be more of a guideline than a hard rule. The Angels carry no debt and own a large share of Fox Sports West which brings in quite a bit of revenue for the team.

In terms of possible roster composition needs, it appears that the Angels, by external examination and through Jerry Dipoto’s own recent statement, would like to upgrade their rotation, bench depth, left-handed relief, and possibly find less expensive, long term options at second and third base. Some of these needs, in the rotation and bullpen, have already been addressed.

Finally Jerry Dipoto and the front office staff will reconcile their current needs and restrictions with their longer term plan (the 5-year plan). This 5-year plan focuses more on the nucleus of the active and extended rosters and where the team sees payroll, the farm hands, stadium operations, data analysis, and even coaching and front office personnel over a broader time horizon.

Clearly though, when you have the best player in the game on your team for the next six years, the goal should be to build around him and make a push for the playoffs as the team did this year and will certainly try to do next year.

2015 40-Man Player Roster Composition

The two easiest things to do when making an educated guess about next year’s roster is to identify the players whose contracts are expiring, or are not likely to return, as well as the players who are most likely to stay.

Based on expiring contracts the following players probably won’t be on next year’s roster:

John Buck
Sean Burnett
John McDonald
Joe Thatcher
Jason Grilli

That’s a lot less B’s and J’s!

On the flip side the following players, mostly due to long-term contracts or team control, will likely be here next year:

Mike Trout
Albert Pujols
Erick Aybar
Kole Calhoun
Grant Green
Collin Cowgill
CJ Cron
Jered Weaver
Garrett Richards
Matt Shoemaker
Cory Rasmus
Huston Street
Joe Smith
Tyler Skaggs
Nick Tropeano
Cesar Ramos
Drew Rucinski
Jose Alvarez
Carlos Perez
Jackson Williams

The above group is certainly a good core of players to build upon. Hank Conger was originally on the first draft of this list but as you can see no one is really safe unless their name is Mike Trout (and we can revisit this statement in 5 years)!

Another thing we can do is take a guess at potential non-tender candidates. In examining the above 40-man roster the following stand out as possibilities:

David Freese
Gordon Beckham
Kevin Jepsen
Wade LeBlanc

Looking at that list it is likely that Freese and Jepsen would be traded before being possibly non-tendered. They both have some trade value although either one is not likely to bring back much on their own.

Beckham would be an easy way for Dipoto to rid himself of $5MM off of total payroll. There is a possibility that the Angels might re-sign him on a one-year contract as a backup infielder but that seems unlikely with Grant Green in the fold as a potential super utility option.

If Gordon is taken off the books team payroll would sit at about $178MM give or take. Trading or removing Freese would reduce this number to approximately $172MM which would meet the minimum target payroll to start the season.

Some beat writers have suggested that Wade LeBlanc might be non-tendered as well. For reasons that will be discussed when we get to the starting rotation options it really seems like LeBlanc is a value play at a mere $800,000 if the Angels feel he can replicate his 2014 performance.

This is why Dipoto has stated that the 2015 team will look very similar to the 2014 team. There are simply too many contracted and league minimum players with very little in between (i.e. difficult arbitration and non-tender decisions).

In Parts II & III we will discuss the Starting Position Players.

Special thanks to AngelsWin.com members: Dochalo & Inside Pitch for their assistance in this major feature series.

Monday, November 17, 2014


As we celebrate our 10th anniversary at AngelsWin.com we've focused our attention on our writers, mods, contributors & website members. Today we put the spotlight on Nick Mancini, one of our forum moderators, member on our advisory team and event contributor. Nick, or Mancini" as we call him, is such an amazing helper and overall great teammate at AngelsWin.com. Nick has even transcribed some of our long audio and video interviews into text for us over the years -- a tedious task for anyone. As a moderator, which is never an easy job, Nick has received high marks from our members and is on top of eliminating posts that violate our code of conduct, while jumping on spammers/trolls quickly. 

Let's get to know Mancini a bit more in today's Member Appreciation Interview.

AngelsWin.com: When and how did you first come to AngelsWin.com?

Nick Mancini: I was a lurker on the MLB board. They made a format change that a lot of people didn't like. So someone posted a thread linking Angeswin. I clicked on the link, and never went back.  
AngelsWin.com:  What keeps you coming back to the site?

Nick Mancini: Ummm, because I'm a Mod! J/K. There are many reasons why I come back every day; to talk baseball, get the latest news, or just laugh.

AngelsWin.com:  What have been some of your favorite articles and threads?

Nick Mancini: There have been many great articles and the one that recently stands out is Dave Saltzer's memoriam to Jim Fergosi. As for threads, I wouldn't call this as my favorite but most memorable. The thread about Adenhart's sudden passing. It was a total shock and that thread allowed an avenue for the Awin community to remember, grieve, and celebrate Nick's life. That thread alone helped me cope with his passing. 

AngelsWin.com:  What in-person events have you attended from AngelsWin.com (Spring/Summer Fanfests, Charity Golf, Charity Softball)?

Nick Mancini: Countless events! Been going to Fanfests for 4 years now. Also helped organize the Cubs trip, A's doubleheader in Oak and the Suite at Petco. I think next year I will bring back another group trip. 

AngelsWin.com:  Why is AngelsWin.com your internet home for the Angels?

Nick Mancini: It's a one stop place to get everything Angels. The news is lightning fast along with exclusive content. I have made many friends on the site and enjoy hanging out with them on the board. The sarcasm and banter is contagious.

AngelsWin.com:  In your opinion, what is AngelsWin.com’s best feature: the articles, charitable events, game-day chat, message boards, Fanfests, podcasts, etc?

Nick Mancini: Fanfests! I've seen it grow from small group at a sports bar to now filling up a banquet hall. Being able to interact with players and angels FO is an invaluable experience. I look forward Spring Fanfest every year and have now made it a family trip.   I also enjoy the game day chat!


Lighter Side


AngelsWin.com:  Where do you live and what do you do?

Nick Mancini: I live in Huntington Beach. I work for The Office Express which is an online restaurant marketing company. I manage the day to day operations with our restaurant partners and corporate clients.

AngelsWin.com: Why are you an Angels fan?

Nick Mancini: I grew up in Central California (Visalia) and the only media coverage at the time were the Dodgers and Giants. I never found an identity with either team and was a fan of baseball, not so much a team. I went to UC Irvine for college and when I wanted to watch baseball, I would go to the Big A. It was by far the closest. But during the 2002 season I began to find a passion for the Angels. It was an exciting regular season and the postseason was surreal. Sitting in RF when the Angels clinched the World Series was an amazing experience. You can say I jumped on the bandwagon in 2002, but have never jumped off. I firmly have my seat on this bus. 

AngelsWin.com:  What was your first Angels game that you remember? Who’d you go with?

Nick Mancini: When I was very young we took a family trip to Disneyland. One of those days we attended an Angels game. But I couldn't tell you what year it was, the outcome of the game, or even who they played. I just wanted to watch a baseball game in a major league stadium. All Visalia had were the Visalia Oaks (Single A).

AngelsWin.com:  Who have been your favorite players? Why? Any great stories or interactions with them?

Nick Mancini: Vlad!!! Guy is arguably the best pure hitter of his time. He didn't need to talk a game and just let his bat silence his critics. During the photo day at the Big A, my wife got a great picture with Vlad. 

Torii Hunter would be my 2nd fav. I enjoyed hanging out with Claude in RF holding up the ToriiTown signs. It was easy to root for a guy like Hunter.

AngelsWin.com:  How do you survive the offseason?

Nick Mancini: Offseason? That no longer exists now with Angelswin and media sources. There is ALWAYS something to talk about now. There is the Baseball season and now the Hot Stove season.  
AngelsWin.com: What’s one thing you’d like everyone in AngelsWin.com to know about you?

Nick Mancini: I have to thank Chuck for creating this website. I have made lifelong friends, obtained my job, and have countless baseball memories all thanks to the AWin community. I know people come to Angelswin because of their passion to talk Angels Baseball, but it can be soooo much more. Come out to the events and get to know the people you interact with on the board. 

Friday, November 14, 2014




Just a few days ago, AngelsWin.com lost one of its most iconic members. Michael Sword, who went by the screen name PercySquint passed away from cancer. Join us as we honor Mike at 7:00pm on November 22nd in Mission Viejo.

We'll share stories and memories together over drinks, snacks and poker - one of Mike's great pleasures.

Please bring some snacks to share and your own drinks. The buy-in for the poker game will be $40.00 with optional re-buys.

RSVP on AngelsWin.com here. Address and Directions will be provided via email. 

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