Thursday, November 27, 2014

By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

In this third part of our ongoing series, we focus on the starting outfield and DH spots. In Part IV we will take a look at the starting rotation. The Steamer projections below are for 600 PA’s, so please adjust accordingly for part-time players.


Left Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Josh Hamilton
0.247
0.311
0.415
108
1.9
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6
Alfredo Marte
0.237
0.293
0.373
83
(0.6)
Efren Navarro
0.253
0.315
0.347
93
(0.1)

It seems pretty clear that the Angels left field option is a lock for the most part.

Hamilton’s salary begins to seriously escalate starting in 2015 ($25MM) and tops out at $32MM for both 2016 and 2017! Yikes!

Based on his lackluster performance for his first two seasons this is very disconcerting moving forward. Hamilton, oddly enough, torched LHP last season (.330/.367/.516/.884) but a lot of that can be explained by a massively inflated .464 BABIP. He only had a .695 OPS versus RHP.

Certainly the Angels can’t help but be concerned. This is not what they paid for and if he continues to degrade like this he will be virtually untradeable.

There is always an outside possibility that Jerry finds a taker for Hamilton even if we end up eating a large portion of his total contract. This would certainly be a way to cut payroll next season.

If the Angels were willing to eat $15MM-20MM out of each of his three remaining contract years I am sure they would find a few takers. This would almost certainly be too much for Arte Moreno to stomach though.

Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that Josh would waive his no-trade clause, which might be problematic.

To be clear Hamilton still has some trade value and perhaps even a touch of upside from his 2014 numbers. Arte has already paid that money, it’s sunk.

If it is determined that Josh cannot or will not return to a higher level of performance there are certainly equivalent or better options, already on the 40-man roster, that could replace him and supply a roughly similar output level.

Jerry Dipoto will really have no choice but to keep Hamilton around for 2015 with the hope that Josh turns around his stark decline and has a sustainable season. If that happens it would not be surprising to see Dipoto trade him at that point even if it still means eating a lot of salary.

Nothing would please the team and Angels fans more than to see a robust Josh Hamilton in the batter’s box. Unfortunately he is on the wrong side of 30 and everything points to a sharp decline on both sides of the ball.

Educated Guess: Josh Hamilton will be our left fielder next year barring a miracle move by Dipoto. Collin Cowgill will be the primary back up and platoon option. Navarro is also an option for LF as well in case of injury. Also recent OF waiver acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could provide corner OF depth.

Center Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Mike Trout
0.297
0.393
0.537
167
7.7
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6
Josh Hamilton
0.247
0.311
0.415
108
1.9

The Angels have the premier, marquee player in the game for the next 6 years. Mike Trout gives the Halos a fantastic building block that no other team can come close to matching in terms of overall production. That advantage needs to be maximized by continuing to build a real contending team around him.

Educated Guess: Double duh, Mike Trout. Cowgill would be the primary back up option. Hamilton can also play CF in a pinch and the Angels could also call up Tony Campana, or Dan Robertson, if needed, in case of injury.

The Angels have the best player in all of baseball, who happens to play center field, through the 2020 season. Enjoy him for however long he ends up being here!

Right Field

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
Kole Calhoun
0.264
0.324
0.428
118
2.9
Collin Cowgill
0.233
0.296
0.340
86
0.6

A very pleasant surprise this year, Kole Calhoun looks to be cemented in RF for the next several seasons.

Kole is controllable for the next 5 years and will become arbitration eligible after the 2016 season! This makes Calhoun a solid asset for the Angels.

Because Kole has been such a dynamic leadoff hitter this year it may be in the team’s best interest to offer him a contract extension that would buy out his arbitration years and perhaps one or two of his free agency years.

A 5-year/$30MM contract with a couple of option years attached for say $15MM a piece (7-year/$60MM total if all options are exercised) would certainly have some appeal to Calhoun for his financial future.

In 6-7 years, $15MM per year for the final 2 seasons will probably be a bargain assuming Kole is able to stay healthy and productive in his age 32 and 33 seasons.

Educated Guess: Calhoun should be a mainstay in RF and at the top of the lineup for the foreseeable future. It would not surprise me to see him sign an extension either this year or next year to secure his services long-term and control his arbitration price.

Behind Calhoun, on the depth chart, you will find Collin Cowgill as a capable platoon partner in the fourth OF role. Beyond that Hamilton could move over to RF in a pinch and Campana can play all of the OF positions in case of injury.

Also recent waiver acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could provide corner OF depth.

Designated Hitter

2015 Steamer Projections

AVG
OBP
SLG
wRC+
WAR
C.J. Cron
0.255
0.296
0.412
103
0.6
Albert Pujols
0.269
0.330
0.466
127
3.0
Grant Green
0.266
0.306
0.381
99
1.6

Although not a true position on the field of play it definitely deserves discussion.

The Angels have a true designated hitter type in C.J. Cron and, barring any trade, he will most likely be our primary DH in 2015.

In the current low offense environment Cron certainly has trade value. However C.J. hasn’t had as many opportunities to show that power yet so his trade value might not be as high as it could be at this moment in time. It may be best to give him a full season at DH to showcase his potential before entertaining trade discussions.

C.J. hits both LHP and RHP reasonably well and certainly has some serious power in his bat. In fact he has a similar profile to Mark Trumbo: Both are power hitters with below average on-base ability. To be fair, between the two, Cron has a bit better on-base skills but with a touch less power.

Carrying Cron on the roster would also give the Angels a power bat off the bench in the late innings of a game if he doesn’t start that day. He is young and controllable for the next 4 seasons giving the Angels a solid option.

Of course the Angels will continue to rotate Albert Pujols and, occasionally, Josh Hamilton through the DH spot on a fairly regular basis to reduce wear and tear on his body but Cron should be the go-to guy in 2015.

Educated Guess: Again, barring an unforeseen trade, Cron should be the primary DH option for 2015 and possibly beyond. Cron should see a lot of at-bats especially against LHP and in late inning pinch hitting situations.


In case of injury Grant Green appears to be the most likely depth option although recent waiver wire acquisitions Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick could help replace some of Cron’s power.

Love to hear what you think!

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