Results tagged ‘ Chris Iannetta ’
Hector Santiago will start the Angels’ Cactus League opener against the Brewers on Thursday, Mike Scioscia announced. Following him, respectively, will be Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker, which means that in all likelihood, Weaver-Wilson-Shoemaker will be the rotation order for the season-opening three-game series in Seattle April 6-8.
The Angels don’t necessarily order their starting pitchers based on righty or lefty; they like to make sure they don’t connect the guys who have the best chance of pitching deep in games, which is perhaps why Weaver and Shoemaker aren’t back-to-back.
Santiago will compete with Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney for a rotation spot, and there’s a good chance two of the three crack the Opening Day roster with Garrett Richards likely to start the season on the disabled list. Cory Rasmus, Drew Rucinski, Jose Alvarez and the non-roster invitees are dark-horse candidates to crack the rotation, as well.
Scioscia said he expects all of his everyday guys — namely, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar, Kole Calhoun, David Freese, Chris Iannetta and Matt Joyce — to play in the Cactus League opener from Tempe Diablo Stadium. Starters will go two to three innings the first time through the order.
Weaver would be on track to make five Cactus League starts, then be on five days’ rest before Opening Day, though he could opt for the extra day of rest earlier so that he’s on a normal schedule for his first start of the season. Scioscia doesn’t like to announce his Opening Day starter until the very end, but Weaver is on track to start his franchise-record seventh Opening Day (and sixth in a row).
Some other notes from Wednesday’s workout …
- Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, couldn’t comment on the Josh Hamilton situation because it’s an ongoing process and doesn’t know when Major League Baseball would announce what looks like a likely suspension. Clark did say, “What I hope for is support for Josh.”
- The MLBPA was visiting Angels camp as its last stop in Arizona, and the two main topics of discussion were pace-of-play initiatives and a reported tobacco ban in California. Hamilton didn’t come up during the one-hour meeting, Clark said.
- Richards is throwing his sixth bullpen session on Wednesday morning and Scioscia said he’ll simulate coming off the mound to cover first base for the first time.
- Lefty reliever Atahualpa Severino has finally arrived in camp after having visa issues in the Dominican Republic. Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin could report over the weekend.
Garrett Richards completed his third bullpen session on Monday morning, throwing 40 pitches – four-seam fastballs and two-seam fastballs – from the stretch at the Angels’ Spring Training complex.
“Outstanding,” Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “He looked really good.”
Richards is full weight-bearing on his surgically repaired left knee, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s still about 10 days away from taking part in pitchers’ fielding practice and won’t be close to pitching in Cactus League games the first time through the rotation.
Before doing that, Richards still needs to throw from the windup, still needs to work on fielding his position, still needs to incorporate his off-speed pitches and still needs to face hitters in a controlled environment.
“There’s a progression that a pitcher needs to do to get ready for a season,” Scioscia said. “He’s not in that progression to get ready for a season. He’s still in rehab mode, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Some additional notes from Monday’s workout …
- Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella, Taylor Featherston and Grant Green are competing for jobs as the starting second baseman and utility infielder, but the Angels are very open to the possibility of carrying three of them on the Opening Day roster.
- Drew Butera, in competition for the job as backup catcher, has been doing all of his drills alongside starter Chris Iannetta in the early part of Spring Training. Butera is out of options and has the most experience among the candidates, seemingly making him a favorite for the job.
- Asked if he’d like to keep Albert Pujols at the same range of games at first base as last year (116), Scioscia said: “It’s just going to be based on how he feels. We’re a better team with him at first base, but realistically, we know how important he is hitting in the middle of our lineup.”
- Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin saw 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin train in the Dominican Republic before the club gave him an $8 million signing bonus and compared him to Jose Iglesias. “I think he can stick at second and short,” Griffin said.
- There’s still no update on Josh Hamilton, who’s in the early stages of his recovery from surgery to his right AC joint. “He’s in Houston doing his physical therapy,” Scioscia said. “Same timetable we had. It’s just open-ended right now.”
Barring a drastic, last-minute change in strategy, the Angels will not pursue James Shields, just like they didn’t pursue Max Scherzer and they didn’t pursue Jon Lester. They bowed out of the free-agent market for starting pitchers this winter — the free-agent market in general, actually — because they already have a top-heavy payroll and they didn’t deem another splurge practical.
What about next winter?
The next free-agent crop of starters is a doozy. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos and Doug Fister are all slated to headline one of the deepest groups we’ve ever seen. Will the Angels be a player in that market, with David Freese, Chris Iannetta, Matt Joyce and Huston Street all in line to come off the books? (They’d like to extend Street.)
Maybe — but probably not.
“I wouldn’t say no, and at this point I wouldn’t say yes,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when asked about going after the top starters in next year’s market. “One of the things we like a lot about the way the team is currently built is the level of depth we have among starting pitchers. While we do have the potential departure of some free agents, we’re looking at a projected payroll number next year that’s similar to the one we’re operating at now.”
It’s true. Despite the potential departures, Mike Trout‘s salary will go from $6.08 million to $16.08 million; Josh Hamilton‘s will go from $25.4 million to $32.4 million; incremental jumps will come for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver; and natural arbitration hikes will follow.
The Angels’ projected Opening Day payroll is $145 million for 2015, third-highest in team history but $9 million smaller than last year (which means there’s room for in-season upgrades). For 2016, their Competitive Balance Tax payroll (which takes the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits and bonuses, and is used by Major League Baseball to determine which teams exceed the $189 million tax threshold) is already almost $120 million for just seven players
More importantly, the Angels will have every current starter back — Weaver, Wilson, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney — plus Tyler Skaggs, who should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
But Weaver and Wilson will be heading into the final year before free agency. And look at what the Nationals just did. They didn’t need starting pitching, but they signed Scherzer because he was available now and because Zimmermann and Fister will be free agents at season’s end. Now they can comfortably trade Zimmermann or Fister (or perhaps Stephen Strasburg), or hold onto all of them and have the ultimate rotation, 2011 Phillies style.
Can the Angels do something similar?
I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t count on it.
“While I won’t say we have expectation that most or any of [the Angels’ starters] are going to be the quality of David Price, understanding that we need to continue to grow the foundation, at some point you have to provide those guys with the innings to grow,” Dipoto said. “Next year, we’re looking at the same group of starting pitchers; we won’t lose control of anyone. We like our group and like their upside.”
Angels fans who want to get an up-close look at Roberto Baldoquin this spring will probably have to walk over to the Minor League side of the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex.
The Angels have opted against inviting the 20-year-old Cuban middle infielder to Major League Spring Training, mostly because they’ll have a lot of infielders competing for jobs but also because they want to give Baldoquin a chance to develop on his own time, without added pressure.
Since signing Baldoquin to an $8 million signing bonus – a commitment that added up to about $15 million because of the overage tax – the Angels have added Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston, all of whom will compete for the starting second base and utility infield job, along with Grant Green. Baldoquin will likely start the season at Class A Inland Empire, exclusively playing shortstop, and hasn’t really played in organized games since he left Cuba nearly a year ago.
“There’s only so much space to go around, or time that you can provide,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Tuesday. “Roberto being 20 years old, being over a year removed from competitive baseball outside of whatever he’s doing at our facility in the Dominican Republic, we felt like this was probably in his best interest and in the best interest of developing him.”
Baldoquin agreed to terms in early November, signed his first professional contract a few days before Christmas and has spent the month working out at the Angels’ academy in the Dominican, where Dipoto said he’s getting “glowing reviews for his leadership and work ethic.”
Baldoquin will spend the mornings working out on the Major League side during Spring Training and could take part in some Cactus League games as an extra player, but will mostly spend the spring working with fellow Minor Leaguers.
The Angels aren’t expecting him in the big leagues until the start of 2017, the first year shortstop Erick Aybar won’t be in the books.
“In Roberto’s case, the smartest thing we can do is slow the wheels down a little bit,” Dipoto said. “No rush. We need to make sure we’re exercising good judgment.”
Below are some additional Angels-related notes, with 23 days left until pitchers and catchers report for their physicals …
- The Angels plan to start negotiating an extension with closer Huston Street during Spring Training and have already broached the subject with Street himself, a source said. The Angels exercised their $7 million club option on Street early in the offseason and would like to lock the 31-year-old right-hander up before he hits free agency next winter. They’d also be open to negotiating an extension with catcher Chris Iannetta, also a pending free agent, and Garrett Richards, who’s in the first of four arbitration years. But those talks probably wouldn’t begin until after Opening Day.
- Before starting extension talks with Richards, they need to agree on his 2015 salary. Richards’ arbitration hearing is set for Feb. 11 and both sides have only made slow progress thus far. Richards is one of three arbitration-eligible players remaining for the Angels, along with pending free agents David Freese and Matt Joyce.
- Richards, who has spent his offseason training in Arizona, is running on 75 percent of his body weight and is expected to progress to 100 percent next week. He should be throwing off a mound around the time workouts begin.
- Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks or arbitration negotiations, but did express confidence that he’d avoid an arbitration hearing with all three players. “Right now,” he said, “there’s no expectation that we won’t avoid a hearing, but no fear of going to a hearing if that’s what it comes to. Right now, the conversations have been seamless. Normal rhetoric, and I feel we’re in a good position with all three.”
- The Angels recently signed veteran right-handers Frank Herrmann and Zach Stewart to Minor League contracts. Herrmann, a 30-year-old reliever who posted a 4.26 ERA in 95 appearances with the Indians from 2010-12, will be invited to Spring Training. Stewart, a 28-year-old swing man who had a 6.82 ERA in 103 innings from 2011-12, will not. The Angels would still like to acquire a Triple-A shortstop on a Minor League deal, and that may be the final move they make this winter.
The Angels acquired veteran catcher Drew Butera for a player to be named later or cash considerations on Tuesday, addressing their need for depth behind the plate in the second day of the Winter Meetings.
Butera, 31, will compete with Carlos Perez, Jackson Williams and Jett Bandy for the backup job behind Chris Iannetta, but unlike the other three players, Butera can’t be optioned to the Minor Leagues.
“Some combination of Drew Butera and that group of three guys are going to make up the games in the big leagues that Chris does not catch for us,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, “and we feel comfortable with that.”
Butera has posted a .183/.239/.268 slash line while appearing in 251 games in the Majors from 2010-14, a span that saw the Orlando product mostly serve as a backup for the Twins and Dodgers. During that time, Butera – designated for assignment when the Dodgers claimed Ryan Lavarnway off waivers – has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers.
“His defensive skill set is awesome,” Dipoto said. “He can really catch, can really throw, calls a good game, has the experience of being with good teams, catching good pitching staffs. He has a tremendous defensive reputation that certainly outdistances his offensive reputation, but we feel like he’s a nice fit for us.”
With Butera acquired, and the left-handed-hitting Marc Krauss claimed off waivers from the Astros on Monday, Dipoto’s only glaring need is a backup infielder. The Angels’ GM remains interested in resigning Gordon Beckham and has had dialogue with several teams about acquiring an optionable middle infielder, perhaps in exchange for one of his right-handed relievers.
Signing Beckham and trading for an infielder “don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Dipoto said, given the Angels’ need for organizational infield depth.
“We’re on the lookout,” Dipoto added. “We’re still actively discussing possibilities that line up for us in the Rule 5 Draft and we’ve talked to a variety of teams regarding trades for that type of player. In the meantime, we’ll just keep our ears to the street.”
C.J. Wilson was a late entry into the starting-pitching market, but general manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels aren’t shopping the veteran left-hander, or have even received calls on him.
“We haven’t discussed C.J. Wilson at all,” Dipoto said from his suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego on Monday, Day 1 of the Winter Meetings.
“We had one club within the week of the end of the World Series ask if we would consider moving C.J. and that was the only discussion. That discussion lasted all of 10 minutes. We moved on; never revisited it.”
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Sunday that the Angels are shopping Wilson and industry sources told MLB.com on Monday that a few teams checked in on Wilson, but were only interested if the Angels ate some of the money still owed to him.
Wilson is coming off his worst season as a starting pitcher, is owed $38 million over the last two years of his contract and can block a trade to eight different teams this offseason. Those factors, not to mention what’s still a robust starting-pitching market, make it very difficult to move him.
For the Angels, it would only make sense to move Wilson if it freed up enough payroll space so they can then sign a top-tier free-agent starter. Considering they’re less than $10 million below the luxury-tax threshold, which continues to act as their spending limit, that would probably require a team to take on all of Wilson’s remaining salary.
Nobody’s lining up to do that, and Dipoto stressed he has a lot of confidence in a bounceback year.
“He had a bad second half,” Dipoto said. “Wasn’t a great one. He’ll come back, and he’ll find a way to refocus himself. He wasn’t great in the second half of 2012. In 2013, he couldn’t have been better post to post. He was outstanding.”
Some other notes from today’s session with Dipoto …
- Dipoto is still looking to find a backup infielder, but the only free agent he’s interested in is Gordon Beckham. Dipoto said Beckham’s interest in a return is “fair,” but he’ll probably want to test the market to see if he can get an everyday job somewhere. If not Beckham, Dipoto would seek a trade, and would likely use his excess of right-handed relief pitching — Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Salas, Vinnie Pestano, etc. — to acquire it.
- The Angels could have some news on Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin on Tuesday. They’ve been waiting for the 22-year-old to obtain his visa from the Dominican Republic so he can take his physical and sign the deal.
- Dipoto would also like to add some depth at backup catcher, and will look to free agency in hopes of acquiring someone on a Minor League deal.
- As far as Major League free agents? “Right now, we’re not engaged with any free agents, and we haven’t been engaged with any free agents. And right now, as we sit here today, our intention is to avoid that. We have a shorter list of needs. We’re open to any kind of creative suggestions in terms of trades, but we’re not openly shopping players. We’re not engaged with any team on a specific discussion regarding any of our primary players, including those who I’ve heard have been heavy on the Twitter wire.”
- The Angels are waiting to finalize a Minor League deal with a lefty reliever.
- This is a normal offseason for Josh Hamilton, who spent last winter trying to regain weight while working with a functional-movement coach. “Nothing special or significant,” Dipoto said. “He’s a pro. He’ll come in, he’ll work, he’ll be ready to play. Josh, I know he left on a sour note, but I have no doubt that Josh went home and he’s getting himself prepared to play baseball. It’s what he does.”
- Dipoto also made it sound like he isn’t all that interested in trading any of his infielders.
- Is the DH spot resolved? “Yes. Our game plan going in was to use the DH position to rotate position players through. … The primary bulk of DH at-bats will go to Cron, but this [the acquisition of Marc Krauss] gives us another alternative, someone who can compete for at-bats, gives us another in-season alternative.”
The Angels aren’t expected to swim in the top or even the middle of the free-agent pool (wait, that doesn’t even make sense), but they still have needs to address, and they will surely consider the free market for them. Below I’ve identified four types of Major League free agents the Angels will seek.
You’ll notice I didn’t include starting pitchers. That’s because (1) Jerry Dipoto has made it clear that he doesn’t think it makes sense to sign a starter to a Major League contract if he isn’t a clear upgrade over the group he currently has, (2) the Angels can’t afford that clear upgrade without blowing past the luxury tax and (3) they’ll basically take any established starter they can get on a Minor League contract.
Also, the Angels may look to fill a lot of these needs via Minor League contracts, and players typically don’t settle for Minor League contracts until later in the offseason. Nonetheless, here are some Major League free agents who could be a fit …
The Angels really like Carlos Perez and think he can stick as the backup, so I don’t expect them to give a catcher a Major League contract (although, one must keep in mind that Chris Iannetta is a free agent at season’s end). They’ll probably look for depth options at Triple-A and guys who can compete for the backup job in camp. There aren’t many cheap options out there right now.
Dipoto expressed his desire to bring back Gordon Beckham after he non-tendered him on Tuesday, but he’ll look to the free-agent market for other options, and I have to think that ideally he’d find someone with more experience at shortstop. This is the Angels’ most glaring need right now, and it could be the area they allocate the most dollars to on free agents.
A power bat from the left side of the plate would be a nice fit off the bench, as a guy who can platoon with C.J. Cron at DH, or spell David Freese against a tough right-hander, or serve as a fifth outfielder who can pinch-hit, or all of the above. But this is another area they’ll probably look to shore up on the cheap (if at all), so you must look at the bottom of the bin here.
Here’s the thing about the Angels’ bullpen: There isn’t much room for anybody else. Six of the seven spots are basically solidified, with Huston Street, Joe Smith, Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Salas, Mike Morin and the lone lefty, Cesar Ramos. Then there’s a host of others — Vinnie Pestano, Jeremy McBryde, Cam Bedrosian, Yoslan Herrera, Cory Rasmus, if he isn’t converted to a starter — vying for spots. So it doesn’t make much sense for the Angels to give someone a Major League contract here.
Lastly, here’s a list of the Minor League free agents the Angels have signed so far (this in addition to McBryde, who signed for the Major League minimum, and Herrera, who was brought back shortly after being non-tendered) …
C/3B Raywilly Gomez
C/LF/1B Charles Cutler
LF/CF/RF D’Arby Myers
RHSP Alex Sanabia
RHSP Albert Suarez
LHRP Atahualpa Severino
RHRP Brian Broderick
Translation: It’s the deadline to protect players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
If a player was 18 or younger during the First-Year Player Draft that resulted in him signing his first professional contract and five seasons have passed, or 19 or older the day of the Draft and four seasons have passed, he can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft — Dec. 11 this year — if not on his team’s 40-man roster.
The Rule 5 Draft is typically uneventful. Teams won’t let a player they have high hopes for be left unprotected and it’s really hard for a player to stick with his new club if he is selected (the player must be returned to his original team if at any point he’s not on the 40-man roster the following season). The Angels haven’t carried a Rule 5 pick on their Major League roster since reliever Derrick Turnbow in 2000, and only four of the nine Rule 5 selections from last year even played in the Majors. (The Angels picked lefty reliever Brian Moran, who spent the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery and was returned to the Mariners in October.)
But there have been some gems to come out of the Rule 5 Draft — namely, Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla — and Thursday’s roster decisions are a strong indication for how an organization feels about certain prospects. The Angels’ 40-man roster is currently full, so they’ll have to do some maneuvering to protect some Rule 5-eligible players.
Below are three to keep an eye on …
3B Kaleb Cowart: He was once the jewel of their system, but he’s struggled mightily in Double-A and could be converted to a pitcher if he doesn’t turn it around. Cowart (pictured) hit .221/.279/.301 in 2013, then .221/.279/.301 in 2014, going from switch-hitting to only hitting from the left side midsummer, and struggled once again in the Arizona Fall League. Still, he’s only 22. And he has a lot of talent. I can see a team taking a chance on him if eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
C Jett Bandy: Bandy hit only .250/.348/.413 in Double-A, but had an above-average caught-stealing percentage (40 percent) and Jerry Dipoto mentioned him as a potential Major League backup after trading Hank Conger. The Angels already have three catchers on their 40-man roster — Chris Iannetta, Carlos Perez and Jackson Williams — so they may have to just hope the 6-foot-4 Bandy doesn’t get picked up.
RH Dan Reynolds: The 23-year-old moved from the rotation to the bullpen in 2014 and might have turned his career around. Reynolds carried a 5.39 ERA in 26 starts for Class A Inland Empire in 2013, then posted a 2.90 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 9.1 strikeout rate in 42 appearances for Class A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. But the Angels have a lot of right-handed-relief depth, so they can afford to keep Reynolds off the 40-man.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto picked up closer Huston Street’s $7 million club option for 2015 shortly after the World Series and may explore a contract extension with the 31-year-old right-hander before Opening Day.
Those talks, however, won’t occur until the start of Spring Training.
“In picking up his option for 2015, I told him we can talk about it when we get to Spring Training,” Dipoto told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert from the General Managers Meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday. “We’ve made a habit out of whatever we’re doing for the coming season we’ll take care of after the New Year once we get to Spring Training and everybody is face-to-face rather than trying to piece things together over an offseason. And if something works out, great. If nothing works out, I’m sure he’s going to do just fine in the free market in 2016.”
Street, who features a plus changeup, has posted a 1.97 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and a 3.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio while converting 97 of his 103 save chances over the last three years. Another season like 2014 — 1.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 41 saves and an invitation to the All-Star Game — and Street could fetch major dollars on the free-agent market, which is why the Angels would love to lock him up before then.
After the 2015 season, the Angels will free up some money under the luxury-tax threshold with second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Chris Iannetta, third baseman David Freese and infielder Gordon Beckham headed for free agency. The Angels aren’t expected to engage in extension talks with any of those four players before the 2015 season. Kendrick and Freese are getting shopped this winter, and Beckham could be non-tendered in early December.
— Alden Gonzalez
The Angels trotted out basically the same lineup they fielded down the stretch for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, with a couple of notable, expected tweaks: Josh Hamilton batting seventh and playing left field, and C.J. Cron batting eighth while serving as the designated hitter.
Hamilton played in only one of the team’s last 23 regular-season games due to ailments in his right shoulder and right side and has hardly seen any live pitching in the meantime, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia is batting him lower in the lineup to put less pressure on him. Scioscia also went with the right-handed bat of Cron against Royals starter Jason Vargas, a lefty who held opposing lefties to a .661 OPS during the regular season.
Howie Kendrick has been red hot since taking over for Hamilton in the cleanup spot on Sept. 5, batting .403 with 18 RBIs over that 21-game stretch. David Freese, batting fifth, finished September with a .315/.367/.562 slash line. Scioscia opted to go with Chris Iannetta’s high on-base percentage (.373) in hopes of turning the lineup over to Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout.
Here’s the full lineup behind starter Jered Weaver (first pitch from Angel Stadium is 6:07 p.m. PT on TBS):
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C