By Glen McKee, Nate Trop and Adam Dodge -
Sooner than we’d hoped for but right about when we expected, the offseason is here for the Angels. It was an interesting year and it ended on a sad note – the hiring of an ex-Yankee to fill the GM spot. The only thing worse would have been if Eppler was from the Red Sox or the Rangers. Gah. Anyway, the offseason is here and the first question we have to answer is: what do we want out of this offseason, and when do we want it to happen? Well, the answer to the latter is during the offseason. As for the former, read on.
In No Particular Order, Except Descending From Most Important to Least Important – Glen McKee
First and foremost, get a new GM. The postseason (or extremely early preseason, if you prefer) is already in full swing at Angelsville USA with the hiring of Billy Eppler as the new GM, a move that allows Stoneman to pack up his GM hat one (presumably) last time. Depending upon who you cite as a source, Eppler either loves or doesn’t love advanced metrics, he will or will not stand up to Scioscia and not be a puppet, and he either is or isn’t the next Jerry Dipoto. One thing is for sure, Dipoto has the better haircut. Don’t take my word for it:
Don’t get me wrong, they both have much more hair than me and a much better head-style, but Dipoto clearly wins this one. Thanks a lot, Scioscia! You ran out our sabermetric Adonis with your controlling ways.
Speaking of Scioscia, fire him, or keep him. I dunno. Short answer: he’s gonna be back no matter what. Long answer: he’s gonna be back, and the aw.com message board will still have a purpose as the “Scioscia haters” square off against the “Scioscia apologists.” I put myself between the two categories and view Scioscia as the Angels version of Obama: not my choice for the job but he still does it fairly well, with notable exceptions, and certainly not as horrible as some people make him out to be. Sorry for injecting politics into this, but it’s a valid comparison. Plus, as we can all see from this picture, Mike is also at least half black (not racist!):
If I had to pick a position on this I’d say get rid of him and get some fresh blood in the dugout. And at 3B coach, and hitting coach, and pitching coach. However, you don’t usually see a team that was one game from the playoffs making such a sweeping change. We’ll have to see if Eppler can improve a team that has many areas where it needs improving. Speaking of that…
Fill all the holes! Heh heh. I said “fill all the holes.” Anyway…there are quite a few holes on this team, although perhaps not as many as there seemed to be a month ago. Giavotella is a barely-serviceable 2B and can stay there at a minimal salary. Perez is a good candidate at catcher and we have a solid backup option with Bandy. That’s two holes filled at no cost. Must…not…make…joke…OK, that still leaves a few holes that desperately need to be plugged. The number one hole (please, somebody stop me) is in LF and the perfect candidate is Jason Heyward. Problem is, St. Louis may want him back and if they don’t, well…think about the last time we signed a highly-regarded player away from the Loo. Hint: he has holes in his last name. However, Heyward would fill two holes at once (hee hee): LF and leadoff hitter. Those holes are aching to be filled. If Heyward isn’t up to that job, another budget-busting option is Yodeling Cespedes. However, it appears the Mets may want him back and he also don’t slot well into the leadoff spot, so I’m calling for Heyward.
Two holes, one player.
What other holes need to be filled? Bullpen and starting pitching. For starting pitching we need a true #1 pitcher, somebody we can throw out against a Keuchel or a Greinke or an Arrieta. It would be a bit ironic of Greinke opted out and we signed him, and by “ironic” I mean “damned expensive.” Price seems to be the best option, and say it with me once again, “it ain’t my money.” We don’t need any more #2/3/4 type pitchers, we already have a staff full of them. Ace or bust for starters. It seems like bullpen help would be the easiest to get so it’s the least-important hole to fill.
Finally, for me: get DiScarcina away from 3B. You know how you can tell if you have a good 3B coach? You don’t notice him. That means he doesn’t screw the pooch on more than an occasional basis. Disar fails that smell-check. He’s the Joe West of 3B coaches. He makes me miss Dino Ebel. He’s awful. Get rid of him. This should actually be my #1 because it’s the easiest to do.
Over to you, Nate.
As Jeb said… “Stuff happens” - Nate Trop
Scioscia is still... a pain in the… err… Manager. Going into the offseason I thought there would be a lot more back and forth with Scioscia and Arte. I expected Scioscia to either opt out or flip his option into an extension (two years $12 million or something). Arte obviously loves Scioscia. He pushed out a GM for him and made sure to hire a GM that he would work with. Even though we had our answer the day after the season ended – Scioscia is staying, you will have to indulge me on the topic a bit longer. My argument with Scioscia hasn’t really been that he is a bad manager, just that this organization needs fresh blood. How often does a Fortune 50 company have the same CEO for more than five years? We change Presidents every eight years (also known as seven years too long), etc. Just like business and politics, baseball is always changing, rosters, play styles, stats and so on. You need fresh minds leading your organization willing to adapt to the changes. As we all heard, Scioscia rejected Dipoto’s scouting and conflicted with the organizational philosophy. On the bright side, at least he didn’t get an extension… yet.
Hey Arte!! Stop meddling! Arte is a very hands on owner that has a lot of say in what goes on with the Angels and I can appreciate that he has a lot of money invested and a drive to win, but he needs to stop meddling and step back a bit in my opinion. The way the Josh Hamilton situation played out looked really bad for the Angels and Arte, the fact that he publicly commented on it rather than accepting the process was a really bad PR and unnecessary. I have voiced my concerns about what Hamilton did and definitely feel like he should be held accountable, but the MLBPA is a powerful organization and in the end, they won. You have to accept that and move on. Had Arte privately scolded Hamilton and then let him get the help he needed, he could still be on the team and the Angels might still be playing instead of the Rangers. Instead he went all Donald Trump and ran his mouth to the press. Paying him $60 million to play for a rival is inexcusable and it is 100% Arte’s fault. Let the baseball people do their job.
Then there is the Dipoto issue. I am making an assumption here, but I am guessing what finally drove Dipoto to bail is that when the whole scouting report thing happened, Arte backed Scioscia instead of Dipoto. I also assume that it was Dipoto that leaked the whole spat so he would have an excuse for resigning in the middle of the season. Regardless of how it played out behind the scenes… how it played out to the public was again really bad for the Angels, it just made Arte and the org looked very dysfunctional.
Welcome to the team, Billy! Hope you are good at filling holes (heh heh). Since Glen has the most experience filling the two hole… I will focus on LF first. I was originally against the idea of Heyward but after looking at his stats I was wrong, he is definitely good, probably a better option than Cespedes. I would be happy with either one, but both will be expensive. Murphy has a $7 million option but since Scioscia only uses him as a platoon LF, I am not sure that is the best use of $7 million, especially when we are paying the type of LF we need $60m to play for another team.
Third base is another big hole that needs to be filled with someone that can whip out the big bat when needed… I actually like Freese and think he could do a good job there, and I do not see many other options. I also think that he could price himself out of what the Angels are looking for and we could see Cowart there. Cory suggested Uribe at 3b but he is terrible. If the Angels did get Uribe they would definitely win ugliest left side of the IF in MLB history. Seriously, Uribe should also be known as fat Aybar.
Unfortunately the big hole, or jol, we are stuck with is Albert at 1b/DH. I actually see this as a big problem for a few reasons. He obviously can’t keep his legs healthy which is forcing him to DH quite a bit and Cron is… a DH. He is an awful fielder. When Johnny G was struggling in the field and Cron was there at 1b, the Angels had the worst right side of the IF I have ever seen. The comedy misplays during August because of this was dreadful. I can’t really see a solution for this, Albert still thinks he is a full time 1b so you can’t sign another one. Just have to hope by some miracle he stays healthy.
I don’t think the pitching is as big of a mess as it seems. We get Skaggs back next year and hopefully a full offseason for Richards will get him back where he was in 2014. Santiago is a serviceable #5 and Weaver is a mid-rotation pitcher now but still has a little left I hope. We get CJ back, which is… swell. I am sure he will sprain his vagina a few more times next season and miss time, anything to not have to watch him pitch. Shoe should be seen as depth only at this point. Trop is a nice prospect, especially because of his name, not sure if he can ever be a full time starter or just a spot starter like he was this year, which he did a very good job doing. I agree with Glen if you sign a SP, it has to be a front of the rotation type but I am not sure that is the best use of the Angels money when there are so many other holes that need to be filled with bats ;), and front of the rotation pitchers are usually way overpriced and too big of a risk. I feel the same about the pen, Gott really came on toward the end of the season and Smith/Street are good enough. Maybe just a long reliever type and a lefty specialist is all that is needed.
This team out performed my expectations this year. Going into the season I thought they were a 75 win team. Coming within one game of the wild card is good but there is a lot to do to get back to the playoffs. Hopefully Scioscia and Eppler can adapt to each other, and Arte takes a step back.
And now, over to Adam!
Thank you for letting me participate in this edition of PCP. Or should I say PCPCCP. The pleasure is all yours, you incredible white douche bags. I mean, seriously. You guys are whiter than the field of Democratic Presidential candidates.
I'm not going to assess the season that just completed in much depth. All I will say is it was probably the best non-playoff season the Angels have ever had, particularly from an entertainment standpoint. The off-the-field drama was awesome! That Hamilton went back to Texas and played a role in knocking the Angels out of the playoffs on Arte's dime is poetic (justice or injustice). The Dipoto-Fat Man episode, midseason provided a nice distraction from the mediocrity on the field. The Angels' run immediately following and the team's September made the Halos must-watch TV.
How much do they need to improve?
Fans have a tendency to look at their team in a box. That is happening this week as we've read many analyses about how the 2015 Angels can be better in 2016. First, there are indeed holes. Joe Halo Fan's first reaction is to fill them. Well, first, it's to laugh..."holes"...ha ha. Then it's to fill them. Nope. Laugh again..."fill them"...ha ha.
Simply adding a left fielder, second baseman and reliever, as many have suggested will improve the team from a talent standpoint, but it won't make a difference in the standings. In fact, the Angels could sign Heyward or Cespedes and Zobrist and they'll be big underdogs heading into 2016. The Angels don't just need to improve enough so that they're better in 2016 than they were in 2015, they have to account for their divisional rivals. Both Texas and Houston finished ahead of the Angels in 2015 and both are in line to improve themselves next season. Texas will be getting Darvish back in the rotation and will have Hamels and Holland for 30+ starts. Houston will have Correa and Springer for 162 games. They've got a bunch of money to spend and another set of young studs ready to emerge.
The Angels are in danger of slipping into a prolonged period of mediocrity. Eppler and company are at a tremendous disadvantage and have very little leverage entering this off-season. They've got just one real shot to put this team in a position to contend for the Mike Trout years. Arte Moreno has to piss on the luxury tax threshold like Glen at the ballot box on election night.
Who should they get?
To truly improve this team and have any shot at matching the Rangers and Astros from a talent standpoint, the Angels need to sign some guys but also make some trades. Determining who has trade value really dictates who to sign. The only guys the Angels have that will be bring the Angels good bats are Newcomb, Richards and Heaney (in that order). That is all. Cron? Tropeano? Kubitza? Worthless in terms of acquiring a difference maker.
Sign two of Price, Greinke and Zimmerman. Sign Zobrist to primarily play third base.
Trade Newcomb to the Cubs for Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs are stacked offensively with young players. Schwarber is a can't-miss .900+ OPS bat. The Cubs lack legitimate depth in the rotation.
Bonus: Schwarber looks like the result of a Sosh-Napoli-Mathis bangorama.