Scioscia on SP, Iannetta, Morales & Trumbo
DALLAS — Mike Scioscia addressed the media during Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, and one thing was made particularly clear: Addressing the starting rotation is his chief desire, ahead of adding a bullpen arm or even adding a bat. I’ll have more on Angels.com soon. But for now, here are some of the highlights …
On the shakeup at catcher, with Jeff Mathis gone and Chris Iannetta on board: Well, we need more offense from the catching position, and we talked about it last year. We just couldn’t absorb some of the things on the offensive side as we saw, and Jeff, although there’s no doubt he’s a premium defensive catcher and brought a lot behind the plate, and that was important to us, we need to be more well‑rounded as a team. And I think Chris Iannetta is going to be a great fit for us if he is going to bring a lot of what Jeff brought behind the plate with the ability to bring offense and bring durability. We plan on catching 100-plus games, and that’s going to be important to us.
On the disconnect between Scioscia’s value of Mathis and the public perception of Mathis: There’s a lot of expectations for us to win, and when some players aren’t performing, obviously fans and media are going to make it a point ‑‑ make it a talking point. There’s no doubt that Jeff helped us defensively win games, and if he was going to hit ‑‑ I think a catcher, if you’re going to bring some offense and be able to do some things and you’re going to hit .230, .240, that’s a lot different than struggling and maybe hitting .170, .180, .190. There’s no doubt that on the defensive side, he helped us win games, and that’s very tangible. You could see that. You could see that in how the pitchers performed. We could see that in a lot of different areas. But if you look at the makeup of our team, we certainly aren’t deep enough on the offensive side to be afforded that luxury anymore of not having some contribution from a guy that has the ability to go out there and maybe get four or 500 at‑bats if he’s catching 100 games, and we need to get better in that aspect.
On how the move impacts Hank Conger’s future: Hank’s future is going to be based on Hank’s performance. I don’t think anything has changed from where he was.
On the excitement over possibly adding C.J. Wilson: Well, we need to get deeper in our rotation. I know you look at [Jered Weaver] and [Dan] Haren and Ervin Santana, and it sounds like you’re getting greedy. But you need five guys going out there during the season to give you a chance to win, and right now, we might have an incredible playoff rotation, but you need a full rotation to give you that opportunity to get into the playoffs. So we need to add pitching depth in the rotation. That’s something I know that is weighing very heavily on a lot of things that Jerry [DiPoto] is considering, and I think you’ll see us move towards that direction, whether it’s C.J. Wilson or whether it’s some other things that he has to do, when he gets creative with some trades.
On whether he’d prefer to add a bat or a starter: We need to get stronger pitching. I think if you look at a lot of things ‑‑ you’re just talking about in the rotation, but we need depth in our bullpen, and we need depth in our rotation, and I think those are things that are priorities as Jerry is moving through this process this winter. We had a lot of leads last year. Even though our offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, we had countless games that maybe because of some depth in our bullpen that fell through the cracks that would have made a difference in our ability to contend particularly those last couple weeks in our division.
On the risk of giving Wilson a long-term deal, even though he’s only been a starter for two seasons: I think everyone is going to be different. I do think that if you look at C.J. Wilson from a scouting standpoint, look at his stuff, I mean, his stuff is good. Where it’s going to be in three or four years, I don’t know. He’s not quite as crisp as he was maybe three or four years ago. But like that rate of attrition of what a pitcher’s stuff would decline to, it’s impossible to ‑‑ there’s no crystal ball that’s going to give you info. But I think what he does have going for him is, first, being left‑handed. Soft lefties historically still have an opportunity to be successful for whatever reason in terms of the pitch ability of a righty when he starts to lose his stuff. So I think there are some positives he has going for him that would point to him being productive, even if there is maybe a drop‑off of some stuff, and the fact that this isn’t a guy that’s sitting on 1,300, 1,400 innings coming into a free agent year as opposed to a guy that really for two years has really just been primarily a starter. Not that the bullpen doesn’t tax your arm, but I think he’s still fresh. The length of a contract is going to be what he’s looking for and what any team is comfortable in giving. That’s what we’ll find out.
On Kendrys Morales bouncing back from a second surgery: Well, definitely the second surgery he had really raised the confidence level from the doctors that that’s what was inhibiting him in his first rehab. Right now, how that ankle is going to be, where it’s going to be, like I said, there’s a lot of questions, how durable it’s going to be. That remains to be seen. The doctors really have no way of knowing, and we have no way of knowing until you get out there and start to do the things you need to do to play first base at the Major League level and swing the bat and run the bases at the Major League level. It’s tough to gauge what the confidence level is right now as far as starting the season, but I know that second surgery, the confidence level is very high from the doctors, and we feel we’re moving him in a direction of being ready to play Major League Baseball again.
On whether Trumbo can play third base if healthy: Well, it’s something that we wanted to move forward and see if it was going to be a possibility, but right now it’s tough to do until he gets his stress fracture healed and is able to go out there and we can functionally see how he’s going to move at third base and what it looks like. When he first signed, he tried third base and struggled, but that was more in relationship to him just trying to get acclimated with playing infield. And when he went over to first base he was struggling. Now he’s become a very proficient first baseman, and hopefully that comfort level, catching a ground ball and the activities you need to play there will translate over to third base to where he’ll maybe be a little bit better than he was when he first tried it seven or eight years ago.