Results tagged ‘ Jerry DiPoto ’

Three Angels Rule 5 candidates …

cowart2Thursday is what the transaction calendar calls the day to “file reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels.”

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.

Alden

Mike Trout wins AL MVP Award …

Mike Trout has often been considered the best all-around player in the game, and now the Angels’ center fielder has the trophy to help back that claim.

Trout was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player on Thursday, an honor that became a foregone conclusion after yet another superb season. Trout got all 30 first-place votes by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, becoming the youngest unanimous MVP in Major League history. His 420 points easily the topped the two fellow finalists, with Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez getting 229 points and Indians outfielder Michael Brantley amassing 185 points.

“It’s unbelievable, just to think about it,” Trout told MLB Network via satellite from his parents’ house in New Jersey. “If you would’ve told me this before, when the season started, I would’ve just laughed at you. This is an unbelievable feeling. It’s awesome.”

Trout joins Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Don Baylor (1979) as the only AL MVP Award winners in Angels history and is the 17th player to win it unanimously, with Frank Robinson doing it twice and Albert Pujols – with the Cardinals in 2009 – being the latest.

“So exciting to see another AL MVP wearing the Angels’ uniform,” said Guerrero, who, like Trout, wore No. 27. “I also want to thank Mike for wearing my favorite number.”

“It may be his first MVP,” Baylor added, “but it won’t be his last.”

Trout, who didn’t turn 23 until this past Aug. 7, now has a unanimous MVP Award to join his unanimous AL Rookie of the Year Award selection three years earlier. He is the fifth-youngest MVP in history and the youngest since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1983 — a year in which the former Orioles shortstop didn’t turn 23 until Aug. 24.

Trout led the Majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the third straight season with a score of 7.8, according to FanGraphs.com. He posted a .287/.377/.561 slash line, hit a career-high 36 homers, led the AL in RBIs (111) and runs scored (115), and paced the Majors in total bases (338) and extra-base hits (84). In the process, he became the first player in baseball history with at least 300 runs, 75 homers and 75 steals in his first 400 games.

“Mike has had an incredible start to his career,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said in a statement. “His play this year totally embodies what an MVP is all about. His terrific performance, along with his selfless style of play, has made him a tremendous leader on this team.”

Trout is the fourth AL player to finish in the top two of MVP ballots three or more straight years, joining Mickey Mantle (1960-62), Yogi Berra (1953-56) and Hal Newhouser (1944-46). The three-time All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner is also the sixth player to win All-Star Game MVP and regular-season MVP in the same season.

“The sky is the limit for Mike,” Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton said.

“Mike respects the game and plays it the right way,” Pujols said. “It’s a privilege to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

Trout burst onto the scene with an improbable rookie season in 2012 (.326 average, .963 OPS, 30 homers, 49 steals, 10.1 WAR) and avoided a sophomore slump with a similarly impressive 2013 season (.323 average, .988 OPS, 27 homers, 33 steals, 10.5 WAR). But he lost out to Miguel Cabrera, who posted better power numbers for division-champion Tigers teams (including the Triple Crown in ’12) but produced a lower WAR.

This season, Trout led the AL with 184 strikeouts, stole a relatively low 16 bases, reached base less frequently — a .416 on-base percentage from 2012-13; a .377 on-base percentage in 2014 — and had a minus-9.8 Ultimate Zone Rating in center field. But the power numbers increased, no other players particularly stood out, and the Angels led the Majors with 98 wins during the regular season.

Unlike the last two years, there was no debate this time around.

“Mike Trout has been an all-around force over the past three seasons,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “This honor is well deserved and further affirms his position as the premier player in the game.”

Alden

Extension with Huston Street possible …

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

Stories, Twitter handles leading up to the ALDS …

Royals Angels Baseball

The American League Division Series is finally here, and we’ve had a lot of content leading up to it. So, I thought it’d be a good idea to organize it all in one spot, in case you missed anything along the way and would like to give something a read …

Angels

A look at Mike Trout’s likely MVP season and who he’s evolving to as a hitter
On Jered Weaver — his success without velocity and why he may be at his best right now
Odds are against Josh Hamilton in the ALDS, and maybe that’s what finally gets him going
How “Win For GRich” became a rallying cry for the Angels this season
Q&A with Jerry Dipoto, on Mike Scioscia, ALDS chances and keeping the Angels relevant
Good friends Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols, guiding each other through their 30s
Five reasons the Angels won the American League West
Five reasons the Angels can win the World Series
A look at how the Angels were constructed
A look at the Angels’ postseason history
Finally, Mike Trout gets to play in the postseason
The Angels have a plan to counter a questionable rotation
The Angels’ 2014 season, by the numbers

ALDS

A preview for Game 1
Position-by-position breakdown of the ALDS
Royals-Angels Did You Know
Three Keys for the Angels to beat the Royals in the ALDS
Tale Of The Tape for Game 1
Angels face a big challenge taming the Royals’ running game
Will rust affect the Angels in the ALDS?

We have a great crew for the ALDS, and below are their Twitter handles …

Bill Hill (series editor)
Dick Kaegel (Royals beat reporter)
Lyle Spencer (columnist)
Phil Rogers (columnist)
Matthew DeFranks (Angels in Anaheim)
T.R. Sullivan (Royals)
AJ Cassavell (Royals in Anaheim)
Jesse Sanchez (covering both clubs)
Jackson Alexander (Royals in Kansas City)

Alden

Angels’ 2014 regular season, by the numbers

Mike Trout

The Angels’ regular season ended on Sunday, and now all that stands before the postseason are an off day and a couple of mandatory workouts from Angel Stadium. Rosters are due by Thursday morning, and before then, Matt Shoemaker (left oblique) is expected to get off a mound at least one more time and Josh Hamilton (right chest/ribcage) will have to see some velocity (latest here). Before all the ALDS madness ensues, let’s take a numerical look back at the 162-game grind. And before we get into the objective, here’s a little bit of the subjective …

Award Candidates

MVP: Mike Trout
Gold Glove: Erick Aybar (SS), Albert Pujols (1B), C.J. Wilson (P), Kole Calhoun (RF)
Silver Slugger: Trout, Aybar
Rookie: Matt Shoemaker
Comeback Player: Pujols
Rolaids Relief: Huston Street
Executive: Jerry Dipoto
Manager: Mike Scioscia

Trout looks like almost a lock to nab the AL MVP Award, but Shoemaker probably doesn’t stand a chance to win AL Rookie of the Year over Jose Abreu. I can’t really think of a better candidate for Comeback Player of the Year than Pujols, and there’s a good chance Dipoto or Scioscia — not both — win their respective awards. I’d lean towards Dipoto, since Buck Showalter seems to be a popular pick for top AL manager (keep in mind there’s only one Executive of the Year Award, not one per league). Of the Gold Glove list, Pujols seems like the most likely to get one. Aybar had a great year at shortstop, but so did J.J. Hardy and Alexei Ramirez. Trout is a lock for his third straight Silver Slugger. Street has had a great year, but he split it within two leagues, so he’s a long shot for the Rolaids Relief Man Award.

American League Top 10s

BA: Howie Kendrick (10, .293)
OBP: Trout (T7, .377)
SLG: Trout (3, .561)
HR: Trout (T3, 36)
RBI: Trout (1, 111); Pujols (5, 105)
BB: Trout (4, 83)
SO: Trout (1, 184)
fWAR: Trout (1, 8.1)
FanGraphs defense: Aybar (T8, 14.0)
ERA: Garrett Richards (5, 2.61)
W: Jered Weaver (T1, 18); Shoemaker (T4, 16)
IP: Weaver (9, 213 1/3)
WHIP: Richards (3, 1.04)
BB: Wilson (1, 85)

MLB Team Rankings

WPCT: 1, .605
R/DIFF: 2, 143
fWAR: 2, 30.3
R: 1, 773
OPS: 7, .728
SP ERA: 13, 3.62
RP WHIP: 8, 1.22
FLG%: T3, .986
DRS: 20, -16

Angels fWAR Standings

Trout: 8.1
Kendrick: 4.4
Richards: 4.3
Aybar: 4.0
Calhoun: 3.6
Pujols: 3.2
Chris Iannetta: 3.0
David Freese: 2.2
Shoemaker: 2.1
Collin Cowgill: 2.1
Weaver: 1.5
Tyler Skaggs: 1.5
Hamilton: 1.1
Joe Smith: 1.0

Top 10 Prospects

LH Sean Newcomb (Rk, A): 6.14 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 3.0 SO/BB, 14 2/3 IP
RH Joe Gatto (Rk): 5.33 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 1.78 SO/BB, 27 IP
RH Chris Ellis (Rk): 6.89 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 2.00 SO/BB, 15 2/3 IP
3B Kaleb Cowart (AA): .223/.295/.324, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 26 SB (stopped switch-hitting during season)
RH Cam Bedrosian: 6.52 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 1.67 SO/BB, 19 1/3 IP (MLB); 2.00 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 4.56 SO/BB, 45 IP (A+, AA, AAA)
LH Hunter Green: did not pitch
LH Ricardo Sanchez (Rk): 3.49 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 1.95 SO/BB, 38 2/3 IP
2B Alex Yarbrough (AA): .285/.321/.397, 5 HR, 77 RBI, 6 SB
RH Mark Sappington (A+, AA): 6.02 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 1.44 SO/BB, 113 2/3 IP (moved to bullpen during season)
RH Jeremy Rhoades (Rk): 4.42 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2.67 SO/BB, 38 2/3 IP

Team Records Set

Most strikeouts by a player: Trout tied Mark Trumbo (184 in 2013)
Most wins by a rookie: Shoemaker, 16 (previously 14 by Dean Chance, Marcelino Lopez and Frank Tanana)
Scoreless appearances in a season: Smith (67) and Kevin Jepsen (65), topping Francisco Rodriguez (63 in ’08)
Pitchers used: 31 (previously 29 in 1996)
Fewest errors: 83 (previously 85 in ’09, for a non-strike season)
Strikeouts by a pithing staff: 1,342 (previously 1,200 in 2013)

Some other interesting tidbits …

  • Second time in club history that they finish the regular season with the best record and lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason (also 2008).
  • 98 wins is the third-most in club history, two shy of the club record set in ’08.
  • The Angels went an entire season without being shutout on the road.
  • Angels drew 3 million fans at home for the 12th consecutive season, a streak only matched in the AL by the Yankees. Their average attendance (38,221) was the highest since 2011.
  • Pujols led the Majors with 33 go-ahead RBIs, finishing one shy of the club record (34, by Vladimir Guerrero in ’06).
  • Trout became just the second RBI champion in team history (also Don Baylor, with 139 during his MVP season in 1979).
  • Trout is the first player in Major League history to lead either league in runs scored in his first three full seasons (115 in 2014). The last player to do that at any age was Mickey Mantle (1956-58).
  • Since 2011, Street has converted 126 of 136 save opportunities (93 percent), which is the best mark over that span (minimum: 50 innings).
  • Pujols is the 16th player with 2,500 hits, 1,500 runs and 500 homers, all marks he accomplished this season. The only others to do it by their age-34 season are Jimmie Foxx, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.
  • Trout is the first player since 1901 with 100 career steals and 90-plus career homers by his age-22-or-younger season.
  • All eight of the Angels’ everyday position players finished with an OPS+ over 100. Only the 1973 Orioles, ’09 Angels and ’13 Red Sox had more.
  • John McDonald turned 40 on Wednesday, and hit an RBI double in what could’ve been his final Major League at-bat. If it is the end, hats off to a great career by a truly great person.

Alden

Sound bites from the Angels’ clincher …

Jered WeaverHere’s what several members of the Angels had to say after clinching the American League West on Wednesday night

Leadoff man Kole Calhoun, on popping the first bottle of champagne after the A’s lost: “I was more nervous to pop that first bottle of champagne than I was to play baseball.”

Catcher Hank Conger, on watching the game from the clubhouse: “They came back that ninth inning, and everybody was like, ‘Don’t jinx anything, don’t pop anything yet.’ As soon as they made that last out, that groundball, everyone erupted, man. Everybody was hugging each other, champagne was flowing everywhere, man, it was unbelievable.”

President John Carpino, on the fans sticking around to watch: “It’s so special. It’s so special. Look at these people. It’s 11:15 and the game has been over for an hour and a half. Angels fans have a lot of passion.”

Third baseman David Freese, on battling adversity: “You look at every team, up and down the league, and every team goes through adversity, things like that. This group just keeps plugging away. It shows. To win a division like this, it’s unbelievable. What a great group.”

Ace Jered Weaver, on coming out and seeing the fans: “Indescribable, really. This is the only reason why they’re here; they want to see us win. It’s been long overdue. Hopefully we can make a good push here in the postseason.”

Owner Arte Moreno, on his favorite part about the team: “There’s probably not one sentence you can say. They all love each other, they all like each other, they have fun together, and we have a really great mix of veterans, and we have a lot of young people. People were questioning how many young people we have in the organization, but just a lot of young guys stepped up this year.”

Manager Mike Scioscia, on returning to the playoffs after a four-year absence: “It feels great. We had gotten close, but we won our division, and we couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”

Center fielder Mike Trout, on playing in the postseason: “I’m just going to go out there, play my game and help my team win. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. I know the atmosphere is going to be awesome, and it’s going to be fun for sure.”

First baseman Albert Pujols, on the group: “Great chemistry. Like I’ve said before, you don’t just win with one or two guys. It takes 25 guys for us to accomplish our goals. We have a great group of guys, starting in Spring Training. I’ve been saying it all year long. And we believe in each other. We’re picking each other up.”

Starter C.J. Wilson, on his start: “It’s good. It’s what I need to do. If we’re going to win, I need to pitch like that.”

General manager Jerry Dipoto, on what it took to turn it all around: “It’s just a thrill. Mike and the staff had a great year. They did an unbelievable job, kept everybody together and cohesive. Obviously we made some changes along the way, but most importantly it was the character and the makeup of the guys. When the boat left the dock this spring, that’s what we talked so much about, and that’s what these guys did. They really did. They bound together. Very proud of them.”

Alden

Dipoto’s option for 2015 picked up …

Angels owner Arte Moreno picked up the 2015 option on Jerry Dipoto’s contract earlier this season, ensuring that Dipoto will return for his fourth season as general manager.

Dipoto was originally signed to a three-year deal with two club options. The 2016 option has yet to be picked up, but this is nonetheless an improvement on Dipoto’s perceived job security. At this time last year, with the Angels on the verge of finishing six games below .500 and missing the playoffs for a fourth straight year, speculation swirled that eithern Dipoto or longtime manager Mike Scioscia would be dismissed by season’s end.

Dipoto and Scioscia both stayed on, and with 23 games left in the 2014 campaign, the Angels have the best record in baseball.

Dipoto will retain his two assistant GMs – Matt Klentak, who specializes in contract logistics, and Scott Servais, in charge of scouting and player development – and will sort out the rest of the front office moving forward.

Alden

‘All hands on deck’ for the Angels’ bullpen …

That’s the bullpen’s catch phrase these days. It’s what Jason Grilli said this morning, in the wake of the 2-0 victory that was made possible by eight Angels pitchers taking the mound in nine innings: “All hands on deck.”

Prior to the game, the Angels surprisingly called up a position player (Grant Green) and sent down a pitcher (Cory Rasmus). Angels manager Mike Scioscia said they’re fine on the pitching side for Sunday’s series finale, given the fact that there’s an off day on Monday. Rasmus was sent down only as a formality, since he can be called up when rosters expand by Tuesday (they expand Monday, but the Angels’ next game is Tuesday).

Sunday is the last day to acquire players from outside the organization that would be eligible for the playoffs, and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto isn’t planning on acquiring a starter. They’ll try to “cobble” it together, Dipoto said. And they’ll sort of do that on Sunday. Closer Huston Street (coming off appearing in four straight days) and setup man Joe Smith (three straight) are likely not available.

Here’s a look at who is …

LH Hector Santiago: Santiago said he put his spikes on last night, but never walked out to the bullpen. He will on Sunday. Santiago last started on Wednesday, and he’ll be backed up to start on Thursday, so he can give Scioscia an inning or two out of the bullpen if needed.

LH Michael Roth: Roth’s turn to start in Double-A was Saturday, and he only faced four batters (one an intentional walk) that day in the Majors. He can give Scisocia lots of length if the game gets out of hand or goes extras.

RH Yoslan Herrera: Herrera faced only one batter, and got two crucial outs, on Saturday. And he took the mound on three days’ rest. He can give Scioscia multiple innings, as well.

RH Jason Grilli: Grilli has only pitched twice in the last six days, including Saturday. He could be a candidate to close, unless it’s …

RH Kevin Jepsen: Jepsen would be appearing in his fourth game in five days if he pitches on Sunday, but I bet Scioscia doesn’t hesitate to go to him if he needs him.

RH Mike Morin: The 23-year-old right-hander is actually pretty fresh. He’s had two days off, which is an eternity in this bullpen. He’s someone who can give Scioscia two innings if needed.

RH Fernando Salas: Salas is basically on the same schedule as Jepsen, having appeared in two of his last three games. The fact he only threw one 11-pitch inning on Saturday, when he could’ve easily come out for a second, makes him available for the series finale.

If the Angels have a lead after six, and Scioscia goes to the bullpen to relieve Matt Shoemaker, my guess is Morin, Grilli, Jepsen get the last three innings, respectively.

Alden

 

Angels claim a reliever; can they claim a starter? …

The Angels claimed reliever Vinnie Pestano, a veteran sidearmer who was really good very recently (2.45 ERA in 137 appearances for the Indians from 2011-12) and who carries plenty of flexibility (he can be optioned this year and next year, and is under club control for three more years).

What would really be great is if they could acquire the Pestano equivalent as a starting pitcher.

That’s “really hard,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.

“The idea that you can make the perfect acquisition for your rotation in August is not great, but there are going to be available options. We just have to determine what the right timing is, or if we need one.”

The Angels currently have Tyler Skaggs nursing a forearm strain that will put him out an indefinite amount of time and C.J. Wilson holding a 12.50 ERA in five starts leading up to tonight’s Freeway Series finale. That leaves their rotation very vulnerable, with Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker being counted on to step up in support of Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards, and very little available to them in their Minor League system.

Dipoto pointed out that left-hander Wade LeBlanc, reacquired on June 17, has been pitching well at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he has a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts. Chris Volstad is also there, with a 5.18 ERA in four starts. But the Angels — with money available — will continue to monitor the waiver wire in hopes of landing additional starting pitching depth.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the household name sitting in the 7 hole right now,” Dipoto said. “I don’t know that anyone really does. That’s what august waiver are for. That’s what our minor league system is for.”

It’s Mike Trout‘s 23rd birthday, in case you hadn’t heard. Here’s what he said about that pregame …

  • His best gift? “Nothing too crazy for my birthday. I got Cornhole. I played it over the All-Star break and I liked it. Parents got it. My mom’s brother builds them and he sent me one. Other than that, I don’t need gifts.”
  • Trout has homered in each of his last two games on his birthday. Pressure to hit one tonight? “Nah, no pressure to do so. If I hit one tonight, I hit one.”
  • Do you feel old? “Everyone keeps asking me that. I was talking to [Jered Weaver] about it, looking at how much time I have up here. After this year, over three years. It’s been quick. I’m having fun here; this is where you want to be. I can’t ask for anything else.”

And the lineups for tonight’s Freeway Series finale …

Dodgers (65-50)

Justin Turner, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Matt Kemp, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS

SP: LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 3.39 ERA)

Angels (67-46)

Erick Aybar, SS
Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
David Freese, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
C.J. Cron, 1B
Collin Cowgill, RF

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (8-7, 4.74 ERA)

Alden

Can the Angels ‘respond’ to the aggressive A’s? …

Arte Moreno, Jerry DipotoI asked Jerry Dipoto recently about watching the A’s, not just where they’re at in the standings but what moves they make, and how that affects whether the Angels win the division or have to play for one of those do-or-die Wild Card spots. He said they have to focus on what’s best for them, and that if you try to react to other teams and get wrapped up in a game of scenarios, “you’ll talk yourself into bad decisions.”

Fair enough.

But the A’s just got Jon Lester. It was the ultimate “win-now” move, sending fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox in exchange and bringing former fan favorite Jonny Gomes back. Now Lester — three-time All-Star, big-time postseason performer — joins a rotation that includes recent addition Jeff Samardzija along with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez.

The A’s have better starting pitching than the Angels (that almost goes without saying). They also have a better record (leading by 2 1/2 games when play began on Thursday). On top of that, they have a far more favorable schedule (I went into that here). And the last thing the Angels want is for their season — a great season, with the second-best record in baseball, amid an ever-shrinking championship window — to come down to one elimination game because they had to settle for the Wild Card.

But here’s the problem: It would be really hard for the Angels to “react” to the aggressive A’s, even if they wanted to.

Lester going to Oakland won’t magically inject the Angels’ farm system with a bevy of prospects necessary to get a top-of-the-rotation starter. They just don’t have it. What little they had was sent to San Diego in exchange for closer Huston Street. Prior to getting Street, the Angels checked in on David Price (again), and they tried to acquire teammate Ian Kennedy. And the message they received was clear: Their farm system isn’t getting them a major rotation upgrade. So, they went the bullpen route, and created one of the best relief corps in baseball.

It seems there are only two ways for the Angels to truly beef up their rotation …

1. If they want to do it before 4 p.m. ET, they’d have to part ways with Major League players. Asked about that late last week, Dipoto said, “I don’t want to break up this group.” That, of course, was before the A’s traded for Lester. Maybe he changes his mind on this; but that remains doubtful.

2. Wait until August. And this is a legitimate possibility, because the Angels have money left over (they’re somewhere between $10 and $15 million under the luxury-tax threshold, if my math is correct) but don’t want to give up more prospects from a thin farm system they’re trying to cultivate. The former plays in August, when teams can put in claims on anybody who goes through waivers and players can’t be traded unless they clear; the ladder, not so much.

So this is where the Angels stand moving forward. Tonight, they’ll play another game against another contender, and they’ll try to avoid a sweep from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They can look forward to the possibility of C.J. Wilson likely rejoining the rotation by Saturday, and hope that he’s fixed whatever it was that caused him to give up 19 runs in 16 2/3 innings from June 24 to July 9.

And that, still, may be the best acquisition they make.

Alden

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