Here’s how it stacked up in combined wins …
AL East: 433
NL Central: 421
AL Central: 400
NL West: 399
NL East: 391
AL West: 387
And here’s where it ranked in run-differential …
AL East: 235
NL Central: 219
AL Central: 0
NL West: -137
AL West: -138
NL East: -179
But AL West teams have been particularly aggressive in the early portion of this offseason — and yes, it’s worth reminding all of you that it is, indeed, still early — which could make for an interesting dynamic in 2014, and should make the Angels’ return to the postseason that much tougher.
The Mariners just reeled in the biggest free agent of the offseason, snatching Robinson Cano from the Yankees via a reported 10-year, $240-million, Albert Pujols-like contract. No, they aren’t an instant contender. And as the Angels themselves have shown, throwing the most dollars at the best free agent in no way guarantees success. But this is an important building block for a Mariners team that has always struggled to land the big names (see: Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder). At some point, you have to overpay to lay a foundation (the Mets thought the same thing with Curtis Granderson). This reminds me of the Jayson Werth deal the Nationals made three offseasons ago. It was a vast overpay at seven years and $126 million. But at that time, it was the only way the Nats were going to land a premier free agent. Adding Werth — even if he isn’t a star to the magnitude of Cano — changed the expectations in Washington and ultimately helped make it a place where free agents wanted to play. Same can happen in Seattle, where the Mariners are showing a willingness to spend. And if they trade for David Price — they have the prospects to do it — watch out.
In the words of one executive, “The A’s may have one of the best bullpens in history.” It’s not much of an exaggeration when you consider that they added Luke Gregerson to a group that includes Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, etc. Their rotation — Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, in whatever order — is darn good, as well. But here’s the most important part about the current A’s: After back-to-back exits in the Division Series, they’re going for it. You don’t trade for one season of Johnson, flip a talented prospect (Michael Choice) for Craig Gentry or give Kazmir a two-year, $22 million contract if you aren’t.
Then there are the Rangers, who you just know have another big more or two in them. I actually liked the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler deal for them (and loved it for the Tigers). They’re paying Fielder $138 million over the next seven years, which is very reasonable for a guy whose home-run rate will inflate in Texas and who gives them the middle-of-the-order bat they’ve been missing since Hamilton left. Over the last four years, the Rangers have the third-best regular-season winning percentage in the Majors (.570, trailing only the Yankees and Braves) and have been to the World Series twice. They had the 10th-best staff ERA in baseball last year, and they surely aren’t done.
Even the Astros have made some moves. They reached agreement on a three-year, $30 million deal with starter Scott Feldman — a guy the Angels would’ve liked, but not for three years — and previously traded for former Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. They were easily dead last in 2013 in winning percentage (.315) and run-differential (minus-238), so they’re a ways away. But they have the second-best farm system in the Majors, per Baseball America, and they’re on their way.
What does all this mean for the Angels?
Well, nothing. At least not now.
They have about $15 million and some trade chips — Howie Kendrick still chief among them — to fill two spots in their starting rotation. They still have baseball’s best player in Mike Trout, two premier superstars in Pujols and Hamilton, two legit starters at the top of their rotation in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and a bullpen that can be among the deepest in baseball if Sean Burnett returns to full health. If they can sign someone like Matt Garza, they’re no doubt a legit playoff contender, regardless of how bad this past season turned out for them.
But their competition just keeps getting better.
The Angels’ budget got a little clearer on Monday, upon announcing they were non-tendering Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Chris Nelson and Juan Gutierrez. That clears about $10 million in projected salary, crucial to an Angels team that needs to add at least two starting pitchers while staying below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million.
So, how much room do they have left on the budget?
Let’s have a look …
The Collective Balance Tax Payroll is the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits, pensions, bonuses, etc. First, let’s add up the AAV of the 10 players on the budget …
Josh Hamilton: $25M
Albert Pujols: $24M
Jered Weaver: $17M
C.J. Wilson: $15.5M
Erick Aybar: $8.75M
Howie Kendrick: $8.375M
Joe Blanton: $7.5M
Joe Smith: $5.25M
Chris Iannetta: $5.18M
Sean Burnett: $4M
That equals $120.56 million. Then you have to add the $18.6 million the Angels owe the Yankees for the final season of Vernon Wells’ contract, which puts the total at $139.16. Then you have to project ahead for arbitration. Below are the Angels’ five remaining arbitration-eligible players, with the projections provided by MLBTradeRumors.com …
Mark Trumbo: $4.7M
David Freese: $4.4M
Ernesto Frieri: $3.4M
Kevin Jepsen: $1.4M
Fernando Salas: $700K
That’s $14.6 million, and it puts the CBT payroll at $153.76 million.
The last part is when it gets really uncertain with more than four months left before Opening Day (keep in mind: a team’s final CBT payroll isn’t calculated until after the season). To that figure, you have to tack on all the contracts for players with zero to three years of service time (the Major League minimum in 2014 is $500,000) plus benefits. I’m told the best way to go about it is to just allocate $20 million for all of this.
That puts the Angels’ CBT payroll at roughly $174 million, which gives them about $15 million of wiggle-room before hitting the luxury tax.
That figure is nowhere near exact, but as close as you can get at this point.
UPDATE, 4:53 P.M. PT: Williams has been non-tendered.
As of 3 p.m. PT — six hours before the deadline — Jerome Williams‘ agent hadn’t heard from the Angels on whether or not they’ll tender his client a contract. It’s possible that they haven’t told him anything because it’s a no-brainer that they will, but far more likely that they simply hadn’t made up their minds just yet.
Williams represents a very interesting dilemma for the Angels.
On one hand, they need to allocate as much money as possible to address their rotation, where at least two starting pitchers are needed, and can’t afford the luxury of paying about $4 million — what Williams would get in his final season of arbitration — for a sixth starter/long reliever.
On the other, $4 million for Williams may be a bargain if he were a free agent in this year’s class, especially after seeing Scott Kazmir get two years and $22 million from the A’s. If nothing else, the Angels may be able to keep him on the roster and then trade him for something else.
Williams’ agent, Larry O’Brien, said he’d be “very, very surprised” if Williams were non-tendered, but he isn’t sure.
“If he isn’t worth four to five million bucks, the guys that are getting paid multi-year, guaranteed deals out there – really? Tender him and trade him,” said O’Brien, part of Full Circle Sports Management. “It kind of baffles me, but they can do whatever they want to do. I think the guy can start for a number of teams and be a fourth or fifth starter and get 32 starts and let the chips fall where they may.”
Williams seems like the only big question for the Angels prior to the 8:59 p.m. PT non-tender deadline.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Monday that Kevin Jepsen will be tendered a contract, saying he “never thought it would be an assumption he wouldn’t be.” Mark Trumbo, Ernesto Frieri, David Freese and Fernando Salas are also expected to be tendered. Tommy Hanson and Chris Nelson, meanwhile, seem like locks to be non-tendered.
If Williams isn’t tendered, O’Brien sees it as an opportunity for his client to potentially get a job as a full-time starting pitcher.
“Jerome loves the Angels,” O’Brien said. “He has a house in Mission Viejo, he’d love to pitch for them. I know deep down he’d love to start. And I don’t get it. I don’t know why everybody writes that the Angels need two more starters and blah-blah-blah, and they don’t talk about Jerome Williams. Why don’t you go out and give the guy the ball for 32 starts and see how he does? I just don’t quite get why they don’t have that confidence. But it is what it is. All I can tell you is that it’s not a big concern of mine either way. I’d be very, very surprised if they don’t tender him, but that’s their call.
“We’ll just see what happens. If they tender him, great. He’ll compete for the job, and if they want to use him as a swing man or do whatever they want to do, then that’s their right. And if they don’t, then we move on. I wish him the best, I’m sure they’d wish him the best, and it’d be a blessing in disguise.”
The Angels have signed free-agent reliever Joe Smith to a three-year contract worth about $15 million, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Saturday night.
Smith has posted a 2.42 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the Indians over the last three years. On the Angels, the 29-year-old right-hander will provide a major boost to the back end of the bullpen, joining closer Ernesto Frieri, lefty Sean Burnett and power right-handers Michael Kohn, Dane De La Rosa and Kevin Jepsen.
On Friday, the Angels also acquired 28-year-old righty Fernando Salas along with third baseman David Freese, as part of the four-player trade that sent outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals.
The Angels still need to add at least two starting pitchers, but were targeting a veteran setup man like Smith – as well as Edward Mujica – to round out the bullpen.
– Alden Gonzalez
Peter Bourjos is on the verge of getting traded to the Cardinals in a deal that is expected to net third baseman David Freese to the Angels, a source told MLB.com. The deal is not finalized, but headed in that direction, and other parts could be involved in the trade.
The Angels’ hopes of resigning free-agent starting pitcher Jason Vargas were squashed on Thursday, when the Royals announced they have signed the veteran left-hander to a four-year contract.
The average annual value of Vargas’ new deal, a reported $32 million, is $8 million. The Angels were willing to give him that much, but they weren’t willing to go four years (it would’ve been hard for them to even give him a third year).
And so, the Angels still have at least two holes to fill in their rotation.
Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards are returning, Tommy Hanson is likely to get non-tendered in December and Joe Blanton — if not released this offseason — will not go into the season as a guaranteed member of the rotation. General manager Jerry Dipoto did not tender the $14.1 million qualifying offer to Vargas because he was almost certain Vargas would accept it, and by accepting it the Angels would already be dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
Vargas was acquired in a one-for-one deal with the Mariners that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle last December. In his first year in Southern California, where he grew up and briefly attended Long Beach State University, Vargas went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 150 innings in a season that saw him miss two months with a blood clot.
The Angels are expected to use the trade market to bolster a rotation that ranked 11th in the American League in ERA last season, but they may also turn to other free agents to fill Vargas’ void. And while they aren’t expected to go after the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, names like Phil Hughes, Dan Haren, Bronson Arroyo, etc., etc., could be enticing.
– Alden Gonzalez
The Angels have announced the hiring of Rick Eckstein as their Major League player information coach, essentially a hybrid role that will be part-on-field coaching and part-scouting, per se. Eckstein lives with his wife and 6-month-old daughter in Central Florida and will be uprooting the family to Southern California for the summer. He already got a congratulatory text message from Albert Pujols, who he worked with briefly in St. Louis, and he’s already thinking about his brother, revered Angels shortstop David Eckstein, taking on more responsibilities with the same club.
Below is a partial transcript of a phone conversation with Rick Eckstein …
On his new role …
It’s kind of a multi-faceted role. The player information coach title, per se, has many, many arms to it. First and foremost, I’ll be taking advanced scouting reports and working through them, and then getting the information to Mike [Scioscia] and the staff, and just talking about tendencies or positioning of the defense. And anything. Matchups, whether it’s our pitchers against their hitters or their pitchers against our hitters. And just working with other members of the staff, whether it be Don [Baylor] or [Mike] Butcher or even Scioscia on a general tendency. They asked me just to set the defense and talk to each of the guys and put that into place. During batting practice, I’ll be hitting fungos and throwing batting practice and being with the team, and basically doing whatever Sosh or the staff members need me to do. When the game starts, I will actually go up top and I will watch us go through the game. I will watch not only our players, but who we’re playing against, look at tendencies, to make sure we’re defending the field the way we talked about defending the field, per each guy that we’re defending against. Sosh said, ‘I just want your insight. I want what you see, I want you to be an eye in the sky, and give me what you see of our club, what you think. We’re going to implement some of the computerized tendencies that you see.’ And that’s what I’ve been doing previous to this position. It’s exciting, because it’s a chance to be a little bit of this, a little bit of that, being able to work and assist everyone on the staff. I’m very excited about that opportunity.
On previous experience in a similar role …
When you come up through the Minor Leagues, as every coach has done, you do a little bit of everything. You’re the hitting coach, you’re the defensive coach, you’re the positioning coach. You’re doing a lot. But even with Team USA, when I was with Davey Johnson, making our way through the World Cups and the Beijing Olympics, all that, my job, my role, was to take all the advanced reports and break those down to understand our opponent, how we’re going to defend the field, to talk with our pitching coach, whether it be Marcel Lachemann, who’s with the Angels, and we would just talk about the opposing team and how we’re going to go about gameplan, per guy. It’s been a role that in several instances I’ve done before.
On what appealed to him about this job …
This role opens up more doors. It shows people that I can think the game, it shows people that I’m more than just a hitting coach. Not to knock any hitting coach, but just to say my aspirations lie beyond just being a hitting coach. I want more. And when this opportunity came, Scisocia and Jerry [Dipoto] were both telling me, ‘Wow, we look at your background and we look at your resume, your experience and what you’ve done, this role, you’re still going to be on the field coaching, and you’re going to help us do things that we feel we need to do, and you’re also going to be our eye in the sky and take a look at our club and break us down.’ So I think it’s going to open up doors to show people what I can do. And I’m excited about that. And to be on such a proud organization – really, the way I see it, we’re right there. There’s a ton of talent in the system, and I’m just looking forward to being a piece of the puzzle to put it all together.
On why this sort of role is becoming a trend in baseball …
Because there’s so much information out there. When you’re watching a pitching coach prepare to be ready for a series, I mean there’s so much information out there, that for him to do it by himself, it’s tough. And so now, this player-information coach is a role that will allow people – it’s communication and trust, and you’re building a relationship to where if Mike Scioscia’s got his mind on one thing and Mike Butcher has his mind on something else and Don is over there working with a hitter and I’m in the background doing other type of work, to say, ‘Hey, this is what I think,’ whatever. It helps strengthn the system, and it gives you another pair of eyes on what’s going on and what they see. With how we’re going to communicate, and everybody’s opinion being brought to the table, it can only strengthen the system. And I think a lot of clubs are going to that.’
On being let go as Nats hitting coach in July …
It’s part of the industry. I put my heart and soul into it, I was with the organization for nine years, and going on five in the big leagues. To go through that experience is never easy, but at the end of the day, you come out of it a little wiser, a little stronger, and focused as to what you’re going to do. I appreciate everything Washington did for me. I want to show people that I can be a Major League coach, a Major League hitting coach, and a valued member of the staff. And we went from last place to first place in 2012 in our division. So to be a part of that process and that growth, I feel very blessed. And now, moving forward, I feel like this is an outstanding opportunity for me in my career, and I’m looking so much forward to that, I can’t even put into words how excited I am.
On his brother, David, being more involved with the Angels …
He definitely wants to get more involved. He has a lot of offers to do stuff. He’s committed to his wife, Ashley, and her business. … He’s been involved with Team USA for several weeks during the summer, but now his desire and commitment level is starting to ramp up a little bit. He’s talked with the Angels, they’ve expressed interest in him, so we’ll see what the future holds for him. … He’s just waiting for the dialogue with him and the club to come together and to form that agreement as to what exactly they want and what exactly they can provide.
On where offers for David came from …
From multiple teams, and the Angels. He’s been offered, and he’s stayed committed to his wife and what she’s doing with her business, HerUniverse.com, and doing all that they’re doing with that. But now his baseball coaching side is really starting to ramp up, and he’s excited to be doing more stuff for the Angels. But he’s turned down other jobs from other organizations. He’s just waiting for the right time and the right process, so to speak, to get involved, and I think this is getting real close to him.
MLB.com reached out to the 30 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America regarding their ballots for the AL MVP Award, which saw Mike Trout finish a distant second to Miguel Cabrera for a second straight year. Below were their explanations for why they sided where they did in the seemingly-never-ending Trout vs. Miggy debate (their full ballots can be seen here; * denotes those who voted on the AL MVP a second straight time) …
Evan Grant* (Dallas Morning News): 1 Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Josh Donaldson
My feeling was that Cabrera and Trout stood above the field. Cabrera changed the way opponents approached entire games. Trout was a great offensive player, the better defender and the better fielder. In the end, after looking more at advanced stats than at traditional ones, I was left with two guys who I thought were pretty dead-even as I believed Cabrera’s offensive game-changing ability made up for what he lacked on defense and on the bases. And, so, I could consider WAR and take the formula’s word for it that Trout theoretically meant more to the Angels than Cabrera did to the Tigers or I could look at the standings and see actual wins and losses. So, yes, in that regard, I guess some folks could say I penalized Trout for playing for a bad team. I prefer to look at this way: In a close race, I rewarded Cabrera for helping his team realize its goals.
Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson
I’m just wondering, what is it going to take for Trout to win an MVP? Another writer said it well — he is this generation’s Mantle. I generally prefer my MVP to come from a contender, but why should Trout be held responsible for the failings of his owner, general manager, manager and teammates? I love Cabrera, but Trout is far superior as an all-around player and, when you put it all together, more valuable.
Tim Brown (Yahoo! Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson
In its simplest terms, my first-place vote went to the most complete player in the game. While Mike Trout did not necessarily hit with Miguel Cabrera, he was so far superior outside the batter’s box that I believed it more than covered that ground. The issue of “value” continues to be kicked around. My view is this: The best player carries the most value.
Bob Dutton* (Kansas City Star): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson
Tough choice — just like last year when I voted for Cabrera. I cover the Royals and few people punish them on a regular basis like Cabrera, but I saw him a lot down the stretch, and he just wasn’t the same. I know he finished with great numbers, maybe better overall than last year, but Trout does so many other things. It came down to this: If we were picking teams based solely on this season, and I had the first pick, who would I pick? For me, the answer was Trout.
Jeff Wilson* (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): 1. Cabrera, 2. Chris Davis, 3. Trout
Mike Trout can do things on a baseball field that Miguel Cabrera can’t. I’m not that blind. But for a second straight year, Cabrera posted fabulous offensive numbers, ones that please the traditional baseball crowd and ones that even Sabermatricians agree are pretty impressive. And he did so for a contender. I recognize that Trout wasn’t the least bit responsible for the Angels’ lousy season. Injuries, questionable signings and an owner who doesn’t get it doomed them. But he also didn’t play in meaningful games for all but a week or two in May. Cabrera’s Tigers won the AL Central, and he hit more homers and drove in more runs against their main rival, Cleveland, than any other team. I also believe, as do many baseball people, that Cabrera isn’t the defensive lump at third base that he’s perceived to be. Add it all up, and Cabrera was my MVP. The man who kept him from a second straight Triple Crown, Chris Davis, also played meaningful games all season and was my second pick. I had Trout third, though not without considerable thought of placing him higher.
Susan Slusser* (San Francisco Chronicle): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson
Cabrera was again the best hitter in the league and helped get his team to the postseason while playing through a significant injury. Despite the injury (later revealed to be a sports hernia that required surgery), Cabrera won the batting title again and topped the league in OPS. Trout is the best all-around player in the league, I agree — but I weigh offensive output higher than defensive metrics for MVP candidates, and Cabrera remains the better hitter. I do always consider how teams finish as a factor, too. It’s not always the deciding factor, but it’s a big consideration.
Phil Rogers (MLB.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson
You wouldn’t think somebody could be better than they were during a Triple Crown season but Miguel Cabrera found a way to raise his game, maybe because he had a little more help in the Detroit lineup. He was an easy choice over Mike Trout for me, in large because I think that the MVP should come from a playoff team, especially now that we’re in an era in which one of every three teams goes to the playoffs. Winning matters but records being equal I still probably would have taken Cabrera over Trout. You can’t replace a guy who hits day in and day out like this guy, even if he does have some rough edges.
Joe Posnanski (NBC Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson
I voted for Mike Trout first, Miguel Cabrera second. I should say that, in my opinion, the MVP should be player who had the best season so other factors — such as how well the team played, which team was in contention, who played in more important games in September — do not factor into my decision. Cabrera had a fantastic offensive season and led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage for the first time. I think he’s the best hitter in the game. But you know, Trout is an amazing hitter himself. And when you take into account the rest — defense, baserunning, the various contextual differences of their ballparks — it seemed pretty clear to me that Trout had the better season.
Jeff Fletcher (Orange County Register): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis
I was a supporter of Trout over Cabrera last year, but this year I felt like the offensive gap was even wider, too big for Trout to overcome with his advantages defensively and on the bases. Also, I was impressed by Cabrera’s 1.311 OPS with runners in scoring position. (Trout’s was .993.) Regardless of the different number of opportunities each had, that’s a big gap in production at the times when games are won. While I don’t believe “clutch performance” is a skill or predictive, the MVP is about what you did, not what you can do again.
Jon Morosi (FOX Sports): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis
I’m very sympathetic toward the argument that Trout shouldn’t be penalized for the fact that his team had a losing record. But I don’t see this vote as penalizing Trout, so to speak. This is more rewarding Cabrera for what he did. He put together one of the best offensive seasons we’ve seen in generations, he did it while playing hurt for the past two months, and he was the difference in his team winning the division. To me, that’s what “most valuable” means.
John Hickey (Oakland Tribune): 1. Donaldson, 2. Cabrera, 3. Davis (Trout 4th)
To me, the key part of the award is “Valuable.” It’s not Most Outstanding Player, it’s not Player of the Year, in which case(s) Trout and Cabrera would dead heat. Both were terrific. As good as Trout was, the Angels finished 18 games out. There’s not much value in finishing third. Cabrera’s value was that the Tigers won their division. My first place vote went to the A’s Josh Donaldson, even over Cabrera, because Cabrera was surrounded by a much superior lineup than was Donaldson. Such was Donaldson’s value, in my mind, that without him Oakland would have been a middle-of-the-road finisher. Donaldson wasn’t the best player. He was the most valuable.
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNewYork.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Max Scherzer
As long as the word “valuable” remains in the name of the award, I’m always going to factor in how well a player’s team performed and how integral the player was to that performance. Both Cabrera and Trout had outstanding seasons, but you could make the argument that the Angels could just as easily have finished 18 games out without Trout in the lineup. Cabrera, on the other hand, played for a divison winner that relies heavily on his offensive contributions. And even if you want to go strictly by the numbers, with the value factor removed, Cabrera had better numbers in just about every category with the exception of runs and walks. So really, it wasn’t that tough a call for me.
Chad Jennings (Journal News): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis
Oddly enough, I think I would have voted for Trout last year. This year, I was simply overwhelmed by Cabrera’s offensive production. In my mind, the most important thing a position player does is hit, and Cabrera is the game’s best hitter coming off a remarkably productive year. Whether his hitting outweighs his lack of speed and his defensive struggles is hard to say. I believe it does. I also put less emphasis on his defense because he’s clearly playing out of position, and doing so strictly because it makes the Tigers better. The fact he played hurt and helped keep the Tigers in the division lead played some part in my decision, but a relatively small part. Ultimately, I’m glad my vote isn’t the only one that counts. I can’t pretend I have this figured out. I simply have an opinion. I’m skeptical of defensive metrics, and although I give the WAR stat significant consideration, I think it’s flawed and can’t be the end of the discussion. I guess the decision of Cabrera vs. Trout depends on what you value and how you view the award. I don’t think there’s a slam-dunk choice one way or the other.
Jose de Jesus Ortiz (Houston Chronicle): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson
I weighed the stats and seriously considered Trout at the top of my ballot. I used analytics for the first time since I’ve voted, but I also added extra points for playing on a playoff team. In that process, Cabrera barely edged out Trout on my ballot.
Tom Verducci (SI.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis
Mike Trout had such an amazing season it took another historic one to be considered a bit better. Miguel Cabrera’s overall and clutch hitting numbers were too good to deny. He became the first right-handed hitter to win the MLB slash triple crown (batting, on base, slugging) since World War II.
Bill Ballou (Worcester Telegram & Gazette): 1. Davis, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson (Trout 7th)
I am a strict constructionist re: “valuable”. If the award were Player of the Year, Trout would get my vote. I’m of the school that in order to have “value” you have to help your team be good, at least to the point of contending. The Angels didn’t truly contend. To fully develop that logic, players from non-contenders should not be listed on the ballot at all, but the BBWAA insists that we fill out all 10 slots, so I did, even though I did not think there were 10 worthy candidates from contending teams.
Lynn Henning (Detroit News): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis
My choice was weighted by the division title, and 93 victories, and by Cabrera’s unswerving importance to a team’s playoff presence. He is the best hitter in baseball. He plays a critical position. But the transcendent value of his bat makes him, for me, the MVP. Trout is the best player in the league. Cabrera was, in 2013, in my view, the most valuable player.
The Angels are expected to bring in former first baseman Rico Brogna to be a special assistant to general manager Jerry Dipoto, sources said.
Brogna, 43, played with Dipoto on the Mets from 1995-96 and has worked under him in the past. His role with the Angels will be part-scouting and part-coaching, mainly in the Minor Leagues.
Brogna — a highly touted quarterback out of high school — spent nine years in the Majors with the Phillies, Mets, Braves, Red Sox and Tigers from 1992 to 2001, compiling a .269/.320/.445 slash line and 106 home runs. After retiring, Brogna coached high-school football and basketball, then coached wide receivers at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. In 2010, he managed the D-backs’ Double-A affiliate — when Dipoto was director of scouting and player personnel — and then became head football coach at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Connecticut, before leaving in August 2012.
The addition of Brogna, as well as Rick Eckstein as the Angels’ seventh Major League coach, will be official once paperwork is processed by Major League Baseball.
Jerry Dipoto addressed reporters from Day 2 of the General Managers’ Meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, and our very own Ken Gurnick was there. Here’s what he had to say …
On Masahiro Tanaka’s upside …
“I don’t know about putting a cap on what he can be. He’s still so young and he’s faced the greatest hitters in the world on big stages. I’m not here to say he’s a No. 1 or No. 2. He’ll let you know. He’s attractive to lot of teams because of his ability. To get a young player with that ability can be attractive to lot of teams. We’ve scouted him, we know who he is. He’s tremendous. One of the best pitchers in the world, I’m sure. But it’s still to be determined if he’s coming over here.”
On the interest level in his hitters …
“There’s been a fair amount. We’ve got a talented group. Our offensive players are fairly accomplished, some at a very young age. There have been a lot of inquiries on a lot of them. We’ve not predetermined to move any of them. We are open to solve our needs that are more on the pitching side than the offensive side.”
On Jason Vargas …
“Obviously we have interest in bringing him back and the interest is mutual from him. Now we’ll let the process play out in free agency. He’s earned that. We’ll allow him to see what’s out there and we’re interested in him, and it seem that’s his preference, too.”
On Albert Pujols’ progress …
“Albert is doing great. He’s taking live BP tomorrow (in the Dominican Republic). He’s swinging aggressively; 60 to 70 swings every other day. No problem with the knee or the foot to the best of our knowledge. His rehab has gone very well. Part of the reason he didn’t play in September was to have the procedure to make sure he had a normal offseason to come into Spring Training with fewer questions. Last year he was coming into Training [following offseason] knee surgery. This year, he should come in feeling 100 percent. All indications are that’s possible.”