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Los Angeles Angels: Angels’ Spring Training to-Do List

The Los Angeles Angels enter their fourth straight spring training without the leftover confidence of making the playoffs the previous season. Consequently, with a good-sized payroll and star power on the roster, that scenario leaves a little bit of pressure to get things turned around right now.

And what better time to tidy up a mess than during the spring.

For the Angels, however, it’s not an overwhelming matter. Sure, the offseason wasn’t a complete “winner,” and the strength of the AL West has increased—in the on-paper category. But don’t expect the severity of the Angels’ to-do list to blast through so many reams of paper only a company like Dunder Mifflin could keep up with the demand.

There is hope—more than just Mike Trout—and all of it starts with simple steps in March.


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Grading the Los Angeles Angels on the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings

That sound you didn‘t hear following the four-day wheeling and dealing fest known as the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings is what made the Los Angles Angels so intriguing.

It was the cricket’s chirp, disguised as a collective thumbs up, instead of the disapproving roar.

The organization arguably pulled one of the biggest, if not the biggest, move in the last four days—sending Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal with the Chicago White Sox that landed the Halos starting pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.

It was impressive.

It was quick. 

Oddly enough, the Angels got “it” done, with most of the reactions toward the deal on the positive side—from what I saw, at least.

Sure, there wasn’t a major barrage of giant free-agent maneuvers or major trades the last four days by any MLB team, skewing the magnitude of what was accomplished by the Angels.

But they stayed away from self-inflicted stereotypes, moving from large, possibly draft-pick-surrendering, deals and made a solid cost-controlled effort to fix their starting pitching depth.

Both Skaggs and Santiago, based on the need to simply improve behind C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver, are a good start.

Although dealing Trumbo seemed to be a 180 from what was passed along by Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto no less than a week ago (The Orange County Register‘s Jeff Fletcher thought better of it via Twitter), it turned out to be the best option for getting young arms in return—in this instance anyway.

And, in the time of “Move Now,” the organization did not have the luxury of playing out a storybook scenario, where it keeps the local guy, and he miraculously rewards the gesture by leading it all the way to the World Series.

Will Trumbo be missed? Absolutely.

Power is always a good thing to have on the field, and a class act of a guy is always a good thing to have off the field. Trumbo embodied both areas.

The business side of things moves on, though.

The Angels needed starting pitching; moreover, they needed two starting pitchers. And, with one deal, they accomplished filling that need.

It’s a win—the first move in what seems like 1,000 of them where the criticism didn’t outweigh the praise.

Also, with that one move, the organization indirectly addressed another issue surrounding the 2014 roster: infield depth.

Now that Trumbo is gone, it would be hard to imagine a scenario where Howie Kendrick gets traded.

That beneficial flip-flop in trade chips gives the Angels flexibility in the infield, allowing David Freese to hold the hot corner, Erick Aybar to play shortstop, Kendrick to keep the veteran presence at second, with a nice platoon of Grant Green and Andrew Romine off the bench.

That, for now, is another win.

If the timing of everything allows Kaleb Cowart to progress in Double-A, with Romine and Green carrying their weight and progressing as well, then I would say dealing Trumbo could eventually be viewed as an organization-shifting move.

It leaves the need to fill a void of 30-plus homers that Trumbo carried, no question. And that won’t be the easiest aspect to fill.

If Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton continue to fade, then I can also say this move could be viewed as the organization shifting in the wrong direction, too.

Isn’t everything in the guessing game like that? It’s a risk.

But, even with that possibility of the unknown, there has to be some feel of confidence among the Halo community.

Perhaps there really is a collective agreement in philosophy between the GM and manager Mike Scioscia.

That might be the biggest win of all, which can trickle down into a more positive clubhouse environment.

Mind you, that could have been a front for the media, saying the right things in an environment where the day is spent answering the same genre of questions.

I get that.

However, I also understand where the team was coming from, with reminders popping up every day, like the one Fox Sports’ Gabe Kapler sent out on Twitter:

That is the reality this organization cornered itself into. Now, it’s about making strides to right the ship. And the Angels are doing that, in my mind.

The organization was smart to acquire the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Rule 5 draft selection, Brian Moran, for international slot money. The left-handed reliever “annihilated left-handed hitters in Triple-A,” said Jerry Dipoto, according to’s Alden Gonzalez.

That’s never a bad thing to have, in the grand scheme of bullpen depth.

Sure, there is more work to be done with the offseason a long, long way from over. Adding another pitcher like Matt Garza would be a solid finale to the offseason—which became an actual possibility, as the money available under the tax threshold for the Angels is now around $20 million.

Until then, however, you still have to like what the Angels have done up to this point.

I do.


Winter Meetings Grade: A


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The 5 Key Los Angeles Angels Players Who Have Played Their Final Game in Anaheim

A Los Angeles Angel today, not a Los Angeles Angel tomorrow. That’s the reality several of the key players on the Angels roster face as the organization moves into a busy offseason.

With several large contracts already tugging at the tax threshold ($189 million) and arbitration cases looming, general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will not have the benefit of playing heartstrings, choosing which players to trade like kids swapping baseball cards on the playground.

Whatever gets the team the best crop of pitching depth, while shedding salary, will be the more likely scenario—which usually includes the best available players.

But don’t expect a fire sale—a la Miami via Florida Marlins—leaving a platoon-like feel during the next 162 games.

Things are not that dire in Anaheim, not even close.

With’s Alden Gonzalez reporting the current list of possible names on the trade block has grown to include Hank Conger, Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos to go along with Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, I can realistically see only four of the six not coming back in 2014—with one less-speculated member of the team making a cameo.

Sure, there are the no-brainers—Tommy Hanson will be non-tendered this offseason. Joe Blanton, unless there is some camaraderie with Arte Moreno we don’t know about, will be released. Third baseman Chris Nelson seems like a long shot to throw $1 million to, even though the team doesn’t have a lot of depth at the position, and J.C. Gutierrez doesn’t have the numbers to match his arbitration value ($1.1 million).

Their collective exits from Anaheim are almost inevitable, and I imagine none of them will cause any what-if scenarios or loss of sleep for the decision-makers.

The same can’t be said, however, for another group of players that I think have played their final game in Anaheim. Yep, it’s me predicting things, again—I know.

But don’t let that deter the violin playing in your head as you look at these five swan songs of Anaheim.



Mark Trumbo

The Angels have reportedly told several teams they would be willing to trade Trumbo this offseason according to ESPN’s Buster Olney on Twitter, and seeing how the crop of power-hitting first base-types isn’t really strong, the notification should be well received by other teams.

There are drawbacks.

Trumbo has been one of the more productive Angels hitters the past three seasons, totaling 95 home runs with 282 RBI—which impacts a substantial portion of the Angels offensive attack. However, that impact is only evident if you go off his home run and RBI numbers alone. His poor on-base percentage and second-half declines have had a downward trend.

At 28, there is still time for Trumbo to develop his pitch recognition and selection, cutting down his strikeout numbers and increasing his walks. The possibility for improvement also holds true for his defense, and he can always provide a solid option at DH.

Luckily, the power is what makes Trumbo a target, not his glove.

Not meeting the arbitration number for Trumbo ($4.7 million) is a savvy play by the organization, and getting arms in return for him is also a smart move by the team. 

No question, it won’t be the easiest departure. However, with C.J. Cron performing so well in the minors last season—along with his impressive Arizona Fall League run—and a healthy Albert Pujols, the Angels have first base covered.


Howie Kendrick

Kendrick is a tough case, holding rank as a one of the few veterans in the Angels’ clubhouse, but like Trumbo, he is a an enticing chip for the Angels to use when negotiating for pitching depth.

The need for second base help is out there, making the move by the Angels more likely. There was reported interest from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline from’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, but those rumors remain as simple speculation. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the Kansas City Royals are another possibility.

Kendrick is owed $18.85 million over the next two seasons, and dumping that salary would greatly help towards the tax threshold.

(At this point I would imagine that you have said Grant Green at least once. Maybe twice.)

There is good reason to have concerns about Kendrick’s replacement, especially if the third base position becomes a major question. But Green showed a solid progression after coming over from the Oakland Athletics (via the Alberto Callaspo trade). Third base will have to play out in spring training. It’s a risk, putting a lot of pressure on players like Andrew Romine and Luis Jimenez.

That risk, however, doesn’t seem to concern the Angels all that much. Otherwise, they wouldn’t mention Kendrick or Aybar this winter.


Peter Bourjos

The Angels can stand to lose portions of the outfield group. It’s loaded. And if cutting ties with a fan-favorite like Bourjos will help solidify a deal, then so be it.

He showed improvement at the plate in 2013, hitting .333 in his first 40 games, before suffering a wrist injury that limited his play to only 15 more after that.

Bourjos‘ defense is still his strongest asset, providing the kind of solid center-field coverage teams love and have trouble finding, and with Olney tweeting that the Angels are willing to move him or Trumbo, there should be some interest in Bourjos.

Though a deal for the speedy center fielder would probably need to include other pieces for teams to bite, it’s still a smart move by the organization.

Any scenario that gives Trout complete control of center field in Anaheim is a good thing. Maybe it will help with a future extension?


Jerome Williams

Williams hasn’t been linked to any trade deals, and I doubt he will. But his inclusion in the list is important.

He will be the one arbitration-eligible player I can see the Angels having second-thoughts about non-tendering.

I considered a few scenarios in which the Angels keep the right-handed, sinker-baller as a spot starter and reliever, but $3.9 million (his arbitration value) is a lot of money to give a pitcher as inconsistent as Williams. I can’t see that scenario working.

Non-tendering him seems to be the plausible route. The move will free up money that can be used elsewhere—maybe towards the Jason Vargas negotiations—and give the Angels more wiggle room with their bullpen.

However, that doesn‘t mean he wasn’t a key element—bad or good—the past few seasons. 


Hank Conger

The Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott reports both Conger and Chris Iannetta have gained the interest of the Toronto Blue Jays, as possibilities to fill their catching needs in 2014.

Iannetta, the older, more experienced and pricier of the two, would presumably be the expected offer from the Angels. But I don’t think this is going to be a one-for-one-type of deal that only sends Iannetta north.

Because the Jays are seemingly intrigued by several areas the Angels can offer players (catcher and second base), I still believe this will be a deal that involves Kendrick and a catcher.

Because Iannetta and Kendrick together would be pricier, the younger, switch-hitting option is Conger. The 92 games he played in 2013, hitting a decent .249 while improving behind the plate, should add intrigue to the entire deal, which should still get a nice return to the Angels. And that’s the goal.

As Jerry Dipoto told’s Alden Gonzalez, they know it’s not going to be easy:

Obviously, we’re on the lookout for it. But there aren’t many ways to access that type of talent. You draft it, develop it, wait. That’s the most tried and true and sure method to acquire that type of pitcher or potential impact. Obviously, the other way is via trade, because those aren’t guys that pop up on waiver wires, they’re not guys who pop up on six-year free-agency lists, etc.

Hopefully, it works.

Otherwise, it’s the Los Angeles Angels GM today, not the Los Angeles Angels GM tomorrow.


Note: All stats provided were courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Salary info was courtesy of

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Los Angeles Angels’ Offseason Shopping List

When it comes to acquisitions this offseason, don’t expect the Los Angeles Angels to act like an organization planning for an episode of Supermarket Sweep.

After a long season riddled with injury, pitching issues, and lack of production from high-priced pieces in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, we know the team will certainly look to restructure from a 78-84 record.

But a winning formula won’t involve rushing around the offseason market, attempting to fill the proverbial shopping cart with expensive, top-tier players. 

It can’t, actually.

From a tax threshold perspective, that’s not the kind of reality afforded to this team—not when they are still on the hook for past moves like Vernon Wells (18 million), present moves like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton ($71 million total) and questionable tie-ins for next season like Joe Blanton ($8.5 million).

Instead, with $125 million already on the books for next season, the Angels’ offseason shopping list will be more of the money-saving variety, filled with smart moves that may not make a huge splash among the media, but will help the team progress into next season and after that.

Problem is, though, we still aren’t 100-percent sure who will be orchestrating this new cost-controlled method, or overseeing any of the looming arbitration.

The Angels’ season wasn’t even a day past old before we started to see the question of the Angels’ offseason pop up:


As it stands today, any such drastic and quick-to-the-point actions by Arte Moreno toward either Jerry Dipoto or Mike Scioscia have not happened. And I’m still on board with keeping both of them next season, giving more attention to development and less to moves that will waste time due to acclimation this winter.

However, I don’t think my opinion is of the majority out there.

If there were a change, then, oddly enough, the first category on the Angels’ list would have to be names of free agent GMs and managers.

But the list would not be equal parts.

Managers, at least the kind that could handle Moreno, aren’t really in abundance. And Joe Girardi isn’t coming to Anaheim via New York. Simple enough.

So by default, and a lot of cash left on his contract, Scioscia looks to be safe. Or, at least, safer.

Jerry Dipoto? Well…


The real interest should come from the GM position, in my mind, and now ex-Marlins GM Larry Beinfest.

Though nothing has been whipped up yet, the idea of Beinfest replacing Dipoto—the more expendable of the two sacrifice candidates—is a possibility.

(The interesting thing: Much like the Dipoto/Scioscia head-butting, I have read that Beinfest had similar issue in Florida.)

Either way, we should expect to see more and more of the dysfunction—the behind-the-scenes drama played out in front of the cameras. And, of course, a verdict from Moreno.

After that, it’s all about the pitching—yep, baseball stuff, I know…very cool.

The Angels’ pitching staff did have the unfortunate obstacle of injury throughout the season. Players who were brought in to help the bullpen—Sean Burnett and Ryan Madsondidn’t have the impact the Angels expected simply because of health, and the rotation suffered setbacks seemingly every month too.

Jered Weaver, the one arm that needed to be healthy for the rotation to have a chance, suffered a broken elbow.

Jason Vargas, a complement to C.J. Wilson as a left-handed option had a blood clot in his armpit, and his fellow first-year Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson had both on-field and off-field circumstances.

It was a mess, no question. And sometimes, when there has been such a string of bad timing, the question then becomes: What if?

What if the rotation stayed healthy?

What if the bullpen stayed healthy?

There is nothing wrong with that feeling, either.

When you look at some of the improvements from Garrett Richards in the rotation, the continued growth of Ernesto Frieri as a closer and the ability of relievers Dane De La Rosa and Michael Kohn, things aren’t as dire as one might expect.

When Jerry Dipoto addressed the media, he sounded like he had confidence in some of the current options on the 2013 Angels’ roster:

There’s a championship core there. And now we have to figure out, amongst ourselves, as we collaborate throughout the offseason, what are the moves that we can make that will improve this.

Improving on a tight budget? It can be done (see 2013 playoff-bound teams).

Sure, it would be nice if things could fit into a category like Chevy Chase’s rubber gloves in Fletch (he leased them, with an option to buy). But that isn’t the case for the Angels, unfortunately, so the team will have to be extremely delicate with each decision.

Vargas, the one and only free-agent option, is second on the list behind a manager or GM—if applicable.

The left-hander showed decent stuff this season, with a curveball that actually improved the life (the look of it, at least) of his fastball.

He wasn’t completely strong following the blood clot that sidelined him this summer—he went 3-4 with a 4.60 ERA in his final 10 starts, ending at 9-8 with a 4.02 mark—but lefties are always a commodity when it comes to offseason moves, making Vargas an intriguing free agent.

It also makes him expensive—too expensive for the Angels?


I imagine the team will attempt to negotiate with Vargas, though it’s doubtful they will have the flexibility to offer the $14 million before Vargas hits the market.

That leaves only the unknown—something manager Mike Scioscia knows is difficult:

Free agency gets complicated. There’s no doubt that he’s given our rotation a boost as he’s come back into it from being injured. You’d love to see him in an Angel uniform, but we’ve been through this before. You just never know how free agency works out.

If Vargas does fall through it’s not the end of the world. The Angels have other options to acquire cost-controlled arms through trades and even the international market.

The latter of the two sheds light on an interesting story: The Angels, a team that has not exactly been an international presence in the past, reportedly will bid for the service of 24-year-old Masahiro Tanaka of Japan.

Though his posting fee, as LA Times’ Mike Giovanna explains, would be around $25 million, none of that cash would go toward the luxury tax threshold ($189 million).

Tanaka, then, could be the best game-ready, cost-controlled arm—assuming the Angels would be enticing enough to win the bidding war. That, like everything else in the offseason, is still an unknown.

If that doesn’t play out in favor of the Angels, the option would be to trade a player or package a deal of players for pitching.

This scenario will sting a bit.

As I had previously written, Mark Trumbo stands as the best chip for the Angels. His bat and youth are certainly worth a quality, young arm.

The Pirates had reportedly shown interest in him around the trade deadline, but nothing came of it. (In light of their current playoff position, I am not sure the Pirates would be willing to part with an arm like prospect Jameson Taillon now like they would have then.)

The option will need to be explored by the Angels, though. Whether favorable or not, the spending ceiling the Angels have only allows for so much wiggle room.

Trumbo will help alleviate some of that pressure. And, because of the progress of Kole Calhoun and the hope of Albert Pujols returning to form next season, Trumbo is actually an expendable player.

Not happy about that? I get it.

The next option would be to throw Howie Kendrick into the discussion.

The veteran second baseman was on his way to a really solid season before the leg injury that caused him to miss most of the final month.


Out of that situation, however, came Grant Green—who has the ability to take over the second base role next season.

That leaves Kendrick, like Trumbo, in sort of an expendable position. If he can’t be moved in a one-for-one type trade, then perhaps a package deal—with the likes of Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck, Kole Calhoun, Kevin Jepsen, etc.—could get done.

Again, there isn’t a real certainty there. The Blue Jays reportedly had interest in Kendrick at the trade deadline (and after), but the Angels were not willing to negotiate.

With the Blue Jays current debacle, I wouldn’t think their biggest priority would be landing Howie Kendrick. Like the Angels, I would imagine it’s more about pitching, pitching, and more pitching.

Isn’t that true for every team, though? Pitching is key.

Mike Scioscia explained that (per Mike DiGiovanna):

If you look at any team that wins, they’re pretty good at controlling the game on the defensive end. And that begins with your rotation.

Sounds like 2012 going into 2013, doesn‘t it?

It’s like a bad joke: Pete and Repeat walk into a room. Pete leaves. Who’s left? Repeat.

The Angels need pitching…again.

They need rotation help…again.

Taking another crack at solidifying the bullpen won’t hurt either…again.

And when you really dissect the entire offseason maneuvering, the Angels shopping list is actually less of a list and more like one post-it note.

P.S: “Don’t forget to pick up some pitching while you are out.”


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Los Angeles Angels: 3 Early Predictions for Angels’ Offseason

There is a headline that constantly scrolls in my mind every time predictions begin to swirl around the Los Angeles Angels’ offseason moves—each scenario popping with the lights of a ‘50s-style camera.

Big names. Big money. Big moves. Big…mistakes?


It never fails—especially in the past few seasons—making the Angels one of the more intriguing organizations to watch in the winter.

What will they do for an encore?

Remember: This is the Los Angeles Angels we are talking about here. If they went out on the first day of the offseason and acquired four top-tier pitchers for cash and the eating of a few contracts and Vernon Wells, would you really be surprised?

I wouldn’t.

However, to me, this offseason will be different. Not less interesting, but definitely different. For the first time in at least three seasons, I don’t think we see any major hype.

Sure, the cameras will be there, it’s 24/7 sports news in the offseason—they need filler. But the idea of big moves and bigger headlines coming from Anaheim just doesn’t make sense.

Granted, whenever it comes to predicting the Angels’ offseason moves, I also immediately think of those studies that explain the chances of winning the lottery.

Both instances, regardless of how you think it will go, are never an easy hit. Most often, it’s a miss—about a 1-in-175 million chance of getting it right.

In the case of the Angels, with owner Arte Moreno always poised for the unknown and astonishing, that number may be a little greater—like 1-in-180 million.

But I won’t let the odds keep me from throwing in my two cents. It’s fun. No shame in that.

And though I don’t think something drastic will happen—it’s way too early to completely exhaust every angle and detail anyways—I do feel there are three key scenarios that will lead to this revolution (let’s call it that) of an offseason.

So, let this be the first of probably thousands of prediction-based articles for the Angels this offseason.


Arte Moreno will surprise the guessers, as usual in the offseason, and keep both Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia

What’s the rush on this? This team is not going to be fixed overnight, and it certainly isn’t going to get some high-powered boost if Moreno cuts loose either Scioscia or Dipoto (or both).

In fact, any such moves might set the team back even worse—if you can believe that.

Sure, I’ve seen the same reports, from the same writers as you, but I struggle to understand how this debate is clear to so many when there is obvious doubt towards the effect seeping from the cause.

We know the team is a ship without sails at this point. They have little room for spending money in the offseason, and the best efforts will be parting ways with good talent in order to secure the now and the future.

There is Albert Pujols, causing worry and concern.

There is Josh Hamilton, causing worry and concern.

There is a need for pitching, while understanding that Mike Trout is going to get more expensive.

It’s a difficult situation, no question.

But why take a ship with no sails and start removing the boards from the haul for the sake of blaming why the sails went missing in the first place?

Wouldn’t that ultimately just sink the ship?

In recent months, it seems as though both Dipoto and Scioscia have made nice, at least in the PR-latent form we hear spewed to reporters from time to time.

(It’s like watching two cast members on a sitcom, who dislike each other, smile pretty when the camera is rolling and the questions start flying their way. “No, no, we have had our differences…but I think we have a good thing going here and I think…”)

The truth is Scioscia likes to control the situation—the entire situation. But so does Moreno. To that, I imagine Dipoto would like a little flexibility to control things too, though his chances are slim.

They all like the idea of control.

In the end, it will always be a three-way struggle between Scioscia, Dipoto and Moreno, and ultimately that will be the downfall of the working relationship.

But that doesn’t mean the group needs to break up right now, dissipating like a baseball version of Guns and Roses.

There are more important things.

Dipoto has one year left on his contract. Scioscia has until the end of the 2018 season left on his—with some heavy cash to go with it.

The smart move would be to let both continue to attempt rebuilding the squad and act accordingly if failure continues in 2014 like it did in the past—a la Dipoto’s pitching acquisitions not performing well, or Scioscia struggling to manage effectively in one-run and extra-inning games.

If that kind of failure continues, then Moreno can unleash with fury, at the expected times—Dipoto at the end of 2014, followed by Scioscia not long after that.

It doesn’t need to be a surprise every time a move is made. After all, it’s thinking like that on Moreno’s part that originally cut the sails on this ship in the first place.


Mark Trumbo will overshadow Howie Kendrick on the market

I had some original doubt that the Angels would be completely willing to trade Howie Kendrick during the trade deadline. His value—in the clubhouse and on the field—seemed too great of an asset to the team.

Trading him, in my mind, equaled the same kind of sour deal that occurred with Torii Hunter.

Then I heard about the potential, almost-fulfilled, trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and—well, I threw my doubts out on the 5-Freeway, along with the Angels’ pride, apparently.

Kendrick, almost by some “you tried to send me to the enemy default,” will be traded this winter.

And why not? There aren’t too many scenarios—especially with the teams Kendrick can block in a trade going from 13 to six—where I see the second baseman not gaining interest.

With that interest, there should be a chance for the Angels to pick up talented, young (that’s talented first, young second) arms to add to the pitching staff.

However, I don’t see Kendrick gaining the most interest of all possible trade candidates; that crown goes to Mark Trumbo, who comes with the same high-risk reasoning that got the Angels in trouble these last few years: ditch the small ball, dig the long ball.

Trumbo is certainly a long ball kind of guy. If the 29, 32 and 33 (and counting) home runs he has produced for the team the past three seasons doesn’t tell you that, then the 2012 Home Run Derby display should jog the memory.

The guy can crush a baseball.

The problem is, however, Trumbo’s average has suffered—even by new-aged power-hitter numbers—and his second-half dry spells the past two seasons have not helped the Angels.

Power aside, he is not the type of player that can provide much else. And the Angels have got other players—C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun—that can fill in with better consistency.

There is also light at the end of the tunnel: Teams in search of a power bat will not care about the batting average. They look at the power potential and that is it.

And Trumbo has definitely got that—not to mention he will be turning 28, while Kendrick will be 30 (turning 31) next season. All of those factors could be enough to land Trumbo on the most-prized trade chip this offseason.

If you go by this next guy’s words of wisdom, it may also help the Angels get back to a winning form of old.


Jered Weaver’s thoughts and advice will impact how the Angels move forward

While there will be plenty of guessing from the talking heads, writers and fans about the Angels’ offseason moves and future, it really comes down to what the players think.

They are the ones in the clubhouse, and on the field, who have the best idea about what needs to be done for the betterment of a team.

Jered Weaver is that guy for the Los Angeles Angels.

If you didn’t get a chance to read the article’s Alden Gonzalez wrote about Weaver’s thoughts on the Angels’ situation, you are missing what I consider to be a team-changing moment for this franchise.

Or, at least, words from the clubhouse level to management level on how to reconstruct the club.

Weaver made it clear:

I think we changed our approach as far as how Angels baseball [was]. When I first got here, it was doing the little things—stealing bases, first-to-thirds—and we didn’t really sit back and wait for home runs and things like that. I think that now, we have some guys with some sock in the lineup and guys who hit home runs. The lineup is a little different from that regard.

And by different, he didn’t mean bad or good. Mediocre perhaps.

We have a lot of talent in this clubhouse, man; it’s just a matter of time before it starts clicking. I think that the way we used to go about things and the way we go about things now has taken a little bit to get used to. We’ve seen glimpses of us working together and playing well, and there’s obviously been times where it hasn’t worked out and we’ve been struggling. We have to find that happy medium where we’re playing good, consistent baseball.

Remember that goal: a happy medium.

When the seemingly right answer this offseason is to add pitching, then add some more pitching, getting rid of whoever is the man of the day. Remember what Jered Weaver has told us.

Basically, things are not all that bad; they just need a tweak here and there.

They don’t need to be flashy, highly paid or ready for ratings.

It can be as simple as relying on the learning curve of Cole Calhoun, Garrett Richards, J.B. Shuck and Grant Green, while Hamilton and Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Weaver do their thing.

Of course, Trout will do his part.

Will Dane De La Rosa, Ernesto Frieri and Michael Kohn do the same?

Will Sean Burnett?

If they do, then the predicting just got a whole lot easier.


Note: All stats provided were courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

For more thoughts and opinions from Rick Suter, follow him on Twitter@rick_suter.

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Los Angeles Angels: 6 Things to Watch for in Team’s September Games

Don’t go reaching for the TV Guide or unloading your remaining Los Angeles Angels tickets to the closest person willing to take them just yet. The final month of the Angels’ season has plenty of opportunity to provide must-see TV, with interesting scenarios, mini drama and difficult decision-making.

You just have to know what is what. Think of it as the final act: the beginning of the end, the end of the end, and the beginning of the new beginning.

It’s all there, wrapped up in one, final month.

Sure, from now until the beginning of October, there will be mostly an abundance of second-guesses and couch coaching/managing towards the Angels; with the payroll, the top-tier talent and the heavily covered hype form the offseason, not making the playoffs—not making the World Series—will sometimes cause that to happen.

But all is not lost, unlike the Anaheim part of the Angels name, apparently. But I will leave that to owner Arte Moreno to decide. There are more important matters to dissect.

Because the team is so far out of the MLB playoff race, they are in a unique—and unwanted—position: They can begin the rebuild for 2014 while 2013 is still two months from completion.

Lucky them.

While most of the position battles will be left to the days of spring training to finalize, all of the current players are being looked at again and again, with the understanding that change is near. (Yep, even Mike Trout, though his scenario weighs more in 2015 and 2106.)

And if playing spoiler is not enough to sway watching your habits during this seemingly never-ending season, well, then here are six things to look for in September.

The final act…

Note: All stats and schedule info was provided courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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2 Moves the Los Angeles Angels Could Have Made at the Deadline

While the entire MLB seemed to do less this trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels, theoretically, could have done more.

Much like the grey area that has been the Angels’ season, the decisions the organization made (or didn’t make) were put under the proverbial microscope and viewed with hindsight, leaving many to question the club’s tactics leading up to July 31.

What if…

Mind you, that doesn’t mean the Angels failed. In fact, the club managed to take a rough situation—budget and lack of farm system to use as bait—and made the best of an unusual market.

They flip-flopped relievers with the Atlanta Braves, sending left-hander Scott Downs to the NL East contenders for right-hander Cory Rasmus. And they went within the AL West, dealing Alberto Callaspo to the Oakland Athletics for young prospect Grant Green.

As fans waited to see what pitcher the club might snag, the Angels quietly acquired Julio Concepcion and Andres Perez from the New York Mets for International bonus slot cash.

Though none of the moves would be considered a smash, it was a cost-controlled effort that has been rarely seen from Anaheim in past deadlines. 

It was a refreshing and uncharacteristic twist.

Because of the money owed to Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, with random expenses like Vernon Wells next season, even the moves that didn’t get made left them in no worse of a position. (Some of the misses helped, oddly enough.)

And for those that have doubts in their mind, remember these few points:

  • Replacing a risky Joe Blanton in the rotation with another risky right-hander, that is carrying a plus-five ERA is not a smart move. So no time or room for you, Ian Kennedy.
  • The Kansas City Royals would have never parted with top-tiered arms—like Kyle Zimmer or Yordano Ventura—for Howie Kendrick, assuming he waived the no-trade clause in the first place.
  • Alberto Callaspo, with any number of packaged pieces to be named whenever, would not have been enough to see the New York Yankees give up a pitcher like Phil Hughes.
  • The Angels understood that switch-hitting shortstops don’t grow on trees. 

Regardless of how it is spun, twisted or revisited, the Angels did what they could and there is no real shame in the aftermath.

However, it’s also boring.

It’s too late to change any course of action/delay, or put a PR-laced Band Aid on a mistake. But as the social media generation goes, the second-guessing is almost inevitable—considering the team’s position, I am surprised there hasn‘t been more couch coaching.

Even the Angels’ brass has hinted at the idea they are not completely satisfied or done searching. When asked about the deadline, general manager told’s Alden Gonzalez:

We were very aggressive in our search for young, Major League-ready, controllable pitching. Obviously it’s a very difficult thing to acquire. And that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to look at it again.

That’s a good call, Jerry…let’s look at it again.

Without further ado, with my 20/20 hindsight vision in hand, here are two deals that actually could have improved the Angels, without burning the pocket book or farm system or anything else that is combustible on this current team.

Understand that could is a big word throughout this discovery. 


Mark Trumbo to the Pittsburgh Pirates

This possible trade was quickly shut down because the Angels reportedly had zero interest in getting rid of their slugger. And I can’t argue with their thinking to be reluctant.

But I would also like to think that the right player (or players) in return for Trumbo could have made this deal a reality.

Sure, his stock is on the rise with the Angels—with Albert Pujols on the mend and a power-hitting void at first base—but parting ways wouldn’t be terrible if it meant acquiring pitching.

Top-tier pitching, of course. Not just cost-controlled risks like Ian Kennedy, but top-10 level arms that could help rebuild the farm system—like Pirates’ right-handers Nick Kingham and Kyle McPherson.

It could have worked, as there was a willingness from the other side of the negotiating table. The Pirates had reportedly been open to part with a young arm for Trumbo, so why not go after these two?

Kingham has decent stuff—an above-average fastball (95-97 mph) with developing secondary pitches—and McPherson could be that middle-of-the-rotation guy the Angels need to compliment C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. 

Both pitchers are expected to be in the MLB by 2014 and, more importantly, getting them wouldn’t completely deplete the Pirates’ system, leaving their top arms for the NL Central to fear down the road.

It’s a win-win.

Had the Angels gone this route, exploiting the fact the Pirates need a power bat and probably are susceptible to panic-mode (it’s been over two decades since a playoff birth) I think they could have secured one of those options in return—with maybe another arm down the prospect-chain. 

It’s also worth noting: I have faith that C.J. Cron is close to becoming a full-time major league player, taking care of the first base duties for years to come with the Angels. So replacing Trumbo would not be a desperate issue, during this season or in the future.


Howie Kendrick to the Toronto Blue Jays

Kendrick’s no-trade clause—that consisted of 12 teams—and the possible return product being Luke Hochevar or Ervin Santana certainly kept him out of Kansas City.

It was another case of the Angels not giving in for the sake of making moves, so I applaud the effort. But the Royals weren’t the only team looking for a second baseman.

The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the teams most interested in Kendrick, and they also happened to be a team that is loaded with pitching prospects in their farm system.

The deal made sense to pursue.

Kendrick was by far the most intriguing chip the Angels dangled out on the trade market, no question. He has that rare ability for a second baseman to hit for average, with decent power, while hitting in various spots of the lineup—third, second, sixth, etc.

He would have fit perfectly in the Jays’ lineup, and his contract would have given them an all-star caliber leader for the next two seasons, for a relatively cheap cost.

On the other hand, trading Kendrick would have given the Angels a little breathing room towards total salary—not a ton, but a little—while netting them possible arms for the future. 

What arms, you ask? 

Any of the young hurlers currently in the Jays’ top 10—Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris, Sean Nolin, John Stilson­—would have been another upgrade for the Angles.

The trade would also put Grant Green in his preferred position (second base) next season and beyond. That also allows Taylor Lindsey more time to mature, instead of rushing him as a quick fix. 

Understandably, like the Trumbo deal, it wouldn’t be easy to part with such a great player like Kendrick. But the young arms the Angels could get in return outweigh the offensive production that clouds either deal.

In reality—where the fun is outweighed by the actual decisions a team has to live with—the deals that were made, not made, or passed on to the winter, were exactly what we should have expected.

With the exact outcome: boring.

So, really there wasn’t much of a sell, as Dipoto told Gonzalez, “I don’t know if I can classify it as a buyer’s market at all…I think it was a particularly uneventful day.”



Note: All stats provided were courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

For more of the daily this and that, follow Rick Suter on Twitter@ rick_suter.














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Interview with C.J. Wislon: Head & Shoulders 2013 MLB All-Star Announcement

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game Tuesday night at Citi Field in New York has a chance to carry an interesting and historical meaning, opening the proverbial door for special opportunities in communities that need them. 

Thanks to the efforts by Head & Shoulders and Los Angeles Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, all it will take are a few swings…and some timely misses.

That’s right, long-ball lovers; tonight the strikeout will be on center stage.

Though most baseball fans are drawn to the MLB All-Star Game because of the chance to see herculean home runs—followed by more herculean home runs—or a respective league’s home-field advantage possibilities during the World Series, tonight’s game will put a great deal of importance elsewhere.

As part of the continuing support for the MLB’s RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), Head & Shoulders has announced a special challenge: If a pitcher strikes out the side in the second inning of the All-Star Game, they will donate $1 million to the RBI program.

Yep, that’s $1 million.

The announcement is an added bonus to the already successful “Season of the #Whiff Campaign,” where Head & Shoulders donates $1 to the RBI program for every strikeout in the 2013 season.

Keeping up with the power of social media, a fanbase can tweet the specified hashtag (#whiff) plus their team’s Twitter handle every time a pitcher from that club records a strikeout. The team with the most tweets at the end of each month can earn $10,000, encompassing a total community effort for each team.

It’s a community helping another community. Simple enough.

At the head of this, not only for the Los Angeles Angels, but also nationally, is pitcher C.J. Wilson.

I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to chat with the Angels’ pitcher, and Head & Shoulders “Mane Man,” about his involvement with the campaign and the potential donation.

Wilson, who was introduced to the RBI program when he was 15 years old while playing youth baseball in the Los Angeles area, is excited about such a hands-on charitable group.

“It’s great,” Wilson told me over the phone, “I get to go out there and do my job—strike people out, help people get some fantasy (league) points—and it’s all for a great cause.”

In addition to his 110 strikeouts this year from the mound, C.J. has contributed via a few rare plate appearances, where he has struck out four times. Instead of beating himself up, though, he looked at the bright side of his misfortune. “When I was hitting last week, I struck out,” he laughed, “And I thought…hey, that’s a dollar for donation.”

It remains to be seen if the hitters in tonight’s game will have the same fresh outlook, but with such a hefty announcement during a media-rich All-Star week (see Yasiel Puig and Freddie Freeman), you can count on more than a casual glance, no question.

It’s something that Wilson, who missed out on being an All Star this year, understands. “I wish it was me out there,” he said. “I would like the chance to (strike out the side), but I didn’t get the votes.”

That doesn’t mean he won’t be around tonight, however. C.J. will be taking over the Head & Shoulders Twitter handle (@HSforMen) for a portion of the game, spreading the word about the campaign and fielding fan questions.

And who knows, perhaps he may divulge a scouting report or two for the possible hurlers (Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer) in the second inning.

It wouldn’t hurt.

After all, the middle of the lineup for both the AL and NL teams are not what you would call Adam Dunn-esque. As Wilson joked, “(Dunn) could probably use (the program) as a tax write-off.”

Predictions and outcomes aside, the added recognition of RBI can only help the game of baseball and softball moving forward—during a time when they aren’t necessarily in line with pop culture.

It really is a win-win. Perhaps that’s the growth John Young had in mind when he started the RBI program in 1989.

So, though it may be odd, don’t be afraid to applaud the backwards-K tonight. Let the roars echo around Citi Field following a swing and a miss…followed by another and another. Salute the failed bunt with two strikes.

Enjoy it!

Because tonight, much to the delight of C.J., is all about the strikeout, making this game different from the rest.

Note: A very special thanks to C.J. Wilson for taking the time to chat. For more from Rick Suter follow him on Twitter @rick_suter

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Los Angeles Angels: 2 Biggest Barriers Standing in the Way of a Division Title

The Los Angeles Angels fit one of my favorite, classic plot lines in the MLB. With 162 games, stretching over six months, even the greatest, talent-rich teams will hit a bump in the road now and again.

There are the foreseen and the unpredictable, the sore arms, backaches…and all the other ailments so eloquently listed by coach Lou Brown in Major League“.

And while the Angels certainly are not having any issues with owner Arte Moreno turning on the water heater for the jacuzzi or forcing the team to travel via a rundown prop plane on road trips—like Rachel Phelps did to those lovable, fake Charlie Sheen-led Cleveland Indians—they have seen their share of obstacles thus far.

This early?

Sure, foreshadowing possible roadblocks over 162 games with only a six-game sample size, to any certainty (and with a straight face), is like claiming you can reconstruct the Great Barrier Reef with a few sand dollars, some seashells and the leftover sand still stuck in the bottom of your swimsuit pockets.

I agree. But that doesn’t mean what happens today has little effect on tomorrow or, better yet, October.

In the MLB, every game counts, and the Los Angeles Angels are not a special case.

As the team prepares for its first home stretch, there are two obvious barriers standing in its way of divisional supremacy.

Whether the issues are addressed, solved or unsolved, chances are both circumstances will carry just as much weight today as they do around the time when the divisional title can be clinched.

Sand, please.



Possibly the biggest issue of any team—and always an unknown—is the players’ health, or lack thereof. The Angels fall into the latter of that equation.  

Albert Pujols is coming off of his knee injury, and is now dealing with plantar fasciitis. Jered Weaver, possibly still working through his issues toward the end of the 2012 season, fractured his non-throwing arm when he fell (tripped?) on the mound against the Texas Rangers (h/t LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna).

And Ryan Madson is proving that coming back from Tommy John surgery is not an exact science—he is still not close to 100 percent.

Problems? You bet.

In my mind, any concerns over the pitching staff were always an afterthought because of Jered Weaver. As Weaver goes, so goes the success or failure of the starting rotation.

That’s what an ace/20-game winner is supposed to provide—eating innings, defeating the opposing team’s No. 1 starter and shielding some of the pressure off of the arms behind him.

Now, even if Weaver is in the rotation, things may not go as smoothly. (Look to Weaver’s possible weak glove-side if and when he returns.)

Without a strong front-side (the chest-to-glove that builds up power for a pitcher) the next mph reading on Weaver’s fastball will be substantially lower than the 84-87 mph that has people freaked.

Regardless, the scenario leaves another cliché nagging at the rotation: The domino effect.

The pitchers, behind Weaver, will have the added pressure of picking up the slack, possibly substituting portions of the 20 wins most of the fans would have expected him to earn.

And the bullpen, most notably the long relief, will have added pressure of going deeper into games—keeping the run-fest to a minimum.

It’s a difficult task, made even more cumbersome by the absence of Madson.

Then there is Albert Pujols and his foot.

No question, his injury issues have not been a major problem. The American League allows a team to hide injuries via the DH very well; Pujols is proof of that.

But what about those games when they play on the road against the NL?

Is a slow-footed Pujols at first base worth his bat in the lineup?

After all, his range looked meager in Cincinnati, allowing Joey Votto’s hit to escape his reach in the ninth inning—a play I have seen him make before.

And, with a streaky Josh Hamilton, he can be pitched around with little worry of him doing damage on the bases.

But would a healthy Mark Trumbo be a better substitute, maybe a healthy Bill Hall?

It may not seem like a big deal, however, there are seven remaining games this season on the road against the NL.

How many bats will manager Mike Scioscia be willing to lose?  Remember: Every game counts.

More sand, please.



 I never thought it possible, but the heavy media coverage and love of “the Trio” may just be a curse in disguise for the Angels.

Mike Trout, Pujols and Hamilton have caused an interesting phenomena, unseen in the MLB/Los Angeles landscape before—at least in the nine-plus years I have lived out here.

The Los Angeles Angels are a “marked team,” nationally as well as locally.

And does that lead to “more money, more problems?”

I’m not 100 percent certain, but fame, and the pressure that comes with it, can do crazy things to people (see Lindsay Lohan). And a sports franchise is no different.

Not only is every little detail going to be dissected from every angle—like it already has—but other teams will be gunning for them, too.


It leads to a common scenario of expecting “easy wins” against a team like the Houston Astros, who the Angels play seven times the next two months, while the team may be focusing on more important series against the Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers,

That’s when the little guy beats the big guy, a straight upset.

And it doesn’t have to end with the Astros. The Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals could do just as much damage, stealing a win or two here and there.

That’s the downfall of being a new trend. The team’s focus has to be sharp every game, every swing and every pitch. And I wouldn’t put too much stock in this Angels team handling that task.

History is not on their side, post-media hype.  

Remember: It was six games into the season, one year ago, when the Los Angeles Angels, loaded with a new roster of media-attracting talent, stumbled to a record of 2-4 on the way to an 8-15 April.

This year, loaded with even more media-attracting talent, the Angels have stumbled to a record of 2-4 on their way to the unknown.

Could be greatness, could be a flop. Regardless, it seems like déjà vu.

I know…didn’t someone already say that?


(Note: All stats provided were courtesy of unless otherwise specified.) 

Follow @rick_suter

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Los Angeles Angels: How Risky Are Recent Pitching Moves?

The Los Angeles Angels are banking on a pair of risky recent pitching moves to improve their beleaguered pitching staff.

On Friday, the team traded reliever Jordan Walden for Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson; and acquired free agent Ryan Madson, signed this past Wednesday to a one-year, $3.5 million deal loaded with incentives (h/t AP writer Greg Beacham).

Hanson, 26, was once a top-tier prospect for the Braves, possessing a well above-average fastball and curveball with decent command. In four seasons with the club he totaled 592 strikeouts to only 219 walks while averaging an ERA of 3.61.

But his numbers dropped in 2012, along with his velocity, and possible injuries to his back and shoulder caused concern for his future, according to CBS Sports’ C. Trent Rosecrans.

In 2012, still with the benefit of the pitcher-friendly Turner Field, Hanson posted his worst ERA (4.48) and allowed 27 home runs in 174.2 innings. His control wasn’t the same. His breaking pitches didn’t have the sharp drop like seasons past—spinning like the pinwheel on a frozen MacBook instead.

Because of his reported issues, Hanson found himself placed in unfamiliar territory: trade bait. 

The Angels, possibly foreshadowing the non-signing of Zack Greinke, quickly pounced on the right-hander, certainly understanding that Hanson’s price tag won’t be overly expensive.  

If he does work out for the Angels, filling in as a solid No. 3 starter, then it can be the youthful answer for the rotation, replacing arms like Trevor Bell that didn’t work out in past years. But it’s still a risky gamble, regardless if losing Walden is not.


Then there is the case of Ryan Madson.  

Madson, who is coming off ligament-replacement surgery (Tommy John surgery) is also an unknown factor.

The doctor that did the procedure, Dr. Lewis Yocum, reigns as the Angels’ team physician so the organization has first-hand knowledge of Madson‘s recovery, according to Tim Heany of

But remember this: Yocum is a doctor, not a fortuneteller.

Although Madson is well ahead of schedule in his recovery, according to Beacham’s article, a pitcher’s arm and the subsequent performance won’t be known until the bats start swinging in March—perhaps even into the summer months

Until then, while there is hope Madson will be in the closer role and complimenting Ernesto Frieri towards the end of games, all Angels’ fans have to go on is Madson‘s excitement to be in Southern California. GM Jerry Dipoto resonated that scenario saying this:

He’s very enthusiastic, and clearly loved the idea of playing for the Angels, which isn’t something you can take for granted. Somebody getting to do something they’ve wanted to do for their whole lives creates a very romantic edge to it.

Take that, Zack Greinke? Perhaps the Angels want you to want them…like the Cheap Trick song.  

Regardless, both moves can help the Angels’ pitching staff. However, players labeled with the injury bug and velocity/control problems, like Hanson and Madson, always make for a risky situation.

It can also leave the organization and GM Jerry Dipoto in trouble if it doesn’t work.  

After all, the Angels already passed on two of their past pitchers, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren, because of control and injury issues. And the news of Zack Greinke‘s whereabouts may not be enough to hide that come opening day. 

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