Monday, August 29, 2016

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By Glen McKee, You Know My Credentials by Now - 

You’re going to hear a lot about draft picks in the next month and change of the baseball season. Some people will suggest we should tank (not Tank, which is something more beautiful than losing on purpose) as hard as we can to get the #1 pick.  I call these people goddamned idiots.  Baseball isn’t football.  If we get the #1 pick we won’t get a franchise QB or a game-changing WR that will have an immediate impact.  We’ll get some dude that will toil away in the minors for at least a few years and then might show up on the team in 2020 or 2021, if he doesn’t get traded first. 

Other people will suggest we should tank just enough to ensure we get a protected draft pick, which means that if we sign a top free agent we don’t forfeit our first-round draft pick.  That makes a bit more sense, but looks at the numbers: the Angels are 56-74.  There are six teams worse than us and one team tied with us.  Only the ten worst teams get a protected pick.  Ergo, it’s not gonna happen.

Even with the avalanche of injuries the Angels have had this year they’re still not a bottom-10 team and occasionally, they play like they aren’t, this week being a good example.  I’d love for them to get a protected pick but face the facts: this team won’t tank.  Some younger players are playing for a spot on the team next year.  Some older players are playing for pride and stats.  Nobody on this team is playing to lose.  Nobody.  So the best we can do is to play the role of spoiler for the rest of the year.  

We need to be the nails in the tires of Seattle, the stick in the spokes of the Blue Jays, the joker in the deck of the Astros.  We’re the spoilers, baby!  Regardless of what you think of Scioscia, he’s trying to win every game out there and the Angels aren’t gonna play to lose.  Enjoy the ride the rest of the way, and look forward to us pissing off a few times along the way.  Wasn’t it great seeing all of those Tigers getting ejected?

The BAD:  Ya know what?  With what I said above in mind and even in general, it was a good week.  The Angels even saw the Goodyear blimp and it said “Mike Trout’s a pimp!”  So, for the first time in a while the bad list will be short.  I’m good with that.  

- Cliff Pennington.  The writing should be on the wall for this guy and it appears to be.  11 AB last week, .091 average.  He’s a 4A player, and that’s what we’re getting from him.

- Kole Calhoun.  I’ve been ignoring him lately, because I don’t want him to steal my soul for putting him on the bad list.  I can’t ignore him anymore.  .240 average last week, 2 RBI, and he’s stuck in the leadoff spot until Escobar comes back, which should be this week.

- Nick Buss.  Another replacement-level player scavenged from the Arizona scrap heap.  I thought that would end when Dipoto left, but apparently not.  .208 last week but he did manage one HR. 

- Carlos Perez.  He hit a robust .143 last week in only 7 AB.  It appears that Jett is running away with the starting catcher job, and that’s fine.  Perez is a solid backup catcher at best right now.  

- Ricky Nolasco. The trade of Santiago for Nolasco, in a way, makes no sense as they are almost identical pitchers.  Last week Nolasco had one start, 6.1 IP, 4 ER.  Maybe, for once an Angels pitching coach can find out what’s wrong with him and help him correct it.  For eff’s sake, get Mark Langston out of the booth and give him the job.  His observations are almost always spot-on.  He can’t do any worse than what we have right now.

- The Detroit Tigers.  What a bunch of whiners.  Three of them got ejected in Saturday’s game, including former Angels hero Wallard Joyner who has now succumbed to the dark side and become a Detroit a-hole.  Five Angles were HBP in the last two games, and Detroit lost both of those games.

Detroit is rapidly replacing the Red Sox as the team I hate the most.  I hope they don’t win a game the rest of the year and that they all get crabs.  But hey, Justin Verlander is engaged to Kate Upton so here’s a pic of her:

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The McDLT:  The hot and cold for the week.  Did somebody say hot and cold?

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Just a personal note here, as I’ve been writing this column I’ve discovered that Bing image search is much better than google.  No, they’re not endorsing me.  Just something I’ve discovered.  Anyway…

- Tyler Skaggs.  He had a bad start in Toronto (4 IP, 4 ER) and then bounced back and had a very good start in Detroit (6 IP, 0 ER).  Let’s hope he can build off of the last start and become the pitcher so many see in him.  

The GOOD:  There was a lot of good last week.  The Angels went 4-2.  Occasionally, the starters went more than three innings and gave up fewer than five runs.  Progress!  

- Kaleb Cowart.  He finally got the call, and thus far he’s been answering.  Excellent defense and a solid bat.  .304 for the week with a couple of doubles and a HR.  I’m not going to get too excited yet but I’m certainly gonna enjoy the ride.  

- MIKE TROUT!  OK, he only hit one HR last week – that’s how high our expectations of him are, that only hitting one HR in a week is bad – but he hit for a .384 average and all signs point to a hot September for him.  

- Albert Pujols.  Two HR last week, .400 average, five RBI.  His average is up to .261 and his OPS is at .766.  With a good September he could hit .270 and maybe even .800.  Hey, it could happen.

- Jhoulys Chacin.  Glad to see him back on the good list.  He only appeared once last week but he went 4 innings with no earned runs.  Perhaps the pen is where he belongs.  Oh, did somebody say Jhoulys?

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- Fernando Salas.  I saved the best and most surprising for last.  I’m going to type something I never thought I would type in my lifetime: Salas is our closer and he’s doing well.  Five saves so far and he picked up one this week in a 3-2 win over Detroit, and he did it striking out two of the three batters he faced.  Well done, Fernando!  Did you know that Salas was born in Mexico?  Well, he was, and you know who else was born in Mexico?  That’s right, Frank Stallone!  No wait, I mean Salma Hayek.

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The rest.  By the time I write the next column the last month of the Angels season will have started. That makes me a bit sad.  Even when they suck like they have this year the Angels are still my team and I’ll miss them once the playoffs start.  Shit, man, I’m going to have to find something else to do.
The week ahead.  Three at home versus the Red (one of the six teams that is barely worse than us), Thursday off, and three at home versus the Dipotos, who cutely think they have a shot at the last wild card.  

Predictions.  Last week I predicted 1-2 in Toronto and 2-1 in Detroit.  I was pessimistic by one game. 2-1 in both cities.  This week I predict the spoiler bus keeps rolling.  2-1 versus the Reds and 2-1 versus the Dipotos.

Friday, August 26, 2016

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By Glen McKee, Senior Swagologist - 

Yes, I know: calling myself a swagologist is almost as douchey as vaping or backing into a parking spot.  I also know that the Angels are like a jet engine in that they both suck and blow at the same time, but you know what?  They need some swagger.  It’s easy to understand why they lack bluster.  I hate to make excuses but damn, the amount of injuries they’ve had this year is ridiculous.  It has exposed a weak bench and an even weaker farm system, but few if any teams could be expected to absorb the amount of injuries the Angels have had this year and still be competitive.  

But’s that’s no reason for them to not have some swagger. The Angels have Trout and Pujols. Shoemaker and his beard are awesome again.  Nobody in our bullpen would make the bullpen on any other team.  We’re like the Cleveland Indians at the beginning of “Major League.”  That’s why we need the swagger back, and it starts in that hellhole known as Detroit.

The Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers have been a bit resurgent lately, fooling themselves into thinking they have a shot at the wildcard.  They’re in fourth place, four games behind the wild card leaders Toronto and Boston (one of whom will win their division) and three games behind Baltimore, who will get the second wild card because of the magic of Trumbo.  Their playoff hopes will last a bit shorter than Justin Verlander’s marriage to Kate Upton, if it even happens.  

The Tigers have Miguel Cabrera, otherwise known as the guy who unfairly beat Mike Trout for a couple of MVP awards, probably because he’s some sort of Mexican.  Thanks, Obama.  They also have Ian Kinsler, who despite being an incredible bag of dicks manages to be better than just about every other 2B in the game.  The Texas Rangers traded Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, and Fielder just announced his retirement from the game due to neck injury.  The Rangers got screwed but somehow they’re still gonna make the playoffs, which tells you a lot of what you need to know about Detroit.  

Detroit also recently picked up my favorite bonehead, Erick Aybar. Damn.  That makes it hard for me to talk trash about them because I loves me some Aybar and I’m glad to see him on a team that at least has playoff aspirations.  Maybe Erick can show Kinsler his dong in a hot dog bun and make him trip and fall and break a finger or something.  Do it for the Angels, Aybar.  We still love you and believe in you.

The Tigers also have two guys names Martinez on their team (maybe even three, I’m not looking at the pitching staff).  Not to go all Trump here, but what happened to the good old days when teams had two Smiths or two Johnsons on the roster?  #SlipAJohnsonIntoDetroit

Finally, the Tigers have Justin Upton in the OF.  The only reason I bring him up is so I can post this mean from when both of the Uptons were playing in Atlanta:

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Heh heh, that’s still funny to me.

Anyway, yeah…Detroit skus.  Time for the Angels to slap them around and remind them that they, too, are not going to make the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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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, AngelsWin.com 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, AngelsWin.com 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 aw.com 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, AngelsWin.com 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:

 photo hype2017_zpsmi86v0vh.png

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:

 photo HypeDepth_zps3sgcgklu.png

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.

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