Results tagged ‘ Jerry DiPoto ’

Angels react to Josh Hamilton news …

Josh HamiltonAs you’ve probably heard by now, Josh Hamilton will not be suspended for a drug-related relapse that occurred late in the offseason and, based on public statements, the Angels are not happy with the ruling. Jerry Dipoto took questions in a press conference for 15 minutes Friday, Mike Scioscia spoke about it pregame and several other players took questions, too. Not much is known right now, and this story will continue to evolve.

The Angels made it known that they’re disappointed in Hamilton, but their brass also said they’ll do whatever it takes to support him and the players expressed sympahthy. There’s no word on when Hamilton will rejoin the team, and there still isn’t much clarity on where he is with his rehab. He’s still in Houston working back from shoulder surgery, and he still hasn’t gotten into full baseball activities.

Below are some of the comments.

Jerry Dipoto, on how much responsibility the Angels hold …

“When Josh signed with the Angels in the winter of 2012, he came with a very well known and public story of addiction, a battle with addiction. We understood the complications that sometimes travel with that. We are not here to short sell the troubles or the reality of addiction. There is a responsibility, professional responsibility, to do the job you’re asked to do. Every player is going to be held to that standard, much in the same way every player is held to a standard to do my job. That’s just life. That’s the way it works. We have built an infrastructure that is very similar to what Josh had in Texas. We have brought with Josh the same people that he had in Texas. … We have had someone there with Josh, we have followed the same blueprint that was laid out for him with the Texas Rangers and that seemed to be so successful at the time. Don’t know what else we can do to accommodate his needs, as we’ve done with every other player. Every marriage that I know of is 50-50. I don’t know another way to do it. If you would like us to absorb 90-10 of the blame, then I think you’re wrong. … When we enter into these types of agreements with any player, whether it’s five years and $125 million or deals we’ve done with other high-profile players or the lowest-service-time rookie on the staff, you’re entering into a marriage with that player, and an agreement that he will be responsible and accountable for his actions — to his teammates, to his manager, to his staff, to his front office, to his organization to his public. Whatever happens off the field — with your family, your god, whatever you do — we all have those responsibilities. We have done what we can, in the moment, to support Josh. We have built infrastructures that are there to support him, and we feel no regret for anything we’ve done in that regard. And we will continue to do those things. We will continue to put systems in place that will aid both Josh and other players.”

Mike Scioscia, on today’s news …

“We’re going to take this process one step at a time. The most important thing is Josh, and getting himself where he needs to be. Addiction is a terrible thing and he’s trying to deal with that. Any time frame for when he’s going to be back in baseball activities, we don’t have. He’s going to still recuperate in Houston, see when he gets back in baseball activities, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

C.J. Wilson, on the Angels’ statements …

“The statement had multiple phases, and I’m just going to focus on the last part of it which is we’re concerned with what’s best for Josh and his family. That’s the part that I agree with; it’s the first thing I said when this came out, that my concern is with Josh and his family. From a performance standpoint, a super healthy Josh Hamilton is a great thing, a productive Josh Hamilton is a great thing, from an offensive and defensive standpoint. As well as a clubhouse standpoint. I feel like he’s a great guy. People like him. I don’t know how much I should read into prepared statements from other people at this point. Josh came forward, he admitted fault, and I think that’s a very manly thing to do in this day and age, when everyone’s trying to cover stuff up and buy people off. I think that just shows that Josh understands he’s under the microscope, and even if he makes a mistake he’s not going to hide anything.”

Albert Pujols, on the Hamilton situation lingering …

“Our main focus is to get to the playoffs again. We can’t bring distractions outside of this clubhouse. Obviously Josh is a big part of this organization, this ballclub. But whatever decision that Major League Baseball makes is their decision. It’s not our decision. Our decision is to try to stay focused and get ourselves ready for the season and make sure we don’t bring any outside distractions.”

Alden

Josh Hamilton will not be suspended …

Josh Hamilton will not be suspended or otherwise disciplined after an arbitrator ruled that the Angels outfielder did not violate the terms of his drug treatment program, Major League Baseball said Friday.

Hamilton self-reported a drug-related relapse that occurred late in the offseason, then met with MLB officials in New York on Feb. 25 and remained in Houston thereafter, rehabbing from surgery on his right shoulder and awaiting what was considered a likely suspension.

The decision not to levy any punishment – a product of Hamilton admitting to the relapse before a failed drug test – came as a surprise the Angels noticeably disagreed with.

In a statement issued by the club, general manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels “have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior, and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family.”

In a separate statement, Angels president John Carpino said: “It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his current program.”

In a phone conversation a couple hours after the statement, Carpino said: “Our focus now, based on the arbitrator’s ruling, is to get Josh the help he needs, for himself and for his family.”

A four-panel treatment board – consisting of two representatives each from MLB and the MLB Players Association – deadlocked on whether Hamilton violated the terms of his treatment program, requiring the need for an outside arbitrator that ultimately ruled in Hamilton’s favor.

MLB took the position that Hamilton violated his treatment program and would be subject to discipline by Commissioner Rob Manfred, but the arbitrator ruled that “Hamilton’s conduct did not violate his treatment program,” according to MLB, leaving Manfred without the right to impose any penalties.

“The Office of the Commissioner disagrees with the decision,” MLB said in its statement, “and will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the program in the collective bargaining process.”

The arbitrator considered Hamilton’s latest transgression a “slip” and not a violation, according to the Los Angeles Times, leaving the Angels without any additional salary relief in 2015. Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, could not be reached for comment and the MLBPA has no plans to issue a statement.

Asked for an update on Hamilton’s injury rehab, Dipoto said in a text message that there is “nothing new to add.”

Hamilton had alcohol-related relapses leading up to the 2009 and ’12 seasons, but those weren’t punishable by MLB. His most recent relapse, reportedly involving cocaine and alcohol, was his first known drug use since October 2005.

Hamilton went from a can’t-miss, blue-chip prospect to a drug addict who was out of baseball for four years to a perennial All-Star, an inspiring story that captivated the nation and brought hope to addicts everywhere. But the demons of addiction remained a daily struggle for Hamilton, who had an accountability partner with him at all times during the season until he downsized the role in 2014.

“I’m a drug addict,” Hamilton told USA Today in an interview shortly after being reinstated in June 2006. “It’s not terminal, but there is no cure. It’s hell on earth. It’s a constant struggle. And it’s going to be like that for the rest of my life.”

Two years after being drafted first overall by the Rays out of a Raleigh, N.C., high school in 1999, Hamilton began to experiment with drugs and alcohol while rehabbing injuries from a traffic accident. That led to taking the 2003 season off, then being suspended from 2004-06 for multiple failed drug tests.

Eight months sober, Hamilton was reinstated in June 2006, then went unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and ended up with the Reds, with whom he played his rookie season in 2007. He was dealt to the Rangers the following December, kicking off a five-year run during which he started in five straight All-Star Games, played in back-to-back World Series, hit a record 28 homers in the opening round of the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium and won the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

The Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract in December 2011, but didn’t get much in the first two years.

Hamilton batted .250 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 2013 and finished an injury-plagued 2014 season with a .263 batting average and 10 home runs in 89 games. Hamilton missed 10 weeks recovering from thumb surgery early in 2014, then spent almost all of September rehabbing injuries along his right side — shoulder, traps, chest, ribcage — and went 0-for-13 in an AL Division Series sweep to the Royals.

Doctors were hopeful that extra offseason rest would counteract the need for invasive procedures, but Hamilton’s arthritic right shoulder bothered him again once he started swinging full force, prompting surgery to repair his right AC joint on Feb. 4.

The recovery timeline was initially six to eight weeks, with Hamilton not expected back until May. Anticipating a likely suspension, the Angels didn’t issue Hamilton a locker at their Spring Training complex and didn’t have one designated for him at Angel Stadium on Thursday night, either.

Longtime teammate C.J. Wilson has been in touch with Hamilton and said, “I feel like he’s doing everything he can to get ready to play baseball again.”

The left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce is now slated to be the everyday left fielder and the right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron will get the majority of at-bats at designated hitter, with right-handed-hitting outfielder Collin Cowgill occasionally spelling Joyce against tough lefties.

“I think we’re deep enough on the offensive side that we should be OK,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday. “But you can’t plan on using what you don’t have. We’re going to take this one step at a time with Josh.”

The next step will be the toughest – the Angels must figure out how to fold Hamilton back in.

Alden

ST Game No. 6: Angels 5, Rangers 4 …

Ranger Angels Spring BaseballJohnny Giavotella hit a one-out double in the left-center field gap, moved to third on a single by Eric Staments and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers reliever Lisalverto Bonilla, giving the Angels a walk-off win after three straight losses in the ninth inning.

Most important thing: C.J. Cron, who figures to get most of the DH at-bats, hit a majestic home run that landed at the edge of the grass in left-center field. He’s 5-for-14 so far this spring.

Second-most important thing: Hector Santiago served up a two-run homer to Leonys Martin, but he issued no walks and said he only got in one three-ball count during his three-inning outing. That’s the most important factor for him.

Third-most important thing: Marc Krauss, who has an outside shot at winning a spot on the roster as an additional left-handed bat, hit a two-run shot to center field in the eighth.

Fourth-most important thing: Dark-horse rotation candidate Jose Alvarez had four baserunners, gave up two hits and allowed a run in the eighth inning. Perhaps even more telling: He only pitched one inning, and it was the eighth.

Fifth-most important thing: Scott Snodgress came in with two on and two outs in the fourth, got left-handed hitter Rougned Odor to line out and pitched a clean fifth inning. Jerry Dipoto identified Snodgress as his best lefty reliever prospect today, which sounds weird because he was signed as a Minor League free agent. But he’s only 25 and is still transitioning to the bullpen.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): To end the fourth, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus ranged deep in the hole, fielded an Alex Yarbrough grounder and retired him with a nice jump throw. He’s fun to watch.

Quotable: Santiago: “Last game I got a little amped up. This game, I was under control and it went exactly the way it went in the offseason [bullpen sessions].”

Alden

Dipoto: Hamilton ‘getting after it’ in injury rehab …

The Angels are still waiting word from Major League Baseball on a likely suspension for Josh Hamilton, who sources said had a drug-related relapse late in the offseason. There’s no sense for when a decision could come down, and general manager Jerry Dipoto still can’t comment on it.

For what it’s worth, though, Hamilton continues to rehab from surgery and is progressing towards baseball activities.

“What I understand from the [physical therapy] end of things is that he’s in there, he’s getting after it, he’s recovering very well,” Dipoto said. “I believe he’s taken a round of batting practice already. I don’t know if that’s ahead of schedule or on schedule, but he’s gone out and tried it. From what I understand, he’s recovering well and that part of the exercises is a net positive so far.”

That rehab, from surgery to his right AC joint in early February, could be meaningless, depending on how long MLB decides to suspend Hamilton. The Angels may eventually have to go find a bat, and will have the money to do so. But at the moment, Dipoto feels comfortable with the group he has and said he hasn’t really checked in on anybody.

Asked if he believes bats will be readily available in-season, Dipoto said, “It’s too early to tell. It’s really early. Even in the spring it’s really early. But there’s always guys available. It’s just a matter of what you have to give and what you’re willing to give. Right now we have a very flexible roster; we like our team. We’re not worried about the way the offense lines up.”

Daniel Robertson, CF
Collin Cowgill, RF
Matt Joyce, LF
David Freese, DH
C.J. Cron, 1B
Josh Rutledge, SS
Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Drew Butera, C
Taylor Featherston, 3B

SP: LH Hector Santiago

  • Garrett Richards threw to hitters in a live batting-practice session for the second time today, throwing somewhere in the vicinity of 40 pitches and taking a break at the midway point to simulate his normal time between innings. Dipoto watched the session and said his command is “pretty much” where it needs to be. “Physically, he’s probably ahead of 99 percent of the pitchers in Major League Baseball right now,” Dipoto added. “But we have to make concessions for where he’s been and take it day by day.” Richards could pitch in a game early next week.
  • Roberto Baldoquin is currently stuck in Haiti. The Cuban infielder initially established residency there, had to go back on Friday and has basically been sequestered in his hotel room while the government is in shutdown mode. He has all his paperwork to obtain his passport and come to the U.S., he just needs to have it physically in hand and can’t until the situation in Haiti gets settled. It could be any day, it could be a while.
  • Huston Street, Fernando Salas, Mike Morin, Vinnie Pestano, Jose Alvarez, Frank Herrmann, Danny Reynolds and Scott Snodgress are also slated to pitch on Tuesday. Joe Smith will make his first appearance later this week.
  • Freese is at DH because the Angels need to find someone who can be the backup third baseman. They don’t have a natural fit there at the moment. Featherston could help his chances greatly by showing well there this spring.

Alden

Some Spring Training reading material …

garrett_richards_stills7Pitchers and catchers report for their physicals on Thursday, and with that a new season officially begins. Physicals take place away from the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, so “report day” isn’t quite as eventful for the Angels as it is for other teams. But some players will trickle in, and Mike Scisocia will speak with the media later in the afternoon, shortly after meeting with his coaching staff.

Before all the madness begins, I thought I’d do my best to help you get caught up. Below is a list of previews, features and blog post from the offseason that you might have missed and are still timely with the start of Spring Training upon us.

You can see an updated 40-man roster here, a depth chart of where those 40 players fit in here, a list of non-roster invitees here, the Top 20 Prospects here and injury updates here. No changes were made to the coaching staff, but Tim Bogar was added to the front office and a variety of changes were made to the Minor League development staffs, with Keith Johnson reassigned and Dave Anderson, Johnny Narron and Pepperdine University product Chad Tracy among those hired.

Spring Training preview series

A look at players on the rebound
Examining the new faces
Prospects to watch
Angels are better for the future, but are they better in the present?
Projecting the lineup, rotation, ‘pen
Three big questions

Around The Horn

Catcher
Middle infield
Corner infield
Outfield
Rotation
Bullpen

Features

Pre-Spring Training Inbox
Story and video on Garrett Richards‘ recovery
On Matt Shoemaker‘s against-all-odds journey to the Rookie of the Year race
Chance to strengthen right leg has Albert Pujols excited
Jered Weaver has bulked up, wants to pitch deeper
Coaches believe Mike Trout can cut down on his strikeouts
Can Josh Hamilton bounce back?
Tyler Skaggs ‘bittersweet’ about start of Spring Training
Depth charts are at the heart of Angels’ strategy
An inside look at the pursuit of Roberto Baldoquin
How Andrew Heaney became the guy the Angels couldn’t pass up
Finally some representation in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects

Blogs

The Angels finally have some payroll flexibility
A look at how the Angels would look without Josh
Will Jerry Dipoto dabble in next winter’s premier class of FA starters?
Examining a tougher AL West
Talent on the Triple-A affiliate is on the rise
When will the Angels get their first Hall of Famer?
Video highlights of Trout’s best moments from the 2014 season

Alden

The Angels without Josh …

Josh HamiltonThe Angels announced Tuesday that Josh Hamilton will undergo surgery in the AC joint of his right shoulder, a procedure that comes with an estimated recovery time of six to eight weeks.

Eight weeks from Wednesday, which is when the surgery will take place in Texas, is April 1, still five days before Opening Day. But Jerry Dipoto called a return by Opening Day “a little aggressive.” In all likelihood, Hamilton will start the season on the disabled list and the Angels will hope to have him back at some point before the end of April.

Until then, a lineup that is already without Howie Kendrick — the man who filled in for Hamilton at the cleanup spot down the stretch last season — will try to carry on without him. Dipoto said the Angels will not be looking for outside help to fill his absence.

So, here’s my guess on how the Angels will stack up against righties in the meantime …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Matt Joyce, LF
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
C.J. Cron, DH
A 2B to be named later
Chris Iannetta, C

And against lefties …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Collin Cowgill, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
C.J. Cron, DH
A 2B to be named later
Chris Iannetta, C

Some additional things to keep in mind about Hamilton’s latest setback …

  • The Angels were looking at moving Trout to the No. 3 spot full time this year, with Joyce looking like an ideal candidate to bat second. But with the left-handed-hitting Hamilton out, the Angels may opt not to bat two left-handed-hitters, Calhoun and Joyce, back-to-back. They may prefer to spread them out and bat Joyce in the middle of the order, which would keep Trout in the No. 2 spot temporarily.
  • Though it wasn’t the main reason he was hired, the Angels were hoping that Hamilton could benefit from being around his old accountability partner, Johnny Narron, during Spring Training. But by the time Hamilton gets into baseball activities, Narron may be working with the Minor Leaguers, getting ready to be the hitting coach for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
  • What kind of impact can surgery have on Hamilton? One glaring positive and one glaring negative stick out. The torque of Hamilton’s left-handed swing led to arthritis in his shoulder in the first place, and a surgery like this — minimal as it may seem — could sap his power, in much of the same way right thumb surgery seemed to early in the season. On the positive side, Hamilton’s ailments in his right rib cage and upper back throughout September stemmed from aggravating his AC joint while fielding a liner off the wall on Sept. 4. Getting the shoulder taken care of may fix all of that.

That’s the Angels’ hope, at least.

Alden

Hamilton set for shoulder surgery; out 6-8 weeks …

The Angels announced Tuesday that Josh Hamilton will undergo surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder, a procedure that is expected to keep him out for six to eight weeks and makes him doubtful for Opening Day.

Hamilton’s AC joint was considered the main culprit of a slew of ailments that plagued his right side throughout September, a month in which he played in just one of the Angels’ last 23 regular-season games before going 0-for-13 in the American League Division Series.

The 33-year-old outfielder was told to take some extra time to rest this offseason, hoping that could counteract the need for surgery, but shoulder pain flared up again once his batting-practice sessions intensified.

“It didn’t bother him throughout the offseason,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said “He went into his offseason training and never had an issue until last week, when he started swinging full throttle again.”

The surgery – to performed Wednesday at Texas Metroplex Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, by Dr. Keith Meister – is expected to last about 15 minutes and will consist of shaving Hamilton’s AC joint in order to relieve tension.

Hamilton has been suffering from arthritis in his shoulder for a while, a result of the torque of his left-handed swing.

Dipoto called a return by Opening Day “probably a little aggressive,” but didn’t rule it out entirely. The likely scenario is that Hamilton starts the season on the disabled list, then returns at some point in April. Hamilton can begin baseball activities as soon as Feb. 24, but there’s no telling exactly when that will take place.

There’s also no telling how a surgically repaired right shoulder will impact a left-handed power hitter.

Hamilton batted .250 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 151 games in his first season with the Angels in 2013, then played in just 89 games in 2014, batting .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in a season that saw him undergo surgery to his right thumb.

The 2015 season is the third of a five-year, $125 million contract.

“Nobody wants to perform more than Josh,” Dipoto said. “We want him to perform, we want him to be good. He knows that, we know that. I can’t sit here and express my frustration that he’s hurt. My primary focus is to get him in a position where he’s no longer hurt, then we’ll work through the baseball performance. I know he had a frustrating season, and some, if not all, can be attributed to this issue.”

Alden 

The Angels and next winter’s free-agent starters …

David PriceBarring 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.”

Alden

No Spring Training for Baldoquin, etc. …

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.

Alden

The tougher AL West …

canotroutThe American League West was tough last year — by a very reliable measure, it was the toughest by a wide margin — and it should be even more difficult for the Angels to capture a division title in 2015.

In a nutshell, three of their competitors should be better and one of them could be just as good.

The Mariners added Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith to a club with an outstanding rotation and a bullpen that had the fourth-lowest WHIP in baseball last year. The Astros have added Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Hank Conger, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to an emerging young core. The Rangers added Carlos Corporan and Yovani Gallardo to a star-studded roster that will be healthier. (I mean, they can’t get any more injured, right?) The A’s have shuffled the deck, and while they parted ways with Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris in prospect-laden deals, they also added Billy Butler, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard, and now — amazingly — figure to be just as much of a threat in 2015.

The Angels’ offseason could best be described by some imagery general manager Jerry Dipoto recently used, while talking about the industry in general: “The beautiful thing about baseball is that it’s kind of like the ocean. It looks the same, but it changes every millisecond.”

On the outside, the Angels’ Major League roster essentially looks the same, minus Howie Kendrick and Kevin Jepsen but with Matt Joyce and Cesar Ramos. Their biggest change came in their farm system, as Dipoto continued to build layers of depth to make the Angels more sustainable moving forward. In other words, they’re definitely better for the future, but they may not be better — and may even be worse — for 2015.

The AL West ranked second in combined win-loss records last year …

AL East: +12
AL West: +10
NL Central: +8
AL Central: +4
NL East: -2
NL West: -32

But was easily No. 1 in run-differential …

AL West: +140
AL East: +29
NL East: +21
AL Central: -62
NL Central: -63
NL West: -65

That was with the Rangers ranking dead last at minus-136 and the Astros 27th at minus-94. It’s a pretty safe bet that both Texas teams will be better than that; probably way better than that.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen in 2015, of course, but we can sure try. I used Steamer’s Wins Above Replacement projections for each AL West team’s starting lineup, top four starters and best three relievers. Below is the projected fWAR for each team’s 16 most important players (for the Angels I included Garrett Richards; for the Rangers I included Jurickson Profar; for the A’s I included A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker) …

Mariners: 33.4
Angels: 32.6
A’s: 29.2
Rangers: 27.7
Astros: 23.4

Steamer can’t account for any freak injuries that may occur, or in-season additions that can be made, or all sorts of other randomness that occurs throughout every baseball season. But I think it’s a pretty good general overview of where teams stand.

It’ll be interesting.

If you’re curious, here’s what Steamer projected for each Angels player, ordered by highest fWAR: Trout (8.7), Aybar (3.1), Calhoun (3.1), Pujols (3), Iannetta (2.7), Richards (2.3), Freese (1.8), Hamilton (1.7), Wilson (1.4), Shoemaker (1.3), Joyce (1.2), Rutledge (1.1), Weaver (0.8), Smith (0.3), Morin (0.1), Street (0).

Alden

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