In August 2009, the Angels acquired Scott Kazmir from the Rays in a four-player trade.
In July 2012, Peter Bourjos was so close to being dealt to the Rays — presumably for James Shields, but that part is unconfirmed — that they basically had his uniform ready in St. Petersburg.
This offseason, perhaps the two can come together again — this time for ace pitcher David Price.
The two haven’t been linked heavily in trade talks — yet — but it’s a pairing that would seem to make sense for both sides. The Rays are believed throughout the industry to be shopping Price this winter. It’s the kind of thing they’d do. The starting-pitching market is thin, which would maximize Price’s value; the 28-year-old left-hander is projected to make about $13 million in his second year of arbitration; and Tampa Bay has a gluttony of young, cost-controlled starting pitching, which could free the front office up to trade Price for the offense that may finally balance out their roster.
Meet the Angels. They’ll spend all offseason looking for pitching via the trade market and are more than willing to dangle offensive pieces to get it. Price only comes with two years of control, which doesn’t exactly meet the profile of cost-controlled arms that Jerry Dipoto specifically targets. But here’s the thing: The Angels don’t just have to improve the rotation. They have to get a lot better. Their staff ranked 11th in the American League in ERA last year, Jered Weaver basically loses a tick or two off his fastball every season, C.J. Wilson can drive you nuts every five days, Garrett Richards is still developing and Jason Vargas (if resigned) is 64th in ERA over the last four years.
This rotation looks a whole lot better if you slide Price at the top and move everyone down a spot.
Heck, it may rival some of the best in the league.
Will it happen? Maybe; most likely not, given how difficult it is to pull off trades this big. But it’s an interesting one to think about at this point. (Even a little fun, no?) Who would the Angels have to give up to get Price, you ask? One guy the Rays may really want — perhaps even demand — is Richards, and I can see that being the difference between real dialogue taking place or this being nothing more than a pipe dream. Besides Richards, Mark Trumbo – who you’d hate to lose, but would probably be willing to give up if it means getting someone this good — is probably a guy who would go to Tampa Bay, since he’d be a perfect fit in the middle of their lineup and first baseman James Loney is now a free agent. Maybe Bourjos gets thrown in there again, perhaps second baseman Howie Kendrick — born and raised in nearby Jacksonville — gets added to the mix, maybe some prospects, maybe all of them.
Two things are certain …
- The Angels would face a whole lot of competition, especially if Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka isn’t posted. And the Rays will seek a significant return since they don’t really have to trade Price this offseason.
- The Angels may have to take on money, since a big reason the Rays would do it in the first place is to free up some payroll flexibility. (I estimate that the Angels have something in the neighborhood of $15 million of wiggle room for 2014. Parting ways with Trumbo saves about $6 million for next season, while Kendrick saves about $9 million and Bourjos saves about $1.5 million.)
Vargas — without the $14.1 million qualifying offer – officially joined the free-agent pool of starting pitchers at 9:01 p.m. PT on Monday, when teams were given the green light to start negotiating with all eligible free agents. The Angels would be interested in bringing him back. And though their best bet to bolster their starting rotation will come via the trade market, the free-agent list is worth looking at nonetheless.
So, with that in mind, below is a categorical look at the unimpressive-but-perhaps-useful pool. Off the bat, I eliminated Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda, the three starters who were tendered the qualifying offer and figure to be out of the Angels’ price range. Also not mentioned are Far East stars Tanaka and Suk-Min Yoon (Korea), who have yet to be posted.
Have a look. (Warning: It ain’t pretty.)
The Next Tier
Big Names, Big Reclamations
Coming Back From Injury
Potential Minor League Options
Some Upside Left?
The Angels have hired former infielder Gary DiSarcina to be their new third-base coach, in place of Dino Ebel, who was promoted to bench coach.
DiSarcina spent his entire 12-year Major League career as a shortstop with the Angels — a period spanning from 1989 to 2000 — and was most recently managing the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I. DiSarcina, a Massachusetts native, worked in the Red Sox organization from 2007-10, including as a manager in Class A, then spent the 2012 season serving as the Angels’ Minor League field coordinator before returning to the Red Sox in December 2012.
DiSarcina played a year under Mike Scioscia, in 2000, and is well-regarded by general manager Jerry Dipoto, who promoted him just before he took the job with the Red Sox last offseason. He joins hitting coach Don Baylor – another former Angel — as a new addition to the Angels’ coaching staff, which saw bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard get dismissed after the 2013 season.
In the next day or two, the Angels are expected to announce a new seventh coach, who will serve as a facilitator to advanced scouting but won’t dress for games.
The Angels have hired former All-Star Don Baylor as their new hitting coach.
Baylor, who won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award with the Angels in 1979, spent the last three years as a hitting coach with the Diamondbacks and has been a big league manager for nine years, with the Rockies from 1993-98 and with the Cubs from 2000-02.
Baylor replaces Jim Eppard, who was dismissed along with bench coach Rob Picciolo on Oct. 8. He is the club’s third hitting coach in the last 17 months, dating back to Mickey Hatcher’s dismissal on May 15, 2012.
“Don enjoyed a distinguished playing career, highlighted by his tenure with the Angels during their first two division championships,” Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “As a coach, he brings us tremendous expertise in the areas of hitting, communication and presence. It’s nice to have him home.”
Dipoto spent time with Baylor when the Angels’ general manager played for Baylor in Colorado in the late 1990s and had him in his staff when he was an executive in Arizona.
Baylor will be entering his 22nd season in either a managing or coaching capacity in 2014. Along with his managerial tenure and his time with the D-backs, Baylor has been a hitting coach with the Brewers (1990-91), Cardinals (’92), Braves (’99), Mariners (’05) and Rockies (2009-10). He was also the Mets’ bench coach from 2003-04 and compiled a 627-689 record as skipper, earning National League Manager of the Year honors in 1995.
Before that, Baylor – a member of the Angels Hall of Fame – was a former All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner during a 19-year career as an outfielder that spanned from 1970-88. He joined the Angels as a free agent in November 1976 and posted a .262/.337/.448 slash line in a six-year career in Anaheim, adding 141 homers and 523 RBIs while leading them to their first playoff appearance in 1979.
The Angels are still searching for a new third-base coach and an additional coach.
Five coaches in the Angels’ Minor League system will not be returning in 2014. They are …
Double-A Arkansas hitting coach Ernie Young
Class A Inland Empire manager Bill Haselman
Class A Inland Empire pitching coach Brandon Emanuel
Class A Burlington manager Jamie Burke
Class A Burlington pitching coach Trevor Wilson
The club is expected to make a formal announcement on all the changes to their Minor League staff once they’re completed.
Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia are both coming back, and now they have a coaching staff to round out. Bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard were let go, Dino Ebel was promoted to bench coach and three spots are now open: third-base coach, hitting coach and a third, unidentified spot (perhaps an assistant hitting coach).
With that in mind, below is a list of potential candidates. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list; there are several others who will be interviewed for the open spots. Some is based on indications I’ve received, some are just my own speculation. Here goes …
Wally Joyner: He’ll definitely draw some strong interest as hitting coach. He just declined to return as the Phillies’ assistant hitting coach and was well-regarded in that clubhouse. And, you know, there’s that whole “Wally World” thing. Scioscia had him on his team in 2001.
Tim Bogar: He was the Red Sox’s third-base coach from 2010 to 2012, before taking a job as manager of the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in Arkansas, and is considered a future managerial candidate throughout the industry.
Troy Percival: Scioscia is a big fan of the former Angels closer. The Angels hired him in 2007 to be a special assignment pitching instructor, but he walked away soon after to make a comeback in the Majors. He’s currently the baseball coach at his alma mater, Moreno Valley High School.
Brett Butler: The former Dodgers center fielder has been managing the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate since 2008 and had a good relationship with Dipoto dating back to the GM’s time in Arizona.
Leon Durham: He’s spent the last 12 years as hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo, in the Tigers’ organization, and has been drawing interest for the same role in the Majors over the last couple of years.
Eddie Rodriguez: He was just dismissed by the Royals, who brought ex-Cubs skipper Dale Sveum to Ned Yost‘s coaching staff, and was considered a good third-base coach in Kansas City.
Daren Brown: The Mariners will presumably be cleaning house with their coaching staff after manager Eric Wedge left. Brown finished the year as the third-base coach — promoted from Triple-A, where he was manager, after Jeff Datz was diagnosed with cancer midseason — and is considered a good baseball man. Brown was interim manager in Seattle for 50 games towards the end of 2010.
Dave Anderson: He was just dismissed as the Rangers’ first-base coach, and he has a history with assistant GM Scott Servais (from their time together in Texas) and Scioscia (they were teammates on the Dodgers).
Omar Vizquel: The current Angels roving infield instructor figures to be a hot managerial candidate very soon and is very well thought of throughout the organization. He’s never had experience as a third-base coach, he likely won’t fit as a hitting coach, and Alfredo Griffin already handles the infielder. But perhaps he can be looked at for the final coaching spot. He’d definitely bring a lot of energy.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto and long-time skipper Mike Scioscia will both be staying on for next season, despite year-long speculation that at least one of them would be dismissed after a fourth consecutive playoff absence.
Coaches Rob Picciolo and Jim Eppard, however, will not return.
Picciolo had just completed his third year as Scioscia’s bench coach and Eppard was completing his first full season as the hitting coach, originally taking over after Mickey Hatcher was dismissed in May 2012.
The move was announced by Dipoto and Scioscia, via a club-issued press release, and sources said both will return in 2014. Scioscia is signed through 2018 and Dipoto will be entering the final year of his deal.
There are pretty numbers, like .323, .432 and .557 — that’s Mike Trout‘s 2013 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, respectively.
And then there are ugly ones, like the ones below — the nine stats that plagued the Angels in 2013 and, ultimately, may cost Trout another AL MVP Award …
150: That’s the amount of double plays the Angels grounded into. It’s a franchise record, two more than the 1996 team, and third in the Majors. Albert Pujols (in only 99 games) and Mark Trumbo tied for the team lead with 18, while Howie Kendrick (a notorious GIDP’er) and Josh Hamilton each had 16. Speedster (and non-walker) Erick Aybar followed with 14.
26: That’s the number of pitchers the Angels used this season, three shy of the club record set in 1999. In April alone — a month when the bullpen compiled 95 innings, fifth-most in the Majors — they used 18 (!). It’s a sign of the lack of quality pitching depth the Angels had beyond the Opening Day roster, but also of the injuries they faced, like …
18: That’s the amount of starts Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas missed due to fluky injuries. Weaver fell at the Rangers Ballpark mound on April 7, suffered a fractured left elbow and didn’t return until May 29. Vargas was diagnosed with a blood clot in his left arm pit area shortly after his June 17 start, had invasive surgery and didn’t return until Aug. 13. Down the stretch, the Angels started to see what kind of continuity they can get from Weaver and Vargas being productive and in the rotation at the same time. But it was too little, too late.
13: That’s the combined appearances made by the two new relievers, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson. Burnett made all of them — 11 in April, a couple in late May — before getting shut down with a torn flexor tendon. Madson missed a second straight year after Tommy John surgery and was released on Aug. 5. Together, Burnett and Madson were supposed to make the Angels’ bullpen a strength. Together, they came up with 13.
32: That’s the combined amount of April losses for two star-studded teams in back-to-back years. In 2012, the Angels started 6-14, roared back into relevance shortly after Trout’s callup and faded down the stretch. In 2013, they dropped 17 of 26 in the season’s first month and never even got back to .500. The Angels had a great Spring Training in 2012, a not-so-great one in 2013. Why the bad early starts — in addition to perhaps a flawed club — is hard to put your finger on.
-63: That’s the amount of runs the Angels didn’t save on defense. In other words, it was their DRS score — 27th in the Majors. And it’s pretty inexplicable considering their DRS was plus-58, tied for second in the Majors, just last season. Yeah, Pujols played only 99 games and Alberto Callaspo was traded in late July, but the personnel was basically the same. And definitely not enough for a 121-run difference (!). Everyday players Trout (-9), Hamilton (-8), Chris Iannetta (-7) Aybar (-7), Kendrick (-3), J.B. Shuck (-1) and Trumbo (-1) had negative scores. The Angels were 19th in UZR, tied for 27th in fielding percentage and 28th in caught-stealing percentage. So, yeah, it’s not just that one sabermetric stat. The Angels were not a very good defensive team this season.
2.6: That’s the combined Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs.com, for Pujols and Hamilton. That’s actually higher than I expected, but obviously nowhere near what the Angels hoped for. In other words, two guys making a combined $33.4 million (or nearly 25 percent of the entire payroll) contributed three wins, if you round up. Pujols didn’t play past July 26, was severely hobbled when he did, and finished with a .258/.330/.437 slash line. Hamilton slumped up until the final five weeks of the season and finished at .250/.307/.432. You can talk about the pitching problems all you want — and I agree, it was the No. 1 issue in 2013 and is the No. 1 concern right now — but perhaps the Angels make a playoff run if they get normal years from Pujols and Hamilton.
66: That’s the amount of outs the Angels made on the bases, more than anyone in baseball — for a second straight year. Last season, they led with 72 outs on the bases. Kendrick (10), Aybar (7), Shuck (7) and Hank Conger (6) had the most.
22: I saved this one for last because I thought it was the most telling. It’s the amount of losses the Angels suffered in games during which they scored at least five runs. That’s the second-most in the Majors in 2013. The only team that lost more of those games was the Astros — the 111-loss Astros. Team Nos. 3-10: Twins, White Sox, Brewers, Orioles, Blue Jays, D-backs, Padres, Rockies. None of them made the playoffs, and the vast majority of them were never close. Nothing says pitching problems like losing a game in which you get five or more runs from your offense — 22 times.
The following is a statement from Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, released by his agent at MVP Sports Group, regarding the lawsuit he filed against Jack Clark in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Friday …
Today, I have filed a lawsuit against Jack Clark for defamation because of comments he made on his radio program earlier this year, falsely accusing me of using performance enhancing drugs. My lawyers have told me that the upcoming legal fight will not be an easy one, and that in cases like this even a liar can sometimes be protected under the law. But as a man of faith, I have never shied away from standing up for the truth, and I believe that the principles at stake are too important to sit back and do nothing. I believe we are all accountable for the things we do and say, and it was important for me to stand up for what was right against those who would seek to drag me down to try and build themselves up. I have always believed in the principles of honesty and accountability, and will continue to fight for them here.
Athletes are judged every day by their comments and actions off the field as well as their performance on it. When we fail or make mistakes, we face consequences. I believe members of the media should be held to the same standard. When they lie, make false accusations, and outrageous claims of “fact” to try and drive ratings or make a name for themselves, they should have to face up to the damage and injury they cause to an innocent person’s reputation. Whether or not I am successful in accomplishing that here, I can sleep at night knowing I have done the right thing in pursuing this case to fight for the truth of my innocence.
I stayed in Texas to help cover Game 163 between the Rays and Rangers and am told everything is status quo at Angels headquarters in Anaheim as of Monday afternoon.
The front office is at the ballpark, planning for the offseason work that lies ahead and getting ready for the organizational meetings that will take place Oct. 10. Mike Scioscia is back at his home in Westlake Village, hanging out. And owner Arte Moreno isn’t even in Southern California. No announcement regarding the futures of Scioscia and/or general manager Jerry Dipoto is expected today.
And so, the wait continues.
Every night, the umpires’ room attendant at Rangers Ballpark rubs up numerous baseballs with that special mud and piles them into a bag. A ball boy then scoops it up and brings the baseballs to the home-plate umpire, who rifles through the pile and handpicks the ones he’ll use for that day’s game.
Crew chief Ted Barrett claims Friday was no different.
C.J. Wilson was suspicious during that night’s 5-3 loss because, in his mind, an inordinate amount of baseballs at his former stadium were not rubbed up. Mike Scioscia confirmed that some of the balls looked like they came right out of the box and pitching coach Mike Butcher said many times it felt like Wilson was throwing “a cue ball.”
But Barrett said all the baseballs were rubbed up.
“They were all rubbed with mud,” he said. “Mike DiMuro was working home plate [and is at third base Saturday morning]. Each ball he got had mud on it. I guess they weren’t rubbed to C.J.’s liking, but they were all rubbed.
“No balls came out of the wrapper. Every ball had mud on it.”
Asked if some balls just didn’t have enough mud on them, Barrett said: “Yeah, that’s possible. But they definitely had mud on them. None of them came out of the box.”
Wilson managed to pitch six innings of three-run ball, but struggled with his command all night — particularly in a two-run second inning that saw him uncork three wild pitches, hit two batters and walk another. Afterwards, Wilson didn’t go so far as to accuse the Rangers of not rubbing up the balls before the game to purposely throw him off, but he didn’t really dismiss the notion, either. The veteran left-hander said only “one out of every four” was rubbed up and “balls were kind of squirting around.”
“Are you going to call it a coincidence?” Wilson said. “It’s not a coincidence. Let’s be honest.”
Scioscia said some of the baseballs “still had packing dust on them,” but the Angels’ skipper believes the Rangers “were using the same ones” and simply said Wilson was “just off all night.”
As of Saturday morning, about an hour before the 11 a.m. CT first pitch, Barrett hadn’t had a chance to speak with Scioscia yet.
“Some pitchers are more finicky,” Barrett said. “They like the darker balls. Some pitchers, they don’t like a slick ball. But the important thing is the balls came out of the same bag, both pitchers were using the same balls. It’s the same thing that happens every night.
“The umpire attendant rubs up literally thousands of baseball every year. A lot of times we get complaints from hitters that they’re too dark, and we get complaints from pitchers that they don’t have enough mud on them.”