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OC Register: 2019 Angels spring training preview: infield

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As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 13, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today, the infield. (Previously, the rotation and bullpen.)

2018 RECAP

The only member of the infield to go from start to finish with his job was shortstop Andrelton Simmons, and he missed 10 days on the disabled list. Beyond that, it was a revolving door. Albert Pujols and Zack Cozart, the projected starters at first and third, both suffered injuries and missed significant time. Second baseman Ian Kinsler was excellent defensively before he was traded in July. Kinsler and Simmons both won Gold Gloves. The injuries and trades cleared the way for rookies David Fletcher, Taylor Ward and José Fernández to see significant action in their rookie seasons. The sum of all those performances led the Angels to finishing well below average offensively at three of the spots. They were 29th in the majors at OPS at first and third, and 23rd at second. Thanks to Simmons, they were 12th at shortstop.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Simmons will be the shortstop. After that, nothing is certain. Pujols is penciled in as the primary first baseman, but he’s coming off knee and elbow surgeries. As insurance, the Angels signed Justin Bour (free agent), a left-handed hitter who has hit 83 homers in the last three seasons. One of the most fascinating elements of the entire Angels roster will be watching how Pujols plays and how the team uses him. When the season begins, Shohei Ohtani is not likely to be ready to DH, so Pujols will DH and Bour will play first. Once Ohtani is back, if the Angels have all three players healthy, they’ll have to figure out how to allocate the at-bats. Elsewhere on the infield, Cozart is back after surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, but the Angels are unsure if he will play second or third. Cozart also didn’t hit in the half season he played before he got hurt, so the Angels are counting on improvement or he could lose time to a group of young players. Fletcher, Ward and Luis Rengifo will all come into spring training with a chance to earn an everyday job. Fletcher or Rengifo could play second, and Ward could play third. The Angels also have Tommy LaStella (trade from Cubs), a utilityman who can play first, second and third.

THE NEXT LAYER

First baseman Matt Thaiss and Jared Walsh both could be major league-ready at some point this season, after performing well at Triple-A in 2018. With both Pujols and now Bour ahead of them, they might both be destined to play every day at Triple-A (Walsh also plays outfield and is learning to pitch) until someone gets injured.

MOVES THEY COULD MAKE

Manny Machado still hasn’t signed. Although Angels fans have been clamoring for him, and he would certainly fit at third base, the Angels don’t seem to be interested in committing that kind of money, especially with Mike Trout’s extension talks looming. That leaves Mike Moustakas, a Southern California native who was connected to the Angels last winter. If he’s willing to take a discounted one-year deal as spring training approaches, maybe the Angels bite.

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Just now, Jeff Fletcher said:

That's awesome! Can't believe that slipped under my radar.

This brings up a question I've been wondering about for a bit. Questions of effectiveness aside - if you had multiple two-way players in your lineup, would you be able to swap them back and forth in the pitcher position? Like, say you had a lefty and a righty, and the opposing lineup goes: lefty, righty, lefty. Would you be able to bring in your lefty against the first guy, replace him with the righty, and then bring the lefty back on the mound for the third guy?

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what is it about Walsh where a lot of people don't consider him a prospect?  

How do you rock an .895 ops with 30/100 and not get legit consideration?  He's also a really good 1b defender.  Not sure about his OF defense but we know he's got a strong arm.  

There has to be some value in a guy like that coming in as a 1bman and then switching in to face a tough lefty.  I heard he was throwing in the low to mid 90's.  With a little instruction, could that creep into the 95/96 range?  From what I've read, he's also got a decent curve.   In his last year at Georgia, he had a 2.60 era in 55ip.  Only 35h, but other peripherals weren't very good with 35 bb and 44 k.  

Agree that he starts the year in AAA.  He could end up being more successful as a reliever than a hitter long term.  

We're due for a guy that isn't really on anyone's radar to have some major league success (outside of the occasional reliever).   

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I also think the Angels like Taylor Ward.  I bet they spend the 'little extra' on a guy like Moustakas instead of Allen if they didn't.   There's still an outside chance they grab Mous before spring, but I don't think they will.  They're gonna give Ward an equal chance to earn a starting spot to Fletcher.  I think that's gonna be an interesting spring battle.  

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11 hours ago, krAbs said:

That's awesome! Can't believe that slipped under my radar.

This brings up a question I've been wondering about for a bit. Questions of effectiveness aside - if you had multiple two-way players in your lineup, would you be able to swap them back and forth in the pitcher position? Like, say you had a lefty and a righty, and the opposing lineup goes: lefty, righty, lefty. Would you be able to bring in your lefty against the first guy, replace him with the righty, and then bring the lefty back on the mound for the third guy?

I believe that as long as the players are one of the 9 players on the field,not a DH, you can put them anywhere you want.You can also do this as many times as you want.I have seen managers put the pitcher in LF then bring another pitcher in then switch back.

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