Tag: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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 MLB.com’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 Sportsnet.ca’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 MLB.com’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 MLB.com unless otherwise noted. Salary info was courtesy of MLBtraderumors.com.

Follow Rick Suter on Twitter@rick-suter

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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.”


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

Follow Rick Suter on Twitter@rick_suter



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Why Masahiro Tanaka Would Be Brilliant Signing for the Angels

The Los Angeles Angels have sent scouts to see Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, according to ESPN. A great talent, it would be dumb if the Angels didn’t try to sign Tanaka.

Tanaka is currently 20-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 155 strikeouts. In fact, the last time he took a loss was on Aug. 19, 2012, making it 25 straight wins.

While there is some risk with pitchers coming over from Japan (see Hideki Irabu and Kenshin Kawakami), others like Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda have had success in Major League Baseball. Because of that, it’s worth the risk for the Angels to bid on Tanaka.


This Season

The 2013 season has been one of the worst for Angels starters in recent memory. They have combined for a 4.37 ERA, which ranks 23rd in baseball and is their worst since 2009, when they had a 4.44 starters’ ERA.

Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson have been pretty good for the Angels, with each having an ERA of 3.36. But the team needs more than just two starters. Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jerome Williams have all been unimpressive this year; especially Blanton, who is 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA.

Hanson is 4-3 with a 5.59 ERA, while Vargas is 8-7 with a 4.20 ERA. Both have also missed significant time due to injury this year, which hasn’t helped their case.

Vargas is scheduled to be a free agent after this year, while Hanson and Williams are still in arbitration years. But will the Angels even offer them a contract?

Frankly, Vargas is the only one of the bunch I’d want to keep with a 3.98 ERA over the last two years. Then again, he’s only gotten more than 10 wins once in his career. He’s also dealt with various injuries, including a torn labrum in his left hip (2008) and a blood clot in his armpit (2013).

While he did have 30-start season from 2009-11, there are still injury concerns nonetheless.

Starting pitching needs a serious makeover in Los Angeles, and this season proved that.


What Tanaka Brings

According to Baseball America’Ben Badler, Tanaka has cemented himself as the best pitcher in Japan.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Tanaka throws a low-90s fastball that can touch 96 mph. Even though Tanaka can reach the mid-90s, his fastball is the pitch that gives some scouts pause because it comes in on a flat plane, making it more hittable than the velocity might suggest. Tanaka has two secondary pitches that have earned grades of 60 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, including a 70 splitter with late downward action to keep hitters off his fastball. His low- to mid-80s slider is another plus weapon, while he’ll mix in a curveball as well.

While Tanaka’s stats haven’t been as consistent as Darvish’s were in his last seasons in Japan, he’s still yet to have an ERA higher than 2.50 since 2009. In fact, his ERAs in the last three years have been 1.27, 1.87 and 1.24.

Compare that to Kawakami’s last three seasons in Japan, where he had ERAs of 3.55, 2.30 and 3.86. While not bad marks, it shows Tanaka has had better success in Japan than Kawakami did, and I believe that success would translate better into MLB as well.

When you make him the No. 3 starter behind Wilson and Weaver, the Angels would have something to work with. Right now, there won’t be much until free agency works itself out.


The Money

The Angels have had no problem showing the money over the last few years. They gave Albert Pujols a 10-year, $242 million deal, Josh Hamilton a five-year, $133 million deal, C.J. Wilson a five-year, $77.5 million deal and Jered Weaver a five-year, $85 million deal.

While the team felt $20 million a year for Zack Greinke was too much this past offseason, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, this season’s struggles likely made them rethink that strategy.

While Tanaka won’t command $20 million a year, the Angels will still have to put up a posting bid, which could cost them close to $25 million, according to DiGiovanna in another story.

Tanaka, 24, could be worth it. Two scouts who have seen Tanaka pitch but are not authorized to speak publicly about him said that although Tanaka might not be in Texas ace Yu Darvish‘s class, he could be as good as or better than Hiroki Kuroda, who is 68-68 with a 3.37 earned-run average in six big league seasons.

With that said, the money would be well spent for the Angels, especially if they want to consider the signings of the previous four to be money well spent as well. There’s no point in spending the money if you’re not making the playoffs.


Why is it a Brilliant Move?

Plain and simply, if the Angels don’t improve their rotation, there will be no playoffs for them next year.

Of course they can go out on the free-agent market to try and sign guys like Ervin Santana, James Shields or Matt Garza. But will their cost and production be more than Tanaka’s?

Look at it this way, outside of the posting fee the Rangers placed on Darvish, they’re paying him $10 million a year over the next three years. In the last two years, they’ve paid him a total of $15 million. 

Now, figuring that Tanaka will get paid less than that, wouldn’t it be a better investment to go with Tanaka over the other three? You will have to add in the posting fee, but despite that, Tanaka will come in at a cheaper rate than other top pitchers on the market.

Some will say the other three are proven in MLB, but those are the ones that said the same thing about Darvish and Kuroda. Texas is reaping the benefits of taking a chance on Darvish and the Angels could do the same with Tanaka.

They’ll spend less money on Tanaka than they would on the other three, and they would be in just as good of position for the playoffs.

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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 MLB.com’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 MLB.com 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 MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Angels’ C.J. Wilson Does a Face-Plant on Tropicana Field Turf

Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson has had to endure a long season as his team entered Tuesday’s contest with the Tampa Bay Rays sporting a 58-71 record.

Wilson will now have to endure a lot more than just a tough season.

On his way back to the mound to start the second inning, Wilson saw the Tropicana Field carpet rise above his feet as he fell flat on his face.

OK, maybe the artificial surface didn’t really move, but Wilson could at least try to use that as an excuse, couldn’t he?

The Angels have stumbled through the 2013 season, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see one of their players take a little header of his own. 

Oddly enough, Wilson is one of the few Angels who haven’t stumbled their way through the season. Entering Tuesday’s start, Wilson is 13-6 with a 3.30 ERA, including a 4-0 record in the second half.

Fans on Twitter certainly got a kick out of Wilson’s misfortune.

Needless to say, many could look at Wilson’s face-plant as a microcosm of the Angels’ season as well. 

The Angels’ season will sadly be coming to an end in late September, but Wilson’s little trip-and-fall will likely play on a bit longer than that. 

Well, Wilson can at least say he has played “Head and Shoulders” above the rest of his team, despite meeting the Tropicana Field turf up close and personal. 

If it served at least one purpose, it gave Angels fans something to laugh about in an otherwise dreary year.

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Who Is Most to Blame for the Angels’ Nightmare?

Record-wise, the 2013 Los Angeles Angels are on pace to be the worst team that Mike Scioscia has ever managed in the majors.

Consequently, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that either Scioscia or general manager Jerry Dipoto will likely be relieved of their duties this offseason. “Philosophical differences” between the two have hindered team success, he added.

Who actually is most to blame for this franchise’s nightmarish erosion? Is it Scioscia, Dipoto or someone else entirely?

The Angels entered this season under championship-or-bust pressure, but enter Friday night at a putrid 55-71 overall. They could be mathematically eliminated from October baseball within the next couple of weeks.

Countless factors contributed to this tragedy but none more so than these five.

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Offseason Moves the Angels Can Make to Compensate for Albert Pujols’ Decline

If the owner of your favorite baseball team has a “win at all cost” attitude, that’s usually a good thing, right? Yes! Being aggressive and spending money has paid off for many eventual World Series champions. But it’s also resulted in some very dire situations, notably in the case of Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles Angels

Saddled with two of the worst contracts in baseball—Albert Pujols, whose numbers have declined in three consecutive seasons, is still owed $212 million through his age-41 season in 2021; Josh Hamilton, also in the midst of his worst big league season, is due $106 million through his age-36 season—the Angels are headed for an extremely important offseason that is likely to be challenging in terms of a limited payroll and limited trade pieces in the minors. 

General manager Jerry Dipoto, assuming he still has a job after a very disappointing season, will have to be creative if he wants to improve this ballclub.

It’s hard to do any worse than he did last offseason, when he took on the risk of signing Hamilton, signed Joe Blanton to a two-year, $16.5 million deal—Blanton was recently banished to the bullpen after pitching poorly out of the rotation—and acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves for reliever Jordan Walden—Hanson was recently optioned to the minors while Walden has been a key component on a very good Braves team. 

In addition, Dipoto‘s two big bullpen acquisitions haven’t worked out due to injuries—Ryan Madson never made it back from Tommy John surgery before being released; Sean Burnett has pitched just 9.2 innings and is out for the season with an elbow injury. And to cap it off, Ervin Santana, who was traded to Kansas City for a 27-year-old minor league relief pitcher, has been Cy Young-caliber in 2013. 

Pointing out the few minor roster moves that have worked out won’t make things look much better. In order to make the Angels a playoff contender once again in 2014, they’ll need to utilize the few resources they have and get as much value out of them as possible. 

Despite the overall struggles of the pitching staff, three-fifths of the starting five—Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards—are pretty solid. Fixing the back of the rotation on a limited budget isn’t impossible.  

Making up for Pujols’ decline and the production he’s given them versus what they’re paying him is the bigger challenge. Here’s my suggestion on how they can make up the difference on a shoestring budget and with no farm system talent to deal.

Trade Howie Kendrick to Free Up Salary and Clear Spot For Grant Green

Could it be that Dipoto fleeced the division rival A’s by trading a light-hitting third baseman for a guy with the potential to be a very good one? Grant Green (pictured), who was drafted as a shortstop and has played all over the diamond before settling into second base this season, has been on fire (14-for-51, 2 2B, 5 BB) since being acquired for Alberto Callaspo at the trade deadline. 

Callaspo is doing a fine job in a part-time role with Oakland (.785 OPS in 17 games), but he was miscast as an everyday third baseman in Anaheim, and the Angels needed to shed his $4.875 million salary for 2014.

Not only will they save close to $19 million over the next two seasons by trading away Kendrick, but they could also add a starting pitcher or a couple of prospects in the deal—it’s tough to find a match for a team in need of a second baseman and that is willing to give up a quality third baseman in return. 

Trading Kendrick to the Dodgers, who were reportedly in talks with the Angels last month regarding the second baseman, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, could be revisited. While top pitching prospect Zach Lee was part of the trade package being discussed, there’s a chance that the insistence of his inclusion might be the reason why the deal didn’t happen. 

If the Angels took back Stephen Fife (2.47 ERA in nine MLB starts) instead to fill the fifth spot in their rotation and asked for the team’s top outfield prospect, Joc Pederson, who likely won’t make it to the majors on a Dodgers team deep in outfield talent, we could have a deal.  

Trade Peter Bourjos for Chase Headley

With Pederson on board, the Angels would be free to shop Peter Bourjos with Mike Trout moving over to center field. While he’s been injured for much of the season, the 26-year-old Bourjos has been productive when on the field. 

In 45 games, Bourjos has a .780 OPS with three homers and four stolen bases. If he can stay healthy, a team could get a terrific defensive center fielder with an ability to hit 10-15 homers and steal 25-30 bases. With third base the target, the Angels need to find out if the Padres are interested in three seasons of Bourjos—he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season—in exchange for one season of Chase Headley (pictured).

While the Padres already have an injury-prone Cameron Maybin signed long-term to play center field in San Diego, adding another speedy outfielder like Bourjos could still be a possibility.

Here’s why. The Padres have likely figured out that oft-injured Carlos Quentin isn’t capable of holding up for an entire season in the National League. Moving him to an American League team that will be able to place him in the designated hitter role for a majority of the time makes a lot of sense. They’ll need an outfielder to replace him, and that’s where Bourjos fits in. 

With an alignment of Maybin, Bourjos and Will Venable, the Padres’ outfield defense could be one of the best in baseball. Losing Headley and Quentin will leave a huge hole in the offense, but neither player factors into the future plans of the team. How they replace the loss of offense in 2014 is another story. 

As for the Angels, they might have to include a mid-level prospect to get the deal done, but the 29-year-old Headley‘s value has plummeted with his subpar season. It might not take much to get him. His projected $9-10 million salary for 2014 is likely affordable with Kendrick and Callaspo off the books.

Sign Eric Chavez in Case Pujols Misses Time

A native San Diegan, Eric Chavez (pictured) could get closer to home by signing with the Angels this winter after two consecutive productive seasons (.855 OPS, 25 HR in 2012-13) as a part-time player for the Yankees and Diamondbacks.

Because the 35-year-old still can’t shake the injury-prone tag—he’s been on the disabled list multiple times over the past few seasons—coming back to the American League is likely so he can log at-bats from the designated hitter spot. It’s also the reason his salary demands will stay low enough for the Angels to afford him and the reason he won’t be offered a full-time starting gig elsewhere. 

Resulting Lineup Projection

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Chase Headley, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, DH
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, 1B
6. Joc Pederson, LF
7. Grant Green, 2B
8. Erick Aybar, SS
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Hank Conger, C
Eric Chavez, 3B/1B
Andrew Romine, IF
J.B. Shuck, OF

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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 MLB.com’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 MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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














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J.B Shuck Video: Watch Angels OF Rob Jose Bautista of HR with Unreal Catch

Los Angeles Angels outfielder J.B. Shuck made sure to leave no doubt about what was the most sensational play on Friday’s slate of MLB games—and perhaps the 2013 season as a whole.

In the fourth inning of Friday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson served up a meatball to Jose Bautista, who obliged by smacking the ball deep to left field. Backing up to get under the booming fly ball, Shuck gathered his balance, planted on two feet and leapt up and over the left-field wall at Angel Stadium.

After landing hard in the seats—notice the half-interested effort in bracing Shuck’s fall by the fans, though at least one tries to lend a helping hand—the lefty fires the ball back into the infield to confirm the catch. He seemed noticeably shaken up by the play, but stayed in the contest.

As Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to get an explanation of the play, it gave the Angels fans and players an opportunity to stand and applaud Shuck. Gibbons was questioning the legality of Shuck going into the stands to catch the ball. MLB Network’s official Twitter feed even got into the act by promoting the play’s need for an explanation as to whether it counted.

Spoiler: It counted, as it should have. Shuck did not go into the stands to catch the ball, as in actively leaping over the fence and then catching the ball. He jumped while still in play and his momentum carried him over and into the stands—a big difference in the rulebook. 

Not all was lost for Toronto on the play, however. Maicer Izturis was able to advance to second base, and later scored the Blue Jays’ second run of the game.

But the night belongs to Shuck. As seems to always be the case when astounding catches are made, Shuck came to the dish in the bottom half of the fourth. He singled and later scored a run as part of a three-run inning to give Los Angeles a lead.

The 26-year-old Shuck has had a solid season in his first big-league campaign, batting .293 with one home run and 24 RBI. 


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