AngelsWin.com

Administrators
  • Content Count

    260,777
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    3

Everything posted by AngelsWin.com

  1. TEMPE, Ariz. — As is his custom, Albert Pujols answers questions about his future by referring to his past. The day before the first full-squad workout of Pujols’ 19th season in the majors, he was asked if he feels the need to prove to anyone that he can again approach the lofty heights he reached earlier in his Hall of Fame career. “I don’t need to show anybody, man,” Pujols said on Sunday morning in the Angels clubhouse. “My job is to just try to be healthy and help this ballclub to win a championship. I don’t think I need to show anybody. I know what I can do when I’m healthy, and that’s what I try to do.” Pujols, 39, enters this season after a pair of surgeries, arthroscopic procedures on his left knee in August and his right elbow in September. Pujols has had a total of five surgeries since joining the Angels, including a knee procedure in October 2012, and foot surgeries in November 2015 and December 2016. He said he was happy the most recent ones occurred earlier in the calendar, allowing for a mostly normal offseason afterward. “I’m really excited with where I’m at right now,” Pujols said. How that manifests itself on the field remains to be seen. In 117 games last year, Pujols hit .245 with 19 homers and a .700 OPS. It was actually a slight improvement from his numbers (.241 and .672) the year before. Pujols also played 70 games at first base last year, making room for Shohei Ohtani at designated hitter. It was twice as many as he’d played in the previous two years combined. This season, the Angels are going to have Pujols start the season at DH, with Justin Bour at first, while they wait for Ohtani to return. Ohtani is expected by sometime in May. After that, if all three players are healthy, manager Brad Ausmus will have to juggle the playing time. Ausmus has said repeatedly that performance will dictate who plays. They’ll get an idea of Pujols’ health and performance level gradually, working him slowly through spring training. “The most important thing in spring training is making sure he’s healthy going into the season,” Ausmus said. “We certainly don’t want to overload him here and have an issue in April or May. That’s the game plan. It’s going to evolve as we go, but we’re going to be cautious out of the gate.” Pujols said he’s not worried about how much he plays in spring training, as long as he’s ready by opening day. He said he knows how to get ready, and has not made any significant adjustments to his routine. Related Articles Ex-Angels teammates pick each others brains as college coaches Angels end a cold free-agent winter for Dan Jennings Angels pick up veteran lefty reliever Dan Jennings Could the Angels still sign Mike Moustakas? Griffin Canning soaking up atmosphere of his first big league camp with Angels “You adjust here and there but I always say, ‘Why would you fix something that isn’t broken?’” he said. “It’s been successful for me for more than 20 years as a professional. So I think if you’re healthy you don’t need to change anything. For me, it’s been the same training. Maybe I adjusted the volume of the work, but it’s the same intensity and same routine since Day One.” As usual, Pujols said his focus is on winning a championship, and he believes the Angels actually have the pieces in place for that, if they can stay healthy. “I think with everyone in here now, this is my eighth year, and every year we have a really quality, championship ballclub,” Pujols said. “The thing is, the injuries that you get during the season and there’s guys that you’re depending on. When you lose last year half of your starting pitchers for the rest of the year, it’s really tough. It’s hard to compete like that. God willing, if we stay healthy I think we have a really good team right here to get back in that position that we want.” View the full article
  2. Angels pitcher Jake Jewell throws to the plate during a spring training workout on Tuesday in Tempe, Ariz. The Angels are using the Edgertronic high-speed camera system to evaluate their pitchers. The cameras record pitchers in real time, with the ability to give highly detailed looks at the way they hold the ball, the way it comes off their fingers and the way it spins and moves toward the plate. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) The Angels are using Rapsodo tracking devices, like the one seen here, to collect data on their pitchers during spring training workouts in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs throws in the bullpen as pitching coach Doug White, left, looks on during spring training on Tuesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) Angels pitcher Williams Jerez throws in the bullpen on Tuesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Angels are using the Edgertronic high-speed camera system to evaluate their pitchers. The cameras record pitchers in real time, with the ability to give highly detailed looks at the way they hold the ball, the way it comes off their fingers and the way it spins and moves toward the plate. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) Show Caption of Expand TEMPE, Ariz. — Tyler Skaggs unleashed the pitch and then turned to pitching coach Doug White. “Dougie,” he said. “What was the spin on that curve?” Welcome to Major League Baseball, circa 2019. The Angels, like almost all big league teams, have taken their workouts to a new level technologically this year, with the installation of several digital devices that assist in their evaluations, specifically with pitchers. “It’s cool,” Skaggs said. “It’s definitely a lot of new information that we haven’t had in the past. I think a lot of teams are going in that direction. I think it’s great. Instead of going off the eye test on every pitch, you can get the actual numbers.” The two main devices the Angels have added to the pitching mix this year are Edgertronic high-speed cameras and Rapsodo tracking devices. The cameras are set up on tripods right behind the pitcher. The Angels also have an overhead camera attached to an awning above one of the bullpen mounds on their practice field. They record pitchers in real time, with the ability to give highly detailed looks at the way they hold the ball, the way it comes off their fingers and the way it spins and moves toward the plate. The Rapsodo trackers essentially replicate what the Trackman systems do in ballparks, but on a portable scale. They measure velocity, spin and break. The trackers sit on the ground between the plate and the mound, rising no more than about six inches off the grass. “I love it,” Andrew Heaney said. “I’m excited. Any time you can have a new tool to help give you real solid data, I don’t think there’s any reason we would turn that down.” Much of the data produced by these units was available previously, but not as easily accessible in real time. Now, a pitcher can throw a pitch and then turn to one of the assistants holding a laptop behind the mound to find out the exact parameters of the pitch he just threw. Or he can see the video of the way the ball came off his fingers. “Old school, a coach would stand back and say ‘That looked good, how did it feel?’ ” Heaney said. “Saying something looked good doesn’t make it any better or make it any less hittable. If you have a machine that can tell you the spin efficiency and the (revolutions per minute) and depth on a breaking ball when you hold it with two fingers, now you actually have data that tells you what makes it a better breaking ball.” The new tools allow pitchers to also see the axis of their spin on their pitches, which can make a difference. Two pitches with the exact same spin rate can react differently depending on the angle of the spin, and the angle of the spin in relation to the seams. “I’ve been here for three weeks and I’ve only scratched the surface,” Heaney sad. “I’ve barely gotten to the smallest level of what we are able to do with the equipment and technology now.” Translating the technology into information that pitchers can implement is going to be where teams can find a competitive advantage because almost all of the teams now use the technology. The Angels are one of 28 teams now using the Rapsodo devices, according to the company. They are also used by many top college baseball programs. Related Articles Inside the Dodgers: A closer look at a key detail of Manny Machado’s move to San Diego Angels’ Justin Upton aims to be ready for Opening Day, not early spring training games Angels owner Arte Moreno addresses team’s payroll, stadium and GM Billy Eppler Mike Trout sidesteps questions about his future as he opens spring training with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says rehab going smoothly so far “What it does is give you instant feedback on what you’re trying to correct,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “If you’re a pitcher, it tracks your hand. You feel what you threw or how it felt when you threw, and you can look at the Edgertronic and see what it looks like. Is that what you want? Not quite. Do it again. Basically, eventually you get to the point where you feel it and look at it, and that’s right. Now you try to repeat that. It’s instant feedback. That’s what a lot of the guys like.” Because the devices are so portable, the Angels will continue to use them for bullpen sessions during the season, at home and on the road. Exactly how they use it will continue to evolve, though. “We need to throw more bullpens so we can kind of get a feel for what kind of numbers work for you and what doesn’t,” Skaggs said. “I think we’re in that process of deciding what to use and what not to use. We’re going to use everything and kind of narrow it down to what you feel is necessary.” View the full article
  3. TEMPE, Ariz. — Justin Upton is in no hurry to get on the field in spring training, as he lets tendinitis in his knee calm down. Upton said he suffered the injury running in the offseason, and now he plans to “take it slow.” He said he isn’t expecting to be playing spring training games in the early part of the Cactus League schedule, but he doesn’t anticipate any problem being ready for opening day. “It won’t be a problem,” Upton said on Tuesday. “You’ll see me before we get to California. I’ll definitely be in some spring training games and I’ll be ready to go.” Upton said he’s been hitting off a tee and throwing, while waiting for his knee to allow him full mobility. ALSO On Wednesday Matt Harvey is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session since going down with a strained glute on the first official days of workouts, last week. … Jo Adell, the Angels’ top prospect, hit in a group with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on Tuesday. Related Articles Angels owner Arte Moreno addresses team’s payroll, stadium and GM Billy Eppler Mike Trout sidesteps questions about his future as he opens spring training with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says rehab going smoothly so far Angels’ Albert Pujols looks for bounceback season after two more surgeries Ex-Angels teammates pick each others brains as college coaches View the full article
  4. TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels added another experienced reliever to their bullpen mix by agreeing to terms with veteran lefty Dan Jennings on a minor-league deal Friday, according to a source. Jennings, 31, has a career 2.96 ERA over parts of seven big league seasons. He had a 3.22 ERA in 72 games with the Milwaukee Brewers last year. Left-handed hitters batted .226 with a .570 OPS against him last season. The Brewers non-tendered him rather than paying him a salary of about $1.5 million in arbitration. Jennings will make $1 million if he makes the Angels squad, with another potential $500,000 in performance bonuses. Related Articles Could the Angels still sign Mike Moustakas? Griffin Canning soaking up atmosphere of his first big league camp with Angels Angels grooming Jared Walsh to be their next two-way player Matt Harvey goes down with Angels’ first injury of spring training This was not baseball’s slowest offseason this decade. So what are we waiting for? Jennings joins a bullpen mix that was without an experienced lefty. The top relievers on the depth chart are all right-handed, with Williams Jerez as the most likely lefty to have a chance to pitch in the majors. View the full article
  5. TEMPE, Ariz. >> As he begins what could be his penultimate spring training with the Angels, Mike Trout avoided the elephant in the room. Trout, whose contract expires after the 2020 season, would not directly answer questions on Monday about whether extension talks have begun or whether he wants to remain with the Angels beyond next season. “I don’t want to comment on that,” Trout said. “Like I said, I enjoy playing here. I’m having fun. Obviously, losing is not fun, but I enjoy playing this game. I leave it out on the field every night, every day and I go from there.” Owner Arte Moreno, who spoke to the media a few hours later while the team was conducting its first full-squad workout of the spring, also refused to say whether any negotiations have occurred. “I would probably say that we’ve been in (internal) discussions,” Moreno said. “One of the last interviews I gave I said it’s not in the back of our mind, it’s in the front of our mind. “I think it also depends on the agent and the player. So it’s not like it’s just us. We try to keep in communication with how the agent is feeling and how the player is feeling about where they are.” The general belief around the club and within the industry is that the Angels will be willing to do whatever it takes financially to keep Trout, 27. He has two years left on a six-year, $145-million contract. He’ll make $34 million each of the next two seasons. His next contract will certainly be a record-breaker. Earlier this winter a source said Trout camp was waiting to see the deals that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado signed before opening any sort of formal negotiations. They are still unsigned, a point that has upset many players, including Trout. “It’s obviously not good for baseball,” he said. “You’ve got two of the top guys not signed yet. Teams are saying they want to rebuild, but why not start with one of the top guys?… It’s disappointing for the players.” Money aside, Trout is certainly going to get paid by whatever team he chooses, so it will be a matter of where he wants to play. A native of New Jersey, Trout still spends his winters on the East Coast. He grew up cheering for the Philadelphia Phillies and still loves the Eagles. “I don’t think I went a day this offseason without someone asking ‘Hey, when are you coming to Philly?’” Trout said. “I can’t predict the future.” Trout has said repeatedly that the most important factor to him is winning. The Angels, as has been well chronicled, have made the postseason just once in Trout’s seven seasons, a three-game cameo in 2014. They are coming off three straight losing seasons, although they were just two games under .500 in each of the past two seasons. Trout isn’t tipping his hand as to what he wants to do in 2021 and beyond, but he said on Monday that he believes in the direction the team is headed for 2019 and the immediate future. General manager Billy Eppler didn’t make any splashy move over the winter, but he did retool the roster enough that there could be 10 or 11 new faces on the opening day roster. “Each year since Billy’s been here, he’s been bringing in guys that improve the team,” Trout said. “That’s all you can ask for. Obviously, we weren’t where we wanted to be the last few years, but it’s like a puzzle, trying to bring in guys that fit this team. We’ve brought a bunch of veteran guys in, and we’ll see where it goes. I come here, and I can only do what I can do. But bringing in new faces, it’s good.” Trout also said he thinks the injuries have been the team’s biggest problem in recent years. “I think we lost something like five starters last year or something crazy,” Trout said. “That doesn’t help. When we get knocked down, we just have got to try to get back up as quick as we can.” He added: “If we can figure out a way to stay healthy, we can make a push.” Trout has been injured each of the past two seasons, missing seven weeks with a torn thumb ligament in 2017 and a couple weeks with a right wrist injury in 2018. In 2017 he was hurt on a head-first slide, so he started wearing a protective glove when he’s on the bases. Trout said he does what he can to avoid injury, but he can’t play the game cautiously. Related Articles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says rehab going smoothly so far Angels’ Albert Pujols looks for bounceback season after two more sugeries Ex-Angels teammates pick each others brains as college coaches Angels end a cold free-agent winter for Dan Jennings Angels pick up veteran lefty reliever Dan Jennings “If you play the game hard, you are going to dive, you are going to hurt yourself,” Trout said. “If you hold back and try to prevent it, that’s when you get hurt.” The Angels obviously want Trout on the field as much as possible, because he remains unquestionably the best player in the game. He’s not only put up historic numbers in his first seven seasons, winning two MVPs and finishing second four times, but he’s improved. Last year he specifically mentioned wanting to improve his defense. According to most defensive metrics, he made a dramatic improvement. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove, an award he’s never won. This year Trout did not have any specific areas for improvement in mind. “Just to be more consistent,” he said. “There is no one thing. Just try to get better at everything.” View the full article
  6. TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels have a formula for determining their payroll and it has nothing to do with the luxury tax, contrary to the popular narrative. Owner Arte Moreno said Monday that the Angels base their budget on their revenue. “Typically for us, we allocate about 50 percent of our revenue towards payroll, but I bust through that every year,” Moreno said. “A small-market team would go about the same. Sometimes the larger market teams would only use 40 percent. Every year is a little different with your needs.” The Angels currently have a payroll that’s roughly at $183 million, in terms of actual cash flow for 2019. That includes several incentives that are likely to be reached. It represents a slight increase from their payroll in 2018. General manager Billy Eppler said last month the Angels “stretched” the payroll to add Cody Allen. The luxury tax, however, is calculated using the average annual values of the contracts. Because the Angels have a few players whose actual salaries are much higher than their AAV’s, their payroll for purposes of the luxury tax is about $170 million, well below the $206 million threshold. Moreno said the Angels also want to save some money for additions during the season, “if we have an injury” or “if we are really in it at the All-Star break and are looking to see whether you’re going to trade.” Moreno also said he’s been pleased with the work of general manager Billy Eppler, whose contract runs through 2019, with an option for 2020. “Billy has done a good job,” Moreno said. “His people have done a great job.” Related Articles Mike Trout sidesteps questions about his future as he opens spring training with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says rehab going smoothly so far Angels’ Albert Pujols looks for bounceback season after two more sugeries Ex-Angels teammates pick each others brains as college coaches Angels end a cold free-agent winter for Dan Jennings Moreno also addressed the situation with the city of Anaheim and Angel Stadium. The Angels’ lease runs only through 2020, and the team would like the city to make some upgrades to the ballpark before they commit beyond that. Moreno said the talks with new Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu have been “very positive, a lot of good communication.” In past years, Moreno had not spoken as optimistically about the team’s relationship with the city. UPTON OUT, HARVEY IN Outfielder Justin Upton begins spring training limited by tendinitis in his right knee, Manager Brad Ausmus said. “There’s no reason to rush him right now,” Ausmus said. “Don’t be shocked if he’s not playing right away.” Pitcher Matt Harvey, who suffered a strained glute during the first workout last week, has resumed throwing a few days ahead of schedule. Although Harvey isn’t ready to get back on the mound, he’s been “fully cleared,” Ausmus said. View the full article
  7. By Geoff Stoddart, Director of Social Media Before there was Facebook. Before there was Twitter. Before there was SnapChat or Instagram, there was AngelsWin.com. In February of 2004, Charles Richter launched the website as a way for Angels fans around the country and around the world to stay connected to the team they loved and discuss topics that impacted them. What started out as a simple message board & blog grew into a news and reporting outlet, also being rewarded with a Major League Baseball media credential by the Angels. Correspondence from AngelsWin have participated in such team events and press conferences as the introduction for Albert Pujols, the contract extension for Mike Trout and the welcome Shohei Ohtani, to name just a few. Over the years, the site has been recognized by Forbes, Fox Sports, ESPN, MLB Network, Japan Times, Washington Post, MLB Trade Rumors, local media outlets in the Orange County Register and LA Times and Angels Broadcast crews over the air for their reporting and insights. The site has also hosted many fan events, including Spring and Summer Fanfests where they’ve had such guests as Arte Moreno, Tim Salmon, Don Baylor, Kole Calhoun, ex-GM Jerry Dipoto, Victor Rojas, Jose Mota, Terry Smith, Rex Hudler, Steve Physioc and Tim Mead. As AngelsWin looks to the future, they will continue to provide the news, the stats, information and fan events. But at its core, AngelsWin will always continue to be an online community forum that launched the site and as a result has forged many lifelong friendships & memories. AngelsWin.com: The internet home for Angels fans – where fans can cheer, argue, laugh, complain and discuss the team they love. So a toast to 15 great years and another toast to 15 more. Go Angels! View the full article
  8. TEMPE, Ariz. >> Although Shohei Ohtani isn’t expected to be able to play until May, a guy can dream. “As a baseball player, I would like to make it on opening day,” Ohtani said through his interpreter on Sunday morning. “That’s the thought, but I’m not going to rush myself.” Ohtani, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, would obviously like to beat the projected timeline that has him returning sometime in May. Ohtani has been taking swings at about 75 percent effort so far, but he has not hit a ball yet. He said he’s hoping he can begin hitting off a tee within a week. “So far things are going as planned,” Ohtani said. “No problems at all. But maybe once I start throwing, maybe I’ll start having some issues. But as of now, everything has been going well.” Ohtani said he might begin throwing by the end of spring training. When Ohtani starts throwing, that will slow his rehab as a hitter, because the Angels don’t want to introduce multiple new elements to his rehab at the same time. View the full article
  9. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer A good or bad bullpen can make or break a team’s season. Over the last handful of years the Angels really have not had either, they have milled around a bit, near average, with our 2017 relief corps being the best group and our 2016 our worst group in recent memory. Entering 2019, however, that may prove to be a different story. Billy Eppler and the front office staff have cobbled together what, on paper, appears to be an exciting group of hard throwers that could have a real impact on our playoff chances next season. Nothing is guaranteed to anyone of course, as relief arms are notoriously volatile, but the group the Halos have assembled to-date has promise. To better understand the author’s general optimism let us take a brief look at new Angels manager Brad Ausmus’ bullpen options heading into 2019: Miguel Almonte (RHP) We start this list with Almonte but the reality is that Miguel’s time on our 40-man roster might be short. Miguel features a mid-90’s fastball and a low-80’s curveball. He will mix in an occasional change-up and slider and has an above average GB% rate and has been the victim of his own crime when it comes to his walk rate. If Almonte survives the inevitable roster addition(s), this Spring Training will be a make or break one for him, as he is out of options, which means he needs to break camp or he will find himself designated for assignment in all likelihood. Justin Anderson (RHP) Anderson represents one of the points of optimism for our bullpen moving forward. Justin features a mid-to-high-90’s fastball that can touch triple digits. He pairs that high heat with a mid-80’s slider and a rarely used low-80’s change-up. The fastball is quite heavy with a lot of sink which results in a high GB% rate (50.8% in 2018). Although he put a lot of balls on the ground and created a lot of poor contact (.213 AVG last year), he suffered from a high 6.51 BB/9 (walk rate per 9 innings) rate. If Anderson wants to be more than a nice mid-innings relief piece he will need to tame the walks and success should follow in its wake. He has three options remaining per RosterResource.com, so he is a candidate who can potentially start down in the Minors come Opening Day. Cam Bedrosian (RHP) The last two years have not been particularly kind to Cam. Bedrosian has been experiencing a continuous two-year decline in velocity from his 2016 mid-90’s heat and ended 2018 sitting at about 93 mph, on average. This lower velocity, combined with zero remaining options, means that he must break camp with the Major League team or he could be traded or even designated for assignment. Cam features a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and a low-to-mid 80’s slider as his primary two-pitch mix. Moving forward he may need to develop a third pitch to keep batter’s off-balance, so the development of a change-up could prove useful, particularly versus left-handed hitters. The promise of Bedrosian’s stuff as a Minor League player materialized in 2016 and 2017 but the velocity loss represents a real concern regarding his effectiveness moving forward. Hopefully the Angels new coaching staff will work on Cam’s bio-mechanics and adjust his off-season training regimen in an attempt to regain some velocity he has lost or at least stop the bleeding that the last two years have exorcised on his arm. Unless he has a poor performance during Spring Training he should be on the 25-man roster come Opening Day. Austin Brice (RHP) Poached from Cincinnati in early November, Brice is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever that features a four-pitch mix, including a mid-90’s sinking fastball, a mid-80’s slider, a low-80’s curveball, and an occasional mid-80’s change-up. The sinker of course results in an above average, career groundball rate of 51.2%. If Austin can lower his walk rate a touch and create some additional poor contact, the Angels might have picked up a jewel that just needed a little polish. Unfortunately Brice will not have a lot of time to prove this because he, too, is out of options and must either break camp with the team or he may find himself being designated for assignment prior to the start of the season. Parker Bridwell (RHP) “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” If you were not watching, Parker Bridwell is back! The prodigal son has returned! Pretty much everything about Parker’s peripherals says “meh”. However, both the Yankees and the Angels have clamored after him on the waiver wire which certainly makes one stop and say “Why?” As a full-time reliever, Bridwell was better and perhaps that is where the Angels will consider placing him. His ability to make starts and absorb innings certainly has value but it is more of the back-end, up-and-down, type worth, nothing more. Parker features a four-pitch mix, including a low-90’s four-seam fastball, a low-90’s two-seam type (FanGraphs lists both a two-seam and cutter) fastball, a low-80’s curveball and a mid-80’s change-up. It seems like the Angels and Yankees see more value in how he creates uncomfortable contact for hitters, popping them up, putting the ball on the ground, and generally limiting hard (and soft) contact. Bridwell is out of options so he will also need to break camp with the big league club or he could find himself hitting the waiver wire once again. Ty Buttrey (RHP) One of two relievers (see Jerez below) acquired in the Ian Kinsler trade in late July, Buttrey represents a real bright spot for the back-end of the Angels bullpen heading into 2019. Ty spotlights a quality three-pitch mix including a heavy mid-90’s fastball, a low-to-mid-80’s slider, and a mid-80’s change-up. His ability to get both left- and right-handed hitters out combined with a really high groundball rate and poor contact against the latter (RHHs) makes him dangerous and a very solid choice to pitch in high leverage situations for Brad Ausmus. Buttrey has two options left but there is a high probability that he wins a bullpen spot outright in Spring Training, based on what he has already shown and the potential to continue improving moving forward. His ability to get right-handed hitters to turn over and put the ball on the ground should feed into a Simmons-Cozart defensive alignment up-the-middle of the infield. Taylor Cole (RHP) Originally a starter, the Blue Jays, in 2017, began to move him to the bullpen where his stuff could potentially play up in relief and once the Angels signed him to a Minor League contract in March, they continued down that path, which appears to be generating better results. Taylor features a three-pitch mix, including a low-to-mid-90’s heavy fastball, a recently added mid-80’s slider, and a mid-80’s change-up. He mixes all of these pitches together well, that keeps a lot of hitters guessing as to what comes next and is, in part, what led to his success in 2018. Cole has two options left so he is a candidate to start the year off in the high Minors to act as depth in case of a Major League injury. The Angels did have him spot start a couple of games last year so they may view him as that moving forward or perhaps as a multi-innings type reliever. It should be noted that, other than Buttrey, Taylor had some of the best numbers on the team, so if he can replicate that in Spring Training he could make an open and shut case to claim a 25-man roster spot. Matt Esparza (RHP) Probably a name you have not heard before, Matt was just nabbed from Indians High-A ball in the Rule V Draft. He has been described as a back-end starter by FanGraphs Eric Longenhagen and has reached as high as AA in 2017. Certainly the Angels could be viewing him as a starter candidate but a move to the bullpen could accelerate his arrival in Anaheim. A relief role might allow his fastball, slider, and change-up to play up more and Eppler and company certainly targeted him for his high groundball rate (it has hovered just under 50% as a starter to-date) so he may be closer to the Majors than some realize. Esparza features a three-pitch mix including a high-80’s to low-90’s fastball with sink, a low-to-mid-80’s slider, and an upper-70’s curveball. It is unlikely that Matt will be available until later in 2019, if at all. He is listed here primarily because of the potential change from starter to reliever and the subsequent potential to impact the Major League roster as a late September call-up. He is prospective, unheralded depth that could be used in a multitude of roles (starter, multi-innings reliever, or straight one-inning bullpen help). Luis Garcia (RHP) In perhaps the most interesting challenge trade seen in recent memory (and to be frank challenge trades do not happen too often anyway!), the Angels sent LHP Jose Alvarez to the Phillies in exchange for the hard-throwing Garcia. It was an even salary exchange with identical years of control remaining (two each). Luis, according to FanGraphs, spotlights a three-pitch mix that includes a biting mid-to-high-90’s four-seam fastball, a mid-to-high-80’s split-fingered fastball (Pitch F/X seemed to classify this as a two-seam fastball as they are similar), and a mid-80’s slider. He relies more on the latter two pitches in-game, however. Eppler’s acquisition of Garcia simply seems to be a continuation of the organizations philosophy of high-octane heat and strikeout ability and the increasing, emerging philosophy of high groundball rates (Luis has a 57.2% GB%). Garcia has no options remaining so he must break camp with the Major League squad or face a possible trade or be designated for assignment. Williams Jerez (LHP) Currently the only pure left-handed reliever (if you count Peters as a starter) on the staff, Jerez is the second piece the Angels brought back in the Ian Kinsler trade. Williams has really good velocity from the left-side and features a three-pitch mix that includes a heavy mid-90’s fastball (see the theme developing?), a mid-to-high-80’s slider, and a mid-to-high-80’s change-up. The former results in an above average groundball rate but he needs to work on lowering his walk and home run rates as they are both borderline high. Jerez has one option left so he is a candidate to start the 2019 season down in the high Minors but as the only lefty reliever currently on the staff he may have an inside track for a bullpen spot come Opening Day. Jake Jewell (RHP) Jewell saw his 2018 debut cut short after a freak break of his right fibula as he was covering home plate on a wild pitch in a game against Boston in late June. Fortunately the timetable should have him comfortably back and ready to join Spring Training in an attempt to win a roster spot in the bullpen. A personal favorite of the author’s, Jake originally began as a starter in the Angels farm system but it has long been suspected that a move to relief would capitalize best on his ability and that is what the Halos did starting in 2018 that culminated in three big league appearances leading up to the injury above. Jake features a four-pitch mix, including a mid-to-high-90’s four-seam cut fastball, a mid-90’s sinker, a mid-80’s curveball, and a high-80’s to low-90’s change-up. Throughout his Minor League career, he has maintained a strong ability to force hitters to put the ball on the ground and an above average ability to miss bats. Because of his so-so success as a starter, the two options he has remaining, the potential to be a good back-end reliever, and the shortened 2018 season, the Angels will probably start Jewell down in the high Minors to start 2019. However, it would not be at all surprising to see him back up in the Majors in short order assuming his health is in good order. Keynan Middleton (RHP) Although he is still in the recovery process from Tommy John Surgery (TJS), back in May of 2018, Middleton still projects to return to the Majors in the middle or late part of 2019. Keynan combines fantastic makeup with even more fantastic hit and miss strikeout ability. Assuming he recovers to a semblance of his former self, he should become a force again pitching out of the back-end of the bullpen and represents another bright spot in next year’s relief corps. Middleton spotlights a three-pitch mix, including a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, a mid-to-high-80’s slider, and the occasional mid-to-high-80’s change-up to keep hitters on their toes. What makes him so special is the combination of a high strikeout rate, the ability to contain walks, and the capacity to create poor contact. Angels fans should expect Keynan to remain on the disabled list to start the season as TJS generally requires a full year or so in terms of recovery time (it varies from pitcher to pitcher). Additionally, he has two options remaining so the Angels will certainly make sure he spends a sufficient amount of time on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment before bringing him back into the Major League fold. Akeel Morris (RHP) Acquired from the Braves in April of 2018, Morris is a high strikeout guy with an average velocity arsenal. The Angels designated him for assignment near the end of the season and he was outrighted to AAA. Akeel features a low-90’s to mid-90’s four-seam fastball, a quality upper-70’s change-up, and a low-80’s slider. Akeel has a storied history of high K/9 rates and an ability to create really poor contact as he uses his four-seam fastball to set up his slider and change-up very effectively. His repertoire makes him home run prone but there is value here if he can figure out how to limit the free passes and keep the ball in the park more. Morris is still pre-arbitration eligible and has three options remaining, assuming the Angels keep him in the fold which is not guaranteed by any means. Felix Pena (RHP) Listed here as a potential reliever, Felix spent most of his innings as a starter in 2018 and did an admirable job to the tune of 17 game starts with an overall 14.7 K%-BB% rate and a 4.18 earned run average. Pena could certainly be in the running for a back-end starter job but it is more likely that he takes the long relief role as a multi-innings bullpen piece that can spot start as needed which appears to be the ideal role for him based on his 2018 results. Interestingly, Felix added a two-seam fastball to his arsenal last year and the results speak for themselves as he now features a four-pitch mix that includes a low-to-mid-90’s four-seam and aforementioned two-seam fastball, a low-80’s slider, and a seldom used mid-80’s change-up. Felix has one option remaining but based on his results last season he certainly seems to have an inside track to win a 25-man roster spot to begin 2019. Dillon Peters (LHP) Recently acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Tyler Stevens, Dillon Peters is a lefty starter who has not had much success in that role to-date. One of the items that pops out regarding Dillon is his history of high groundball rates in the Minors. This was almost certainly a selling point for Eppler and the front office in addition to his history of relatively low walk rates on the farm too. Whether as a back-end starter or a high groundball reliever in the likes of Zach Britton or Scott Alexander, Peters is a question full of possible answers. Dillon features a four-pitch mix, including a high-80’s to low-90’s four-seam and two-seam fastball, a mid-to-high-70’s curveball, and a low-to-mid-80’s change-up. These pitches, matched with his abbreviated 53.3% GB% to-date and his ability to create poor contact, make him a truly interesting pick-up for the Halos. Peters has two options remaining so he is a candidate to start 2019 in the high Minors if he does not win a starter or relief role in Spring Training. However, look for him to make an impact soon, in the Majors, particularly if the Halos put him in the bullpen as either a multi-innings or high leverage reliever. Daniel Procopio (RHP) The Angels selected Daniel in the 10th round of the 2017 draft as a hard-thrower who can potentially miss bats. Procopio has shot through the system after his rookie debut in 2017, graduating to High-A ball and then AA in 2018. According to an interview by former Angelswin.com writer Brent Maguire (who now writes for the Athletic), Daniel throws a mid-90’s four-seam fastball, a cutter, and a curveball, with the former and the latter his better pitches. Additionally, he has really been able to miss a lot of bats and create poor contact which likely contributed to his fast move through the system. Daniel has amazing strikeout ability but he will need to temper how many free passes he hands out which has been a weakness to-date. He has also shown a propensity to get hitters out in front or swinging late, resulting in a lot of pull and opposite field hits with less balls going up the middle. Look for Procopio to start the season in High-A or AA with a potential promotion mid-season if he maintains the results he has provided so far in his short professional career. He could be a candidate to get a September call-up and is a deep depth reserve for the Major League roster in 2019. J.C. Ramirez (RHP) Yet another victim to the dreaded TJS, J.C. went under the knife in April and is projected to return sometime in the Summer or late 2019. When his arm was right, Ramirez spotlights a four-pitch repertoire that includes a mid-90’s four-seam and two-seam fastball, a mid-to-upper-80’s slider, and an upper-70’s curveball. Hopefully, he returns to action healthy and that is apparently what the Angels are gambling on because they have indicated a willingness to tender him a substantial contract (estimated $1.9M) despite his serious injury and subsequent surgery. J.C. has three years of arbitration control left and will become a free agent after the 2021 season is complete. He has zero options remaining so, once he returns from the disabled list and has completed a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, the Angels will need to add him or designate him for assignment and risk losing him. Noe Ramirez Although not a particularly hard thrower, Noe has shown a real propensity to strike out batters and create poor contact during his tenure in Anaheim. The Angels have used Ramirez in a multi-innings capacity and he has been effective in forcing hitters on both sides of the plate to pull the ball (over 50% across the last three seasons). If he can solve some of his issues with left-handed hitters, which he began to do in 2018, Ramirez will be a true force to be reckoned with out of the Angels bullpen. Noe features a four-pitch repertoire including a high-80’s to low-90’s two-seam fastball, a high-80’s to low-90’s sinker (Pitch F/X may be conflating these two pitches), a high-70’s curveball, and a low-to-mid-80’s change-up. He pitched 83 innings in 2018 so the Angels may see real value in having him as a multi-innings eater but those IP may have been a result of injuries to the pitching staff. Ramirez is out of options so he will need to break camp with the Angels out of Spring Training or he may wind up being traded or designated for assignment. Jeremy Rhoades Considered an above average prospect when taken in Round 4 of the 2014 Rule IV Draft, the shine wore off a bit and by the start of 2017, Jeremy found himself throwing in relief once it was determined that a starter’s role was not in the cards. Jeremy features a three-pitch mix, including an above average four-seam fastball, a very solid slider, and an average change-up (velocities not available). In 2017 and 2018, Rhoades did well versus right-handed hitters but suffered mightily against left-handed ones. Rhoades has performed reasonably well in the bullpen, showing some solid K%-BB% and HR/9 rates. He was most recently exposed to the Rule V Draft which indicates the Angels do not think he is worthy of protection and addition to the 40-man roster so although he might contribute in the Majors it will probably be with another team. At best he will most probably be an up-and-down reliever with the Angels. Nick Tropeano A Jerry Dipoto trade that worked out, Tropeano came to the Angels with Carlos Perez in the lopsided Hank Conger trade. He missed the entire 2017 season due to TJS. Nick is not a particularly hard thrower but he does feature a repertoire that includes a heavy low-90’s four-seam fastball, a low-to-mid-80’s split-fingered fastball, a high-70’s to low-80’s slider, and a quality low-80’s change-up. Tropeano is listed here because he may not earn the #5 spot in the rotation, relegating him to the bullpen to start the season. However, it should be noted that Nick has two options remaining so it is quite possible he will begin the 2019 season down in the high Minors as rotation depth. Long-term, if he has a good season, Eppler may move him into a multi-innings role as well where his stuff might play up a touch more. So to summarize – Out of Options: Miguel Almonte, Cam Bedrosian, Austin Brice, Parker Bridwell, Luis Garcia, J.C. Ramirez, and Noe Ramirez. Options Remaining: Justin Anderson (3), Ty Buttrey (2), Taylor Cole (2), Matt Esparza (3), Williams Jerez (1), Jake Jewell (2), Keynan Middleton (2), Akeel Morris (3), Felix Pena (1), Dillon Peters (2), Daniel Procopio (3), Jeremy Rhoades (3), and Nick Tropeano (2). Once Spring Training comes around the Angels will almost certainly select the best performing group of relievers. However, they will also balance this with trying to save as many out of options pitchers as they can. Based on the current list above, this is the Angelswin.com projected Opening Day bullpen as of December 28th, 2018: With Keynan Middleton and J.C. Ramirez starting the season on the disabled list, the table above is probably the starting eight as the team will likely carry an extra reliever to begin 2019. Jerez or Pena, who each have one option, could always be removed if they only go with seven or if the Angels acquire an additional 1-2 bullpen pieces prior to the start of the season. Due to the starters not being able to go deep in their first handful of starts, keeping three long relievers on the 25-man roster will help alleviate that initial short length. Also once Pena has pitched he can be optioned down and another reliever like Anderson can be pulled up for a few games and then Felix can return. The Angels could certainly look to sign another reliever in free agency but that has previously not been Eppler’s modus operandi. That being said the relief market is flush with a lot of quality relievers so Billy may be looking at this as an opportunity cost situation to acquire one or more durable pitchers to build depth. Now that the Angels have opted for an inexpensive solution behind the dish, Jonathan Lucroy, they may have more money to spend on the rotation or in relief. If Billy explores the free agent market he is more likely to go after a targeted choice that combines performance and durability such as Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Adam Ottavino, Justin Wilson, or Shawn Kelley for instance. The author would like to make one last point about relievers in general. In 2018, here are the League-wide pitch values (Pitch value/100): You may notice that beyond the rare eephus, knuckle and screwball, it is the sliders, split-finger fastballs, and cut fastballs of the world that were among the most effective pitches in the League. It is not unsurprising that a large swath of our relievers throw various cut, split, and sinking fastballs with a slider as their secondary offerings. It is quite clear that Eppler is building a high quality infield defense behind his heavy groundball staff as a primary form of run prevention. It fits with Eppler’s philosophy on a strong up-the-middle defense (in fact just good defense everywhere) and plays into the statistical reality of those pitches (the slider in particular). As a final note, some of you may have missed FanGraphs David Laurila’s article and interview with former Angels pitching coach Scott Radinsky who spoke about some of the relievers listed above and is well worth a read! Break the Bank ($51M+) Craig Kimbrel High Price to Pay ($26M-$50M) Zach Britton Tanner Scott Justin Wilson David Robertson Jose LeClerc Raisel Igelsias Joe Jimenez Archie Bradley Cody Allen Drew Steckenrider Adam Ottavino Kelvin Herrera Middle of the Road ($11M-$25M) Shawn Kelley Zack Duke Tony Sipp Tyler Clippard Darren O’Day Will Smith Juan Nicasio Fernando Rodney Richard Bleier Ken Giles Jake Diekman Sergio Romo Kirby Yates Brad Brach Bargain Basement ($1M-$10M) Blake Parker Jim Johnson Adam Warren Daniel Hudson Joaquin Benoit Hector Santiago Boone Logan Author’s Choice Billy Eppler could certainly decide to stand pat with the group of options he has assembled to-date with the understanding that reinforcements are only a short call away down on the farm and later in the year when Middleton and Ramirez hopefully return. Now that the Angels have selected to sign an inexpensive option at catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, it is possible they could splurge on a top-tier type, like Britton, who would add a hard throwing, groundball generating, left-handed, high leverage type to the relief corps. Eppler did state that they were looking to have 13-14 relievers available to start 2019 and by my, ready-to-hit-the-Majors, count above we are at about twelve, so 1-2 more could be in the cards. Also, rumors of David Robertson have been increasing, as detailed in the link above, so that could be the durable type of reliever that Eppler would like to add to this staff, particularly because Robertson gets left-handed hitters out at a really good clip. For the last eight years he has performed very well and that consistency has appeal for a team that has had persistent injuries. If Billy dips a chip in the sauce and does not want to invest heavily in a top-tier choice, he will likely go after a guy like Justin Wilson or Shawn Kelley. The former would likely command a 3-year deal at about $7M-$10M per season, while the latter will command a 1-2 year deal at about $4M-$7M per season. In the next Section we will discuss Second Base. View the full article
  10. TEMPE, Ariz. — While major league pitchers were reporting to spring training camps across Arizona and Florida, Dan Jennings was at home in snowy Iowa throwing to high school players. It’s an understatement to say it was frustrating winter for Jennings, one of dozens of big leaguers who waited longer than expected to get a job. “It was a mentally exhausting process, for sure,” Jennings said Saturday, his first day in the Angels clubhouse after inking a minor-league deal. “Nobody wants to go through that. … As baseball players, you live this kind of life, you have to kind of roll with the unexpected a little bit. And it’s no different this year.” The Milwaukee Brewers non-tendered Jennings rather than pay him about $1.5 million through arbitration, so he was left to wait for a new team. After staring at his phone throughout the winter meetings, he was advised to wait until late January before getting his hopes up. Then came early February. And the opening of other camps. And there he was, his workouts supplemented by shoveling snow. “I can’t imagine it’s great for you, but it’s necessary,” Jennings said. “I think next year I’ll buy a snow blower.” Jennings said got more antsy as he saw social media posts from spring training begin to filter in. He contributed a video of his spring training, showing his toddler son how to swing a plastic bat. The delay in finding a job was especially frustrating for Jennings because he’d gone through the winter with extra motivation to get – here it comes – “in the best shape of my life.” “I had a good trainer there to push along in conditioning,” he said. “I definitely put more thought into it this year based on where I was than I have in any other offseason.” Jennings did his throwing indoors and pitched to some high school hitters. When the Angels finally called, he was ready to jump at the opportunity. Although general manager Billy Eppler has always insisted he doesn’t look specifically for left-handed or right-handed pitchers, it doesn’t hurt that Jennings gives the Angels an experienced lefty they were lacking. Jennings has held lefties to a .251 average and .665 OPS throughout his career, including .226 and .570 last year. From 2015 to 2017, he was with the Chicago White Sox, so Angels manager Brad Ausmus saw plenty of him when he was managing the Detroit Tigers. The Angels bullpen depth chart is now looking more crowded. Cody Allen will be the closer, and after that the list of candidates includes Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey, Luis Garcia, Cam Bedrosian, Justin Anderson, Noé Ramírez, Daniel Hudson, Williams Jerez, Taylor Cole, Jake Jewell, Jennings and Luke Bard, who was signed to a minor league deal Saturday. Bard had been with the Angels as a Rule 5 pick at the start of last season. He gave up seven runs — on four homers — in 11 2/3 innings. The Angels sent him back to the Minnesota Twins. He became a free agent again this winter. “The options are good,” Ausmus said. “Certainly, Cody Allen has a track record, but we had some guys last year, especially toward the end of year, pitched well in Anaheim. Hansel Robles pitched outstanding down the stretch. Ty Buttrey came up and made a nice impression. We’ve got some really good arms that have a lot of upside.” Related Articles Angels pick up veteran lefty reliever Dan Jennings Could the Angels still sign Mike Moustakas? Griffin Canning soaking up atmosphere of his first big league camp with Angels Angels grooming Jared Walsh to be their next two-way player Matt Harvey goes down with Angels’ first injury of spring training ALSO JC Ramirez said he felt good a day after his sixth bullpen session since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Ramirez said he’s going to begin throwing breaking balls in his next session. Ramirez is expected back in June… Angels position players are due in camp by Sunday, although most of them have already been around working out at the minor league complex. The first official full-squad workout will be Monday… Shohei Ohtani went down to watch pitchers throw bullpen sessions for a second consecutive day. Ohtani is still just taking dry swings and working out in the gym and trainer’s room. View the full article
  11. UC Riverside head coach Troy Percival and Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad meet at home plate before the start of their non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside head coach Troy Percival talks with pitcher Riley Ohl, (#51), during Saturday’s non-conference game against Nebraska at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad, watches from the dugout during Saturday’s non-conference game against UC Riverside at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Riley Ohl, (#51), delivers a pitch in the first inning to Nebraska’s Spencer Schwellenbach, (#1), during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Damien Sanchez,(#1), misses the ball as Nebraska’s Spencer Schwellenbach, (#1), slides into second base safely during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) Nebraska’s Angelo Altavilla, (#7), turns a double play as UC Riverside’s Alec Arnone, (#7), during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Nick Kafer,(#18), reaches for a fly ball against Nebraska during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Cole Pofek, (#23), rounds second base as Nebraska’s, Cam Chick,(#29), mishandles a ground ball during Saturdays non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Cole Pofek, (#23), slides home safely in the first inning against Nebraska during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Travis Bohall,(#30), slides safely into home during Saturday’s non-conference game against Nebraska at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) Nebraska’s Spencer Schwellenbach, (#1), catches UC Riverside’s Dylan Orick,(#35), during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) UC Riverside’s Dean Miller, (#20), bats against Nebraska during Saturday’s non-conference game at University of California Riverside in Riverside, Ca., February 16, 2019. (John Valenzuela/ Contributing Photographer) Show Caption of Expand RIVERSIDE – The dozens of card games, hundreds of lunches and road trips all over the continent, the thousands of hours of conversations on every element of the game of baseball when they were Los Angeles Angels teammates and this is what Troy Percival remembers the most about Darin Erstad. And no, it wasn’t the obvious connection you’d think. It wasn’t Erstad putting away Kenny Lofton’s fly ball – one induced by Percival on the mound – for the final out of the 2002 World Series. “I remember I came into a game to get a courtesy inning,” Percival said. “He had just come off a concussion and made a diving play that gave him another concussion. So I go to the hospital to see him and ask him, ‘What are you doing? That game was over.’ He goes, ‘No. The ball is never falling.’ “I’ve never forgotten that. Especially when you’re on the mound, the ball is never falling. That’s just who he is. It’s fun to watch what he turns his teams into. They follow a good leader.” Erstad’s Nebraska Cornhuskers followed their leader into Riverside this weekend for a four-game series with Percival’s UC Riverside Highlanders. It’s the third season in a row the two former Angels teammates have started their collegiate seasons playing each other by coaching their respective alma maters, but the first time they’ve brought the series to the Riverside Sports Complex, where Percival’s retired No. 40 features prominent on the center-field wall. The previous two seasons, the teams met at the Angels’ spring-training complex in Mesa, Ariz., splitting four games.Related Articles Bennie Boatwright sets USC men’s basketball record for 3s in win over Cal Sharma’s double-double helps Stanford beat UCLA men’s basketball Cal State Fullerton’s defense stymies CSUN in Big West Conference win Short-handed Long Beach can’t hold off UC Davis down the stretch Kyla Ross, Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect 10s lead UCLA gymnastics to season high Nebraska captured Friday night’s game, 21-6. The teams split Saturday’s doubleheader, with UCR winning the opener, 10-9, behind three hits from freshman Alec Arnone and two hits and two RBI from freshman Damian Sanchez, and Nebraska taking the nightcap, 10-6. Putting aside the ebb and flow of a long college baseball season, nothing has ebbed in the flow of the relationship between Percival and Erstad that began when Erstad joined the Angels in 1996 and lasted through and beyond the ends of their professional careers in 2009. The two built a friendship that surprised no one who knows them and their intense, focused personalities, having regular lunches, working out together and asking questions of each other about their respective disciplines. “I respect him probably more than anyone in the world,” Erstad said. “We’re on the phone a lot anyway. Both of us being head coaches, you deal with issues with teams and you’re trying to learn from everyone and what different people are going through. He’s obviously got a huge pitching background, so I’ve always picked his mind about it.” Percival hasn’t been shy about doing the same, especially since seeing what Erstad has turned the Cornhuskers into since taking the job at his alma mater in 2012. The former Angels center fielder entered his eighth season winning 58 percent of his games, along with a Big Ten title and three trips to the NCAA Regionals. “As soon as I got the job here, I called him and started getting advice, because this is not an easy job to do if you were never an assistant,” Percival said. “I picked his brain pretty much four, five times a week. I was calling him asking questions like ‘How do you start the program? How do you get your influence into the team?’ Just everything top to bottom and he was always there to answer the call.” Erstad answered the call during the offseason, when Percival called to inquire about – naturally – getting hitting philosophy from a player who, in 2000, hit .355 with 240 hits. Erstad told his former teammate about a book called “High Scoring Baseball” that Percival and his coaches devoured and incorporated this season in an effort to go next-level offensively. That book stresses situational hitting, execution and putting the ball in play. In otherwords, Erstad and Percival have come full circle when it comes to making the ball fall. View the full article
  12. By Geoff Stoddart, Director of Social Media Before there was Facebook. Before there was Twitter. Before there was SnapChat or Instagram, there was AngelsWin.com. In February of 2014, Charles Richter launched the website as a way for Angels fans around the country and around the world to stay connected to the team they loved and discuss topics that impacted them. What started out as a simple message board & blog grew into a news and reporting outlet, also being rewarded with a Major League Baseball media credential by the Angels. Correspondence from AngelsWin have participated in such team events and press conferences as the introduction for Albert Pujols, the contract extension for Mike Trout and the welcome Shohei Ohtani, to name just a few. Over the years, the site has been recognized by Forbes, Fox Sports, ESPN, MLB Network, Japan Times, Washington Post, MLB Trade Rumors, local media outlets in the Orange County Register and LA Times and Angels Broadcast crews over the air for their reporting and insights. The site has also hosted many fan events, including Spring and Summer Fanfests where they’ve had such guests as Arte Moreno, Tim Salmon, Don Baylor, Kole Calhoun, ex-GM Jerry Dipoto, Victor Rojas, Jose Mota, Terry Smith, Rex Hudler, Steve Physioc and Tim Mead. As AngelsWin looks to the future, they will continue to provide the news, the stats, information and fan events. But at its core, AngelsWin will always continue to be an online community forum that launched the site and as a result has forged many lifelong friendships & memories. AngelsWin.com: The internet home for Angels fans – where fans can cheer, argue, laugh, complain and discuss the team they love. So a toast to 15 great years and another toast to 15 more. Go Angels! View the full article
  13. TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels may not be finished adding to their roster. The Angels have had some discussions about bringing in free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, a source confirmed on Friday. It is unclear whether those talks are serious at this point. Moustakas, 30, has been connected to the Angels for the past two winters, because he’s a Southern California native and because the Angels could fit him into their lineup. If the Angels got Moustakas, they would likely move Zack Cozart to second and have Tommy La Stella as their utility infielder, with David Fletcher, Taylor Ward and Luis Rengifo all in Triple-A. General manager Billy Eppler said the Angels had to “stretch” their budget to land Cody Allen last month, so they’d need to stretch it further to land Moustakas. Last winter the Angels briefly engaged with Moustakas but couldn’t agree on a deal, so they moved on and signed free agent Cozart. Moustakas lingered on the market and finally signed a $6.5 million deal to return to the Kansas City Royals. He hit .251 with 28 homers and a .774 OPS with the Royals and Milwaukee Brewers, who acquired him in July. Related Articles Angels grooming Jared Walsh to be their next two-way player Matt Harvey goes down with Angels’ first injury of spring training This was not baseball’s slowest offseason this decade. So what are we waiting for? Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year View the full article
  14. TEMPE, Ariz. — Griffin Canning has seen the projections and knows his crack at the major leagues could be coming soon. “It’s hard not to think about it, but I try not to,” the Angels top pitching prospect said from his first major league spring training. “If I’m ready, I’m ready. If they think I’m ready, I’m ready. But I’m just going to keep my head down and keep doing what I do.” Canning is one of the jewels of the Angels improving farm system. After the Angels drafted him in the second round out of UCLA in 2017, Canning pitched just one season in the minors and rose all the way to Triple-A. Now, he’s in big league camp to get a taste of the big league atmosphere, even though he’s not really a candidate to break camp with the team. “It’s important for young guys to come to major league camp and indoctrinate them to the big league atmosphere so when they walk into whatever major league stadium, they are comfortable,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “They know the people and the people know them. They are not wide-eyed. You are a little bit nervous and excited because it’s the big leagues, and that’s what your goal was, but there’s a comfort level because there are familiar faces.” Ausmus got to see Canning just once in the minor leagues last year, but not for lack of effort. He said he arrived at Class-A Inland Empire just after Canning went to Double-A, and he went to Double-A just after Canning went to Triple-A. Ausmus finally saw Canning pitch at Salt Lake, and he was impressed. “We really like the stuff,” Ausmus said. “We love the makeup. But he’s not a finished product. He’s a guy that we continue to develop. He’s climbed through the system fast, but he’s not a finished product. We want him to continue on that trajectory.” Canning, a 22-year-old product of Santa Margarita Catholic High, said last season was a learning experience. At the beginning of the season, he was throwing harder than usual, but his control suffered and he wasn’t efficient with his pitches. Although he was pitching effectively, he didn’t once get through six innings with his allotted pitch count. “Definitely I have to get my pitches per inning down,” Canning said. “Another thing I’m working on is two-strike pitches. Obviously these guys are a lot better hitters, so I need to be in the zone more.” Canning had a 3.65 ERA over 25 starts at the three levels, with 9.9 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine innings. Now that he’s sitting in a big league clubhouse a few feet from veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and working out with dozens of experienced pitchers, he’s hoping to continue polishing his game. “I’m going to pick these guys brains,” Canning said. “I’m excited to be around them for the spring.” Related Articles Angels grooming Jared Walsh to be their next two-way player Matt Harvey goes down with Angels’ first injury of spring training This was not baseball’s slowest offseason this decade. So what are we waiting for? Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year ALSO Michael Hermosillo said he’s been back to 100 percent for about a month after undergoing hernia surgery in October. Hermosillo had a groin issue in August and he aggravated it playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Hermosillo and Peter Bourjos are the top two candidates to win the fourth outfielder job. … JC Ramírez threw his sixth bullpen session since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Ramírez is expected to be able to pitch in the majors sometime in June. … Shohei Ohtani went down to the practice fields to watch some of the bullpen sessions during Friday’s workout. Ohtani’s workouts have been all indoors, either in the trainers room, the weight room or the batting cage. He’s been taking swings, without a ball. The next step will be hitting off a tee, but there’s no timetable for that to begin. View the full article
  15. TEMPE, Ariz. — A year ago, no one would have figured that Jared Walsh would be throwing a bullpen session in major-league camp as media members from both sides of the Pacific snapped pictures and shot video. A year ago, Walsh was just an outfielder and first baseman, a 39th-round draft pick getting little recognition as a prospect. Now, though, he’s following the footsteps of Shohei Ohtani, in camp trying to become the Angels’ second two-way player. After his first bullpen session of the spring, Walsh stood at his locker surrounded by a dozen reporters, from both sides of the Pacific. “I guess it’s pretty cool, but I have to prove myself a helluva lot more than one bullpen,” Walsh said with a smile. While the Angels will need to wait awhile to get Ohtani back at full strength after Tommy John surgery, they have Walsh. A former two-way player in college at the University of Georgia, Walsh had made occasional cameos on the mound in the minors. He showed enough potential as a left-handed pitcher that last fall the Angels sent him to instructional league to get formal pitching instruction. Now, he’s here in big league camp listed as a two-way player, working out with all of the other pitchers. “Right now I’m a pitcher,” Walsh said. “When the position players come in, I’m going to be a pitcher and a hitter. It’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward to the whole process. I think it’s going to be interesting.” Walsh, a 25, is different from Ohtani in a couple significant ways, besides the level of accomplishment. Ohtani is a starting pitcher and a designated hitter. Walsh is a position player who could also be used as a reliever. While Ohtani usually split his time, focusing on one or the other in a game, Walsh had been used a few times in the minors in both roles. He’d be playing in the field and then come straight to the mound. “Really Little League style,” he said. In the majors, that would be tougher to pull off because the Angels would lose their DH for the remainder of the game in that scenario. It would be easier to do in a National League park. For now, it’s just an experiment, one that is clearly influenced by Ohtani’s success. “I think as a result of Shohei’s ability to play both sides of the baseball, I think you are going to see two-way players a little more frequently, which takes the idea of versatility to the ultimate level,” manager Brad Ausmus said. Angels prospect Jared Walsh prepares to step to the plate as a member of the Inland Empire 66ers during a California League season opener against the San Jose Giants at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, Calif. on April 5, 2018.<br />(TERRY PIERSON,THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE/SCNG)Former Angels infielder Kaleb Cowart is now with the Detroit Tigers, who plan to try him as a two-way player. Matt Davidson signed with the Texas Rangers, also with that idea. Those two have already been in the majors as position players, while Walsh is trying to get there for the first time, in whatever role possible. “We feel like he’s got a chance to do both at the major league level, especially with the season he had offensively,” Ausmus said. Last season Walsh hit .277 with 29 homers, splitting his time between Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A. He also pitched in eight games, allowing one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven. And that was without any real instruction. In the fall, he got a crash course on mechanics and how to take care of his arm like a pitcher. Now, he’s in major league camp doing drills with all of the other pitchers. He said he plans to talk to Ohtani sometime, although he hasn’t yet. “I am just trying to learn,” he said. “I just want to be a baseball player. If they ask me to play the outfield, I’ll play the outfield. If they ask me to play first, I’ll do that. If they ask me to pitch, I’ll do that. It’s just fun. Kind of not knowing what you’re going to do every day when you show up to the park is really exciting. It doesn’t get monotonous. It’s going to be pretty cool.” Related Articles Matt Harvey goes down with Angels first injury of spring training This was not baseball’s slowest offseason this decade. So what are we waiting for? Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year Zack Cozart feeling good as he returns to Angels after injury-shortened season View the full article
  16. TEMPE, Ariz. — It didn’t take long for an Angels starting pitcher to go down with an injury, although the first indications are that this one isn’t serious. After the Angels announced on Wednesday that Matt Harvey has a strained left glute, which will sideline him for at least a week and a half, Harvey said he is “not at all” concerned that he might not be ready when the season starts. “If it was during the season, I’d probably just take some anti-inflammatories and keep playing,” Harvey said. “This early in the spring, we just want to get it completely out of the way.” Harvey said he felt something during agility drills on Tuesday, the first official workout for pitchers and catchers. After an examination and discussion with the medical staff, they decided to shut him down briefly. Harvey said he’s hoping he can still do some throwing even while his mobility is limited, so he won’t lose arm strength while waiting for the strain to heal. Manager Brad Ausmus said if Harvey only misses a week and a half, he should still be fine for the start of the season. Harvey also didn’t express much concern. “It’s nothing to be alarmed about,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate it’s this early with a new team and having to miss a little bit of time. It’s not ideal, but I’ll pick up right where I left off.” Although it appears to be a minor injury, it certainly brings back disturbing memories for the Angels and Harvey. The Angels have seen their past two seasons scuttled by a series of injuries to the starting rotation, and Harvey has been hurt several times during his career. ALSO Related Articles This was not baseball’s slowest offseason this decade. So what are we waiting for? Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year Zack Cozart feeling good as he returns to Angels after injury-shortened season Angels manager Brad Ausmus expects Shohei Ohtani to return in May Daniel Hudson, who signed a minor-league deal just before the start of spring training, said he is no longer having any trouble with the forearm injury that cost him the end of last season with the Dodgers. Hudson, who has had two Tommy John surgeries, said “everything feels great.”… Jake Jewell said he’s back to 100 percent after missing the second half of last season with an ankle injury that required surgery. Jewell was hurt covering home plate in his third big league game. … Ausmus is not ready to reveal his opening day starter. Asked if he had idea who it might be, he said: “If I did, I wouldn’t tell you.” View the full article
  17. By Chuck Richter, AngelsWin.com Founder The San Diego Padres were just ranked as having the best farm system in baseball by Baseball America. Did you know the last time the Angels were ranked with the #1 farm system in baseball? 2005. Unlike the Padres, who haven’t been in the playoffs since 2006, the ’05 Angels made the playoffs the year prior to being ranked as the No. 1 farm system, and were the World Series champions three years prior to that. After being ranked as having the best farm system in baseball in 2005, the Angels went on to make the playoffs in four of the next five seasons. The Angels’ top 30 prospects in 2005 had a bunch of talent that made it to the big leagues. Twenty of them made it to the big leagues, and half of them had a solid career. That was an incredible amount of talent. Check it out. Now, think think about the fact that we finally have a top 10 farm system again. Combine that with the talent we have on the Major League club such as Trout, Ohtani, Simmons, Upton, Skaggs, Heaney, Barria, Buttrey, and Anderson. I liken our 2019 club to our 2006 team. We graduated most of those ’05 top 30 prospects that year and they began contributing along with our existing core of vets in Vlad, GA, OC, Weaver, Lackey, K-Rod, Shields, Escobar, Colon. This year, we should do the same with many of our current top 30 prospects starting to contribute along with our current core of vets. Now consider that next year, in our 2020 season, we’ll have an established mix of veterans and young core that can hit the ground running. That could lead to a magical run like 2007-2009. While it may wear on our patience at times that the 2019 Los Angeles Angels may resemble the 2006 club, especially by missing the playoffs, ultimately, we need to see that this year will be a stepping stone, much like 2006 was. Making the playoffs for 3 straight years couldn’t have happened without that transitional season in 2006. We needed the ’06 season to introduce to the prospects to the Majors and give them the opportunity to succeed. I believe the present Angels may have a chance to be a bit better and sustain longer success than they did from ’07-’09. Eppler appears to have set up this club up for more success than we had in 2007-2009. His one year deals for veteran help this season could catapult the Angels into a playoff berth this year. Or, they could end up being yet another boon to the farm system by adding more players like they did in the Maldonado and Kinsler trades. The Angels have the talent to acquire a piece in a trade, if warranted, or, can continue to stock up on talent to sustain the parent club for years. By the end of 2019, the Angels could very well be a top 3 farm system. And, at the same time, they could be on the verge of challenging the Houston Astros in the standings. This season will be an integral part of a larger plan to vault the Angels back into dominance of the A. L. West for a long time. View the full article
  18. By Chuck Richter, AngelsWin.com Founder The San Diego Padres were just ranked as having the best farm system in baseball by Baseball America. Did you know the last time the Angels were ranked with the #1 farm system in baseball? 2005. Unlike the Padres, who haven’t been in the playoffs since 2006, the ’05 Angels made the playoffs the year prior to being ranked as the No. 1 farm system, and were the World Series champions three years prior to that. After being ranked as having the best farm system in baseball in 2005, the Angels went on to make the playoffs in four of the next five seasons. The Angels’ top 30 prospects in 2005 had a bunch of talent that made it to the big leagues. Twenty of them made it to the big leagues, and half of them had a solid career. That was an incredible amount of talent. Check it out. Now, think think about the fact that we finally have a top 10 farm system again. Combine that with the talent we have on the Major League club such as Trout, Ohtani, Simmons, Upton, Skaggs, Heaney, Barria, Buttrey, and Anderson. I liken our 2019 club to our 2006 team. We graduated most of those ’05 top 30 prospects that year and they began contributing along with our existing core of vets in Vlad, GA, OC, Weaver, Lackey, K-Rod, Shields, Escobar, Colon. This year, we should do the same with many of our current top 30 prospects starting to contribute along with our current core of vets. Now consider that next year, in our 2020 season, we’ll have an established mix of veterans and young core that can hit the ground running. That could lead to a magical run like 2007-2009. While it may wear on our patience at times that the 2019 Los Angeles Angels may resemble the 2006 club, especially by missing the playoffs, ultimately, we need to see that this year will be a stepping stone, much like 2006 was. Making the playoffs for 3 straight years couldn’t have happened without that transitional season in 2006. We needed the ’06 season to introduce to the prospects to the Majors and give them the opportunity to succeed. I believe the present Angels may have a chance to be a bit better and sustain longer success than they did from ’07-’09. Eppler appears to have set up this club up for more success than we had in 2007-2009. His one year deals for veteran help this season could catapult the Angels into a playoff berth this year. Or, they could end up being yet another boon to the farm system by adding more players like they did in the Maldonado and Kinsler trades. The Angels have the talent to acquire a piece in a trade, if warranted, or, can continue to stock up on talent to sustain the parent club for years. By the end of 2019, the Angels could very well be a top 3 farm system. And, at the same time, they could be on the verge of challenging the Houston Astros in the standings. This season will be an integral part of a larger plan to vault the Angels back into dominance of the A. L. West for a long time. View the full article
  19. TEMPE, Ariz. — In the almost 12 years in between when Matt Harvey expected to put on an Angels uniform and when he finally did, he experienced a lifetime of baseball lessons. After Harvey turned down the Angels offer when they drafted him out of high school in 2007, he went on to the University of North Carolina and a career of highs, lows, injuries and back-page headlines with the New York Mets. Still a month shy of his 30th birthday, Harvey reflected on the journey after the Angels’ first official workout of spring training on Wednesday. “I wouldn’t say I’m happy for the experiences I’ve gone through, but I think for the rest of my career it’ll better me as a teammate and a player,” Harvey said. “It will definitely help in my workouts and performance. In between starts, it’s definitely lit a fire under my rear end and made me strive to be better.” As Harvey looked back on his Mets career, he now believes one of his issues was that he took his success for granted. From 2012 to 2015 — three seasons sandwiched around Tommy John surgery in 2014 — Harvey posted a 2.53 ERA over 65 starts. “When things are going great, you kind of get comfortable,” Harvey said. “That year (2015) every start was like I was playing a video game. It’s probably what Jacob deGrom felt like last year. But you could do anything. I was throwing any pitch anywhere I wanted and it was start after start.” After the rare bad starts, Harvey said he worked hard in the weight room to bounce back. He says now that he should have done that every after start. “I wish I had gone back after good starts and gotten after it a little more,” he said. It was a lesson that Harvey said he tried to impart to the young pitchers with the Cincinnati Reds after he was traded last season. “I wish I had someone who told me that when I was 23 years old,” Harvey said. “Now, I can write a book of mine and say ‘Do more.’” Harvey changed some of his workout routine last year and also moved further from his Tommy John surgery, and the results were enough to convince the Angels he was worth a one-year $11-million investment. Harvey had a 4.94 ERA over 155 innings with the Mets and Reds last season. Looking beyond the numbers, the Angels are cautiously optimistic that Harvey can perform at a level approaching his peak. Harvey expects it. Related Articles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year Zack Cozart feeling good as he returns to Angels after injury-shortened season Angels manager Brad Ausmus expects Shohei Ohtani to return in May Angels 2019 spring training preview: Billy Eppler says team is slowly going in right direction Angels 2019 spring training preview: Who’s here, who’s gone? “My expectations are always going to be to the max,” he said. “From Day 1 in the big leagues, I wanted to be the best. That’s why I’m so hard on myself when I’m not. That’s how I got in trouble in the past. I couldn’t always be the best. But now that I’m healthy, that’s where I want to be.” He also has the experience he feels can help him get there, something he lacked when he may not have handled things well as a young player. “In 2013, I was up there with the best,” he said. “At that time, you think you are going to continue to be the best and not go through tough times. I thought I was going to be a Met my whole career and be happy with everything that happened. I’d play for 18 years and be a mentor for three. That’s very unlikely to happen. I wish I knew that going in, or had someone tell me that.” View the full article
  20. TEMPE, Ariz. — As Shohei Ohtani prepares to miss the start of this season, he said he has no regrets about playing the end of last season. Ohtani was told on Sept. 5 that he needed Tommy John surgery, but he opted to continue playing as a hitter. He eventually had surgery on Oct. 1. Now that Ohtani is expected to make his 2019 debut sometime in May, it’s worth wondering if Ohtani had any regrets about waiting on surgery. “I knew there was a possibility that I might not make it on opening day, but I felt like last year when the doctor told me I needed Tommy John, I was swinging the bat rally well and seeing the ball really well, so I wanted to get that experience to finish out the season,” Ohtani said through his interpreter after the Angels’ first workout of the spring on Wednesday. “I think that’s ultimately going to help this season. I might miss the first month, but in the long run I think it’s going to help myself and the team.” Ohtani played 23 games after learning he needed Tommy John surgery. Starting with his two-homer game the day he got the diagnosis, Ohtani hit .313 with six homers and a .991 OPS over those final games. The final weeks of offensive production may have been instrumental in him winning the American League Rookie of the Year. Now, the Angels aren’t sure when they will have that bat back in their lineup. Ohtani said his goal is to return sometime in May, but he knows that he must move cautiously, to avoid a setback. After swinging the bat — without a ball — a few times, Ohtani said the process is “going very smooth.” “So far there is nothing in my elbow,” he said. “I don’t feel anything there. I feel great. I just need to watch my effort level, try to keep it down and listen to the trainers.” For now, Ohtani is doing his work inside, in the trainers room, the weight room and the batting cage. He did not take the field with his teammates for the first workout for pitchers and catchers. ALSO Related Articles Zack Cozart feeling good as he returns to Angels after injury-shortened season Angels manager Brad Ausmus expects Shohei Ohtani to return in May Angels 2019 spring training preview: Billy Eppler says team is slowly going in right direction Angels 2019 spring training preview: Who’s here, who’s gone? Angels 2019 spring training preview: Key dates Nick Tropeano just resumed throwing after having a setback with his injured shoulder in December, leaving him doubtful to be ready by opening day. Tropeano had been considered a candidate for the starting rotation, although Jaime Barría is the favorite for the last spot. Tropeano returned from Tommy John surgery 12 months ago, but he’s been dogged by shoulder issues for most of the time since. “It’s really frustrating,” Tropeano said. “People don’t realize the work that goes on behind the scenes. When you have another setback, you just have to keep that positive attitude.”… JC Ramírez said he’s thrown five bullpen sessions in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. He’s at about 60 percent full velocity. Ramírez is targeting an early June return, although it’s not yet determined if he’ll be in the rotation or bullpen. … Keynan Middleton, who had Tommy John surgery a few weeks after Ramírez last April, is not yet throwing off a mound. Alex Meyer revealed that he had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in November, right before the Angels removed him from the 40-man roster. Meyer has had two shoulder surgeries since he last pitched in the majors in July 2017. He’s back with the Angels on a minor league deal. He said he’s two weeks away from beginning to throw. View the full article
  21. The baseball buzzards are circling the bleated corpse of Stupid Money for free agents. What was once a golden calf – worshiped like an idol or chided as a foolish front office pursuit, depending on your point of view – is dead. Thus concludes either the best or the worst offseason this decade. There is no middle ground of opinion. Or is there? With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training this week, I wanted to take stock of the last three-plus months of baseball transactions – and the perceived lack thereof. At some point, front office activity/inactivity became the subject of players’ trash talk, and not the kind of jabs that make the NBA offseason such a delirious sideshow. When the reigning National League Most Valuable Player (Christian Yelich) called out his former boss (ex-Marlins president David Samson) this week for a remark on Twitter that seemed “consistent with anti-player rhetoric,” it was hardly a shock. It was perfectly in line with baseball’s new decorum. It isn’t only the agents who are complaining about the shrinking size of their commissions. Players are on edge, and not just unsigned free agents or salty veterans complaining about a “broken” system. “I’ve always been interested in the business side of the game,” said Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ second-year pitcher. “I think I pick (Andrew) Friedman’s mind even more than he wants me to just because I want to know. I’m not trying to be nosy or do anything with the information. I want to get it. And it’s just sad because a lot of guys put a lot of time and effort into playing this game, and the fans want to see the best players. Somebody is going to sign them, but you just hope it’s sooner rather than later.” Buehler made that remark during the Dodgers’ Fan Fest, on Jan. 26. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the offseason’s prized free agents, remain unsigned. So what’s in dispute? What’s not in dispute? This was objectively NOT the slowest offseason I started with a basic question: was this offseason truly the slowest in recent memory? To determine the answer, I scraped the transactions pages on MLB’s official website for data going back to the 2010-11 offseason. The site categorizes transactions by month and type: minor league free agent signings, major league free agent signings, trades, and waiver claims. I lumped November, December, January and February together to define the “offseason.” First, some ground rules. For the purposes of this analysis, I included only major league transactions as listed on MLB.com. If a “player to be named later” was traded during the offseason, it counted as one trade – even if the first part of the trade was announced during the regular season. I also counted players who re-signed with their original team after becoming a free agent, but only if they signed a major league contract. A player swapped for cash counted as a trade. If one player was involved in two or more major league transactions in a single offseason, each transaction was counted individually. Multi-team trades, however, were counted as a single transaction. OK. Onto the results. Through Wednesday, there have been a total of 201 transactions (trades, signings and waiver claims) this offseason. That’s ahead of 184 transactions of a year ago, with two full weeks remaining before March. This is, objectively speaking, not the slowest offseason this decade. That title belongs to 2017-18. Now, let’s look only at free agent transactions. Has their market slowed compared to last year? Not in terms of quantity. MLB.com lists 99 major league free agent signings since the beginning of November, up from 93 a year ago – again, with the final two weeks of February uncounted. Taken together, however, the last three offseasons are on pace to hold the fewest transactions this decade – assuming the final two weeks of February mimic the first two. That might even be a conservative estimate. Harper, Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Moustakas and other productive free agents could remain unsigned into March. So what makes this offseason so slow? Is it the trades and waiver claims? Nope. Again, assuming the number of trades and waiver claims in the final two weeks of February mimics the first two weeks, this will be a typical 2010s offseason – 65 trades and 44 waiver claims, compared to the decade-long average of 59 and 43, respectively. What are we missing? The changing shape of free agency season A funny thing happened last March. Two of the winter’s marquee free agents (pitchers Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb) signed contracts worth $40 million or more – when their new teammates had already been in spring training for weeks. That’s historically quite rare. It’s not ideal for the player, his team or even, evidently, a prospective free agent such as Buehler. But it’s becoming the new normal. March is the new February. February is the new January. January is the new December. Back to the data. During the 2015-16 offseason, almost half of all players who signed major league free agent contracts (64 of the 129) inked their deals in December. For years, this was the typical pattern: Signings crested in December, then tailed off as the new season approached. Beginning in 2017-18, the pattern changed dramatically. If we include minor league free agent contracts in our data set, there were actually more signings in January than December each of the last two years. Major league signings alone crested in December, but there appears to be a trickle-down effect. Perhaps some players hoping for major league deals settled for minor league contracts in January rather than allow their free agency to linger into February. Meanwhile, trades still peaked in December each of the last two years. Perhaps the Winter Meetings have that effect. For the free agent classes, however, the rules have changed. From afar, the shift seems fairly straightforward. There have been more trades, and fewer free agent signings, each of the last five offseasons (2014-18) compared to the first four (2010-13) this decade. For players, get ready, because here comes the important part. Oh right, the money Though Arrieta and Lynn might have played their cards correctly, it’s not as if holding out guarantees a player more money in free agency. This is where the players’ and agents’ gripes become apparent. The Associated Press reported in December that the average player’s salary dropped in 2018 for the first time since 2004. This week, Forbes ran some numbers and plotted the trend lines for which players are getting paid the most money. A greater share of MLB’s growing resources are going to players who have not yet reached free agency. Depending on the outcome of Machado’s and Harper’s free agency, that trend could continue. Related Articles Leaner Kenley Jansen ready to ‘compete’ again for Dodgers in 2019 Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has no regrets about delaying Tommy John surgery last year Russell Martin, Clayton Kershaw reunite as Dodgers spring training begins Dodgers announce spring training broadcast schedule As a snapshot, consider that Nolan Arenado recently was awarded the highest salary ever given an arbitration-eligible player ($26 million). Meanwhile, the players with the two highest base salaries for 2019, Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout, are being paid under the terms of extensions they signed with their original teams in March 2014 and May 2016, respectively. They have yet to reach the open market as free agents. Why are free agents not getting the “stupid money” of years gone by? While agents might blame the increasing influence of analytics in front offices, executives can always counter with data about baseball’s hastening aging curve. In that regard, both sides have a correct answer to stand upon. That’s also why the impending contracts for Machado and Harper, free agents at 26 years old, are being watched so carefully, still. At this point, it really is all about the money. If you’re a major league free agent – a minority class within professional baseball, albeit a prominent one – your offseason became slower and a lot less lucrative two years ago. If you’re still looking forward to free agency, you have a lot less money to look forward to. And if you’re a fan, don’t count your team out of anything once pitchers and catchers report to spring training. March is the new February. View the full article
  22. TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels have concluded another offseason with a ticking noise in the background. At least, that’s the narrative outside the organization. Just about every time the Angels have done anything over the past few years, it’s been accompanied by a discussion about whether it’s enough to make the team a winner in the remaining years of Mike Trout’s contract. It’s down to two. Tick, tick, tick … General Manager Billy Eppler, however, insists that he does not view his job in such a Trout-centric way. While acknowledging that Trout is obviously a generational player who the Angels love to have, Eppler has said many times he’s looking out for the long-term health of the franchise. The way to have sustained success, he says, is by building a strong farm system. The quickest way, of course, to have a strong farm system, is to trade away a lot of veterans and lose a lot, accumulating high draft picks. The Angels, however, didn’t want to do that either. Instead, they’ve chosen to keep almost all of their established players, supplementing them with short-term potential solutions, to give them a chance to remain competitive while they wait for the farm system to blossom. “Our approach with this organization is a direction over speed approach,” Eppler said in the days leading up to Tuesday’s deadline for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training. “Results are important, and getting things accomplished quicker is better, but not at the expense of us going in the wrong direction.” From about 2011 to 2015, the Angels searched for quick fixes. They relied heavily on free agents and neglected the farm system, and it set back the organization. Eppler is trying to avoid that. “We’ve taken every step we can to be able to build a core group within our farm system and challenged these guys to move aggressively,” he said. “We know we want to build that internally and have sustainability in the long haul. If you are pointed in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter what speed you are traveling.” Eppler insists the Angels are headed in the right direction after winning 80 games and finishing fourth in 2018. Of the players who were on their active roster at the end of last season, the most significant ones who are now gone are relievers José Álvarez and Blake Parker. They also lost Garrett Richards, Martín Maldonado, Ian Kinsler and pitcher Shohei Ohtani, all of whom made significant contributions earlier in the season. Replacements have come in the form of as many as eight or nine new players who figure to be on the 2019 Opening Day roster. While some fans certainly hoped that the additions would include names such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado or Dallas Keuchel, Eppler believes the Angels have improved with a series of smaller moves. The Angels didn’t commit any long-term dollars and didn’t give up any promising young players in trades, while adding what they hope are the right pieces to make a run at the playoffs in 2019. They added starting pitchers Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to a core of Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney. They’ve added veteran closer Cody Allen and power right-hander Luis Garcia to the bullpen. Offensively, they have Justin Bour to pick up some of the first base slack while Albert Pujols and Ohtani recover from their surgeries, and Jonathan Lucroy to plug the hole at catcher. They’ll all be managed by Brad Ausmus, who takes over after the end of Mike Scioscia’s 19-year tenure running the club. “If we can keep our top 30 guys as healthy as possible and put them in a position to perform optimally, and manage their workload and health, I think we can be in a really good spot to win a lot of games,” Eppler said. “We feel good about the progress. We can see progress around and I think the players on our 25-man roster can see progress, because they talk about it.” Which brings us back to the most important player of them all: Trout. As spring training begins, the most significant question the team faces surrounds Trout. WILL TROUT SIGN AN EXTENSION? Although Eppler refuses to comment on the organization’s plans with Trout, a club source said earlier in the winter that extension talks were expected to begin in earnest after Harper and Machado signed, setting a baseline for Trout’s next contract. Assuming those players sign soon, and assuming the Angels and Trout would prefer not to negotiate during the season, this spring training will represent the best window for the two sides to get to work. It is likely that the Angels will be willing to pay whatever it costs to keep Trout – whatever mind-boggling number that might be – so it’s going to come down to whether Trout wants to stay. Trout said at the end of last season that winning is a priority. The Angels have been to the playoffs for just one three-game cameo in Trout’s seven seasons. Once Trout arrives in camp, he will certainly be asked his thoughts on the organization’s direction and his desire to stay. The answers will be telling. If the Angels and Trout don’t come to an agreement this spring, the sides are likely to keep talking for at least another year. It would be a shock if the Angels even considered trading Trout before July 2020, and then only if the team is out of the race and he has made it clear he’s not signing an extension. Even if one of those scenarios exists, it wouldn’t be enough to trade him. HOW QUICKLY WILL OHTANI AND PUJOLS RECOVER? Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, so he’s not going to pitch this season. He’s expected to be a key part of the Angels lineup as the designated hitter for most of the season, but when that starts is unclear. The Angels have only said Ohtani won’t be ready by Opening Day. As Ohtani goes through his rehab throughout spring training, each week will provide a better picture of how soon he’ll be in the lineup. Ohtani’s immediate absence provides a little more time for Pujols, who has no challengers to his time at designated hitter while Ohtani is out. Pujols is coming back from surgeries on his knee and elbow. He is expected to be ready to hit by Opening Day. When Ohtani comes back, though, the Angels would prefer that Pujols can play first base so Ohtani can DH. Playing 70 games in the field in 2018 was likely a contributing factor to Pujols getting hurt, so it’s certainly worth wondering how much a 39-year-old Pujols will be able to handle this year. Spring training will start to provide some answers. WHO EMERGES IN THE THREE-HEADED INFIELD RACE? Andrelton Simmons will be the Angels’ shortstop and Pujols or Bour will be at first base, but beyond that the infield is uncertain. Zack Cozart, who is coming back from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, will play either second or third. The other spot will be occupied by one of a group of three young players. David Fletcher, Taylor Ward and Luis Rengifo all enter spring training with a chance to emerge as an everyday player. Ward could win a job at third, Rengifo at second and Fletcher at either spot. Fletcher probably enters the spring in the pole position, because he performed the best in the majors last year. However, Ward (power) and Rengifo (speed, on-base percentage) both have some attractive qualities. WHO WILL GET THE FINAL SPOTS ON THE PITCHING STAFF? After the top four starters – Skaggs, Heaney, Harvey and Cahill – the Angels have four pitchers in the running for the fifth spot. Jaime Barría, who performed well as a rookie, is likely at the top of the depth chart going in, but Nick Tropeano, Felix Peña and Dillon Peters also have a chance to win their way into the rotation. All four have options, so there could be a shuttle throughout the season with those pitchers moving between the majors and Triple-A Salt Lake. They also figure to use pitchers from this group to slot a sixth starter into the rotation occasionally, providing extra rest for the others. In the bullpen, Allen will be the closer and Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian, Garcia and Justin Anderson are relatively safe bets to join him. Daniel Hudson, Noé Ramírez, John Curtiss, Taylor Cole and Williams Jerez are all in the mix for the final spot. HOW WILL THE PROSPECTS DO? The Angels’ farm system has gone from being the worst in the sport to somewhere in the upper third, and most of their most promising players will be in big league camp. Outfielders Jo Adell – ranked as high as No. 2 overall in baseball – and Brandon Marsh, infielder Jahmai Jones and pitchers Griffin Canning and José Suarez are the organization’s top five prospects, and all will be in camp. It will be the first big league camp for all but Jones. “I’m excited to watch those guys get acclimated and get an opportunity to learn from the guys they’ll be exposed to,” Eppler said. “I think they’ll embrace all the knowledge that’s imparted.” Canning and Suarez are both likely to start the season at Triple-A, so a good showing in Arizona could help their chances at a quick promotion to the majors. Although Adell is only 19, he finished at Double-A last year, so he could also be up sometime in 2019. View the full article
  23. TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels had been saying for months that Shohei Ohtani would not be ready by opening day, but Brad Ausmus put Ohtani’s return in a more specific window on Tuesday. “I’m not going to put a date on it, but we’re thinking May, sometime in May,” the Angels manager said. “That’s assuming everything goes well. This is new territory. We’re dealing with a guy who DH’s on a regular basis and is a starting pitcher. It’s new territory, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. We want to protect him long term doing both. If we need to push it back, we’ll push it back.” Speaking during a media session the day before the first official workout of the spring, Ausmus said that Ohtani has begun taking some swings without a ball. In that sense, he is somewhat ahead of schedule. Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, was only cleared to begin strength training his right arm on Feb. 1, and he was expected to spend at least two weeks doing that before he was cleared to swing. Ohtani will then progress to hitting off a tee and then hitting balls flipped by a coach. “There will be a process,” Ausmus said. “We don’t have a set timeline. We have a general idea. We’re going to wait and see how it goes.” Ausmus said the Angels will likely need to slow down Ohtani. “He’s going to want to get on the field quickly because he wants to compete, but we have to be smart about Shohei’s long-term career,” Ausmus said. Ohtani is scheduled to speak to the media on Wednesday, following the first on-field workout for pitchers and catchers. Related Articles Angels 2019 spring training preview: Billy Eppler says team is slowly going in right direction Angels 2019 spring training preview: Who’s here, who’s gone? Angels 2019 spring training preview: Key dates Angels ink reliever Daniel Hudson to minor league deal 2019 Angels spring training preview: catchers View the full article
  24. TEMPE, Ariz. — After missing the second half of last season with shoulder surgery, Zack Cozart surprised himself with how good he feels coming into spring training. In fact, Cozart said he’s ready to play right now. “Honestly, if today was Day 1 of the actual season, I could play,” Cozart said Tuesday. Position players aren’t even due in camp for a few more days, but Cozart is here with the pitchers and catchers because he’s returning from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He said he’s been hitting since the start of December and working out defensively at second and third base. Cozart is going to be the Angels starter at one of those spots, depending which young player — David Fletcher, Taylor Ward or Luis Rengifo — wins the other job. For a guy coming off a serious surgery and dealing with a positional mystery, he seems not at all bothered. “Besides rehabbing every day, I had a pretty normal offseason,” Cozart said. “Hitting, throwing, ground balls.” Cozart said Dr. Neal ElAttrache warned him after the surgery that he had extensive damage in his shoulder and that his swing “would not feel normal for a long time,” Cozart recalled. However, Cozart said he’s already feeling pretty good. “I was actually shocked, in a good way, how good I felt so early,” he said. “It’s doing great.” ALSO Jaime Barría showed up in camp looking significantly slimmer. “He’s leaned up,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “He looks good. He looks healthy.” Ausmus said Rengifo also arrived looking stronger than he did in the minors last year… Related Articles Angels manager Brad Ausmus expects Shohei Ohtani to return in May Angels 2019 spring training preview: Billy Eppler says team is slowly going in right direction Angels 2019 spring training preview: Who’s here, who’s gone? Angels 2019 spring training preview: Key dates Angels ink reliever Daniel Hudson to minor league deal Justin Bour, who has also been working out in Arizona for a few weeks, made an early impression on Ausmus: “He’s a mountain of a man. He’s imposing to the opposing pitcher.” Albert Pujols, who is rehabbing from knee and elbow surgeries, is also in camp already, and cleared for all activities, Ausmus said. … Angels everyday players are expected to see limited action in the first few Cactus League games, as was the case last year. The spring training schedule was compressed last season, when opening day was moved to a Thursday, so there is now less time for workouts before games begin. … The Angels now have televisions in their clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium. They did not have TVs when Mike Scioscia was the manager. View the full article
  25. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer Results 2018 was a banner year for Andrelton Simmons, who posted his best WAR season to-date in the Majors, at a sterling 5.5 WAR. Clearly a lot of that production was on the defensive side of the spectrum but he also turned in a 2nd consecutive above average offensive season too, begging the question of whether or not the Angels should consider extending him. You may agree or disagree but finding defensive-wizards at critical defensive positions that can post 5-WAR seasons is not an easy task, so it should be on the table in the author’s opinion. Beyond the actual physical results, Simmons continues to show how brilliant he is tactically on the baseball battlefield. His in-game awareness, ability to back-pick overly aggressive runners, and his range and coverage of the infield is second to none in baseball right now. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) So we mentioned above that 2018 was Andrelton’s best season of his career at 5.5 WAR. It is now the 2nd consecutive season that Simmons has exceeded the 5-WAR mark, as he posted 5.1 WAR last year in 2017. A significant amount of this WAR improvement has actually come on the offensive side of the ball as Andrelton has worked hard to improve his at-bat’s over the last two seasons. It is hard to gauge how long Simmons can operate at the 5-WAR level as defense is usually the first player ability that declines with age. Andrelton will be entering his age 29 season in 2019, so age-related decline is something coming into view on the horizon that Eppler and the Angels will need to consider if they really are interested in extending him past his last year of contractual control in 2020. Offense (wRC+) The main improvement has come from Andrelton’s increased Hard% (hard hit rate) over the last two seasons. In 2017 he had a Hard% of 29.2% and in 2018 he jumped to 36%. Both of these numbers exceed his career average of 27.4%. Also over those same two years, he has become more of a pull hitter. In 2017 he had a 45.3% Pull% and in 2018 it jumped to 51%, both higher than his career 42.3% Pull%. When you combine the harder hit balls to the pull-side along with slight increases in his isolated power (ISO), it has allowed Simmons to place the ball more in the outfield grass. BABIP has been favorable to Andrelton so that could possibly normalize but the changes in ISO and Hard% are probably real advancements that have led to the higher BABIP number so it is not too much of a concern. In the end he has matured as a hitter and it looks like those changes are here to stay resulting in overall better plate performance that should continue for at least the next couple of seasons, if not longer. Defense (DEF) To get a real taste and flavor of how good Andrelton Simmons is on defense, you need to perform a historical comparison of shortstops. Below is a table listing all shortstops from 2002-2018 with a minimum of 1000 innings played sorted by FanGraphs ‘DEF’ metric divided by total innings played to convert it to a rate statistic: Other than perhaps Nick Punto, no one else really comes close to Simmons consistent defensive rates. Even Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 innings agrees: In comparison to the nearest active player on the list, Francisco Lindor, who is also considered a fine defensive shortstop, Andrelton exceeds him by 32.5% in Def/Inn and by almost 50% in UZR/150! The point being made here is that Simmons is a truly gifted defensive player at the most defense-critical position in baseball. Due to the ‘Def’ and ‘UZR’ statistics being imprecise and a lack of quality information for previous generations it is hard to slot Andrelton in on a list of all-time great shortstops (think Mark Belanger, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, Art Fletcher, Ernie Banks, et al) but you have to think he would give any of them a real run for their money. Eppler has made team defense a very high priority, particularly up-the-middle defense (C, SS, 2B, and CF) and if the Angels want to continue that pursuit of excellence keeping a guy like Simmons on the team would make a lot of sense. If Andrelton gets injured, the Angels currently have a backup option in Zack Cozart, himself a quality defensive shortstop, and Luis Rengifo down in the high Minors if things get really rough. Projections The Steamer projection system sees Andrelton hovering just below his 3-year running average of 4.4 WAR at 4 WAR. When you consider Simmons age (29 years old for most of the 2019 season) and the fact that defense is the first attribute that a player usually sees decline in, expecting a 4-5 WAR season is probably a reasonable hope for Angels fans. In fact his running 3-year average of 4.4 WAR is probably a good target. If Andrelton exceeds that number fantastic! If he falls short he is still excelling in all likelihood. Either way the Angels are getting what they paid for and more. This is probably the best value trade to-date for Billy Eppler and may go down as the best overall when all is said and done. Contractual Details Simmons is entering his 2nd to last year of contractual control in 2019. Currently, after the 2020 season is complete he will become a free agent. The current deal was $58M over 7 years that he signed with the Atlanta Braves, originally, prior to the 2014 season at the tender age of 24 years old. The Halos will pay Andrelton $13M in 2019 and $15M in 2020, albeit at a very team-friendly $8.3M average annual value (AAV) across those two seasons. It is the author’s opinion that the Angels should seriously consider a contract extension for Simmons. This contract value will vary based on your opinion of how defense-first players decline but let me offer up a rudimentary guess at a potential extension contract. Below is a table using a standard, basic WAR model, a defensive-decline model that discounts more than the standard model, and a historic comparison model: The first two models use Simmons 3-year running WAR average as a starting base and then add in a 7% year-to-year inflation and also age-related decline (the standard model) and, in the case of the defensive-decline model, additional negative WAR decline year-to-year. Now let me be clear: the author does not believe in either the standard or defensive-decline models. They are simply there to show you how WAR is still inaccurate as a tool for contract modeling for defense-first players. No one in their right mind would fork out $284M much less $197M for Andrelton in free agency in the author’s personal opinion (and probably the opinion of many, many others). This brings us to the historical comparison model which is simply taking two recent comparable players, Elvis Andrus and Troy Tulowitzki, and projecting a Simmons extension offer based on those deals. Here is Elvis Andrus’ last six years of his current contract that aligns well age-wise with Simmons: That is approximately $90M over six years and it is an easy case that a 7th year would tack on another $10M-$13M, bringing it up, just above, $100M. There is also an easy case to be made that Simmons is a superior player to Elvis but we will leave that alone for now. Now here is Troy Tulowitzki’s seven years starting at age 29: That is $114M in total for those years. There is a reasonable case to be made that Tulowitzki, when healthy, was a better overall player than Andrelton but that too we will not touch here. Inflation plays a factor here (and that is reflected in Andrus’ contract above) but reasonably there is a case to be made that on a 7-year deal, if it was presented to Andrelton this off-season, an extension contract would probably be somewhere in the $100M-$130M range. Simmons is clearly a superior defender to Andrus and in fact is a better hitter too. Andrelton has also been a much healthier, consistent player than Tulowitzki so there is a case, overall, that Simmons should be on the higher end of not only the salary range but the WAR range as well. Previously the author had pegged an estimated 6-year, $102M deal, beginning at the end of 2019, as a target. If the Angels were to jump a year early, it would probably be a 7-year, $120M extension contract. In the end, the Angels need to manage risk and waiting one more year will give them more information about Simmons health and performance. In the era of analytics more data equals greater knowledge and reduces financial exposure and risk. Waiting one more year is worth it from a front office perspective. Finally one more thing to consider is the available pool of replacement shortstops in the 2020-2021 off-season. In that off-season, it is a truly uninspiring group of names that includes Freddy Galvis and Jurickson Profar. However, in the following 2021-2022 off-season you see a more interesting group that includes Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story among others. If the Angels were willing to bridge the 2021 season with a player like Luis Rengifo (himself a potential replacement, perhaps), they could choose to strike at a younger shortstop the year after. Replacement Options Part of the reason the Angels acquired Zack Cozart in free agency was to add insurance behind Simmons if he were to get injured and was out for an extended period of time. To be frank Cozart, despite his strong history of good defense at shortstop, is no Andrelton, in terms of defense. To be even more frank you would be hard pressed to find a better overall player at the position, except for perhaps Francisco Lindor or Manny Machado. Behind Cozart the Angels have depth in the high Minors with Luis Rengifo and, maybe, someone like David Fletcher. Long-term the Angels will need to consider the value of retaining Andrelton versus letting him enter free agency. That decision, based on the above, is more likely to come next off-season, prior to Simmons last year of control, when Eppler has more information to base his final decision on. Personally, the author believes Andrelton walks on water and would like to see him locked up sooner rather than later but the Angels could feel differently and may have other areas they want to focus their resources on in the future. It should be noted that Eppler almost certainly wants a strong defensive player at shortstop so that will definitely factor in to the strategic five-year outlook. Summary Andrelton Simmons is a terrific player to have on your team. He plays exceptional defense at the most defensive-critical position in baseball. His offense is above League-average and his wRC+ of 109, in 2018, was significantly above the League-average at shortstop of 95 wRC+. His in-game instincts and leadership on the field are second-to-none in the game right now. No one on this team takes his own personal mistakes more to heart than Simmons does, which drives him to constantly improve his game. In the end Andrelton is the type of player you want on your team. He is dedicated and committed to his craft and drives himself to perform at the highest level that he can at all times. That makes him a keeper in my book. View the full article