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Here are all of our Blog entries from our talented group of writers, imported from our homepage at AngelsWin.com

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AngelsWin.com

IT-trainwreck

By Glen McKee, Something or Other

When I came back from camping last Sunday the Angels still had a chance at the second wild card spot in the AL.  Technically speaking, they still do, but yeah, I know.  It’s over.  Last week was the equivalent of driving down the road at 55 mph and then suddenly and simultaneously getting four flat tires. We shouldn’t be surprised, though.  The Angels jalopy has been driving all year behind a truck with a bed full of nails and for some strange reason, a fan blowing those nails onto the road.  It’s no surprise that this happened, it’s a surprise that the team made it this far.

The bad.  Obviously, you start with the 1-5 record and work your way down from there.  Everything about the team was inconsistent but most of the time, the Angels were playing from a deficit even when the starters did well.  The Angels scored 18 runs in six games, making for some easy math to figure out they averaged a sad three runs per game.  They gave up 30 runs in those six games, making for more easy math: five runs per game.  The Angels had a -12 run differential last week during a crucial stretch.  Welp.

Mike Trout – Trout continued his September to disremember, hitting .217 last week but showing some faint signs of a pulse yesterday.  He’s hitting .233 for September with two home runs.  Trout’s slump has been discussed enough on the board, so let’s move on.

Yusmeiro Petit – Yusmeiro has been nails for us most of the year so it’s hard to get down on him.  He just ran out of gas last week, pitching in three games and losing two of them while posting a 20.25 ERA.  Yikes.  He still has a 2.64 ERA on the season, almost two runs below his career average.

Eduardo Parades – This week he turned back into Eduardo Parades, giving up five runs in 2.1 innings over two appearances.  His ERA for the season is now 4.71.

CJ Cron – Cron disappeared last week, hitting .158 but managing to hit a home run that nobody other than AO will remember.

Andrelton Simmons – He was slightly better than Cron, hitting .182 last week.

This list could go on and on, but it’s already giving me a sadgasm so let’s move on.

Sadgasm

The good.  What, there was good last week?  Of course there was!  Let’s look at the few things that pierced the funk that was last week.

Justin Upton – He only hit .241 last week but he had four home runs and five RBI.  Those five RBI were more than 25% of the Angels runs scored last week.  He’s making a pitch to be the Angels LF again next year, even if he opts out.  Seven HR and an OPS of 1.021 in September.  I know, it’s a walk year of sorts and beware of stats put up in said years.  Just think about how many players have come to the Angels and tanked (not Tanked, which is going vegetarian).  He’s worth a shot for next year.

Garrett Richards – You have no idea how happy it makes me see him make this list.  Six IP, zero ER against Houston.  An ERA of 1.76 and a WHIP of 0.72 for September.  My only regret about this season ending is that we won’t get to see more of him, but he’s giving us hope that next year we’ll have Ace Richards.

Ricky Nolasco – Five IP, two ER is good for Nolasco.  He starts again today, which means he’ll get another start later this week just so we can see him one more time.  After that, it’s Godspeed, Ricky.  I’m sure you’ll sign with another team next year and have an ERA in the threes.

Keynan Middleton –  This cat is interesting.  He has the stuff to be a closer and I think he’s worth sticking with.  3.1 IP last week, zero ER.

Blake Parker – 2.1 IP, zero ER last week.  He has to be looked at a closer candidate for next year.

Ben Revere – He seems to be thriving as a pinch-hitter, and who knows, perhaps he’d thrive with regular AB.  3-3 last week pinch-hitting.

The rest.  Since being called back up on September 1, Carlos Perez has had three AB.  Huston Street is about ready to pitch off of a mound, or something, who cares.  Kaleb Cowart has gotten two more AB than Perez this month.  Somehow, Luis Valbuena has hit 21 HR this season while posting a .194 BA.

The week ahead.  Do you really care?  I care, dammit!  This is the last Angels baseball we’ll see until spring training next year.  Four in Chicago against the White Sox and the season ends with three at home versus the Dipotos.

Predictions.  Who gives a flying fart?  I do!  The Angels will give us some false hope, winning three in Chicago and moving us a bit closer to that second wild card spot, but then they’ll lose the first two against the Dipotos before ultimately winning the last game of the season.

Next Monday.  The last LWIAB for the season.  I’ll try to go out in style, with all the stuff that was missing from this week’s edition.  I’ll try to make it worth your while to read it.  Until then, enjoy the last week of Angels baseball this year.


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AngelsWin.com

In a year of the unexpected for the Angels, maybe no player has provided a more unexpected season than reliever Blake Parker.

Prior to this season, Parker endured a transactional history that many players never go through. A quick look at his Fox Sports profile gives you an idea of what he’s been through just since the year 2015.

screen-shot-2017-09-19-at-11-52-32-am.png?w=640

It seems as if Major League Baseball teams either really valued Blake Parker or barely valued him, allowing him to swap teams like it was nothing. Just this past offseason alone, Parker went from the Yankees to the Angels to the Brewers then back to the Angels. Angels general manager Billy Eppler was clearly intrigued by Parker, acquiring him numerous times. So what is it that teams saw in Parker that resulted in him moving around so much and burning frequent flyer miles in the process?

First, Parker has always missed bats, even across the minor league level. In 423 career minor league innings, Parker struck out 480 batters, which is good for a very impressive 10.2 K/9 rate. Before this season, the lowest strikeout percentage he had in a MLB season was 18.8% in 6 innings in 2012 and posted a career best 28.2% strikeout rate in 21 innings in 2014. The ability to miss bats has always been there, thanks to a solid fastball-curveball combination.

Elsewhere, however, Parker was lacking. The majority of his MLB time prior to this year came with the Chicago Cubs, where he had a solid 3.68 ERA in 73 1/3 innings but posted a 1.323 WHIP, which was far too high to be an effective reliever. Coming into 2017, there wasn’t much of an expectation for Parker, who was a low risk arm who had been decently productive in some MLB seasons but was also a 31 year old who had elbow surgery just 2 years ago.

Then, Spring Training happened. Deciphering whose over performances or under performances are real in the month of March is always tough but Blake Parker put on a clinic, which resulted in him making the Angels Opening Day roster. In 12 1/3 innings, Parker allowed 1 lone run while striking out an absurd 24 batters while walking just 2 batters. This included Parker striking out 17 of the last 18 batters he faced in Spring Training, which is hard to fake even in a short stint.

As many are aware by now, this success from Spring Training carried over to the regular season. In 64 innings this season, Parker is posting career highs across the board: ERA(2.39), FIP(2.61), K%(33.9%), K-BB%(27.3%) and Fangraphs version of WAR(1.6). By fWAR, Parker is the 23rd most valuable reliever in baseball. Baseball Reference, which looks more at strictly run prevention, values him even higher at 1.8 WAR. You can make the case that Parker is a top 20 reliever in baseball who is only topped on the Angels by fellow teammate Yusmeiro Petit(2.2 fWAR).

There are numerous factors to the established success Parker has created this year. For starters, his fastball velocity this year is at 93.6 mph, well above his career 92.4 mark. Secondly, and arguably the most important thing that Parker has improved, is the development of his split finger fastball. MLB.com has discussed this pitch as has Beyond the Box ScoreThe pitch is a legitimate wipeout pitch that has helped turn Parker’s career around.

According to Fangraphs pitch value system, Parker’s split finger is the best split finger among MLB relievers, coming in at 5 weighted runs above average. In 2016, Parker started tinkering with the pitch and threw it 19.4% of the time but without a ton of success. This year, he’s throwing it 31.8% of the time while throwing it a full mph harder.

giphy.gif

In other words, Parker is throwing much harder and his 3rd best pitch prior to the season is now his wipeout secondary pitch. He still throws his curveball, which has gotten good results even while throwing it less than 10% of the time. Part of the success with these pitches is related to Parker’s consistent release points. Many great pitchers are able to deceive hitters due to throwing pitches from the same release point and Parker has done precisely that this year. Here’s a look at his vertical release point.

screen-shot-2017-09-19-at-12-35-07-pm.png?w=640

You put all of this together and you have a dominant reliever. It’s never wise to rely on relievers long term but for the short term, Blake Parker looks like an extremely good reliever. Parker has only racked up 2 years of service time so he’ll hit arbitration for the first time this winter and doesn’t hit free agency until after the 2021 season. Given that he was acquired for essentially nothing, the Blake Parker pickup looks to be one of the most shrewd moves made by the Angels in some time.

 


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AngelsWin.com

tlj

By Glen McKee, Wearing Reading Glasses as I Type This

Ya know, last week wasn’t horrible when you look at it as a whole, but it sure doesn’t feel like it, after another lousy weekend in Arlington.  What do I mean?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are a few examples.

– The “red-hot” Twins seem destined to upset us (I won’t get into remaining schedules), and they’re on a tear.  However, we’re only 1.5 games behind them for the second wild card spot, and in the last ten games the Twins are 6-4, the Angels are 5-5.  It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.

– Angels pitchers give up so many home runs that they have to lead the league in that stat, right?  Nope.  However, they are fifth in the league, with 193.  You know who is third?  Baltimore, the team directly ahead of us in the wild card chase, with 203.  Minnesota is right behind us at sixth with 191.  It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.

– The Angels pitching is killing them.  Well, in Texas that was certainly the case as it usually is.  Add to that Heany has been mostly awful since coming back and there’s definitely cause for concern.  The Angels are 17th in the league in ERA,  yet they’re tenth in BAA (those home runs kill).  Amazingly, the Angels starters are 13th in the league with a 4.51 ERA.  It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.  If you were wondering, the bullpen is fifth in ERA at 3.63.  Doesn’t feel like it, does it?  And because I know you’re curious (who can’t get enough stats?) the bullpen is 18th in HR allowed with 56, the starters are fourth with 137.  That feels about right.

So, what I’m saying is, don’t give up hope yet, and understand why Eppler made the trades he did.  As bad as those pitching stats are, look at these offensive (ha ha) stats: 21st in runs scored, 24th in HR, 21st in OBP, 27th in OPS.  It’s no wonder Eppler was looking to improve the offense.

– The Bad.  The pitching in Texas, in general.  It was effing awful.  If I was to list all of the bad performances we’d be here for a while, but let’s just say that we all agree Keynan Middleton isn’t fooling anyone and should be relegated to mop-up duty at this point, with the rosters expanded.  The Angels gave up 21 runs in three games (that’s roughly a 7.00 ERA).  There were a few solid performances and they’ll be highlighted later.

– Luis Valbuena.  Dude went ice-cold last week, hitting .077 but somehow still managing six walks and three runs.  Valbuena is all or nothing, and last week was nothing.

 

The Good.  On the offense, there was a lot of good last week.  Kole Calhoun only hit .250 but came up big with 5 RBI.  You can say Mike Trout’s slump is over; he hit .625 last week, going 10 for 16 with five walks.  Boner alert!  Andrelton Simmons showed signs of heating up again, hitting .286.  CJ Cron had a great week: .292, 3 HR, 11 RBI.  in six games last week the Angels scored 41 runs.  This needs to continue, and there’s one guy in particular I’m gonna focus on.

– Albert Pujols.  Dude came up big last week, hitting .375 with 2 HR (I called them) and 11 RBI (he’s an RBI machine!).  But you know what else I remember?  Those rally-killing GIDPs.  Dude.  Knock that shit off.  You’ve already broken the single-season record.  Quit adding to it.

– Noe Ramirez.  Now let’s look at a few good call-ups.  Noe Ramirez is the Angels’ answer to Angel Pagan in the hair department.  2.0 innings pitched last week, no runs, no hits, 2 Ks.  Gimme some more of that.  Any time Scioscia is itching to go with Middleton in a close game, the real answer is Noe.

– Eduardo Parades.  He only pitches 0.2 innings last week with 0 ER, but I’m including him because of his player profile on ESPN.  Look at this snippet:

perez

You’re telling me this guy with that face is 6-1, and only 170 pounds? Get outta here!

– Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit.  As bad as our pen has been, these guys have been rock solid.  6.1 IP last week, 0 ER.  Even our new Blake, Blake Wood, has been good, going 5.2 IP with 1 ER.

 

Hey Glen, how about those trades?  I alluded to them earlier, but let me address them a bit more now.  Despite the solid week the Angels hitters had, they needed help at 2B and in LF.  It can be argued that Revere was heating up, but the Angels got Justin Upton (here, Upton here) and Brandon Phillips for relative peanuts.  It was an opportunity to immediately improve their offense for a tough stretch run.  Verlander would have been nice, for sure, but the offense was worse off.  The defense may suffer a bit but the return on the bats should more than make up for it.  Talk to me at the end of the season.  At least Eppler took what he thought was the best shot.  Admit it, you were as surprised as I was that he made those moves.

5noHKsb

The Rest.  The Angels are still 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot with Baltimore ahead of them.  Nothing is over yet.  This team could pull a Rocky, or they could pull an Apollo Creed in Rocky IV.  I don’t know how it will go but I’m gonna be optimistic, while at the same time venting in the gameday threads.

The week ahead.  Three in the cesspool at Oakland, a day off, and then three in Seattle.  3-0 is what the Angels need in Oakland.  2-1 is acceptable.  Anything less is bad, really bad.  Seattle is only a game behind the Angels so you can’t take them for granted, but again, 2-1 is acceptable; anything less and it’s:

RX4JG

Predictions: I already forgot what I predicted last week but I think I was close, so yeah, that.  For this week, the starting pitching scares me but I think the offense can make up for it with both teams the Angels are facing.  3-0 Oakland, 2-1 Seattle.

And finally…a note.  LWIAB is taking a two-week hiatus.  I’ll be on vacation next Monday and won’t return until the following Sunday, and during that time I’ll have no internet access so I won’t be able to write a column the following Monday.  Here’s something to tide you over until the next column.

2852639


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AngelsWin.com

The Angels have been unlikely contenders for an American League Wild Card spot in a season where Mike Trout has missed significant time and a barrage of injuries have hit the starting rotation yet again. After a 3 game sweep of the Oakland Athletics to start the week, the Angels were sitting one game behind the Minnesota Twins for the 2nd Wild Card spot. With the August trade deadline approaching, Angels general manager Billy Eppler decided to make a big splash to bolster the roster. He acquired Tigers outfielder Justin Upton.

Full deal, per sources: Justin Upton and cash (covering part of 2017 salary) to #Angels; Grayson Long and low-level PTBNL to #Tigers. @MLB

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 31, 2017

For the past several weeks, Justin Upton, along with starting pitcher Justin Verlander, had been heavily discussed as August trade candidates with the Tigers heading towards a big rebuild. Upton, who is owed 88.5 million dollars from 2018-2021, presented a tricky trade candidate because he has an opt out clause after this season that realistically may be exercised with the year he is having. The Angels will employ Upton for at least one month but they run the risk of trading for him and seeing him leave very quickly.

For the Angels, this move is very sensible. With the Angels being so close to a playoff spot, there was an obvious need to either add a frontline starting pitcher or legitimate middle of the order bat to help push this team into the playoffs. Justin Upton represents a legitimate middle of the order bat. Upton is having a huge year after posting down numbers in 2016 as he’s currently hitting .279/.362/.542 with a 138 wRC+ that ranks 21st among qualified MLB hitters. Upton is a bit more than just a big bat, however, as he’s been a well rounded player for a while. His 4.1 fWAR ranks 23rd among all position players and is the 3rd highest total he’s posted in a season. He’s stole 10 bases this year and he’s saved 10 runs defensively(DRS), which furthers his value beyond the batter’s box.

Justin Upton looks even better if you look at his past calendar year. Look where he ranks dating back to this exact date a year ago:

screen-shot-2017-08-31-at-4-23-06-pm.png?w=640

Justin Upton has been a top 10 hitter and a top 15 position player for the last 365 days. He has hit 41 home runs in that span. Angels left fielders have hit 34 combined home runs since the beginning of 2016. Upton represents a massive offensive upgrade over the Angels left fielders of the past and he instantly becomes the 2nd best hitter on the team. A middle of the order featuring Mike Trout and Justin Upton immediately becomes a terrifying proposition for opposing pitchers.

On the opposite side, Detroit will receive Grayson Long, who MLB.com ranked as the Angels 9th best prospect, along with a player to be named later(PTBNL). Grayson Long has a variety of different views from several pundits, with some believing he’s a fringe starting pitcher(such as Fangraphs), while MLB.com view him as a potential innings eating 4th/5th starter. He’s a fine piece for the Tigers to receive given the circumstances and Long is close to MLB ready. It’ll be interesting to see who the PTBNL ends up being but given Jon Morosi reported it’s a low level player, it’s likely a raw talent with plenty of issues to iron out.

As a follow up move, the Angels exposed Cameron Maybin to waivers and he was plucked by the Houston Astros, who will pay the remaining of Maybin’s 2017 salary without giving up any talent in return. With rosters expanding soon, it was feasible that Maybin could’ve stuck around as a really nice 4th outfielder who could steal some bags off the bench. Instead, the Angels save some cash and will use Ben Revere in that same role. With Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and now Justin Upton occupying 3 outfield spots, you could probably understand the logic in saving some cash by letting Maybin go.

The Angels decided standing pat when they were so close to a playoff spot wasn’t a smart plan. Justin Upton could be an Angel for a month and the Angels could miss the playoffs. It’s also possible the Angels make the playoffs and Justin Upton decides to not opt out after the season. There’s a few scenarios that will play out but whatever does happen, today’s trade signals that the Angels are serious about playing in October and Upton adds a legitimate presence to the Angels lineup. Here is some video of Justin Upton hitting the snot out of the baseball in 2017.

 


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AngelsWin.com

Andrew Heaney has a 5.63 ERA and 7.81 FIP in his first 3 starts of 2017. That may make you question the title of this piece but a deeper look into his numbers bring up some cause for optimism.

On Monday night, Andrew Heaney toed the rubber for his 3rd MLB start of the 2017 season. His previous 2 starts were not good strictly from a run prevention stand point. In those first 2 starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, Heaney allowed 15 hits and 9 runs in 10 innings, including 7 home runs. For a pitcher returning from a major surgery, this was not something to freak out about and for a pitcher who relies more on command than pure stuff, it was too early to panic. A bright spot in those first 2 starts, however, was the 9 strikeouts he generated against the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, while walking zero batters. You could key in on those peripherals and potentially forecast a strong start coming soon.

That strong start came on Monday against the Oakland Athletics, as Heaney punched out a career high 10 hitters and allowed 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks in his 6 innings of work. Heaney sacrificed a bit of his control to get the A’s hitters to expand out of the zone and it worked as he posted a career best 19.2% swinging strike rate in this game, well above his 9.6% career mark. Take a look at the stuff Heaney had on display Monday night.

As mentioned before, Heaney has long been touted as a command before stuff pitcher so this jump in swing and misses through his 1st 3 starts has been a bit of a surprise. What isn’t surprising is the jump in swing and misses is probably correlated to a jump in velocity. Thanks to the wonderful website brooksbaseball.net, we can view all sorts of charts and in this case, velocity charts. Here are Andrew Heaney’s average velocities by each game over his career.

screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-4-28-08-pm.png?w=811&h=395Andrew Heaney velocity by game

Immediately, you’ll notice the average velocity on his fastball, which is classified as a sinker on Brooks Baseball based on vertical and horizontal movement. Through 3 starts, Andrew Heaney is throwing harder than ever. In fact, his start on Monday night proved to be his hardest throwing night of his MLB career, as he averaged 93.12 mph on his sinker. The previous start was Heaney’s 2nd hardest throwing night in his career, where he averaged 93.06 mph on his sinker. Both starts came at Angel Stadium so it’s fair to question if the gun was potentially hot but based on the swings and misses Heaney got, it’s also fair to wonder if Heaney’s stuff is just better so far. Through 3 starts, Heaney has a very healthy strikeout minus walk%(K-BB%) of 23.2%, which is much higher than his 13.1% career mark. He has struck out 19 batters and only walked 3 in his 16 innings of work, which are pretty gaudy totals for a pitcher with Heaney’s track record of not striking out loads of batters.

Heaney’s stuff is better and that’s noteworthy in itself but there’s a little more to him just striking out more batters. Heaney has altered his arm angles and he’s adjusted his positioning on the rubber. Check out the Heaney’s horizontal release point.

screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-4-45-54-pm.png?w=803&h=395Andrew Heaney’s horizontal release point

This is a drastic change in release point for any pitcher, let alone one who just missed over a full year of game action due to surgery. It seems rather likely that Heaney dug into the stats during his down time and tried to make some tweaks to the way he positioned his body and his arm actions on the mound. Video backs up these changes, as Heaney has totally changed his position on the mound. Look at the difference of where Heaney’s back foot is on the rubber in a start from 2015 compared to his start on Monday night vs Oakland.

screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-4-44-29-pm.png?w=1098&h=668Andrew Heaney 2015 start(via MLB video)screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-4-45-12-pm.png?w=1266&h=669Andrew Heaney on Monday 8/28/17(Via MLB video)

Heaney has switched from the first base side of the rubber over the third base side of the rubber, which is a drastic change but one many pitchers make if their results aren’t good. This change especially makes sense for a pitcher like Heaney, who faced dramatic platoon splits before this season. As a lefty who placed himself on the 1st base side of the rubber, this may have allowed right handed hitters to get a better look at his release point. Consider this: Lefties hit just .228/.261/.307 against Heaney in 2015, his first full big league season, but righties hit .252/.321/.402 against him. His K-BB% vs lefties in 2015 was 21.8% while it was a measly 7.8% vs righties. While righties have torched Heaney to a .268/.316/.722 clip in 2017, his K-BB% is 25.4% against righties, which is a phenomenal rate for a lefty pitcher throwing to right handed hitters.

Another small tweak that Heaney has already made in 2017 is adjusting his vertical release point, which was significantly lower in his 1st 2 starts. That subtle difference may explain the home run issues he had, as a lower release point usually means less plane on your pitches, which means pitches come on a more ideal plane for hitters. Heaney seemingly picked up on his release point quickly and got it back to his usual level in his past start, which probably explains why he had a career best outing on Monday night.

screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-5-01-34-pm.png?w=807&h=397Andrew Heaney Vertical Release Point 

All of these changes Heaney has made has led to a potentially better version than even his biggest fans thought he’d be. A 3 game sample of games is too small to draw huge conclusions but there are some very encouraging signs that Heaney is showing so far. It’s also fair to acknowledge that his past start came against an Athletics lineup whose #3 hitter was Jed Lowrie, whose an owner of a career 101 wRC+. Striking out 20% of batters against any MLB lineup is impressive regardless but we’ll need to see this over a larger sample. The home run issue is likely a small blip on the radar(7 home runs in 2 games is an anomaly) but if these bat missing improvements are real, the upside for Heaney maybe changes from a potential 3/4 starter, which Fangraphs labeled him in 2015, to a potential #2 starter. Lefties who average 93 mph on their fastball, have 2 above average off speed pitches and generate 27.5% strikeout rates are hard to find and that’s the current 2017 version of Heaney. Proceed with cautious optimism but there are reasons to be excited about Andrew Heaney moving forward.


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charlize

By Glen McKee, Assistant Nostalgiac to AO

Wow, what a lousy week it was, and what the heck is 90s Charlize Theron doing at the top of the article, not that anyone is complaining?  Glad you asked, voice in my head as I’m writing this.  Last week for the Angels the bottom dropped out (although not completely out, as will be discussed shortly), and that reminded me of the Angels teams from the 90s, and this song from the 90s in particular:

I’ve seen better days

With that in mind, this misery-filled review is going to be filled with visual odes to some of the women of the 90s, because there needs to be something to make last week more palatable, both for me as a writer and you as a reader.  Off we go.

The bad.  Almost everything.  You can start with the record (2-5) and work your way down from there.  That 2-5 came after a very good road trip and the Angels were at home with a chance to prove they were for reals, yo.  Instead of being good, they were bad, very bad.  You know who was bad in the 90s, at least on TV?  No, not Frank Stallone, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen on 90210.  

tiffani

 – Albert Pujols.  Statistically and comparatively speaking, Pujols had a good week.  He’s getting a few more hits, as evidenced by his .281 average.  Heck, he even went 2-4 in yesterday’s gut-punch loss.  However, those two hits he didn’t get were in the 7th and 9th inning, both with the bases loaded.  In the 7th inning, he salted the earth with a GIDP.  In the 9th he ended the game on the first pitch he saw.  He seems to be connected at the hip to Mike Trout (Scioscia did the surgery) in the batting order and we continue to see the results day after day, and yet nothing is being done.  Speaking of Mike Trout…

– Mike Trout.  He’s in the worst slump of his career, going hitless in his last five games (0-14) but still managing eight walks in that time because he hits ahead of Pujols.  When Trout isn’t hitting, the offense goes from below average to horrid.  Please, Mike.  Wake up soon, like today.

– Kaleb Cowart.  I want this guy to succeed as much as anybody else does, but after a hot start, he’s regressed to what all the cynics said he would be.  There is still hope for him, but a 2-19 week isn’t a reason for optimism.

– Cam Bedrosian.  He was solid in two out his three appearances last week, but that third appearance was brutal and helped cost the Angels the game, giving up three ER and the lead.  Relievers are going to have bad games, but those bad games are magnified when you have as much hope as you do in a player like Cam, who should be a closer.  Here’s 90s supermodel Cindy Crawford holding an incredibly dated looking can of Pepsi to make you feel better about Cam:

cindy-pepsi

 – Cameron Maybin.  Remember that hot month that Cameron had?  Yeah, it seems like a while ago.  .227 last week, with a .235 average on the season (but he’s also toting a .336 OBP, which makes him our best leadoff hitter since Figgy, I guess).

 

The Good.  Enough of the bad, eh?  How about some good?  Well, despite the awful week and despite being only one game above .500, the Angels are still only 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot.  That’s why the bottom hasn’t completely dropped out yet: the rest of the AL also kinda sucks.  This isn’t from the 90s but it is from one of my favorite movies, and it applies here:

nothing-is-over-gif

 – Luis Valbuena.  Luis hit .300 last week, perhaps the only Angel to achieve such a lofty standard.  He also had eight RBI for the week.  Luis, you da real MVP last week!  He’s raised his average to .208, a number that seemed unpossible for him a month ago.  Bravo Luis!  You know who was hot in the 90s and of swarthy lineage?  You guessed it, LWIAB favorite Salma Hayek!

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 – Parker Bridwell.  P-Biddy (reason for that nickname soon) had one start last week, seven IP, two ER.  He’s the only starter we can count on now to get past the fifth inning and not destroy our bullpen.  That’s worth quite a few huzzahs, a round of applause and maybe even an ovation, and he didn’t even start the year on the Angels’ fans radar.  Yep, old P-Biddy is solid.  His new nickname sounds a lot like P-Diddy, and you know what hot 90s lady P-Diddy was linked with, amongst others?  You guessed it, future A-Rod fashion accessory J-Lo.  Let’s remember one of her most famous moments.

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 – Ben Revere.  Dude hit .333 last week and has brought his season average up to .258, but with only a .294 OBP.  I think he deserves a bit more playing time than Maybin at the moment, but what do I know.  I also think Pujols shouldn’t be hitting behind Trout for a while/the rest of the year/perhaps ever again.  Give Ben a few more AB.  He has 20 SB on the year so he has the speed factor.  Why shouldn’t he get a bit more playing time?  Sosh? Is this thing on?

 

The rest.  Martin Maldonado is still excellent behind the plate and still screaming out for some games off as his batting average continues to fall.  Hopefully, with the expanded rosters we’ll get Perez back up here and give Maldonado a breather.  Yusmeiro Petit continues to be excellent out of the pen, as does Blake Parker.  Since you can never have enough Blakes, the Angels got another one, Blake Wood (no relation to Brandon, I assume).  In his only game with the Angels, B-Woody pitched a scoreless inning, so yeah.  That.

 

The week ahead.  Three at home versus the As to finish up the homestand, and then three in Texas versus the Rangers.

 

Predictions.  Last week I was as awful with my predictions as the Angels were with their games.  This week should be better.  2-1 versus the As, 2-1 versus the Rangers.  In Sosh we trust.


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chance

By Glen McKee, Dumber

Every week with this team is a roller coaster.  Sometimes, it’s one of those crappy old roller coasters the theme park keeps around until they can find a way to replace it, like the Gold Rush at Magic Mountain: old, rickety, rough, and at the end, you swear you’ll never ride it again. Other times, it’s like the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disneyland: new, smooth, fun, and as soon as you’re done you want to get back in line and ride it again.  Last week was a Guardians week.

The bad.  I already used my Denny’s pun so I have nothing for the Angels giving up another walk-off grand slam.  It felt inevitable as soon as Machado came up to the plate.  Everyone, including myself and apparently excepting Mike Scioscia, wondered why Middleton was in the game to face Machado.  Then, on Sunday Mike brought Middleton in again for a pressure situation and…he wasn’t that bad.

– Kenyan Middleton.  Yeah, that grand slam was bad and he gave up the game-tying hit Sunday, but was he really that bad?  ERA of 9.00 for the week, two IP, two ER.  However, if you dig a bit deeper in the month of August he has a 3.86 ERA.  Not great, but passably good.  Given the state of our bullpen and our starts not going more than five innings at a time, it’s almost understandable that he was used like he was.  Almost.

– Albert Pujols.  This isn’t even relative to his contract, it’s relative to having a decent DH hitting behind Trout.  .214 last week, but hey, three RBI!  He also managed to get walked four times, while striking out only once.  But, those GIDP.  You shouldn’t have a GIDP machine hitting behind Trout.

– Kaleb Cowart.  I hate to say it as much as you hate to read it.  He started three of the five games last week and had a pinch-hit appearance in the non-start.  For whatever reason, and we can think of a few, his production is falling.  .182 last week, .279 for the season.  But you know who else was bad last week?  You guessed it, Frank Stallone!  And, this guy…

– Cliff Pennington.  The guy who starts when Cowart sits.  Kinda sucks on defense, hitting .247 for the year and trending downward.  If he was a stock, you’d already have sold him.  If Pennington and Cowart are gonna hit the same, why not go with the better glove in Cowart?

– Andrew Heaney.  What?  Come on dude, he just came back.  I know, and that’s awesome, and I know he’ll get better.  But come on, five runs in five innings.  I know, he’ll get better.  Welcome back, Heaney.

– CJ Cron.  Remember when he was hot?  It seems like it was just last week because it was last week.  Now, he’s cold, like a Katy Perry song.  Nope, no pictures.  He did have a HR but it was his only hit in 16 AB, for a .125 BA.  I expect he’ll heat up again this week, but I expect a lot of things that don’t happen.  Still expecting Salma Hayek to call me.

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The good.  There was a lot of good last week.  First off, the record, 3-2.  Any week you win more than you lose is good.  The Angels moved into a wild card spot and are making August interesting.  Some unexpected players are heating up, and none of them are hotter at the moment than…

– Luis Valbuena.  I think this is the first time this season Louie V has been on the good list.  He hit .500 last week with three HR and five BB.  His average is at the Mendoza Line as we read.  As Luggage Man Yunel Escobar fades from our memory, Valbuena is finally stepping up.  Here’s to another hot week.

– Mike Trout.  Yeah, it’s redundant to have him on here.  He was 0-5 yesterday and that hurt his average for the week (.238) but he’s Mike goddamned Trout so he gets a break.  He hit three HR and had a two-HR game.

– Cam Bedrosian.  At the risk of a whammy, Cam is back.  0 ER in August, three IP last week. There’s no reason why Cam shouldn’t be the closer right now, other than Scioscia experimenting with the bullpen.

Blake Parker.  Paker only made two appearances last week, 0 ER.  2.30 ERA for the season.  Another surprise in a bullpen full of them.  And now, a few surprises on the good list for the week:

– Andrelton Simmons.  It’s not a surprise that he’s on the good list, it’s a surprise that he’s on it this week, as his bat has frozen.  Two hits in 20 AB for the week, but one of those hits was a big HR on Sunday.  That, coupled with his consistency incredible defense, was a key factor in winning the game and the series.

– Bud Norris.  3.00 ERA last week,  but he pitched two key innings, one in each win in Baltimore, and got the save on Sunday.  Welcome back, Bud!  A note about Bud: we’ve already gotten so much more than anyone could have reasonably expected from him (19 saves), given his career 4.50 ERA.  Nobody expected him to be thrust into the closer position this season and he did remarkably well for longer than he should have.  I still count Bud as a win for the season.

 

The rest.  Juan Graterol went 0-6 last week, and Carlos Perez is hitting .377 in Salt Lake.  You have to figure that Perez will take over as backup catcher when the September call-ups are made.  Why wait?  Get him up here now!  Eduardo Parades (I think that’s Spanish for “parade”) has been solid all month and he would have made the good list, but I looked into him too late, so here he is on the rest.

 

The Rest of the Season.  The Angels have six games left versus Oakland and three versus the White Sox.  They have ten games left versus the Rangers, nine versus the Astros, three against the Indians (WTF?), and five versus the Mariners.  Take out Oakland and Chicago, and the rest of the teams are either playoff teams or in the hunt for the wild card (Seattle is only 1.5 games behind the Angels right now).  That’s a brutal schedule, and that’s how it should be.  The team will be tested and if they make the playoffs, they certainly deserve to.

 

The Week Ahead.  Four at home versus the Rangers, who are only 2.5 games behind the Angels for the second wild card, and three at home versus the Astros, who have led the AL West for about three years in a row now.  Houston is 5-5 in their last 10, Texas 7-3.  The Angels are 8-2.

 

Predictions.  Last week I got back on track, calling 1-1 and 2-1.  This week is tough to call.  The Angels are 33-26 at home and Texas is 26-33 on the road.  Houston is ridiculous on the road with a 40-21 road record, better than their home record.  3-1 versus the Rangers, and 1-2 versus the Astros.  Post your predictions here, if you’re not chicken.

 


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GIancarlo Stanton has taken the baseball world by storm the past few weeks by putting on one of the most impressive power displays in baseball history. Power has always been the 27 year old’s main calling card but even this recent stretch has been impressive for his standards. In a stretch of 35 games, Stanton pounded out 23 long balls, claiming the attention as the game’s premier slugger that Yankees rookie Aaron Judge tried to take away earlier this year. Stanton slugged a healthy .731 in the month of July and is slugging a ridiculous 1.018 in August. He’s been baseball’s best hitter and player in the 2nd half so far, leading baseball with 2.2 fWAR and a 215 wRC+(115% better than the league average hitter).

As is custom with good Miami Marlins players, Stanton’s name is now floating around in trade talks around the league. With a mediocre MLB team, the league’s worst farm system and the team in the middle of changing ownership, it seems inevitable that Stanton will end up changing teams in the next calendar year. Add in the fact that Stanton is having a monstrous year and it makes too much sense that he will be shopped to contending teams in the next 6 months. What makes any Stanton trade tricky, however, is the huge amount of money he is owed for the next decade.

In late 2014, the Marlins and Stanton surprised the baseball world by agreeing to a 13 year 325 million dollar contract extension. This deal is still the largest in baseball history and likely will be until Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are slated to be free agents in the next 4 years. At the time of the deal, it looked like a fair contract, albeit one with a lot of risk, given Stanton just slashed .288/.395/.555 with 6.3 fWAR as a 24 year old. Given his generational like power and surprising speed and athleticism for a 6’4″ 245 pound man, it seemed like he was on the verge of becoming a consistent top 5 player. Stanton produced well in 2015 but missed 88 games due to injury, then produced just 1.7 fWAR and a 114 wRC+ in 2016, leaving his future value in doubt. It appears as if Stanton is now back to his elite self, thanks to a change in his stance and swing mechanics that have led to a decline in strikeouts(22.8% strikeout rate in the 2nd half) while keeping the prodigious power. Here’s a look at the changes he made to his stance, which have helped him cover more of the strike zone and not allow himself to open up his front side too quickly.

screen-shot-2017-08-17-at-12-23-27-pm.png?w=624&h=312Stanton April 2017screen-shot-2017-08-17-at-12-43-47-pm.png?w=630&h=315Stanton August 2017

What’s noteworthy about the Stanton trade rumors is one team that is listed as a possible suitor: the Angels. J.P. Morosi of Fox Sports came out with a piece on Wednesday that listed the Angels, Giants and Nationals as 3 serious suitors, citing that the Angels will likely be interested after being off the hook for Josh Hamilton’s contract this coming offseason. With 50+ million dollars to spend this offseason and a farm system that won’t supplement the major league club all that soon, the match with Stanton is pretty obvious. Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been shy about making big splashes(Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton) and while the club has been resistant to make big moves lately, Stanton represents a young, star level player who also has ties to Southern California(Los Angeles native).

Let’s assume the Angels are serious bidders for Stanton. The first and obvious red flag here is the fact that he is under contract through 2027 and has a 25 million dollar club option in 2028 with a 10 million dollar buyout. Assuming that club option isn’t exercised, Stanton will be paid 295 million dollars from 2018-2027, nearly 30 million dollars a year. He does have an opt out after the 2020 season but it seems rather unlikely that he will opt out unless he ends up staying in Miami. In 2027, Stanton will be 37 years old. For a club that has been recently crippled by handing out big contracts to 30+ year olds, this doesn’t seem like a wise move on paper. Stanton is obviously a younger option than the previously mentioned Angels signings but he’ll be getting paid heavily in his later years much like those players. Another serious issue for most of Stanton’s career has been his injury proneness, as he missed pretty significant time in 2012-2013 and 2015-2016. Large human beings like Stanton tend to be a bit more injury prone so that’s another legitimate worry when you add the contract into the mix.

Even with those 2 huge red flags, Stanton is one of the game’s elite talents and would pretty easily become the Angels 2nd best player, or 3rd best(hello Andrelton Simmons). Since reaching the big leagues in 2010, Stanton has been the 15th most valuable position player in baseball. His 144 wRC+ ranks 7th in baseball in that same time frame. His .553 slugging percentage ranks 4th. Stanton is a legitimate middle of the order bat who would instantly make the Angels lineup a formidable group just by grouping him with Mike Trout. Stanton consistently posts above average walk rates and with this recent cut back in strikeouts, there is legitimate talk of Stanton being a top 5 hitter once again, much like he was from 2011-2014. Stanton is also a legitimately good defender in right field, which surprises some people based on his size. He has accumulated a healthy 39 defensive runs saved(DRS) and a 24.2 Ultimate Zone Rating(UZR) in right field. Statcast backs this up as he generally makes all of the routine players and makes plenty of 4 star catches(45.5% in 2017). Add all of this up and you have a true talent 4+ win player and that’s including the time he misses with injuries most years.

We’ve established that Stanton is a really good player. The tricky part is working out a deal. There is so much money tied up in Stanton that any team trading for him likely will either want to take on the whole deal but give up no meaningful talent or have some salary sent back while sending more talent in return. Many believe that the Stanton deal is a really bad deal but if you break it down, it’s not really a poor deal but rather one with a lot of risk due to the length of the deal. I did a very rough projection of Stanton’s value over the duration of the deal, projecting him for a few 5 win seasons coming up then docking a half a win off each following season until the deal is up. I included his annual salary and also calculated what his actual worth is based on his production and what the free agent market pays for 1 WAR. As of now, teams are paying roughly 9 million dollars for 1 WAR on the free agent market. Here’s what Stanton’s breakdown looks like, with his projected WAR listed first followed by his annual salary and what he would be paid in free agency.

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Inflation is a basic concept of economics and it applies to baseball as well. If we assume there’s roughly 5-10% of inflation over the next 10 years, Stanton will be worth 300-315 million dollars in this scenario. Again, this is a rough estimate and given Stanton’s injury history, it’s likely he’ll probably have a few injury riddled years. If you think this is too high of an estimate, that’s fair so maybe you dock him down to 250-275 million dollars of earned value. Even if that’s the case, Stanton is being paid pretty appropriately for what he’s providing on the baseball field. That means any team trading for Stanton and taking on the whole contract is probably paying him appropriately, which really means that team shouldn’t have to send anything meaningful back in return. But the Marlins are in the midst of changing ownership and it seems unlikely that Derek Jeter and his business partners will salary dump a franchise icon without getting some talent in return. This is where some potential issues may lie.

If the Angels enter the bidding process, they’ll likely want to take on most of the Stanton deal and give up less talent in return. If the Angels were to take the Stanton deal off and assume he’s being close to what he’s worth, the Angels likely won’t have to send much back. The Marlins likely want prospects and not MLB talent in return since a Stanton trade likely signals a rebuild so this rules out players like Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons, etc. Maybe a top 10 prospect and some filler fits the mold. Chris Rodriguez and some lower level prospects, for example, might be a fair return if the Angels take on all of the salary, or even most of it. The Marlins may ask for more but it’s unlikely they’ll get more value back unless they kick in cash, which is a possible scenario too. For the Angels, they soak up a lot of payroll but they also add a premier talent and will still have enough money to fill a few holes through free agency and trades.

Let’s assume the Marlins eat 25% of the contract, knocking the deal down to 221 million dollars over 10 years. 10 years still looks like a lot but that 22.1 Annual Average Value(AAV) looks a lot more enticing and is probably paying Stanton under what he’s actually worth. In this scenario, the Marlins can ask for a better prospect package in return, with Stanton being a bit of a bargain. Miami can likely ask for a few blue chip prospects, such as Jahmai Jones and Jaime Barria, and another project such as Elvin Rodriguez or Jose Suarez. This hurts the Angels farm system but it also gives the Angels more payroll flexibility and creates less risk by taking on less money on a gigantic deal.

If the Marlins really want to maximize their return value and aren’t too concerned about the money, they can split the cost of the contract, bringing it down to 147.5 million dollars over 10 years. Now, the Marlins have some serious leverage to ask for a monstrous return but are also on the hook for nearly 150 million dollars of dead money while also sending their franchise icon out of town. The Angels are probably sending Jahmai Jones, Jordon Adell, Jaime Barria, Chris Rodriguez and more in this hypothetical deal but are also getting a premier slugger for 14.75 million dollars a year over the duration of the deal. The Marlins likely don’t eat this much money and the Angels are probably hesitant to crush a farm system that is improving so much but it’s a possibility. This scenario means the Angels really undo the work of improving the farm system but they add a legit top 10 hitter and pay him well less than he deserves and allow themselves to spend more in free agency.

What we have here is two sides who are a match for negotiating a Giancarlo Stanton trade. What we don’t have is clarity on what each team would prefer: exchanging money or prospects. In any scenario, there seems to be a fit here considering how much free payroll the Angels have coming up and the dire need for another big bat to pair with Mike Trout before he hits free agency after 2020. Bringing Stanton in could be that big move that signals to Mike Trout that the Angels are serious and could sway him into re-upping to stay in Anaheim for the rest of his career. It’s a risky move and we’ve seen the Angels get crippled with big deals but the Angels also have the chance to add a premier player and possibly create the best duo of hitters in all of baseball. There is no doubt that this is an incredibly risky move, regardless of which route the Angels took to acquire Stanton, but it’s also a move that would help put the Angels firmly into contender mode and would maximize this Trout window. The upside with acquiring Giancarlo Stanton is obvious. The risk of acquiring him may be just as big, if not bigger, than that reward. Deciding if that risk is more than the reward is the ultimate question to any Giancarlo Stanton trade discussion.

 


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Leading up to yesterday’s day game, Parker Bridwell joined MLB Network via Ballpark Cam to discuss the following items with MLB Central’s Mark DeRosa, Matt Vasgersian and Hall of Famer John Smoltz:

Here’s some highlights of the segment with Parker Didwell.

On what works for him, Bridwell responded, “Primarily I’d say executing fastball command, being down in the zone early, and when guys are hacking it really works in your favor and helps you be more efficient. If I can get an out in two pitches instead of three then I’m gonna be in good shape and I’m gonna do that every time if I can. I just look to be efficient and get my team off the field and keep our bats hot.”

On facing the Orioles this coming Sunday, Bridwell said, “I think the way I am wired, there is a little extra something something. I like competing and that’s just the way I am. Like I told some of the guys after the first appearance with them, ‘There [are] some good friends on that side and they treated me and my family very well in that organization.’ So, it’s just a game and at the end of the day I just want to go out there and put my team in the best position to win.”

On befriending Hong Kong-based fan Fergus Chan, Bridwell said, “There was always this one kid that was always yelling positive things to me and Keynan Middleton. I got to talking to him one day and asked him about his story, or who he came with to the games, because he was always by himself. He said he bought a $10 ticket and sat way up in right field stands every game. So I told him to come to will call the next day and I’ll leave him a ticket by the dugout so he can kind of interact more with the players and stuff. From there it just took off, he’s an awesome kid and I’m very glad I got to meet somebody like that. He’s somebody that inspires a bunch of people and for me, I like doing stuff for people that are good to me.”

You can watch the entire segment with Bridwell below.


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By Glen McKee, Staff Writer

Believe it not, there isn’t a whole lot of preparation for writing this column.  I give it a bit of thought during the games throughout the week.  Then, on Monday morning when I take my dogs for a walk I try to solidify it and see what sticks in my head, in between finding dead bodies, loose cash, tools, and golf balls.  Usually, that Monday morning walk is long because I’m trying to pick nuggets of silver out of a week filled with mediocrity.  Today, however…sorry, dogs.  They got a short walk because for the first time this year I was genuinely enthused to get back and write about the last week of Angels baseball.  !!!

The bad.  Let’s get this out of the way because there was a little bit of bad last week.  The Angels started the week with a 3-2 loss in Baltimore and that looked like it would set the tone for the week.  However, the Angels spent the next six days coming from behind and showing that characteristic most valued at aw.com, grit.

– Cameron Maybin went 4-22 last week.  Seriously, Sosh, that ridiculous hot streak he had a while ago is looking like exactly that, a ridiculous hot streak.  More on Scioscia in a bit, and why Maybin is still leading off and it took so long to quit giving Norris save opportunities.

– Luis Valbuena.  With Escobar out, Valbuena will start every damn game because we don’t have a better option at 3B.  Sorry, Cowart.  You had a bad game so you’re back to sporadic starts and occasional pinch-hit appearances.  Luis will hit the occasional HR but in between HRs will give you nothing at all.  Nothing at all.  Stupid sexy Scioscia!

– Ricky Nolasco.  In his only start last week he gave up 5 ER in 5 IP.  In his start before that, 5 ER in 4 IP.  He’s given up 30 HR so far this season and we’re only halfway through August.  He’s scheduled to start Wednesday against the Nationals.  Washington is fourth in MLB with 173 HR.  You do the math (more on math in a bit, too).

The good.  Last week was so good we don’t need to dwell on the negative.  Let’s have some fun!

– Mike Trout hit a HR on my birthday (his, as well) and then had what was, for him, an off week, still managing to hit .318.

– Parker Bridwell.  Ya know how almost every year there’s at least one or two guys that the Angels either traded or let go, and they end up having a career year with their new team?  Well, for once we have the reverse of that.  On April 17 the Angels got Bridwell for nothing from the Orioles and since then he’s gone 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.  Parker Bridwell can’t lose!  Two starts last week, two wins, two ER, 13 IP.  What a stud.  Good job, EpPler.

– CJ Cron.  Speaking of studs, let’s take a gander at CJ’s week.  3 HR, .407 average, 7 RBI.  CJ is streaky but when he’s hot he’s a thrill to watch.  He crushes HR like Trumbo used to for us.

– Cam Bedrosian.  3 IP, 0 ER last week.  It looks like Bedrock is back.  He has to be in line to get the closer job again because while Middleton has been “successful” in that role he’s also giving up a lot of runs (4.16 ERA to Cam’s 3.67).  Why wouldn’t Scioscia give Cam the job back?

The Scioscia conundrum.  I’ve finally figured out Scioscia, and this might help me (and you) enjoy the games a little bit more.  His decisions will still be frustrating but at least you’ll have a bit of understanding.  Scioscia is like your algebra teacher.  You come up to him with the answer to the problem and you know it’s correct.  Sosh looks at it and says “that’s nice, now show me your work.”  You’re not sure how you got the answer but you know it’s correct and you know you can’t show the work.  That’s why Bud Norris kept getting opportunities to close, even when the rest of us knew he was going to blow it (the answer to the math problem).  He was showing Scioscia the work.  That’s why Middleton will keep closing and Maybin will keep leading off, and Valbuena will keep starting.  They’re showing Scioscia the work, even though we all know the answer already.

The rest.  You already knew this, but if the season ended last night the Angels would be in the playoffs.  Thanks, lousy American League!  The Angels also have the best current winning streak at six games.  Finally, let’s not overlook Yusmeiro Petit, who should also be considered for closer (although he’s equally useful getting the key outs late in the game before the 9th like he’s doing now).  4 IP, 0 ER last week and a 2.36 ERA for the season.

The week ahead.  A day off today, two games in Washington (WTF?  A two-game series?), another day off, and then three at Baltimore.  A strange week.

Predictions.  Hoo boy, was I wrong last week.  I predicted 1-2 and 1-3, and the Angels went 2-1 and 4-0.  They’ve made me a believer, at least temporarily, which means my whammy could be in play.  1-1 versus the Harper-less Nationals and 2-1 versus the Orioles.


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By @Brent Maguire, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer

Mike Trout missed 39 games in the middle of this season due to a torn ligament in his thumb from sliding into 2nd base. At the time of the injury, it presumably knocked him out of the American League MVP picture, which seemed fair given the precedent set by previous MVP winners. Fangraphs very own Craig Edwards examined this exact precedent earlier this week and, based on his data, Trout would end up receiving the 2nd lowest amount of plate appearances for any MVP winner in baseball history(in a non-strike shortened season). Given the vast amount of data available now and, quite frankly, the integrity of the writers, the Trout MVP case isn’t as far fetched as some may believe.

Right now, Mike Trout has the 4th highest fWAR(Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) among all position players(5.1 fWAR) and ranks 3rd in the American League behind Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve, who both have 5.9 fWAR, respectively. WAR is not the be all end all stat but it does a good job of combining every element of a player’s game and Trout has somehow racked up 5.1 fWAR in just 70 games. For those curious, that would put him on pace for 11.8 WAR over a full 162 game season, which would rank as the 12th most valuable season in Major League Baseball history, and rank only behind some dudes named Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby and Honus Wagner. Mike Trout has already has a historic start to his career, putting up 7.9 fWAR in his first 5 full big league seasons and 9+ WAR in 4 of those 5 seasons, but his 2017 season has been on a completely different level.

If you’re not a WAR believer(cue chorus from ” War” by Edwin Starr), then let’s just break down the individual elements of Trout’s game. Offensively, Trout has been absolutely smashing baseballs and getting on base at will in his 70 games. His current slash line is .347/.468/.710, which essentially looks like an average Babe Ruth season(.342/.474/.690). If he qualified, Trout’s batting average would rank 3rd in baseball and he’d boast the highest on base percentage and slugging percentage in both leagues. Trout is walking a career high 17.7% of the time and is striking out in a career low 19% of his plate appearances. He’s on pace to hit 38 home runs, which would be the 2nd highest total in any season despite the fact that he missed a quarter of a season. Trout’s current 208 wRC+(108% better than the league average hitter) is far and away the best in baseball and well above his career 171 wRC+. If Trout maintains a 200+ wRC+, it’d be only the 5th time that has happened in this century and the other 4 instances were accomplished by Barry Bonds from 2001-2004.

Defensively, Trout has more or less been slightly below average in center field this season based on the metrics. He’s currently at -1 defensive runs saved(DRS) and -2.3 UZR(Ultimate Zone Rating). Statcast has essentially backed up this claim as Trout has had zero 5 or 4 star catches but has caught a vast majority of his 1-3 star opportunities. This isn’t necessarily a knock on Trout either: performing as the league’s best hitter while playing near average defense in center field is uber valuable. On the bases, Trout has continued to run the bases with the best of them as he is on pace to swipe 20+ bags again and will end up with 3+ Baserunning Runs(BsR) despite missing 39 games. All around, Trout has been an absolute monster yet again.

While it seems more likely that Trout doesn’t win MVP this year, there is a real case that he will be competing for a top 2 or 3 spot again in the race. If Jose Altuve hits .350+ with 7+ WAR on the best team in the American League, it’s going to be hard for the writers to pass that up. Aaron Judge is struggling since the break but he’s still on pace to hit 45+ home runs and post a 7+ win season while manning right field for the New York Yankees. Chris Sale is having a season of historic measures and may represent Trout’s biggest rival for the award as the terrifying lefty has already hit 7 fWAR and has a 2.57 ERA along with his sub 2 FIP. As of now, there’s a pretty clear top 4 and it looks like Trout will squarely be in the mix of things.

Mike Trout might be one of the select few players in baseball who can miss 1/4th of a season and still be in the conversation for being the league’s most valuable player. Clayton Kershaw threw 149 innings of historic baseball last season and finished 5th in the Cy Young voting so we don’t have to look back too far to see how writers will penalize players who miss time. Kershaw’s 237 ERA+ and 15.64 strikeout-walk ratio were legendary numbers but they still weren’t enough to get him a top 3 finish. The writers could penalize Trout the same way but if this pace keeps up, it’s going to be impossible for the writers to ignore him. If the Angels somehow sneak into the playoffs, that will likely boost his case even further for the writers.

Whatever ends up happening with the MVP voting, enjoy Mike Trout. The fact that we can even have this discussion speaks volumes to the incredible talent that Trout is. If he doesn’t win MVP, he’s still likely had a legendary season that was hurt by a fluke injury. If he does end up in fact win the award, then this is going to be a season that is talked about for a very long time. Long live Mike Trout.


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By Ellen Bell, AngelsWin.com Staff Reporter

Today, I attended an event for the Boys and Girls Club of Orange County in Anaheim. Matched pairs of kids and mentors came to spend some time in the batting cages and get to meet an Angel superstar. In my opinion, heroes were everywhere in the room. The following is my take on what happened when the baseball hero arrived.

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We are waiting. Big kids. Little Kids. All baseball fans. Soon it will be ShowTime. But first, it’s time for batting practice

It’s been awhile since I was here…crowded into sweaty batting cages watching little guys in baseball caps take mighty swings. Grownups are standing by with camera phones poised and ready for a solid hit. Encouraging them after each attempt.

The equipment has changed. Nearby monitors show the velocity and direction of each hit ball and superimpose the trajectory of their efforts onto a digital version of Angel Stadium field. Pretty cool stuff…my son would have loved that.

The technology and the names on the backs of their jerseys may be different, but it’s still the same experience. Little boys with big league dreams, stepping up to the plate.

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And then their Hero arrives.

Bigger than life but just as human. The Big Guy seems a

bit uncomfortable, as if he’d rather be back in the cages with the little ones. He was there of course, swinging at baseballs from the age of 3 say his parents. But now it’s a different season. It’s time for him to stand in front of the rest of the kids and be a leader and the most terrifying word of all: a role model.

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They ask him questions, eagerly thrusting their hands in the air for a chance that he’ll notice them.

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“What did it feel like the first time you played in the Big Leagues?”

“Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?”

“How’s your thumb feeling?”

“What do you eat for breakfast?”

Kid questions.

The Baseball Star has been asked countless questions by nameless faces holding microphones. But it’s apparent from his big smile that he’s happier answering these.

Then the little ones take their place in a long line and wait their turn for a handshake, a picture and maybe even a signature on the back of their jersey. The Baseball Star seems to understand why he’s here in the sweaty gym in Anaheim. Sure, there’s a franchise to promote and a sports drink to sell. But this is about the eyes looking up at him, wide-eyed and expectant. It’s about the hope of a kid who can still dream beyond his abilities. It’s about the fact that he was one of them too, not all that long ago.

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He’s patient. He’s polite to their Mom. He takes the time to look them in the eye and calls them “Buddy” when he greets them. He makes them feel important.

In an age when sports heroes are allowed to fight with refs, grumble through press conferences, and refuse to sign a child’s baseball, what could be more heroic than that?

The event winds down and the Baseball Hero heads back to the stadium to get ready for the night game. I watch the little one’s as they pile into the family car. They carry their bats and half-empty bottles of fruit-flavored sports drink. But they also take home a new story to tell and a new memory to keep.

About the day they got to meet Mike Trout.


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By Glen McKee, Realist

I’ve often (or occasionally, or maybe just once or twice) said that optimism doesn’t cost you anything.  You can be hopeful, but the key is that you have to be realistic as well.  For example, going into this season I was optimistic that the Angels would do reasonably well, but realistically I knew they were a sub-.500 team.  Last week, the optimism was crushed by the realism and here we are, four games under .500 and without a realistic shot at the wild card.  Since my optimism has been crushed, much like an alcoholic going back to the bottle I’m going back to what made everyone read this column in the first place: boobs.  You’re welcome, gentlemen (and ladies, if that’s your thing, I’m not here to judge).

What the hell happened last week?  In a week that could have gone 4-2 for the Angels, they instead went 2-4.  That change was driven by Bud Norris giving up not one, but two walk-off grand slams, one in Cleveland (what a steamer!) and one in Toronto (also a steamer, but not nearly as funny for some reason).  Bud decimated whatever trade value he had, which makes him the most annoying person of the week.  He’s almost as annoying as, I dunno, Kim Kardashian:

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You know else was annoying for almost all of last week?  Albert Pujols.  Going into Sunday’s game he was hitless but then on Sunday he suddenly found his bat again, hitting two HR and helping to give the Angels what looked like a safe lead.  He’s still batting a woeful .233 this season and hit a miserable .107 last week.  Did you know that according to his birth certificate, Albert was born in 1980, which makes him the same age as Macaulay Culkin and Gisele Bundchen?  Yeah, you know who you’re gonna get the picture of:

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Ah, I’m just screwing with ya, here’s what you were expecting (nice hat, Gisele!):

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You know who else was terrible last week?  Jesse Chavez.  Much as with Bud Norris, the magic has run out with Jesse.  We know he couldn’t keep putting up solid numbers and this week he crapped the bed.  Two starts, 7.1 IP, 11 ER.  That’s a 13.50 ERA and a 5.43 ERA for the year.  Our injured starters can’t get back fast enough.  Fun fact: according to official records Chavez is only three years younger than Albert Pujols, being born in 1983.  You know who else was born in 1983?  Jamie Chung.  No, I don’t know who she is either but she’s acted in something, so here ya go.

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So what went right last week?  Glad you asked because despite the record there are still some reasons for optimism.  Kaleb Cowart was finally called up and given plenty of starts, causing a collective orgasm on the board.  He responded by going 8-18 and playing some solid D at 2B.  I know, sample size, but I’m cautiously optimistic that he could stick this time.  Kaleb was born in Georgia, and you know who else was born in Georgia?  No, not Frank Stallone, but Kim Basinger:

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Andrelton Simmons also had a great week posting similar numbers to Cowart, hitting .458 to bring his average for the year up to .302.  Dude is on fire and if he was a Red Sox(k) or Yankee we’d be hearing about him like he was Aaron Judge.  He’s the second-best player on the team next to…I know, the suspense…

Mike Trout.  Trout posted a .360 average last week, bringing his season average up to .332 with a season OBP of .452.  Mike Trout gets on base 45.2% of the time.  That makes him the sexiest man in baseball, the male equivalent to…whomever is the sexiest woman alive right now.  Look it up yourself, I’ve already posted enough pics.  By the way, next Monday (August 7) is Mike Trout’s birthday, and he also shares it with another awesome person.  I’ll keep you in suspense until next week about who that other person is.

Yusmeiro Petit had another solid week and he’s been one of our best relievers lately (slim pickings, there) which makes him the Guy Most Likely to be Traded Today, with today being the non-waiver trade deadline.  We’ll miss you, Yusmeiro.  I just barely learned how to spell your first name.

What’s next?  A day off today, in which Brooks Pounders has to be optioned, right?  Do we really have room in the bullpen for a guy with a 10+ ERA?  After that, three at home versus the Phillies (38-64) (they’re gonna be really good soon, just you wait!) followed by three at home versus the Aths (46-59) (they’re gonna be…uh…maybe moving to a new stadium soon, just you wait!).

Predictions.  This week could go one of two ways.  Either the Angels play down to the competition or they play to their capabilities.  I’m guessing one of each.  3-0 versus Mike Trout’s next team (the Phillies, not Oakland) and 1-2 versus the Aths.


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By Jason Sinner, AngelsWin.com Contributor

5. Most baseball players don’t run home to mommy – There is quite a bit of hoopla around Trout being from the east coast. So what. Most players are on a team that isn’t close to their home town. Even after they’ve hit free agency. Especially superstars. A lot of them chase the money. But otherwise they chase wins. The distraction of being at ‘home’ can actually be a detriment. For a superstar like Trout, it certainly seems like it could be.

4. The Angels are going to be good – We’ll win a wild card spot in 2019 and we’ll win the division in 2020. You heard it here first!

3. Arte will pay him – there won’t be shenanigans. When it comes time, Arte will back up the truck and give him enough to where becoming a free agent won’t even be something he will consider.

2. Albert Pujols – yes. Albert Pujols, but not for the reason you think I mean. Albert should have stayed in St. Louis. He was beloved by the fans and when you are a declining superstar, that’s important. Why? It’s called grace. It the reason why David Price hates Boston. Or any other free agent isn’t as happy as where they were when they came to the bigs. He’ll impart this on Mike. If Albert is worth anything over the next 4 years, it will be this.

1. Mike Trout wants to win HERE. Most players want to win with the team they’ve been with. Not all, but I think Mike does. Because of points 2-5 and because he’s loyal. He wasn’t the the top pick in the draft. The Angels believed in him and he will return the favor. Money and wins need to a be a non issue and they will be. He has no loyalty to the Phillies or Yankees or any any other teams. So if you remove all the other variables, he will stay.

Connect with Angels fans to discuss this topic here


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The Angels suddenly have a system flush with fringe major leaguers and upside after Eppler started his career as Angels GM with two spectacular drafts and one impressive foray into the international market.  As a system, they still aren’t in the upper echelon because the majority of their top prospects are lower than AA, but in a year or two, with another solid draft and international class, as well as the inevitable promotions, we should see the Angels become a very well regarded system.

But even in systems where you need to dig for talent, there are still some diamonds that are left in the earth (Matt Shoemaker, Kole Calhoun, etc).  These are some of the guys you may see in the major leagues someday, but not atop any top prospect lists.

IF Keith Grieshaber – Drafted in the 16th round out of community college, Grieshaber hasn’t made a ton of waves in the low minors yet.  But he is a decent defensive middle infielder with gap power, speed and plate discipline.  If he can put these tools on display in AA next year, people might start catching on.

C Jack Kruger – Last season, it took a well above slot bonus to bring in Kruger, a catcher at Mississippi State.  His defensive abilities at catcher were already thought to be in the “plus” range, and he has a highly projectable bat that could grade “plus” in power.  As of right now, that hasn’t manifested itself, but Kruger could eventually progress into a Chris Iannetta type.

RHP Erik Manoah – 13th round pick by the Mets, traded to the Angels in the Fernando Salas deal last year.  Manoah has a solid three-pitch mix (91-92 mph “heavy” fastball, tight curve, change up with fade) and has turned the corner this year in Burlington, lowering his ERA down to 3.70 over 80 innings.  If Manoah can continue to throw strikes, he could emerge as a strikeout-happy back of the rotation starter in the major leagues.

2B Jordan Zimmerman – Once we all move on from the fact that he shares a name with a good major league pitcher, we can appreciate Zimmerman as a prospect.  He comes fully armed with moderate gap and over-the-wall power, as well as speed, solid defense and a good eye at the plate.  Zimmerman was drafted in the 7th round out of Michigan State.  He could eventually insert himself into the conversation for second base in a couple years, though admittedly, he’ll need to overcome some swing and miss habits before then.

OF Kyle Survance Jr. – Kyle lost any momentum he might’ve had coming out of college two years ago, but has since finally gotten healthy and is progressing nicely at Inland Empire.  There are definite contact issues that need to be dealt with, but Survance is an excellent defender that has 70-grade speed within 90 feet and 80 grade speed rounding the bases.  He could serve as a Jarrod Dyson type of fourth outfielder in the majors leagues.

LHP Conor Lillis-White – Lillis-White is a big bodied, pitch to contact lefty that can be used across multiple innings or as a left handed specialist.  Both he and the Angels are still trying to identify what capacity he should be used in, but so far you have to like the results.

RHP Mike Kaelin – Pretty much the opposite of Lillis white.  Small statured righty with a 98 mph fastball that doesn’t tend to jump off bats even when hits make contact.  We like to call that  heavy fastball and generally speaking, those are the ones with les vewlicty and spin.  So the idea that he’s throwing that kind of ball at that velocity is worth keeping an eye on.  Kaelin could be a solid middle reliever in the major leagues by the end of next year.

RHP Adam Hofacket – Hofacket is a sinker ball pitcher that generates a lot of weak contact and swing and misses.  His fastball sits 92-93, and high-80’s sinker that acts like a splitter.  He’s been used as a closer, middle reliever and multiple inning option so far in his minor league career, and has worked well in all roles.  Adam has experienced a high degree of success in AA this year, so it shouldn’t be long at all before he’s gracing the Angels with his presence in Anaheim (assuming he isn’t traded).

C Wade Wass – Wass has always been a very stronger backstop since the Angels drafted him.  But all that physical strength will frequently take some seasoning before it manifests itself into game-time home runs.  Wass at the age of 25 has progressed that far, and has now entrenched himself firmly into the Angels catching depth chart.  Wass has Mike Napoli type of power but with more swing and miss and more agility behind the plate.  With Maldonado and Perez in the majors and AAA, and Ward in Advanced A, Wass may find it difficult to find any playing time in Anaheim, but trades happen all the time and we could see him in the majors as soon as next season.

3B Zach Houchins – Houchins has always been a power hitter, and he’s very athletic for a third baseman.  But he’s always struggled with making contact and laying off pitches out of the zone.  If his pitch recognition progresses, he could make for an interesting bench piece or even challenge Cowart as the future starter at third base.

2B Tim Arakawa – While Arakawa lacks tools, he makes up for it with versatility, athleticism, hustle, great plate discipline and a beautiful contact oriented swing.  He’s a good defensive second baseman, but has also worked himself into being a solid left fielder as well.  You could do worse for a utility player.  He could eventually be a David Eckstein type.

RHP Troy Scribner – Scribner is a study in being productively pissed.  This guys was a good pitcher in college, and wasn’t drafted – pissed.  So he signed a minor league free agent with the Astros, and out pitched the kids who were drafted – pissed.  Then, he had an off-year and the Astros gave up on him and sold him to the Angels – pissed.  In coming to the Angels, he dominated AA and should’ve been in the majors last year – pissed.  Now, he’s one of the best pitchers in the PCL and still hasn’t been promoted – should still be pissed. Every part of his career, he’s been met with skepticism.  I hope that continues in the majors and he uses it to fuel his success.  Scribbler throws in the upper 80’s with a solid curve and good change up.


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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

Starting now at the 2017 Trade Deadline and for the next three years that follow the Angels primary, perhaps even their only, goal should be to build a contending team around the once-in-a-generation-talent that is Mike Trout.

Nothing else matters. Money doesn’t matter. The farm system doesn’t matter.

Only winning a World Series Championship with the best player in baseball, nay, perhaps one of the greatest players ever, matters, period.

Now certainly the Moreno-guided payroll Billy Eppler needs to manage and the prospects he needs to develop and/or trade will contribute to this One Goal to Rule Them All.

But the only way the Angels become the Lord of the World Series Rings is if we improve in every possible area we can through intelligent spending, identifying the prospects we absolutely have to keep, and trading away the prospects we can afford to part with in order to fill our other areas of need in this very well defined window of contention.

Angels fans need to be prepared for the team to spend money whether it is now or in the off-season. They also need to be prepared to see one or more of their favorite prospects names heading out the door to another team in trade over the next 3 years.

Nothing else matters but Trout and winning it all. This is our time to shine. It is time for Eppler to pull out all the stops. It is time for Arte Moreno to open up the pocketbook and, just like in the movie ‘The Natural’, say to his General Manager, “Pick me out a winner Billy!”

Our ‘Savoy Special’ could actually turn out to be a big bat! It could also turn out to be a starting pitcher. Perhaps even a high-end bullpen piece. Heck with the amount of payroll Eppler has to work with now and in the off-season it could be a combination of all three, perhaps more.

According to the team payroll sheet I use for the Annual Primer Series, the Angels currently project to have approximately $145M-150M in Average Annual Value on the books heading into the off-season. Currently the CBT threshold is $195M and will rise to $197M in 2018, which means Billy Eppler has roughly $47M-$52M in AAV below the threshold.

Additionally, if Eppler decides to decline Street’s and Nolasco’s options or trade them prior to the start of the 2018 season, he will save an extra $20.925M. If he also trades Cron that would save another $2M-4M creating a net increase of nearly $25M to the 2018 off-season payroll space, resulting in an estimated gap of $70M-77M in AAV that Billy can potentially utilize and spend either now, making trades, or more likely on free agent contracts and/or trades in the off-season.

The really important factor will be in how the Angels distribute this vast sum to help fill the holes in their lineup, rotation, and bullpen. Do they drop it on a couple of superstar type players like J.D. Martinez and Yu Darvish? Or do they spread the love around and sign some borderline star players like Mike Moustakas, Zack Cozart, and Cameron Maybin? The method and way Eppler applies this payroll will be critical in succeeding seasons so he has to be smart in how and whom he applies it too.

Let me ask the audience a question: What do players like Jose Quintana, Julio Teheran, Jedd Gyorko, Kolten Wong, Christian Yelich, Matt Carpenter, Brandon Belt, Freddie Freeman, Dee Gordon, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and even Giancarlo Stanton have in common?

The answer is controllable contracts with Average Annual Values that are at prices better than you can find on the free agent market or, in some cases, trade.

This is why, in particular, the Angels have already been associated with Belt, Quintana, and Gordon. Eppler wants and needs at least one of the controllable players, above, to fill a hole around the diamond or in the rotation as it will incrementally boost our available budget in the off-season. Any equivalent player in free agency would cost a lot more in terms of AAV (think Quintana’s AAV of $5.3M versus, say, Darvish at $25M AAV).

Clearly some of the players listed above are not available at this time such as Carrasco and Kluber for instance. The Cubs struck and landed Quintana so he is not available anymore. The rest of those names belong to teams that are already out of the playoff race or are on the bubble so they may or may not be available in trade.

The important thing is that every single one of those names is controlled through at least 2020, aligning with our only real goal. Of course Eppler could go after pre-arbitration players or prospects, to gain years of control and cost savings, but there is higher risk to total team performance (wins) with a lot of those options but, they too, would align with our Trout window of contention.

As we stated in the previous articles Eppler is surveying the landscape to determine if one (or more) of those players is obtainable now leading up to the deadline. If he finds a price he likes it is almost a certainty he will pull the trigger to give the 2017 team a chance to grab a Wild Card berth.

If however the deadline prices prove to be too high on these players, or other pre-arbitration players of interest, Billy may be forced to make the decision to do a complete sell-off of expendable assets and punt the rest of the season. Both options help polish the team for 2018, they just take different routes to do it.

Hopefully it does not come down to a complete sell-off of short-term assets. When you consider the possibility that, later in the 2nd half, we might see the return of Huston Street, Garrett Richards, Andrew Bailey, and even Andrew Heaney, adding one (or more) of the star players above or even one of the names listed in the Big Splash/Small Splash articles would significantly improve the Angels win-curve in 2017 increasing the odds to secure a Wild Card berth.

Most importantly, as one Angelswin.com member put it, it improves the team now and tomorrow. Perhaps even more importantly it could weaken one of our rivals if we acquire a player that one of them really needs (Notably Quintana to the Cubs prevented the Astros from acquiring him).

That was one of the primary reasons I suggested that the Angels could make one or more lateral trades at this season’s deadline. Using one or more of our expendable assets, such as a reliever for instance, allows Eppler to target specific teams and prospects (or players even) that we can choose to keep or flip in a different trade for another asset Billy prefers.

For example say the Giants are willing to trade Brandon Belt to the Angels but in addition to the package of players and prospects already negotiated we need to provide a starting pitching prospect that is near-MLB ready with mid-rotation upside.

Someone like Nate Smith doesn’t quite cut it, so Eppler sends Bud Norris to the Nationals in exchange for AAA RHP Erick Fedde and uses him to complete the Belt deal. This improves the Angels now and in the future and prevents one of our rivals from obtaining him and using him against us the next three years. This is an example of the type of idea that Eppler may try to use here in the last two weeks of July.

This trade deadline market was expected to be a busy one with transactions happening early and often but that has not materialized (yet anyway).

In the National League, the Division and Wild Card leaders have fairly extensive leads and few weaknesses that require an upgrade and, in the American League, there are a slew of teams that could potentially compete for the Wild Card and their GM’s are facing difficult decisions on whether to go for it or not. It has frozen the trade market a bit leading into the All-Star Break.

For the Angels this may have been a blessing because it has allowed them to really take stock of the trade market and the available opportunities and costs associated with it. It also allows them to take the maximum time in evaluating our performance after the All-Star Break.

What happens next will give Angels fans clues to what awaits in the off-season.

For instance if Eppler manages to acquire 2B Dee Gordon now, at the deadline, we obviously know that his focus in any other trades or in the off-season free agent market will be pointed at LF, SP, 1B, and 3B. More importantly we will not only need to fill those positions but one or more of those players will need to be able to hit out of the lead-off spot and/or the 2-hole as well since both Maybin and Escobar are in their final seasons.

If Billy can check off some boxes now, at reasonable prices, he will. Otherwise it is a fire sale of any or all of the remaining names listed in the first submission in this series.

Finally I want to take a brief moment and talk about the future.

Before the 2020 season begins we will almost certainly have our answer on whether or not Mike Trout will be here the rest of his career or not. In fact I would postulate that if he has not signed a new or even lifetime extension by Opening Day 2019 we will have our answer then.

First of all, in my heart, I believe Mike Trout just wants to win. Everything I have ever observed about Mike is that he wants himself and his team to win a championship.

Secondly, it also appears that he is not quite comfortable being in the limelight and having a lot of attention focused on him personally. That is a testament to how he was raised in my opinion but it is also, if true, a personality trait that could work in the Angels favor in terms of retaining him in a less visible MLB market here in Anaheim.

Third I do not feel that Trout is all about the money, he seems like a very good, loyal man, but an athlete of his caliber needs to be paid commensurately.

By the beginning of the 2019 season Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Manny Machado will probably all have shiny, new record-breaking contracts and the currency market for Mike will be set, removing the last possible road block for the Angels to strike with a top-of-the-line offer (if they have not done so already).

In 2019 the Competitive Balance Tax threshold will be at $206M. The Angels will likely spend a lot this upcoming off-season but there should be plenty of room available to allocate towards a Trout extension. That extension, if the Angels do it, will likely be a 10-13 year deal (possibly with option years) at an AAV of approximately $40M give or take. Basically a $400M-500M contract.

That would, in 2019, equate to about 20-22% of a projected $190M team payroll. It is a lot for one player but this is not a normal guy. This is a guy who shapes the future of any team he is on. A once-in-a-generation talent. If Arte thought the fan-base would get mad when Torii Hunter left he needs to consider what will happen if he lets Mike Trout walk into free agency.

If the unthinkable does happen the players that Billy Eppler acquires between now and then will set the table for what could become one of the greatest trade deadline sell-offs in the history of baseball.

In one fell swoop the Angels, at the 2020 trade deadline, could trade multiple Angels players including Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, and Cam Bedrosian, among others and instantly rebuild our farm system to compete in the following seasons.

This is not the ideal outcome but Angels fans should take some heart in knowing that if our world shatters in a Trout-less Anaheim that some of the shards can be reclaimed and put back together again.

The important thing to remember is that the Angels future is bright moving forward. Billy Eppler has a growing set of resources, particularly in expanding payroll but also a rapidly blooming farm system, now to support the currently, shrinking tenure of Mike Trout and the long-term outlook that screams more success is to come in the next 10 years.

 


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Lund

The Angels desperately need some more left-handed bats in their lineup. And they can always use another table-setter hitting in front of Trout. Luckily, they have a player who fits that bill exactly–outfielder Brennon Lund.

Drafted in the 11th round of the June, 2016 draft out of Brigham Young University, Brennon has shown a remarkable consistency in his hitting in his first two seasons of professional baseball. In 2016, he slashed .307/.360/.406 combined in Orem and Burlington. And, in 2017, he has posted a combined .307/.385/.430 in Burlington and Inland Empire so far. He brings good speed on the bases with a lot of grit to get the most out of the top of the order.

We recently caught up with Brennon to find out about what he’s been working on as a player and how his season has been progressing.

Click here to learn more about this rising prospect in the Angels system.


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Last year the debate was Matt Thaiss vs. Jahmai Jones.  It was your classing prep vs college, potential vs actual, age vs refinement.  I personally chose Matt Thaiss, but did so knowing that there wasn’t a wrong answer.  Others on the staff disagreed with me, and agreed with me.  And here we are a year later, and it hasn’t gotten any easier.  In fact, it’s become much more difficult.

This year, it’s Jahmai Jones vs Matt Thaiss va Jordon Adell vs Brandon Marsh vs Griffin Canning vs Jaime Barria vs Grayson Long vs Trent Deveaux vs Chris Rodriguez…..

Yeah some of these names are outside shots, but they call come with at least some justifications as to why they should be the top prospect.

Jahmai Jones – He was #2 on our list, and #1 on a bunch of others lists.  This year, as a 19 year old in the Midwest League, he’s held his own.  Jahmai should be the top prospect because he has a ton of potential and seems likely to capitalize on it.  He shouldn’t be our top prospect because he doesn’t have th most potential and is only having a mediocre season.

Matt Thaiss – He was #1 on our list #2 on a bunch of others.  This year, Thaiss held his own in Advanced A ball as a 22 year old, but made measurable progress and has began his tenure with AA Mobile with a bang.  Matt should be our top prospect because he’s the safest bet here to be a solid contributor at th major league level and will be doing it the soonest of anyone.  Matt shouldn’t be our top prospect because he’s only average on the age curve, doesn’t have the highest upside and his bat doesn’t play exceedingly well as a 1B.

Jordon Adell – Adell is off to an explosive start in the Arizona Summer League.  In fact he’s crushing the ball, flying around the bases, showing tons of bat speed and athleticism.  It’s easy to see why the Angels picked him tenth overall.  Jo should be our top prospect because he has the highest upside, was picked with the highest overall selection of any prospect in the system, and is crushing the ball in his first taste of professional ball.  Jo shouldn’t be our top prospect because he’s far from the major leagues, and we don’t know if he’ll make good on any of that production.

Brandon Marsh – Fans have been eager to see Marsh in action, and so far, they’ve been left wanting.  Btu still, in the few games that we’ve had the chance to see him play, Marsh has lived up to all the expectations and then some.  He played is seven games, put up numbers across the board while hitting .500.  He should be our top prospect because he’s the best combination of upside and performance (limited) so far.  His upside might be higher than anyone besides Adell.  He shouldn’t be the top prospect because he just hasn’t been healthy enough to justify it, and he isn’t a first round pick.

Griffin Canning – Canning had a great season at UCLA, but accumulated enough innings that the Angels didn’t see any upside in making him pitch.  Canning has a good combination of upside and closeness to the majors.  He should be our top prospect because there’s a good chance he’s our best pitching prospect with the most upside.  He’d probably be able to get major league hitters out right now.  He shouldn’t be our top prospect because he hasn’t thrown a single professional pitch, and even though the Angels felt comfortable with his medical report, other teams passed on him due to potential shoulder concerns.

Jaime Barria – I don’t think any prospect in the season has as much helium as Jaime Barria does.  He’s just flat out a good pitcher.  He gets hitters out any number of ways and already carries himself like a professional.  Jaime should be our top prospect because he’s only 20 years old and is nearly dominant in AA.  He made his way onto the Future’s Game roster, and Jaime had a really good outing.  He could be a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues at age 21.  Barria shouldn’t be our top prospect because he just doesn’t have the upside as others.

Grayson Long – Long is a big bodied starter that keeps the ball on the ground, gets ahead in the count, keeps his composure and is great at putting hitters away in the most efficient way as possible.  He’s climbed his way up to AA and probably could be in the starting rotation right now as a 23 year old.  Long should be the top prospect right now because he’s the most consistent, reliable option for the rotation right now, is young and could be a fixture in the rotation for years.  There’s no risk of him being a reliever. Grayson shouldn’t be our top prospect because he isn’t as young as Barria, doesn’t have the upside as Rodriguez, and wasn’t drafted as high as others.

Trent Deveaux – Trent is the highest international signing since Roberto Baldaquin, and before him, Kendrys Morales.  The Angels simply didn’t have the men on the ground to sign many of the top Dominican or Venezuelan prospects.  So they jumped head first into the biggest emerging market in the prospect world right now, which is the Bahamas.  Deveaux should be the top prospect in the Angels system because they spent 1.5 million of their international budget to acquire him.  When you compare that someone like Adell in terms of percentage, the Angels risked a lot more to bring in Trent Deveaux.  Deveaux also has maybe the highest upside in the system, and the Angels themselves said they picture Trent breaking into the major leagues at age 20.  Trent shouldn’t be the top prospect because he hasn’t had a single professional at bat, and is still a long way away from the majors.

Chris Rodriguez – Rodriguez has everything you’re looking for from a  pitching prospect.  Premium fastball, great breaking ball, developing slider, athleticism, and youth.  He’s mad this way to Orem this year and in his last three starts has flashed that extreme upside of his.  Chris should be the top prospect because he has the highest upside of any pitcher in the system and has already started showing he can make good on it and develop into a front of the rotation starter.  Rodriguez shouldn’t be our top prospect because he isn’t close to the majors, we have no idea if he’ll make good on that potential, doesn’t have a viable third pitch yet, and still has some reliever potential in him.


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Congratulations to Angels first baseman Matt Thaiss on his promotion from the Single-A Inland Empire 66ers to the Double-A Mobile BayBears! In his first game in Double-A, Matt showed off some of what Angels fans hope to see in the future by driving in the only run of the game on a double (driving in Hermosillo for a 1-0 win).

Drafted as the 16th overall pick by the Angels in the June, 2016 draft, Thaiss has transitioned from catching to first base since joining the organization. In that effort, he’s made great strides to adjust to the new position, all while showing the advanced bat many scouts considered one of the most polished in the college ranks last year.

Luckily, AngelsWin.com was able to interview Matt before his promotion. We only had a limited time to speak with him, as he was scheduled to lift weights. But we appreciate that he made time to talk with fans and to give them some insights into the skills he’s working on this season and the improvements he’s made.

AngelsWin.com Interviews Matt Thaiss July 8, 2017 from AngelsWin.com on Vimeo.

On behalf of Angels fans everywhere, we’re hoping that Thaiss continues to improve as a player, and that we’ll be hearing his name in Anaheim soon.


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Sanger

Congratulations to Angels outfielder Brendon Sanger on his promotion from the Single-A Inland Empire 66ers to the Double-A Mobile Baybears! The smooth hitting lefty outfielder earned a promotion after returning to form with his hitting  and defense this season.

Originally drafted as an outfielder in the 4th round of the June, 2015 draft, the Angels tried converting him to an infielder last year. Making such a switch combined for a down year for him last year at the plate. But, after returning to the outfield this year, he’s returned to form with the bat, and has settled into left field.

Luckily, AngelsWin.com was able to catch up with Brendon before his promotion to find out all that’s going on with him. We talked a lot about his growth as a player, the skills he’s working on, and what it’s like to play in the outfield with Mike Trout.

AngelsWin.com Interviews Brendon Sanger July 8 2017 from AngelsWin.com on Vimeo.

On behalf of everyone at AngelsWin.com, we’re all rooting for Brendon Sanger to have a great season and continue to work his way to Anaheim!


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The Angels have historically been ultra-conservative when it comes to promoting their promising talent.  With each new regime that comes in, comes a different approach.  While Eppler’s regime has shown to be more aggressive in its promotions than its predecessors (Reagins regime was comically bad at this, and everything else) they’ve still shown to take longer than most other organizations.

First, let’s start with the players the Angels have recently promoted.

1B Matt Thaiss – Thaiss wasn’t exactly tearing up the Cal League, but he had shown a great deal of growth in the last few weeks, so it was refreshing to see the Angels act on that.

OF Brendon Sanger – Sanger was quietly having a very solid season at Inland Empire.  He doesn’t grab too many headlines, but he’s a lefty with pop and athletic ability.

SS Artemis Kadkhodaian – First of all, all-star level name.  He should be proud of his parents because that’s a name you won’t soon forget.  Anyway, he hasn’t played a ton, but has been promoted ahead of much more hyped prospects and already finds himself in Burlington.  Let’s hope he keeps hitting.

Now, onto those who need to be promoted, organized by their current level.

AAA Salt Lake Bees that need to be in Anaheim

3B/2B/1B Kaleb Cowart – Enough already.  His time will come, but at the same time, the Angels are really drawing this one out to unnecessary lengths.  He’s hitting .306/.379 with 22 doubles 10 home runs and 18 stolen bases, to go along with elite defense at third base and solid enough defense at second base.

C Carlos Perez – He’s a name most Angel fans are familiar with.  When the Angels traded for Maldonado, it relegated Perez to bench duty, and rather than having him ride the pine, the Angels have opted to get him everyday at bats in AAA.  Well, he’s hitting .392/.463 with as many walks as strikeouts and gold glove level defense.  At some point, you’re just wasting everyone’s time, and when a guy is hitting close to .400 over a large sample size, you’re officially wasting time.

OF Cesar Puello – Yeah, I get it, he’s blocked.  Still, .310/.363 18 doubles 10 home runs and 14 stole bases.

AA Mobile Bay Bears that need to be in AAA Salt Lake OR Anaheim

OF Michael Hermosillo – His overall line isn’t great because of a slump and some bad luck (.258/.379 16 doubles 3 home runs and 19 stolen bases on the season), but over his last 10 games, Michael is hitting .324 with more 2 home runs, 2 stolen bases, 11 walks and 8 strikeouts.  Since the AA all-star game, he’s hitting .319 with 4 more doubles and 5 stolen bases.  They may want to consider a September call up or at the very least move him up to AAA so he can refine his skills further.

RHP Grayson Long – 15 starts, 78 IP 72 K’s 2.79 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.  Tonight he hurled 6 more shutout innings.  His has the arsenal to back up these numbers, and if the Angels are truly serious about contending, they may want to promote him to Anaheim.

RHP Jaime Barria – 5 starts 30 innings, 26 K’s 1.78 ERA, 0.82 WHIP.  Those numbers are ridiculous for a 20 year old.  And he did more of the same earlier this year at Inland Empire.  He also just had a very solid outing in the Future’s Game.  Again, if the Angels are serious about competing this year, they need look no further than Barria.

Advanced A Ball Inland Empire 66ers that need to be promoted to AA Mobile.

OF Troy Montgomery – Montgomery began the year in A Ball.  He started slow, then got into his groove and started crushing the ball before he was promoted to Inland Empire.  Again, he started slow, then made the adjustments and now he’s putting up great numbers again. .283/.350 9 doubles, 7 triples, 6 home runs and 7 stolen bases.  Over his last 10 games he’s batting .419.  There’s a reason I compared him to Kole Calhoun in the offseason.  Same build, left handed, same position, similar swing, same round of the draft, similar skill set.

3B Jose Rojas – An Anaheim native, hitting .322 on the season, including .442 over his last 10 games.  Had a 20 game hitting streak.  Currently in the midst of a 20 game hit streak.  After looking at what he did in Orem last year, and what’s doing in San Bernardino, this kid hasn’t hit below .300 in the minors yet, and he’s swinging the bat with pop. I’d say he’s ready to be challenged now, wouldn’t you?

OF Kyle Survance Jr – 80 grade speed and solid defense.  He was injured his first two years as a pro, and his overall line on the season isn’t pretty.  But over his last 10 games he’s hitting .302 with 7 stolen bases.  May want to consider it.

RHP Jesus Castillo – It was pure ridiculousness when Castillo began the year in A Ball again.  After mowing those hitters down for the second consecutive year and forcing the Angels hand, he’s now having his way with Cal League hitters, which is a hard thing to do.  59 IP 52 K’s 3.34 ERA, 1.33 WHIP.  Time to get this 21 year old up to AA.  And by the way, the Angels won that trade with the Cubs when they sent Joe Smith in return for Castillo a year ago.  Thank you very much.

LHP Jonah Wesely – 17 IP 20 K’s, 2.65 ERA, 1.41 WHIP.  If it weren’t for the TJ surgery, Jonah would be beating down the door to Anaheim right now.  What’s not to like, he’s big, left handed, throws hard and strikes hitters out.  He’s allowed a .192 BA against LHH this year.  I mean at the very least he can be a lefty specialist, though he’s probably much more.

RHP Sean Isaac – Still don’t know anything about this guy, but the numbers are saying enough right now.  45 IP 59 K’s 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP on the season.  Not a typo.

Prospects at Class A Burlington that need to be at Advanced A Inland Empire

RHP Mike Kaelin – Hard thrower from New York, he has a 1.89 ERA over his last 10 outings with 20K’s in 19 innings to go along with all sorts of upside.

Prospects that need to be promoted from either Orem or Arizona and to A Ball

OF Brandon Marsh – We saw enough before he injured his hand.  7 games 3 doubles 2 triples 1 home run 4 stolen bases and a .500 BA.  Move him up once he’s healthy.

OF Torii Hunter Jr – His first time playing professional ball and he’s hitting over .300 with a doubles, triples, homer and a stolen base.  He’s a little old for his league but extremely projectable.  Let’s see what he can handle.

3B David McKinnon – He has 14 walks and only 5 K’s, and is batting .468.  I’d say he’s seeing the ball pretty well right now.

RHP Chris Rodriguez – His last three outings – 15 IP 16 K’s 1 ER 3 BB.  HE has the stuff to back that up and then some.

RHP Elvin Rodriguez – Great name.  Great line too.  19 IP 21 K’s 3.32 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in Orem.  That’s hard to do.  Only 19.

OF Jo Adell – He’s hitting .462 with 2 doubles in his first taste of pro ball.  There was some concern how he’d handle elite competition.  I’d say those concerns are melting away.  Insane bat speed.

SS Nonie Williams – Absolutely monstrous for a shortstop.  Great bat speed, great foot speed, and improved plate discipline.  Time to promote him.

 

 


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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

Optionally, rather than go long-term as in the previous article, Eppler could focus on more temporary opportunities in the trade market that could help us now and possibly next season to fill a gap at any position of need. Some of these are a lot more expensive than others but let me touch on a few of these stop-gap possibilities:

  1. Neil Walker – Walker accepted the Mets $17.2M Qualifying Offer last season and is currently on the disabled list. New York has surprisingly fallen out of the playoff race and you have to believe that they would love to get something back for the approximately $8.6M left on his contract. He would fill a big hole for us at 2B and very likely would not cost us too much in terms of prospect(s). He might be a September revocable waiver candidate for the Angels due to his current DL stint.
  2. Josh Donaldson – The Blue Jays are facing the same 2017 decision the Angels are and Donaldson could be in play as a trade chip for them if they give up on this season. His 2017 salary was $17M so he has about half of that left and he is arbitration controlled for one more season in 2018 where he could land a record-breaking arbitration contract (think $20M +). If Toronto does not push their chips in they may reboot for their future of Guerrero and Bichette. This would cost the Angels a lot more than Walker but Josh is a difference maker now and next season.
  3. Marco Estrada – Another Blue Jays rental-type, he is owed approximately $7.25M for the remainder of the 2017 season. Moving to Anaheim might suppress a couple of the home runs out to left field and he is a strike-thrower that would probably benefit in Anaheim.
  4. Jose Bautista – Another Toronto asset, Bautista is on contract for $18M in 2017 which means he is owed about $9MM the remainder of the season. Additionally he has a mutual option in 2018 worth $17M with a meager $500K buy-out and a vesting option for 2019 which he may or may not meet. Clearly the Angels do not have a need in the outfield but Jose has played some 1B in his past so this could be a not-so-clever way to improve production at that position. He, too, would not tear the Angels farm system apart if Eppler were to trade for him because of the money owed.
  5. Zack Cozart – The Reds had trouble shopping Zack last year at the deadline and during the off-season but that has now worked out to their advantage as he has exploded offensively this season while providing the high quality defense at SS for which he is known. In Eppler’s eyes this could be an investment in the Angels future. Cozart is closing in on his 32nd birthday and although he is still fine at SS, a move to 2B probably lies somewhere in his future. Billy might like to trade for Cozart now to play 2B and then possibly extend or sign him as a free agent to play at the keystone for the next 3-4 years.
  6. Yonder Alonso – If the Athletics fail to extend Yonder (likely) then they will need to move him and his newfound power (the result, in part, of changing his swing angle) before the deadline. The Angels have had poor production out of their 1B this year and Alonso has about $2M left on his 2017 contract making him very affordable. This would be a pure rental so if the price is too high the Angels will likely stick with what they have or pursue someone like Brandon Belt, Freddie Freeman, or Jose Abreu (more years of control).
  7. Ian Kinsler – Not my personal favorite Ian “Get off our grass!” Kinsler nevertheless plays good defense and typically hits well although his bat has been mostly quiet in 2017. Kinsler has about $5.5M remaining on his contract in 2017 and has a $12M team option in 2018 with a $5M buy-out (unlikely to be exercised). The advantage is that Ian is a veteran player with an approximate $9.5M AAV attached to 2017. The disadvantage is that his offense is declining and he is entering his twilight years at age 35.
  8. Trevor Cahill – If you have not been paying attention Cahill has been dominating in 9 starts for the Padres with K-BB% and GB% rates of 20% and 59%, respectively. He is only owed about $800K the rest of the season and could be a really under-the-radar jewel for a contender heading into the 2nd half. He will cost something but maybe not as much as you think.
  9. Asdrubal Cabrera – Another Mets middle infielder, he plays average defense at the keystone and is owed approximately $4.125M for the remainder of 2017 and $8.5M for 2018. He could be a stop-gap until someone like David Fletcher or Jake Yacinich arrives.
  10. J.A. Happ – Despite FanGraphs faith in their projected end-of-season look, Toronto appears positioned to possibly sell and Happ has about $6.5M remaining this year and $13M in 2018. He has been quite solid this season and would add a nice lefty arm to any rotation. He will command some prospects but not nearly as much as Jose Quintana for instance.
  11. Howie Kendrick – Go with what you know? Howie, in limited action, has hit well this year and could still play 2B or LF, if Maybin is traded. He is owed approximately $5M the remainder of 2017 and then is a free agent. Probably would not cost much in trade but I would rather see the Angels acquire Cesar Hernandez as a long-term asset.
  12. J.D. Martinez – Would likely cost too much in prospect value but he would be a huge addition if the Angels moved Maybin in trade. He is owed approximately $5.75M the remainder of the season and there is a distinct possibility Billy Eppler might have him on his radar as a free agent acquisition in the off-season so perhaps this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Time will tell the tale.
  13. Andrew McCutchen – Certainly a bigger target, Andrew has approximately $7M left on his 2017 contract and has a team option for $14.75M in 2018 with a $1M buy-out. He will cost the Angels a lot despite the low years of control.
  14. Jason Vargas – If the Royals change their minds again about going for it Vargas, and his approximate, remaining $4M 2017 salary, might be attractive enough to add to our rotation. He likely would not cost a lot in trade.
  15. Alex Avila – This could be a real under-the-radar pure rental move as he hits RHP well and could catch or even play 1B (or split time). Approximately $1M left on his 2017 contract and probably would not break the bank to acquire.
  16. Daniel Nava – Dare I say it? Will a thousand Angelswin.com daggers come flying my way? With approximately $650K remaining on his contract the man they call the Matt Joyce of 2017 is hitting awfully darn well and would be a relatively cheap pick up if the Angels move Maybin in trade.
  17. Matt Adams – When Freeman went down Atlanta went looking for a temporary replacement and they grabbed Adams from the Cardinals. It turned out to be a good move as Matt began producing. He has about $1.4M left on his 2017 contract and is under one more year of arbitration control next season. He would probably not break the bank as a left-handed hitting option at 1B should Eppler try to upgrade.
  18. Lucas Duda – Another Mets piece, Duda has about $3.6M left on his 2017 contract and hits right-handed pitching well. He too could be an inexpensive upgrade if Eppler moves other pieces.
  19. Tyler Flowers – The Braves have received good offensive production from Flowers and he has been fantastic against RHP. Additionally, he has been the best pitch-framer in 2017 according to StatCorner.com, so that would be an added bonus. His biggest weakness is controlling the running game. Tyler has about $1.5M remaining on his 2017 contract with a team option for $4M with a measly $300K buy-out.
  20. Jed Lowrie – Although the Athletics may not want to trade with a Division rival, Lowrie has been producing and is owed a reasonable $3.25M for the rest of 2017 and has a team option for $6M with a $1M buy-out in 2018. May cost too much dealing with another A.L. West team however.
  21. Curtis Granderson – Another Mets player in the last year of his contract, Granderson has approximately $7.5M left in 2017 and runs reasonably good splits. He still has enough athleticism to play one of the corners and might be rejuvenated moving to a new home. Probably would not cost a lot to acquire if the Angels move Maybin.
  22. Jordy Mercer – The Pirates might be willing to let Mercer go and he could probably slide over to the keystone for the Angels. He has about $2.16M left for 2017 and has one more arbitration season in 2018 before free agency. Good defender with some on-base skills and could provide depth at shortstop.
  23. Nick Markakis – Solid on-base skills with about $5.5M remaining on his 2017 contract and has one more year after that at $11M. Can play either corner reasonably well still.

Whether or not Eppler decides to press in the 2nd half, the Angels current mediocre .500 team will not be like that much longer in my opinion based on rapidly increasing payroll flexibility. The only discriminator will be the trade price that Eppler has to pay now versus the trade or free agent price he can pay in the off-season and where the Angels currently sit on the win curve to potentially close the gap to secure a Wild Card spot.

This means that you may hear even more about the Angels scouting specific players because Billy is trying to get a handle on what the various options will cost him and whether it is worth it for him to expend the resources and capital now or later. The Angels have already been attached to Brandon Belt, Jose Quintana, and Dee Gordon and it would be unsurprising if there were more names associated with the Angels in the next couple of weeks.

Whether you want to accept it or not, we are heading into the middle of July and we are only 3 games back of a Wild Card spot as of July 9th, 2017. The team’s play is probably not sustainable in its current form but if one or more of our injured players return and Eppler is able to add either a significant pitcher or hitter or a couple of inexpensive reinforcements our ability to sneak into a one-game Wild Card playoff is not that absurd anymore.

Any time you have a reasonable chance to get to the playoffs without crippling your team you should do it. Billy has his fingers on the pulse of the team and where his injured players stand. Hopefully Eppler will be able to tactically push in some of his expendable chips and go in it, to win it, in a smart, progressive manner. Billy will not blow his wad uselessly but if he can grab a quality starting pitcher or hitter controllable through at least 2020 he would prefer to do it now and still give 2017 a fighting chance.

In the final submission I will share some final thoughts about the trade deadline, where the Angels are going, and how it relates to our plans for the off-season.


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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

We just spent a lot of time discussing the Angels as sellers (and probably rightfully so) but what if Billy Eppler does the opposite and positions the team as buyers? Or even both, as sellers and buyers?

There is an argument to be made that with the probable return of Mike Trout after the All-Star break combined with the return of RHP Cam Bedrosian and the feasible reinstatement of RHP Huston Street, SP Tyler Skaggs, SP Andrew Heaney, and/or possibly SP Garrett Richards, that the Angels could make a more sustainable run in the 2nd half of the season to compete for a Wild Card berth.

If the team treads enough water leading up to the deadline it would not be surprising for the Angels to make one or more lateral moves that may, on the surface, look like a sell-off but in actuality would be a move towards contention not only in the 2nd half but in future seasons. They could even be outright, in-your-face upgrades.

Billy Eppler currently has about $25M of open cap space in terms of Average Annual Value as team payroll sits at about $170M and the threshold is at $195M for the 2017 season. Josh Hamilton comes off the books this year so there will be a flood of cash available going into the off-season. Make no mistake the Angels are well positioned to increase salary now and after the World Series ends.

This simply means that the Angels have room to make a significant addition to the team now, if Eppler prefers, rather than wait for the season to end. Once the season is over the Angels still have options so Billy will approach this deadline as a market of opportunity rather than necessity.

This payroll flexibility should transform the team into a perennial contender over the next 3 1/2 years. Acquiring at least one long-term controllable player at the deadline could help our Wild Card chances if the price and player are the right fit for the Halos.

To illustrate some possibilities let us discuss some hypothetical trade scenarios that would be lateral, or an upgrade, in nature.

Proposed Trade #1 –

Angels send RHP Bud Norris to the Cleveland Indians and A RHP Joe Gatto and AAA 3B Kaleb Cowart to the Cincinnati Reds

Indians send AAA SS Eric Stamets and A LHP Juan Hillman to the Cincinnati Reds

Reds send 3B Eugenio Suarez to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Why?

Every position player the Reds have is controlled for four or more seasons except CF Billy Hamilton (controlled through 2019) and 3B Eugenio Suarez (controlled through 2020). The Reds are rebuilding so unless they are planning to extend either one of these players (which is possible) they are likely open to trade conversations.

Suarez in particular strikes me as a target candidate because the Reds have young Nick Senzel, recently promoted to AA, who tore up the lower circuit earlier in the season and is widely seen as their future at 3B.

Eugenio was originally a SS so the Reds could certainly move him there but Cincinnati, like most teams, would probably want to put the absolute best defensive player they can find in that position. Suarez is an above average SS but there are better defensive options that the Reds could acquire or, as is the case with Cozart, extend.

One of those players is former Angels farmhand Eric Stamets. Even back when he was with the Halos he was an incredibly gifted defensive SS. The knock was always that his bat was too light. However in Stamets age 24 season (2016) things began to change. Whether it was a mechanical fix, his body maturing, or some other factor or combination of factors he has improved his hitting profile.

This leap in offensive growth combined with his elite defense now places Eric in the conversation of an everyday regular player in the Majors. The only thing blocking Stamets in the Cleveland organization is a young man named Francisco Lindor. In Cincinnati Eric could spread his wings and would provide insurance for the Reds front office if they are unable to convince Cozart to sign an extension contract.

The Indians, who project to win the A.L. Central Division, have a pretty good core group of starters and relievers but could use some help in their bullpen against left-handed hitters in particular.

Someone like Bud Norris, who is currently running a 24.2% K-BB% against LHH’s (and a solid 18.7% vs. RHH’s) would add an even greater level of reliability to a very dangerous team, not to mention in a short series during the playoffs where relievers play a critical role.

Sacrificing Stamets and Hillman to acquire an additional closer at the deadline is not a terrible price to pay when you consider that Jason Kipnis has three more years of contractual control and Lindor four more years of team control. The bottom line is that the Indians will improve when and where they can to maximize their chances to make the playoffs and Eric is a luxury they can afford to part with in 2017.

The Angels would part ways with four prospects (two from the Indians) in order to obtain the three years of team control over Eugenio. In 2017 Suarez broke out, both offensively and defensively, playing the hot corner for the Reds. Eugenio’s remaining years of control align perfectly with the current remaining contractual years of Mike Trout.

More importantly Suarez gives the Angels an impact player at a position of need who can hit anywhere in the lineup and, based on previous history and actual 2017 results, is strong defensively which fits the mold of player that Billy Eppler likes to put in each and every position around the diamond. It also adds depth around the infield due to Eugenio’s positional flexibility.

Yes the Angels lose Bud Norris but it is fairly immaterial since Cam Bedrosian is back from the disabled list. Bedrosian is an improvement even. Also we lose a young SP in Gatto who has mid-to-back end rotation talent, a heavy fastball, and easy, repeatable mechanics but you have to pay to play in the trade market.

Finally we also lose Cowart who seems to be breaking out but has not consistently proven it at the highest level and is still too much of a wild card (read: risk variance) for a team that intends to compete through 2020. Moving him to Cincinnati gives him a change of scenery and a less stressful environment for him to get Major League playing time, until Nick Senzel is ready at third base, approximately 2 years from now.

Kaleb is a lottery ticket that a rebuilding team like the Reds could take a chance on because if he flames out they don’t lose much and probably incrementally improve their draft position. If he provides at least utility value or even excels they have more depth or a trade chip to help them long term.

Proposed Trade #2 –

Angels send RHP David Hernandez and 2B/3B Sherman Johnson to the Twins

Twins send AAA OF Zack Granite to the Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks send 2B Ildemaro Vargas and A RHP Wei-Chieh Huang to the Angels

Why?

For the Twins they have been abysmal against left-handed hitters and David would give them a reliable middle/back-end reliever to roll out against them. Sherman would provide middle infield depth and a possible solution at 2B when Dozier leaves after this season. In order to acquire Hernandez and Johnson they give up Granite to Arizona.

Zack will provide a long-term center field solution for the Diamondbacks if and when A.J. Pollock hits free agency after next season (or is potentially traded). The Twins have Byron Buxton so the loss of Granite, while painful, is mitigated by the improvement against left-handed hitters this season and Johnson’s future development and contributions.

Meanwhile, the Angels pick up a possible 2B solution that could be brought up immediately to help the Halos in 2017. Vargas has been tearing up AAA and plays above average defense at the keystone.

Arizona has Domingo Leyba in AA who can be called up at some future point in time when the Diamondbacks ultimately make a decision on the future of Brandon Drury at 2B or if they move him to 3B in the event Jake Lamb is traded this off-season.

Additionally the Halos pick up Huang who is a longer term pitching (likely a reliever) prospect for their future.

Again the Angels loss of Hernandez is mitigated by the return of Cam Bedrosian (and to a much lesser degree by the possible returns of Street, Bailey, Heaney, Richards, and Tropeano in the 2nd half) and their production at 2B will likely improve with the addition of Vargas and in 2-3 years with the hopeful emergence of Huang.

Proposed Trade #3 –

Angels send 1B C.J. Cron and 3B Yunel Escobar to the Royals

Royals send 3B Mike Moustakas and A C Meibrys Viloria to the Angels

Why?

It has been clear for months now that the Angels view C.J. Cron as a potential trade chip and if Billy Eppler believes the team can compete for a Wild Card spot in the 2nd half of 2017, a trade like this could be in the works.

The Royals themselves are on the verge of the Wild Card bubble and if they fall out of the race in the next couple of weeks, despite their bravado about going for it all, they won’t need a 3B in the last year of his control.

Additionally they will almost certainly trade their 1B Eric Hosmer creating a void to fill and Brandon Moss, their DH, has been incredibly disappointing in the first year of a two-year deal. They will need long-term options and Cron fits the bill.

Moving three years of team control for C.J. and a 2nd half replacement at 3B in Escobar is probably worth 1/2 year of Moustakas and a low-level, long-term prospect like Viloria for the Angels. It helps the Angels compete, if that is their goal, and the Royals rebuild for their future by adding Cron if they are out of the playoff race.

Proposed Trade #4 –

Angels send RHP Bud Norris and AA RHP Osmer Morales to the Brewers

Brewers send 2B Jonathan Villar to the Angels

The Brewers are currently the N.L. Central Division leader and Villar has been quite the disappointment in comparison to his 2016 season. He is only 26 years old and is just a few months removed from a .285/.369/.457 (.373 BABIP) slash line with 62 stolen bases (77.5% SB%). This season his BABIP is down a full 92 points which is a contributor to his woes (it should be noted Villar consistently posted .350-.360 BABIP’s in his Minor League career).

Just as importantly Eric Sogard, Jonathan’s replacement while on the DL, has been spectacular for the Brew Crew making Villar a potentially expendable asset and a potential buy-low candidate for Billy Eppler particularly when you consider that the Brewers have rapidly promoted young prospect Mauricio Dubon this season and he has been playing a lot of 2B down in AA/AAA.

Jonathan is making the League minimum in 2017 and has three years of arbitration control left making him an interesting target for Eppler to fill the keystone long term. If he is “running right” he is a switch-hitting, lead-off hitter with on-base skills that can create havoc on the base-paths which is a spot in the lineup the Angels need to replace once Maybin is gone (unless they really plan to sign him as a free agent in the off-season).

In return for Villar the Brewers add a strong reliever to their bullpen as they defend their current position in the standings and add a RHP with upside for their emerging future as a regular N.L. Central contender.

Proposed Trade #5 –

Angels send AAA 3B Kaleb Cowart, AA RHP Grayson Long, and A+ OF Brennon Lund to the Phillies

Phillies send 2B Cesar Hernandez to the Angels

Why?

Per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, the Angels inquired about Hernandez during the off-season in their broad search to acquire a defensive-minded keystone player before the 2017 campaign.

Unfortunately that fell through but that does not mean the conversation is dead, just delayed perhaps.

Scott Kingery, the Phillies likely future at 2B, was recently promoted to AAA and appears to be on the verge of being called up either this season or the next. In fact Philadelphia appears to be reaching critical mass in terms of competitiveness as early as next year but probably the following season in 2019.

Certainly they could keep Hernandez at 2B and possibly move Kingery over to the hot corner (he has been seen shagging balls at 3B recently) but that is likely more about positional flexibility, not a long term move. Cesar is slowly turning into a road block that the Phillies will need to address and the Angels have shown interest.

As Fletcher pointed out Hernandez is a very good defensive keystone player who can switch hit and is more dominant on his left-hand side which is an area the Angels need to improve upon. Cesar is not a huge stolen base threat but he can take the extra bag on a regular basis.

Sending Cowart gives the Phillies another option at 3B behind Maikel Franco whom the Phillies are reportedly shopping in trade as well. Long gives the Phillies a potential back-end starter with a touch of upside and Lund has been showing well recently and presents them with a potentially above average outfielder for their future.

Proposed Trade #6 –

Angels send RHP Cam Bedrosian, 1B C.J. Cron, AA OF Michael Hermosillo, A+ C Taylor Ward, and R RHP Chris Rodriguez to the Braves and C Carlos Perez to the Rockies

Rockies send A+ OF Wes Rogers and A RHP David Hill to the Braves

Braves send 1B Freddie Freeman and RHP Jim Johnson to the Angels

Why?

Atlanta values Freeman very highly and rightfully so. In fact they have stated he is off limits but that could always be front office bluster to raise his price.

The fact of the matter is that Atlanta has a large number of prospects that are at least 2 years away from making an impact in the Majors. This simply means that Freddie, despite his immense talent, may, for the most part, go to waste hitting cleanup for a 75-85 win team in 2018 and possibly 2019.

Now, the Braves could certainly wait it out and get some back-end value out of Freeman but that would be burning $20M+ per year in the meantime and not reaching the goal of the playoffs much less the World Series. Perhaps the smarter move for Atlanta would be to trade Freddie and reallocate that money to one or more of the players available in the 2018-2019 free agent class which would likely better fit their emerging window of contention.

This is certainly a long shot in the trade universe but it is the type of lateral upgrade the Angels could make to boost the team now and through Trout’s controllable years and increase the odds of reaching the playoffs.

Certainly the Angels will have to give up a lot of value to receive a lot.

First of all the Braves would receive Cam Bedrosian and his remaining 4 1/2 years of team control. The move would take Cam to his father Steve’s former team (and notably their home town) and allow him to chase his father’s legacy.

Additionally, unlike Freeman, Bedrosian is a strong candidate to receive a team friendly extension as a likely Super Two player so the Braves could probably buy out those likely four years of arbitration and tack on a couple of option years to keep him in Atlanta through their likely window of contention in the 2019-2023 time frame.

The Angels would also give up C.J. Cron and his remaining three years of arbitration control as a replacement 1B for the Braves. This would allow C.J. to get MLB playing time in a less stressful environment and the upside for the Braves is that if his bat takes off they would have a reasonably productive MLB 1B on their hands who they could either extend, use as a trade chip, or simply as a place holder for when they acquire/promote another 1B.

Also the Angels would be sending three Minor League prospects with good upside in Hermosillo, Ward, and Rodriguez. The latter in particular has front of the rotation upside, Michael has broken out in his recent games, and Ward could wind up a low-end regular player with some upside that would add value long term to the Braves future seasons.

The Rockies would get Carlos Perez to help provide better defense behind the plate in a year they are trying to win it all. Recently their young catcher Tom Murphy was optioned to the Minors due to poor performance and adding a veteran catcher like Perez, who would likely thrive in a hitter’s park like Colorado, would give them greater, experienced depth behind young left-handed hitting Tony Wolters.

In return Colorado would send two young prospects to the Braves that could provide value to them long term and would help ease the amount of value the Angels have to provide directly from their farm system.

Finally the Angels would get 4 1/2 years of control of a premier left-handed 1B in Freeman who would instantly transform the middle of our order hitting behind Trout (sorry Albert you’d get bumped to fifth here). Freddie is in his prime years (he’s 27 now) and has elevated his offensive profile in 2017 making him an even greater threat, particularly to right-handed pitchers which is an area the Angels need to improve in per the Methodology article.

In order for our bullpen to stay relatively intact the Angels would also acquire 1 1/2 years of closer Jim Johnson. This would maintain the quality of our bullpen in 2017 and give us a late inning option in 2018 to mitigate the loss of Bedrosian. It would also allow Eppler to explore an extension with someone like Blake Parker or Keynan Middleton (or both) to take over long term high leverage duties out of the bullpen.

The final tally is that the Angels are losing a lot of long term prospect and MLB player value but they are gaining long term control of an elite hitter and short term control of a good reliever. The net value to the 2017 season is increased tremendously and transforms the average Angels into a threatening Wild Card contender this year and a significantly improved team in the 2018-2020 seasons.

Proposed Trade #7 –

Angels send CF Cameron Maybin and RHP David Hernandez to the Nationals and A OF Jahmai Jones, AA RHP Jake Jewell, R RHP Chris Rodriguez, AAA 3B Kaleb Cowart, and A+ C Taylor Ward to the Marlins

Nationals send AAA RHP Erick Fedde, AA 1B Jose Marmolejos, and A LHP Tyler Watson to the Marlins

Marlins send OF Giancarlo Stanton to the Angels

Why?

More like why not, right? Ami-rite!?!

Actually this is a potentially unique opportunity for the Angels or any big market team to acquire one of the premier power hitters in the game.

First of all the Miami Marlins are on the verge of being sold to a new owner (a blessing for baseball probably) and as typical in sales like this the new owners generally like to enter the situation with a clean slate in terms of payroll. This means that many of the Marlins players could be on the market particularly Stanton and his mega-contract.

When you examine Stanton’s 13 year, $325M contract it clearly overwhelms you in both the commitment of money and length. That is an Average Annual Value of $25M per year which only the richest teams in baseball can afford. Luckily the Angels actually have that room right now and even more after the season ends.

The greater complication in this calculus is how much surplus value does Giancarlo really have and what does that equate too in terms of a return of prospects and players?

If you use a very basic dollars per WAR analysis with the assumption of a free agent dollar per WAR value for 2017 of $10.5M and increase it by 10% per year using a base, remaining, 2 WAR for 2017, 4.75 WAR for 2018-2020 and then decrease the WAR projection by 0.5 WAR per season after that, Stanton is virtually impossible to move for fair value because that comes out to about $280M in surplus. Basically 4-7 top prospects or some combination of MLB players and prospects.

There are perhaps only a couple of teams in baseball that could currently afford that in terms of prospects and players and it would gut those teams so much it probably is not worth it.

However there is a catch here!

Stanton, as pointed out recently by Angelswin.com member ‘Dochalo’, has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season. This simply means he can exit this current contract in favor of free agency and, assuming he is healthy and productive, he will almost certainly do so because he can very likely make more money at that time.

There has been great anticipation regarding the 2018-2019 free agent class featured by players like Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw. That group will raise the bar and shatter the ceiling on all future free agent contracts which is the primary reason Stanton can and should expect a larger payday the following year if he opts out.

Because of this very likely fact of Giancarlo re-testing the free agent market, any team that wants to acquire him will likely only be willing to pay for the opting-out-in-2020 version of Stanton and rightly so. Why fork out 6 high quality prospects and then watch him walk away after only three years, it does not make sense.

So what this means is that teams will only be paying for Giancarlo’s surplus value over the next 3 1/2 seasons. That surplus value, using the basic dollars per WAR calculation is about $140M which is more manageable, is essentially 2-3 top prospects or a larger quantity of prospects and players that meet Miami’s asking price.

Acquiring Stanton’s age 28-30 seasons (plus the last half of his age 27 season) would be good for any team including the Angels. In fact particularly the Angels because it aligns with Mike Trout’s remaining controllable years.

Oh and if Stanton does not opt out? Well the acquiring team should still get enough value out of the contract over those remaining years of control to have made the whole thing worth it. His production should last well into his mid-30’s and if that happens it was money well spent.

The problem for the Halos in all of this is Miami will almost certainly demand good prospects in trade and the Angels do not have many. What we may not have in quality we do have more in quantity, particularly if we use our best trade deadline chips to acquire additional talent from one or more teams to send to the Marlins (i.e. a lateral move).

You may be asking why the Nationals would do this and I would offer the opinion that they would do anything in their power to move Stanton out of their Division and weaken one of their rivals right now, so you would have to think losing three prospects is an afterthought if they win it all in 2017 (or succeeding seasons) with Maybin and Hernandez on board and a significantly weakened Marlins team.

Make no mistake this is a true long shot for any team much less the Angels. The opportunity is unique however as no one could have predicted Loria would sell his team now, making this opening a matter of being in the right place at the right time for those clubs fortunate enough to have enough payroll and enough assets.

Offering eight prospects of varying quality gives the Marlins a wide base of possibilities across multiple positions. It probably will not be the best offer they get but we are one of the few teams that can afford to add Stanton’s salary and that gives us a small, sliver of a chance if he is really available.

Do not hold your breath on this. I would hate to be responsible for a bunch of Angels fans passing out or the breakout of a mass sponge migration.

Proposed Trade #8 –

Angels send RHP Bud Norris to the Nationals and 1B C.J. Cron, C Carlos Perez, A OF Jahmai Jones, AA RHP Grayson Long, AA RHP Osmer Morales, and AA OF Michael Hermosillo to the White Sox

Nationals send A- OF Juan Soto and AA 1B Jose Marmolejos to the White Sox

White Sox send LHP Jose Quintana to the Angels

Why?

As another example of the use of lateral resources (converting Bud Norris into prospect currency) this is another stretch-your-imagination example of what Eppler would have to do to have a shot at a big name acquisition at the deadline.

It is obviously another quantity over quality offer that the Angels would likely make on some of these big names. Certainly a team like Milwaukee or Houston could offer up a couple of really premium prospects like Brinson and Hader or Martes and Tucker, for instance, that could prove too tempting to Chicago but that does not mean that the Angels do not have a chance at it.

Offering up Major League talent has its own value particularly when the White Sox are likely to move Abreu in trade as well creating a void at 1B or DH that they would need to fill immediately. Taking a flyer on inexpensive players like Cron and the defensive-minded Perez allows them time to develop their prospects of the future and potentially reap some trade value if either should blossom during their stay.

Although it is not the best offer in terms of quality it is not an insignificant one. I think any team would stop and think about an offer of 2 Major League players with long-term control and 6 prospects of varying quality. Whether they think long and hard is a different matter but that is the challenge of the trade market and the corresponding negotiations.

Other Long-Term (2+ years) Players Considered: LHP Daniel Norris, 1B Brandon Belt, 2B/3B Josh Harrison, RHP Michael Fulmer, OF Christian Yelich, 2B Jonathan Schoop, RHP Marcus Stroman, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Avisail Garcia, RHP Jeff Samardzija, RHP Jacob deGrom, 2B Scooter Gennett, RHP Carlos Martinez, OF Adam Duvall, 1B Justin Bour, UTIL T.J. Rivera, RHP Sonny Gray, OF Marcell Ozuna, RHP Gerrit Cole, OF Khris Davis, RHP Michael Wacha, OF Robbie Grossman, 1B Matt Carpenter, OF Denard Span, 1B Justin Smoak, RHP Dylan Bundy, 2B/3B Yangervis Solarte, and RHP Dan Straily

Although these lateral/upgrade trade scenarios may or may not be realistic (perhaps even ludicrous) they represent a cross-section of what Billy Eppler might be able to pull off as we near the trade deadline.

It will simply come down to the acquisition price. If he can pull off a mega-trade for someone like Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Quintana, Freddie Freeman, or Brandon Belt it would not only transform 2017 but the following seasons, from 2018-2020, in the Mike Trout window of contention.

Trading for one of those big names is not impossible. All of them, minus Quintana, have really significant money owed over their remaining years of control and all four of them have 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 years of team control left, making them valuable to the Angels in particular since that aligns well with our strategic plan.

Perhaps more importantly acquiring a big hitter like this would not impede our payroll in terms of possibly extending Mike Trout. The Angels have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this year and there should be plenty of payroll available to make a run at keeping Trout here the rest of his career.

In the next section we will discuss some of the short term opportunities which also include some big names but also provide more inexpensive options the team could potentially acquire to improve 2017 and 2018.


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AngelsWin.com

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By Glen McKee, Staff Writer

So it’s the All-Star break now, which means a few things: first, I won’t be writing this article next week and reliving the misery, and B, the Angels will have Mike Trout back on Friday (no whammy).    It was a bad week, a very bad week, as if the Angels decided to just say “eff it” until Trout gets back.  How bad was it?  Let me count the ways.

  1. The record.  2-4 against two teams the Angels are, judging by record, in the same neighborhood.  Well, they were before the week started.
  2. The offense.  16 runs in six games, or an average of 2.66 runs per game.  11 of those runs came in three games in Minnesota.  Against the Rangers, they managed 1.66 runs per game and yet still somehow won one of them.
  3. The starting pitching.  In six games, the starters tallied 28.2 IP and 20 ER.  True, those stats are skewed by Nolasco’s horrible start in Arlington: 1.2 IP, 8 ER.  And if you want to look at the positives there were a few (more on that below), but in addition to Nolasco’s fiasco, three times last week the Angels had a starter go only five innings and in those starts they gave up 5 ER, 4 ER, and 3 ER.  Hey, at least the trend line is encouraging, right?
  4. Cameron Maybin.  There’s a thread right now talking about extending Maybin and as I’ve said in that thread, let’s wait and see a bit on that, shall we?  Last week Maybin went 2-20 with 5 BB and 8 K.  He’s hitting .148 with a .273 OBP in July.  Sure, a hot week or two can make those numbers a lot better and I certainly hopes he returns to his June form (.284, .333), but he’s more likely to bounce back to his career averages of .258 and .324.  That .324 OBP would be the best for an Angels leadoff hitter in quite a while, so I’d be happy with that.
  5. Kole Calhoun.  .240 last week, .194 for July.  He’s hot then he’s Kole.  If he warms up after the ASB the Angels have to think about trading him, as much as I’d hate to see him go.
  6. Mike “Get a Brain” Morin.  He’s the new Kevin Jepsen, but worse.  Last week he had 3 IP, 6 H, and 2 ER.  He is who his stats say he is, a career 4.49 ERA pitcher with a strangely low (for that ERA) 1.25 WHIP.  I get that he has options, but he’s not a good option for the Angels.  It’s easy to predict: the Angels will release him and then some other team will pick him up – probably Oakland – and turn him into a dominant closer and trade him for a prospect that turns into the next Sunny Grey.  Que sera sera.
  7. Danny Espinosa.  0-8 last week, but his “replacement” didn’t do much better (Nick Franklin: 1-10).  Seriously, who does Caleb Cowart have to blow to get a legitimate shot in the bigs?  Neither of these guys is a solution or even a good option.

OK, enough with the negatives, what went well last week?  I’m glad you asked!  Well, there was…um, let’s see…yeah, there were these few things:

  1. Parker Bridwell.  Not to be confused with Blake Parker or Peter Parker or even Peter Piper, Parker Bridwell threw six shutout innings in Minnesota and the Angels hung on for one of their two wins last week, 2-1.  For the season Bridwell, Parker is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA, 10 BB and 19 K.  The 7 HR, while in keeping with the tradition of Angels pitchers year, is a bit worrisome but he has potential.
  2. Mike Trout rehabbing.  If he isn’t back this Friday then something is very, very wrong.
  3. Albert Pujols.  Last week he hit .381 (!) with 2 HR but only 2 RBI (that last stat is for you, Claude).  If Pujols stays hot with Trout getting back, that bodes well for the offense.  If only some other hitters could warm up as well, that is.
  4. Ben Revere, CJ Cron, and Martin Maldonado.  Both of them hit .250 last week, which means they were tied for second place behind Albert Pujols.  Yunel Escobar was fifth with a .238 average.  That’s how moribund the offense was.

What’s next.  Four merciful days off, perhaps a trade, and then three at home versus the 47-43 rays.

Predictions.  I don’t think the Angels will make a trade although it wouldn’t surprise me to see either Escobar or Calhoun gone before the Angels play again.  Last week I predicted a generous 3-3 and I was only one game off, but what a difference one game makes.

Worth noting.  Even after that miserable week, and even though it matters not, the Angels are still tied for second place in the AL West.  They’re only 16.5 games behind the Astros!  To close out this miserable week, here’s Kate Upton illustrating where we stand in the AL West:

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I’ll be taking next week off because there are only three real games, and possibly the week after that due to personal reasons (what other kinds of reasons are there?).  Please, feel free to relive the misery on your own until I return.  Cheers.


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AngelsWin.com

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Mike Trout played in his third rehab assignment with the Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday night. And, for the first time, he wasn’t limited to the DH role. He was able to take the field and resume his role in centerfield. I went out to cover the game for AngelsWin.com and to get some interviews with several of the rising prospects on the team.

Of course, being Mike Trout, and an incredible class act at that, he still treated the crowd to a show prior to the game. He took time to sign autographs for the fans, some of whom had waited hours to celebrate the Star Wars theme that the 66ers had going on for the night, grab a Rebel Bernie bobblehead, and of course, watch their hero playing the game. Here’s a little bit of what it was like with Trout prior to the start of the game and taking the field with the kids.

In total, Mike went 1 for 2 on the night with a walk. In his first at bat, he lined a double on the first pitch he saw from Scott Kazmir, who was also on a rehab assignment for the Dodgers. Later on in the inning, Trout scored on a double by Matt Thaiss. Angels fans would love to see this happen on a regular basis in Anaheim!

In his second at bat, Trout got a walk off of Kazmir on a 3-1 pitch. Again, he came around to score on a double by Troy Montgomery, an up-and-coming Angels outfielder, who slid over to leftfield for Mike Trout to get his time in center.

In his final at bat on the night, Trout put the ball in play, but grounded out to the shortstop. As you can see, Trout hustled down the line to make that play close.

After the game, the media was invited into the locker room to ask questions. And, the news is all positive–Mike Trout reported that his thumb “feels fine” and that his legs “feel great”. The plan is for him to play Sunday and Monday with the 66ers, who will be at home. After that, he’s not certain what the plans for his rehab will be.

On behalf of AngelsWin.com, I was able to ask Mike some questions. His answers are in italics.

Mike, thoughts on the All-Star Game. Who has the better team and who is going to take the home run crown?

Laughs. You know, the home run derby is going to be a fun one to watch. You know Stanton–his home town, you know he’s going to put on a show. And obviously, you know, Judge, his unbelievable power. It’s tough. There’s a lot of guys in the homerun derby that have got power. It’s got to be between–you know a lot of people are saying Judge and Stanton–but I don’t think Stanton is going to get beat in his home town.

Mike, fans everywhere, in the stadium, they are thinking when you are facing one of these minor league pitchers “I’d hate to be that guy.” What would you say to one of these minor league pitchers having to face you in a game?

Just have fun with it. I’m just having fun with it. I’m obviously just trying to get my at bats, but we’re going to battle each other. It’s going to be fun. If I’m playing centerfield in the minor leagues, I’d like to face a rehab guy, a big leaguer. It’d be cool. But, just have fun with it these next couple of days and go from there.

What advice would you have liked from a major leaguer when you were in Single-A?

Just keep working hard. Honestly, the big leagues is where you want to be. You know, now that I’m up here, it’s great. Just keep working hard. Your ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues.

To watch the whole press conference, watch here.

There are still some seats available for the Sunday and Monday night game with the 66ers. To buy some, and have a chance to see Trout up close, click here.


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