Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Image result for jahmai jones Angels

To say that the production that the Angels have received out of left field this season has been a disappointment is a bit of an understatement. It's been a disappointment to fans for many years now.

But, all that may be on the cusp of changing. One of the top Angels prospects is Jahmai Jones (pronounced Jahm-eye Jones). Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft, Jahmai is a talented and athletic outfielder who may become the future for left field for the Angels. At just 19 years old, he ranked in the Top-10 batting statistics for the Pioneer League. And, he’s still in the Top-10 of most of those stats even though he was promoted to Burlington over a week ago!

Hitting at the top of the order, Jones has a solid build with plus speed (19 SBs). His power is still developing, but is very projectable—he has a solid frame that should generate 15+ HRs in a full season. He’s patient at the plate and has good strike zone judgment (23 BB: 33 Ks in 53 games). He hits well (.308/.390/.435) which is all the more impressive considering his age relative to the league. As a leadoff hitter, he puts the ball in play on the ground, generating a 1.54 GO/AO ratio.

What impressed me most about Jahmai is his overall maturity and mental makeup. He’s advanced compared to his peers. From all the coaches and management people with whom I spoke, he received plenty of praise for his work ethic and demeanor. Even rival coaches mentioned how impressed they were with him, which is one of the many reasons why he was named a Pioneer League All-Star.

All GMs in the game have a projection chart for their clubs detailing who is likely to play every position in the future for their club. There’s no doubt that sitting at the top of that projection chart for the Angels in left field is one name: Jahmai Jones. When Angels fans think about what moves the team should make this offseason, they should keep this in mind as they think about left field. Within 2-3 years, the club should have its own internal solution to the position.

Please click here to listen to our interview with Jahmai Jones.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Dave Saltzer, Senior Writer - 

With the struggles with the Major League club this season, it’s not surprising to see fans turn their attention to the Minor Leagues to see what hope there is for the future of the organization. While most fans know that the Angels have one of the worst—if not the absolute worst—farm system in baseball, what most fans don’t know is that the last two drafts have brought in some extremely talented and exciting players. There is hope in the system, and it’s at the lower levels right now.

Once drafted, most Angels players start off in short-season, with the most likely landing spot being the Orem Owlz (considered the higher of the two short-season teams for the Angels). Managing that club is Dave Stapleton, whose job it is to get these players started on their journey into professional sports.

Recently, interviewed Dave Stapleton to get his take on the team, and particularly several of the higher profile players that played for him and have since been promoted due to their talent. These are names that Angels fans should know, such as Matt Thaiss, Connor Justus, and Jordan Zimmerman, but also include some surprising names such as Jose Rojas. We also got his take on the Owlz  season so far. The Owlz won the first half of the short-season, and by doing so, secured a spot in the playoffs (Minor League playoffs have the first half winner face the second half winner).

While this season has been difficult for the parent club, Angels fans should know that there is hope for the future. There are some athletic and capable players who are moving through the system. In fact, most have already earned promotions to higher levels this season, and are accelerating their development. Angels fans should tune into the remaining Orem Owlz games, especially during the playoffs, so that they can get to know these guys before they arrive in Anaheim.

Please click here for our interview with Orem Owlz Manager Dave Stapleton.

Monday, August 22, 2016

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By Glen McKee, In an Unhealthy Relationship with the Angels - 

There’s not much left to look forward to this season for Angels’ fans.  We’re playing out the string while we wait for the team to pass its elimination number.  I don’t know what that number is right now but it won’t be long before the official countdown begins.  All we have to get even a bit excited about is the roster expansion in September and seeing some of our minor league “talent” getting a shot.  We know that won’t happen until the Angels are officially eliminated, so the sooner that happens, the better.  Speaking of September, Jennie Finch was born on September 2 so she’s our headline picture.  You know who else was born in September?  The greatest frontman ever, Freddie Mercury.  He came in a close second to Jennie for the headline pic, I’m sure he would be proud.

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Now, on with the misery!

The bad.  By recent standards the Angels had a good week.  By normal standards, they still sucked.  As usual, there is plenty of bad to choose from so let me sift through the rubble and see what stands out.

- Mike Trout.  August is really a horrible month.  Aside from both I and Mike Trout being born on August 7, there is nothing to recommend for it.  The weather stinks and Mike Trout usually goes into a slump.  He got a bit better this week though, because we’re getting closer to September.  .263 with one HR and seven RBI, and 8 SO.  He’s swinging and missing more than I did with the ladies in high school, or even most of my life.  He’s sitting on 23 HR and at his current pace he won’t break 30 this year.  At least we won’t hear about how he was robbed of the MVP award.

- Jered Weaver.  How his ERA isn’t in the sevens, I don’t know.  Only one start this week, 4.2 IP, 5 ER.  Somewhere on a linked article on I read something about the possibility of re-signing him.  Please god, no.  I appreciate what he’s done for us but he has nothing left.  Thank you for everything, Jered.  You were so good for so long.  Please don’t come back.

- Kole Calhoun. He hasn’t been on the bad list for a while but that’s just been neglect on my part.  It’s hard to fit everyone in here.  .217 last week, no RBI, but he had more BB (6) than hits (5).  That must mean something.  Did you know that Kole Calhoun is a redhead?  It’s true!  Speaking of redheads, here’s a picture of Christina Hendricks, probably at the Golden Globes awards:

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- Mike (Get a brain!) Moran.  All it takes is one bad appearance for a reliever to show up on this list and Mike had one.  For the week, a 6.00 ERA despite two scoreless appearances.  He’s our next Kevin Jepsen.  We’re gonna hold on to him for a few more year and then as soon as he has a good year we’ll trade him away and watch him have two more in a row.  Sell early!

The bad and the good.  Sometimes, actually often, players have a week with both the good and the bad.  It’s similar to the McDLT – you have a hot side and a cool side, and they get mashed together to form a mediocre sandwich that few will remember.  For the rest of the year I’ll call this section The McDLT, and this week’s McDLT is…

- Jhoulys Chacin.  He had one bad start (4.2 IP, 4 ER versus Seattle) and then one good (although not quality) start (5.2 IP, 0 ER against the Yankees).  I’ll take that from Jhoulys any week.  Wait, did I say Jhoulys?  I meant Jewel!

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The good.  There was some good this week, I’m happy to report.  Before I get to that I’d like to address the idea of the Angels tanking (with apologies to Tank) to get a higher draft pick.  It’s a stupid idea, really.  Playing for a protected pick, absolutely, that’s something to shoot for.  Playing for the #1 pick is just dumb.  This isn’t football, where we could draft a quarterback like Ryan Leaf to immediately turn our franchise around.  It takes time for our prospects to work our way through the minors – more time than the prospects of almost every other team, apparently – and then get to the majors and underperform.  With that in mind, here’s the good.

- The record.  3-4 is good for a team that’s over 20 games below .500.  We’re still in contention for a protected draft pick, so if it stays that way we’ll be cool after we sign a mediocre starting pitcher for way too much money.

- Brett Oberholtzer.  I finally learned how to spell “Jhoulys Chacin” without checking and now I have to learn this guy?  Jeez.  Anyway, he had a good week and we have to celebrate when our pitchers don’t suck.  4.1 IP, 0 ER.  Maybe we have something here.

- Deolis Guerra.  Another good reliever (and wait for it, there’s one more to go) for the week.  3.1 IP, 0 ER.  Nice!

- Fernando Salas. I can’t believe I have him on the good list.  This guy is so unpredictable.  Evidently, he was the de facto closer last week and he racked up two saves.  Sure, he did it with a 4.50 ERA so perhaps he’s more of a McDLT than a good, but two saves is two saves.  

- Albert Pujols.  He evidently had another career milestone, whoop de doo.  He also managed to hit .296 with 2 HR (we’re relegated to celebrating 2 HR a week from our power hitters) and 7 RBI.  For this moribund offense, that’s worth celebrating.  Hey, did you know that Albert Pujols was born in the Dominican Republic?  That means that he’s at least five years older than whatever it says on his birth certificate.  That also means he was born in the same country as Hony (no, I didn’t forget an “r”) Estrella.  I don’t know what she’s semi-famous for, but here’s a pic of her:

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The rest.  It’s been a long season but it’s almost over, there’s just over a month left.  Thank god.  Then I can focus on how bad the Chargers are going to be this year and consider taking up a hobby to keep me from watching their games.  Arte Scioscia spoke up last week and predictably, people responded.  His comments were very Scioscia-esque.  They could be the same person, who knows.

The week ahead.  Monday off, followed by three in Toronto and three in Detroit.  Toronto is atop the AL East for the moment, and Detroit is somewhat resurgent, being 2.5 games out the second wild card spot.  Looks like another tough week ahead, and it looks like I picked a great week to start sniffing glue.

Predictions.  Last week I predicted 1-3 versus the Mariners and 1-2 versus the Yankees.  I was half-correct, in a way.  2-2 versus the Mariners and 1-2 versus the Yankees, making my reset count 2-5 versus an actual 3-4.  Sucks to be me!  For this week, wow.  I assume the Angels suck in Toronto because they probably do so I’ll go the safe route and pick 1-2, eh.  Detroit is where I think the Angels will surprise, just to eff with us.  2-1 in Detroit.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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By Glen McKee, Chronicler of Misery - 

Life is all about moments.  Life is incredibly long if you’re lucky, but it all comes down to moments. I had a moment yesterday.  On Saturday I started writing this LWIB in my head (second drafts are for professionals, much life coffee is for closers) and at the time the Angels had lost eight in a row.  My ideas were all based on the Angels continuing that losing streak to 10 games.  I was busy on Sunday but when I finally got to check the score, I had my first moment.  It was 4-1 Angels, and for once I was upset about the Angels winning.  I’d have to start all over and use my imagination again.  Shit!  I went about my business and checked the score later, and had my second moment.  The score was now 4-3 Angels.  I closed my MLB app with confidence, knowing at that moment that we’d hit the ignoble 10 mark.  And here we are.  I picked Bo Derek to be the headline photo because she’s also an imperfect 10.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s hot and all of that, but she’s a white woman with cornrows.That’s just ridiculous.  There’s only one white woman I know who might be able to pull of that look:

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But I digress.  On to the misery!

The Bad.  You know this is gonna be the longest part.  We just lost 10 in a row, proving that 10 isn’t always a good number.  I remember when I was a wee lad and one of my favorite bands back then, Y & T, released an album named “10.”  It was bad, but at least the cover had something going on:

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I think there’s a spider on her ceiling and she’s trying to find it.  A little over a year later Pearl Jam released this album, and most people (not me!) forgot about hair metal:

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Some would call that a perfect 10, and if that’s your thing then good on ya, mate.  OK, on to the bad. We’ve already covered the record so let’s look at the performances.

- The Starting Pitching.  God-awful is the phrase that comes to mind.  Here are the stats for the week for each of our starters.  Jered Weaver: 10.1 IP, 7.84 ERA.  Tim Lincecum got sent down to the minors after his last start.  Tyler Skaggs: 5.0 IP, 12.60 ERA.  Jhoulys Chacin: 1.1 IP, 47.25 ERA (he starts again tomorrow, by the way).  Did somebody say Jewel?

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- Mike Trout.  To be fair, I could pick just about anybody on the offense and throw them in here, but August is always cruel to Trout.  Last week: .188 average, 1 HR.  

- Albert Pujols.  As bad as Trout was, Pujols was worse.  .105, 0 HR, 3 RBI.

- The bullpen. Actually, upon further research the entire bullpen hasn’t been bad (especially considering who we have and how much they have to pitch) but there have been a few stinkers.  The first that comes to mind is JC Ramirez: 4.0 IP, 9.00 ERA.  I hope that next year we don’t have any pitchers on our staff who go by their first two initials.  It hasn’t worked out for us this year.

- The Tyler Skaggs/Geovany Soto combo.  The Indians stole seven bases off of them, and then added an extra SB against Guerra/Soto.  That’s embarrassing.  

The good.  Finding the good in the midst of a 10-game winning streak is a bit like looking for (thanks, tdawg) a clean peanut.  There was some good, though.  Let’s focus on that for a bit.

- Ricky Nolasco.  He only started once last week but he pitched six innings and only gave up two earned runs.  That’s what MLB likes to call a quality start, and without looking I’m guessing it’s the only one the Angels have had during this streak.  At this point, I’ll take it and hope he builds on it tonight.

- Nick Buss.  I’m so desperate for good performances from the offense that I’ll go with a guy who only had six AB but got two hits, for a .333 average.  I’m getting on board the Buss (no homo!) and there’s plenty of room if you want to join me.

- Jose Alvarez.  I’m so desperate for good performances from the bullpen that I’ll go with a guy who only made two appearances but pitched 2.2 innings with no earned runs.  

- Mike (get a brain!) Morin.  3.1 IP, 0 ER.  Maybe he’s finally become the reliever we hoped he’d be.  

- Rosario Dawson.  Honestly, I have no idea how her week went.  For all I know she could have got turned down for a movie or TV show she really wanted, or her car had a flat tire, or some of her investments soured.  Who knows?  But I’m out of good performances for the Angels and this gives me an excuse to post a picture of her.

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The rest.  Let’s see, we’re past the trade deadline so nothing is gonna happen on that front.  If you’re interested, in the last week Hector Santiago has pitched 9.1 innings to an ERA of 10.61.  EpPler wins again!  Mike Scioscia is still manager and will be until my daughter is in high school.

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The week ahead.  Four at home against the Mariners and three at home against the Yankees.  It’s EpPler versus DiPoto, and then the Angels against the team that they used to dominate but that was about six years ago or something.  I’m gonna boldly predict that the losing streak will end during this week.  It’s a bold prediction, Cotton.  We’ll see how it works out.  Speaking of predictions…

Predictions.  Since I took a few weeks off I’m going to reset my count to 0-0 and just count the rest of the season.  Seattle has vague playoff hopes (I said vague) (2.5 games out of the second WC spot) so they have something to play for.  The Yankees aren’t much further behind but have already thrown in the towel on the season.  1-3 versus the Mariners and 1-2 versus the Yanks.  Post your pics below, and if you get them correct, near correct, or even completely wrong, give yourself a treat of some sort at the end of the week.  You deserve it for sticking with this team.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

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By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer - 

Now that we have examined most of the Angels major 2016 trade candidates I’d like to share some final thoughts on the trade deadline, actual outcomes, and what Angels fans should look forward to next year.

To be clear the author started writing these articles over two months ago when the Angels were about 9 games out of a playoff spot in mid to late May.

Since then two things have happened to give the author some increased amount of hope for the 2017 season despite the potential loss of Richards and the actual loss of Heaney and Tropeano next year.

The first is the reemergence and improvement of the 2014 version of Matt Shoemaker. Over his last 13 games, since his very brief Minor League demotion, Shoe has pitched like an elite MLB starter with a 2.85 ERA, 23.8% K%-BB%, and a 1.11 WHIP!

If Matt’s reinvigoration is sustainable, and the author for one believes it is, he now becomes a very valuable top of the rotation option for the 2017-2020 seasons which also happen to be Mike Trout’s remaining contractual years of control. More importantly for 2017 Shoemaker becomes the clear candidate, in light of the Richards and Heaney injuries, to lead the Angels rotation as the staff ace.

Any decision to keep or trade Shoemaker before the deadline will be based solely on whether or not Billy Eppler and the coaching staff believe in Matt’s turnaround and all current signs point to the fact that they do.

The reason this is so important is that it really impacts Eppler’s strategic decisions in a retooling scenario. By having a starter like Matt step up on such a large scale it now creates an environment for the team to potentially compete more effectively in 2017 rather than waiting for Richards, Heaney, and Tropeano to return to the rotation in 2018.

However Shoemaker is just one man on a team and cannot be the sole savior of our future. It requires more than just Matt to step up and create a winning environment.

That brings us to the second thing: Tyler Skaggs.

Typically after Tommy John surgery a player’s effectiveness doesn’t immediately and completely return in their first full year of pitching after the procedure. This is something that every Angels fan should keep in mind regarding Heaney and Tropeano and potentially Richards if he ends up going under the knife when the calendar turns to 2018.

There are, of course, occasional exceptions to the rule and Tyler is beginning to look, based on his Minor League rehabilitation starts, like the young starter we all hoped he could become.

In his first eight Minor League starts this year Skaggs dominated the competition to the tune of a murderous 1.87 ERA, 27.5% K%-BB% (!), and a 0.89 WHIP. Of course this isn’t Major League competition but you have to believe he would be very effective in the big league rotation.

So if Shoemaker is our number one starter the author sees no reason why Skaggs couldn’t be a fantastic number two? Heck if Tyler brings those types of numbers up with him we could potentially have two aces heading into next year!

The point is that the team may not appear quite as crippled as it did two months ago (and let us be honest it really did look bad). Billy Eppler could enter next season, assuming he doesn’t trade Hector, with a 1-2-3 top-of-the-rotation consisting of Shoemaker, Skaggs, and Santiago.

Rotation spots four and five could be filled via free agency, trade, or even internally.

Personally the author would expect the Angels to sign a free agent on a short term, one year contract with perhaps an option since or trade for a starter with short term control as it would be expected that Richards, Tropeano, and Heaney can and will return in 2018. If these back-end starters can provide league-average production our rotation could be quite competitive.

So if Billy Eppler decides that they will give 2017 a shot with Shoemaker, Skaggs, Santiago, Trout, Pujols, and company the retooling scenario shifts back a year and we could see only one or more of the following rental players traded at the deadline:

Joe Smith
Tim Lincecum
Jhoulys Chacin
Fernando Salas
Geovany Soto
Jered Weaver (doubtful but not improbable)

The Angels could then enter 2017 with the 2016 squad basically intact and about $40MM in open payroll to make additions to improve the team. This is the rosy, positive version of the 2017 Angels.

By retaining Escobar, Santiago, and Street the Angels can play out the first half of 2017 and see if the team can make a sustained run at the Division and if they are out of the race by mid-July of 2017 they can then sell Yunel, Hector, and even Street at that point in time.

On the flip side the Angels can still compete next year, even if they do decide to move pieces like Escobar, Santiago, and Street, if and only if they bring back near-ready MLB prospects. This is a distinct possibility in the current trade environment.

Examples in the Trade Candidate series included hypothetical trades such as Yunel Escobar for Giants AA 2B prospect Christian Arroyo and Hector Santiago for Royals AA RHP prospect Alec Mills. These young players could be potential contributors to a successful 2017 season and beyond.

No matter what path Eppler takes, whether it is retaining key players, a full fire sale, or a partial sell-off, the Angels won’t be out of contention for long in the author’s humble opinion if this quick retooling is executed in a logical manner with full ownership payroll commitment and support.

In order to shed light on the possibilities that exist for the Angels to compete in 2017 let me present an example of a series of hypothetical trades, signings, and roster moves for a possible retool scenario for next season.

Let us assume that the Angels make the following 2016 trade deadline moves:

1) Trade 3B Yunel Escobar to the Giants in exchange for AA INF Christian Arroyo
2) Trade RHR Joe Smith to the Mets in exchange for AAA LHR Josh Smoker
3) Trade C Geovany Soto to the Orioles in exchange for AAA RHR Oliver Drake
4) Trade RHR Fernando Salas to the Royals in exchange for cash considerations

Then, in the 2016-2017 offseason, the Angels make the following hypothetical free agent signings and trades:

1) Sign C Wilson Ramos to a 5 year/$75MM deal with an option year for $15MM (Average Annual Value of $15MM)

2) Sign RHP Ivan Nova to a 4 year/$40MM deal with an option year for $10MM (AAV of $10MM)

3) Sign RHR Kenley Jansen to a 4 year/$60MM deal with the ability to opt-out after 2017 and 2018 (AAV $15MM)

4) Trade C Carlos Perez and RHR Huston Street to the Twins in exchange for INF Jorge Polanco and LF Max Kepler

5) Trade A RHP Joe Gatto and A+ RHP Justin Anderson to the Royals in exchange for SP Edinson Volquez

After that series of transactions the 2017 roster now looks something like this:

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That is a competitive roster in my personal opinion and one that is not beyond the reach of the Angels current trade assets and 2017 payroll.

Beyond that team depth will also improve with the following players available in the upper levels of our Minor League farm system:

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That list above is more about quantity rather than quality but the Angels will have a sufficient amount of position player and relief depth. The only area that might need an infusion would be starting pitching depth and Billy Eppler would likely sign one or more rotation options on a Minor League contract to ensure that there are options for the team if the scenario arises where the big league team needs help.

Again the point of that whole thought exercise is to show that 2017 isn’t a lost cause. A series of moves like the above could transform the team from the semi-crippled version you see now into a contending squad next year.

On the offensive side you potentially have an improved lineup with some combination of Kepler, Polanco, and Calhoun hitting at the top of the order and the middle of the lineup would have a lot of thump with Trout, Cron, Ramos, and Pujols doing the heavy lifting. If Simmons continues his recent improvements and Cowart can provide even close to league-average wRC+ it will be a potent run-scoring squad.

The rotation, if the performances of Shoemaker and Skaggs hold, would likely be a good, competitive group that should provide quality innings and a chance to win every start. Both back-end starters, Nova and Volquez, are extreme groundball-type pitchers which would help maximize the value that Andrelton Simmons brings to the team.

Speaking of defense, Kaleb Cowart combined with Andrelton Simmons would create a very effective defensive duo on the left side of the infield and would allow the Angels to continue implementing defensive shifts against left-handed hitters (the Simmons-only on the left side shifts). The athletically-gifted, weak-armed Max Kepler could join Trout and Calhoun in a very talented defensive trio of outfielders while Wilson Ramos and Jett Bandy create a very gifted defensive duo behind the plate.

The bullpen would be dramatically improved with the addition of Jansen (remember on a potentially short-term contract if he opts out of his deal) at closer. Throwing behind him would be some of the familiar names from this season including Bedrosian and Guerra. If the Angels are out of contention at the deadline they could move Jansen in trade as he would likely opt out of his contract anyway for one or more prospects to continue building on our growing window of contention.

I say all of this because I love this team and I, like many fans, want to see them succeed. The path, laid out above, is just an example of how they might do that in 2017.

If the wheels fall off of the wagon next year the stage is still set for 2018 and beyond when the likes of Richards, Heaney, and Tropeano should return to the fold giving the Angels some really good rotation options combined with a better free agent market after the 2017 season.

Finally I’d like to end with some thoughts regarding the Trade Candidate series as a reminder of what you will likely see in the coming days:

1) Although it would be great to find the perfect trade suitors and pull off all of the right trades for all of the expendable and expiring contracts on our roster we will only likely see a small handful of Angels related trades.

2) Out of all of the most likely trade suitors discussed in the Trade Candidate series the Royals, Giants, Pirates, Marlins, Red Sox, Mets, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cardinals, and Orioles are the most likely teams that we’d pull off a multi-player trade with before the deadline.

3) A lot of the potential teams listed in the Trade Candidate series were ones that the author felt were the “best fit” in terms of their organizational needs and defensive alignments. Of course other teams could become desperate and swoop in making an offer the Angels can’t refuse even if their roster and defense won’t maximize that player’s potential. No one is a perfect fit anyway.

4) It is the author’s opinion that Yunel Escobar is more likely to be traded than Hector Santiago, at this moment in time, especially now that Tropeano is possibly out through next year. If Billy Eppler’s goal is to retool for a run in 2018, rather than 2017, then both of them will be traded by August 1st.

5) Out of all the players listed in the Trade Candidate series the most likely ones to go before the trade deadline include Joe Smith, Fernando Salas, Tim Lincecum, Geovany Soto, Jered Weaver, and Jhoulys Chacin simply because their contracts expire at the end of this season and if the Angels are not contending then getting something for these players is worthwhile even if it is simply cash considerations to bring the team payroll under the Luxury Tax Threshold.

6) That being said our starting pitching depth is severely compromised right now so the Angels might be more content in keeping Lincecum, Weaver, and Chacin for the remainder of the year. The reality is that all three of them have negligible trade value so we will probably see them finish out the year in Angels red.

7) Billy Eppler can and should hold on to any player that isn’t bringing back a sufficient return in trade if they are under control beyond this season. If he doesn’t get solid offers for players like Huston Street for instance he would be better off taking a gamble and testing the trade waters in the offseason or at the trade deadline in 2017 to give that player or players a chance to return to better playing form.

8) Most Likely National League Trade Partner: the Giants. It is the author’s personal opinion that if the Angels can acquire Christian Arroyo in a Yunel Escobar or Hector Santiago based trade they should do it. Alternate partner is the Marlins.

9) Most Likely American League Trade Partner: the Royals. Even though they may not be buyers at the deadline, in part to their precipitous slide in the standings, we have players with contracts that align with their expiring window of contention that ends in 2017 when most of their good players leave to free agency. Alternate Partner is the Orioles.

Monday, July 25, 2016

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By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer - 

Author’s Note: The following player data was pulled via FanGraphs on or about July 17th, 2016.

The one consistent theme for the 2016 Angels has been the disabled list and Joe Smith has been no exception to it.

Luckily for the Angels he has recovered and returned to the bullpen. Over five relief appearances from July 1st to July 9th Smith has generated a 9.64 K/9 and 3.86 K/9 ratio with a really unlucky and abnormal .588 BABIP and a really good 61.1% GB%.

Clearly Joe’s BABIP issues have contributed to his poor performance especially in light of the high number of groundballs that he puts in play. However it’s not just bad luck that has contributed to Smith’s issues.

Left-handed hitters have been striking out significantly less in 2016 and have been making better contact resulting in an elevated Batting Average Against (BAA).

Additionally, against right-handed hitters, Smith has experienced a significantly elevated walk rate while also seeing more balls falling in to the field of play for hits.

Below are Joe’s batted ball spray charts versus left-handed and right-handed pitching respectively courtesy of FanGraphs:

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As you can see by the spray charts a lot of Joe’s hits go to 2B, SS, 3B, and CF so, using the list of projected playoff teams from the first submission in this series, let us identify the “best fit” teams that meet those defensive requirements:

Blue Jays
Red Sox

Of course there are other “near fit” defensive teams such as the Orioles, Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, Mariners, and Astros that could be dark horse candidates for Smith’s services. Heck even the Mets have rumored interest per Mike Puma of the New York post as seen in Chuck’s post on the website.

Let us run through the best fit teams and see if any of them have a need for a right-handed setup man.


Primary Need(s): Front-End Starter, Back-End Left-Handed Starter
Secondary Need(s): Elite Closer type and Middle Reliever

A familiar team in the Trade Candidate series, the Rangers to make a long explanation short could use an additional right-handed reliever.

Sam Dyson is effective against right-handed hitters and puts the ball on the ground against both sides of the plate. Keona Kela, Matt Bush, and Jake Diekman have proven effective against both sides of the plate as well. Cesar Ramos was just DFA’d and former Angels Michael Roth has not performed particularly well.

If the Rangers went crazy they might try to make a play for Aroldis Chapman or another closer but the bullpen isn’t as big of a problem as the rotation for them right now. It seems more likely the Rangers will make a modest move regarding their bullpen.

Because Smith is only under team control for the remainder of this year the Angels aren’t concerned about facing him in 2017 and beyond making Texas a potential suitor particularly since Joe puts a lot of balls on the ground which is desirable in Arlington.

Rangers Likely Target(s): LHP C.J. Wilson, LHP Hector Santiago, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHR Huston Street, RHR Joe Smith, LHP Jose Alvarez, and RHR Fernando Salas

Angels Likely Target(s): AAA OF Lewis Brinson, 2B Jurickson Profar, AA RHP Luis Oritz, AAA 3B/OF Joey Gallo, A+ RHP Ariel Jurado, AA 2B Andy Ibanez, AA OF Ryan Cordell, LHR Andrew Faulkner, AAA RHR John Fasola, A RHP Pedro Payano, AAA 2B Drew Robinson, AA RHR Adam Parks, and AA LHP Frank Lopez

Trade Scenario(s):

1) Angels trade RHR Joe Smith to the Rangers in exchange for AA RHR Adam Parks

- Parks is a potential back-end reliever with a quality fastball/slider combination


Primary Need(s): Elite Closer Type, Back-End Relief
Secondary Need(s): None

As we discussed previously in the Huston Street article Theo Epstein and the Cubs were on the lookout for relief help but that need has lessened with the recent acquisition of Mike Montgomery from the Mariners and, at the time of the submission of this article, Aroldis Chapman.

When you examine the Cubs bullpen you begin to understand it is an area of weakness that needs to be rectified. Chicago has gotten by with the relievers they have primarily because their starting rotation has been so good and has eaten up so many innings in the first half of the season. If this current bullpen ever gets really tested it could fail.

Now that Montgomery is in the fold, he and Rondon provide a stable duo but they could really use either 1) another right-handed setup man, 2) a left-handed elite closer type, or 3) both if they are feeling frisky.

If the Chapman talks breakdown it would not surprise the author to see the Cubs pick up a righty like Smith as he brings a different look, via the sidearm delivery, to their relief corps. Additionally they might go for Will Smith of the Brewers as their left-handed solution as well if Chapman doesn’t materialize.

Cubs Likely Target(s): LHR Hector Santiago and LHR Jose Alvarez

Angels Likely Target(s): AA OF Ian Happ, AA OF Billy Mckinney, AAA OF Mark Zagunis, C Willson Contreras, AA 2B Chesny Young, AAA RHR Corey Black, A+ RHR Trevor Clifton, A+ RHR Daury Torrez, and A- LHP Jose Paulino

Trade Scenario(s):

1) Angels trade RHR Joe Smith to the Cubs in exchange for AAA OF Mark Zagunis

- Zagunis is an on-base machine that could fit in left field and hit out of the lead-off or #2 spot in the lineup


Primary Need(s): Corner OF
Secondary Need(s): 3B and Middle Relief

Unsurprisingly the Indians have popped up again primarily because they are a great defensive team so a lot of pitchers will fit well into their club.

Smith of course used to pitch for the Tribe so a reunion isn’t completely out of the question as team management is very familiar with the player and his personality and demeanor.

The Indians actually could use additional right-handed relief as many of their bullpen pitchers are more effective against left-handed hitters and Smith gives a unique look to hitters by changing their eye level in their at-bats.

It wouldn’t be a total surprise if the Indians tried to acquire an elite closer type but it probably isn’t as important to them as acquiring another hitter or two.

If they do go the hitter route adding a less expensive middle reliever/setup guy makes sense for Cleveland.

Indians Likely Target(s): OF Kole Calhoun, RHR Huston Street, RHR Joe Smith, and RHR Fernando Salas

Angels Likely Target(s): AA OF Bradley Zimmer, AA OF Clint Frazier, A+ LHP Justus Sheffield, RHR Mike Clevinger, AA LHP Rob Kaminsky, A+ 1B Bobby Bradley, A+ C Francisco Mejia, A- LHP Juan Hillman, A+ OF Greg Allen, AAA RHP Adam Plutko, RHR Shawn Armstrong, A+ 2B/SS Yu-Cheng Chang, A+ RHP Dylan Baker, and A+ 2B Dorssys Paulino

Trade Scenario(s):

1) Angels trade RHR Joe Smith to the Indians in exchange for A- LHP Juan Hillman

- Hillman is a lefty starter with mid-to-back-end rotation featuring a fastball, curveball, and change up with good control


Primary Need(s): 3B, Frontline (Two-way) Starter or LH Middle Rotation Starter
Secondary Need(s): Back-End Closer Type or RH Middle Reliever

One of our favorite trade suitors in the Trade Candidate series, Kansas City could certainly use some right-handed middle relief in their current bullpen configuration.

The back-end of the Royals bullpen is strong with Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Luke Hochevar but they could certainly use someone like Smith against right-handed hitters particularly with Joe’s penchant to keep the ball on the ground.

Royals Likely Target(s): 3B Yunel Escobar, LHP C.J. Wilson, LHP Hector Santiago, RHR Huston Street, RHR Joe Smith, and/or RHR Fernando Salas

Angels Likely Target(s): AAA RHP Kyle Zimmer, AAA RHP Miguel Almonte, A+ LHP Foster Griffin, AA 1B Ryan O’Hearn, AA OF Bubba Starling, AAA 3B Hunter Dozier, AA LHP Matthew Strahm, AA RHP Pedro Fernandez, AA LHP Eric Skoglund, AA RHP Glenn Sparkman, A+ RHP Josh Staumont, OF Reymond Fuentes, AA RHP Alec Mills, AAA OF Jorge Bonifacio, A SS Marten Gasparini

Trade Scenario(s):

1) Angels trade RHR Joe Smith to the Royals in exchange for AAA OF Jorge Bonifacio

- Bonifacio is a power type hitter but is limited mostly to LF (or DH) due to a fringe throwing arm and defensive skills

2) Angels trade RHR Joe Smith to the Royals in exchange for A+ LHP Foster Griffin

- Griffin is a lefty starter with back-end rotation upside but could move to the bullpen too

Blue Jays

Primary Need(s): Frontline (Two-way) Starter, Left-Handed Mid or Back-End Starter, and Back-End (Two-way) Set Up Reliever

Secondary Need(s): Back Up Catcher

A new name in the Trade Candidate series the Toronto Blue Jays are in the thick of the Division and Wild Card race heading into the trade deadline.

The Jays have survived most of the year, so far, on a premier offensive performance featuring Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista among others.

However their starting pitching and bullpen have left a lot to be desired. Stroman and Dickey, despite eating innings, have underperformed. If the playoffs were to start today the Blue Jays would have to roll out Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada as their 1-2 and probably J.A. Happ as their third starter so Toronto’s management has to be somewhat concerned.

As far as the bullpen goes the clear closer is Roberto Osuna but behind him there really are no other relievers that you can feel fully confident in handing the ball too in a high leverage situation. Drew Storen has performed well against right-handed hitters as have Grillit, Chaves, and Cecil. Biangi, Schultz, and Morales have performed adequately against lefties so the bullpen does have matchup potential.

However the bullpen depth is the issue here as any playoff team would like to have at the minimum 2-3 guys who can step into the role especially in those critical late innings.

What does any of this have to do with the Blue Jays potential interest in Joe Smith? Despite the fact Toronto has four guys to get right-handed hitters out they might still have interest in Smith because of his sidearm release point and his ability to put the ball on the ground just under 60% of the time especially in their homerun prone stadium.

Blue Jays Likely Target(s): None at this time

Angels Likely Target(s): A+ RHP Sean Reid-Foley, A+ SS/2B Richard Urena, A RHP Jon Harris, A LHP Angel Perdomo, AA RHP Taylor Cole, R OF Vladimir Guerrero Jr., A+ OF Jonathan Davis, AA LHP Shane Dawson, RHR Joseph Biangi, RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski, and LHR Chad Girodo

Trade Scenario(s):

None that make sense, at this point in time, involving Joe Smith.


Primary Need(s): Frontline (Two-way) Starter, Left-Handed Mid or Back-End Starter, and Back-End (Two-way) Set Up Reliever

Secondary Need(s): Left-Handed Middle Relief

The Marlins, another new team to the Trade Series, have managed to scrape together a good first half with a combination of good offense, decent rotation performance, and a solid bullpen.

However as they hurdle towards the trade deadline they face some serious rotation questions behind ace Jose Fernandez.

Wei-Yen Chen very recently strained his elbow and could be out for an indefinite period and back-end starters like Tom Koehler and Jose Urena have underperformed. The Marlins could use a good number two starter and a left-handed rotation candidate for their stretch run.

Beyond that the bullpen looks really solid with Ramos, Rodney, Barraclough and Wittgren providing quality relief innings. The one thing they could use in the bullpen is a left-handed middle reliever.

In the end, as far as Joe Smith is concerned, the Marlins really don’t have a need for him making a trade very unlikely unless their situation changes.

Marlins Likely Target(s): LHP Hector Santiago

Angels Likely Target(s): RHR Nick Wittgren, RHP Kendry Flores, AA RHR Austin Brice, A RHP Cody Poteet, RHR Brian Ellington, AAA RHP Jake Esch, A OF Isael Soto, AA 3B Brian Anderson, AAA RHP Ivan Pineyro, A+ LHP Michael Mader, C Tomas Telis, A+ RHR Jeff Brigham, LHR Raudel Lazo, and AA RHP Jorgan Cavanerio

Trade Scenario(s):

None that make sense, at this point in time, involving Joe Smith.

Red Sox

Primary Need(s): Frontline (Two-way) Starter, Left-Handed Mid or Back-End Starter, and Back-End (Two-way) Set Up Reliever

Secondary Need(s): Left-Handed Middle Relief

Since the ‘2016 Trade Candidate: Hector Santiago’ publication things have changed for the Red Sox.

First of all they have acquired LHP Drew Pomeranz making them a bit less likely to acquire another left-handed starter although they could still use one. They have been rumored to be in the mix for White Sox starter Chris Sale but the author does think that Hector Santiago is still a viable option as a back-end starter.

Additionally their closer Craig Kimbrel and their set up man Koji Uehara have fallen to injury. Kimbrel could be out until mid-to-late August and Uehara has a rather unique pectoral injury with an unknown timetable for return.

All that being said the current configuration of the Red Sox bullpen could use a left-handed middle reliever only making Joe Smith an unlikely acquisition and need for Boston.

Red Sox Likely Target(s): RHP Matt Shoemaker, LHP Hector Santiago, RHR Joe Smith, RHR Fernando Salas, C Geovany Soto, and LHR Jose Alvarez

Angels Likely Target(s): AA 2B/OF Yoan Moncada, AA OF Andrew Benintendi, LHP Henry Owens, AA 2B Mauricio Dubon, A+ RHP Travis Lakins, AA RHP Ben Taylor, AA LHR Luis Ysla, AAA RHR James Shepard, A RHP Marcus Brakeman, AA Utility INF Tzu-Wei Lin, A 1B/DH Josh Ockimey, AA LHP Jalen Beeks, AAA RHR Kyle Martin, AAA RHP Aaron Wilkerson, and AAA Corner INF Jantzen Witte

Trade Scenario(s):

None that make sense, at this point in time, involving Joe Smith.


As you can see being a “best-fit” defensive team doesn’t necessarily mean the team is a good fit based on their roster.

Out of the teams listed above the most likely ones to have the greatest interest in Joe Smith would be the Indians and the Royals. The Rangers and Cubs could be secondary choices. The remaining teams don’t really have a pressing need for a right-handed reliever although trades could make an opening available.

Of course, as stated above, there could be a dark horse team desperate to pick up additional relief help.

No matter what Joe Smith is very unlikely to change the course of the Angels season so trading him is a priority for Billy Eppler. Unless there is absolutely zero demand Joe will be wearing a different uniform soon.
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By Glen McKee, Fool Me Twice - 

It happens to us all during the season.  The team will have those momentary flashes of decent play and despite your best instincts you find yourself thinking “Ya know what?  This may be an OK team after all.”  And then the Angels face a good team, and you’re immediately reminded of how bad they really are.  

The Bad.  Houston, we absolutely have a problem.  Remember back in 2013 when we were excited about the Astros moving to the AL West because they were so terrible and we were gonna pad our record against them?  Yeah, that’s right up there with “F#$! Yu, We Got Pujols!” on the bad karma scale.

- The Astros.  We went 0-3 against them and lost the last game before Lincecum (more on him next, oh yes) got two outs.  The Angels are 1-11 versus the Astros this year.  They beat us like we’re rented mules.  It’s embarrassing.  On the plus side, we only have to face them in two more series’ before the end of the season.  Sunday’s game was just awful.  Adjectives fail me.  Hey, did you know that Lisa Hart is from Houston?  Neither did I until I googled it.  Here’s a pic of her to cheer you up:

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- Tim Lincecum.  Two games, 6.1 IP, 11 ER.  For Pete’s sake, put him out of his misery now.  DFA him.  Chacin is better than Lincecum.  There’s no reason left to keep throwing him out there.  

- Mike Trout.  He’s hitting .278 the last seven days and he disappeared for the Houston series.  If just about anybody else on the team was hitting .278 over a week I’d be happy, but this is MIKE TROUT we’re talking about.

- Daniel Nava.  A symptom of the Angels failure to spend in the offseason.  Hitting .091 over the last seven days.  No signs of power or anything else associated with hitting.  

- Ji-Man Choi.  Gee man, does he kinda suck.  I guess I’d rather see him out there than Nava but Choi isn’t much better.  .200 on the week but at least he hit 2 HR.  Choi rhymes with joy (hi Nate!) and he was born in South Korea, and you know who else was born in Korea?  No, not Frank Stallone, model Lee Pa-ni. 

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The Good.  To paraphrase Toby, I’m looking for a few clean peanuts here and surprisingly there are a few.  

- The series against Texas.  Heck yeah.  I’ll take a sweep of a first-place team any time.  And look at it this way, your hopes have to be ignited before they can be extinguished.  Thanks, Texas!  I can’t wait for them to get Chris Sale and still not win the World Series.  

- Andrelton Simmons.  He’s looking a bit like a steal, isn’t he?  He’s hitting .409 the last seven days and .286 on the season, almost .030 higher than his career average.  Along with Mike Trout (even on a bad Trout week) he’s one of the few guys I look forward to seeing play on this team.  Speaking of that…

- Matt Shoemaker.  He only had one game last week but went 6.2 innings and gave up 2 ER.  5 SO, 1 BB, and the SO number was low for him while the BB number was high.  He’s been a stud lately.  

- Cam Bedrosian.  If the Angels could trade Street he’d be the obvious choice for new closer.  Ride him like we rode Frankie Rodriguez.  He’s probably about the only valuable trade piece we have right now, which scares me.  

- Jett Bandy.  Another solid week both at the plate and behind it.  I’m digging this kid and glad to see he’s getting the majority of starts.  Funny thing: his name is Jett, and Paul McCartney has a song named “Jet.”  Paul was in the Beatles, as was George Harrison, who had a dust-up with Eric Clapton over Parry Boyd.  Here’s a picture of her to make us feel better:

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The rest.  Donald Trump was nominated for president by the republicans this week, which means half of the prophecy is fulfilled.  He’s got a daughter that he can’t seem to stop talking about how hot she is, so here’s a pc for research purposes:

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For the record, I will be on vacation for the next two weeks so you’ll have to get your weekly dose of sad Angels baseball stats and hot babe pics from elsewhere for a bit.  I think the internet can help you with both of those things.

The week ahead.  Three in Kansas City versus the Royals and then back home to face the Red Sox for four.  Are you looking forward to this?  I’m not looking forward to this.

My predictions versus last week.  I was accurate in record but not in how we got that record.  I predicted 2-1 versus Texas and 1-2 versus Houston for a 3-3 week.  3-0 and 0-3 overall for a 3-3 week.  I’m still perfect for the year on my prediction numbers at 41-52.  Yay me!

My predictions for this week.  Ugh.  KC is a mediocre team who might be trading a few pieces this week, and that could affect them.  Boston is hot and I’m sure ESPN is excited about that.  1-2 versus KC and 1-3 versus Boston.  Have a good couple of weeks.

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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