Results tagged ‘ Mariners ’

An encouraging outing for Hector Santiago …

Hector SantiagoHector Santiago‘s Angels career started off 0-2, with eight earned runs in 9 1/3 innings through two starts against the Mariners.

He needed a change.

So he took the mound against the A’s on Monday with his socks up high for the first time.

“You gotta change it up sometimes,” Santiago said, trying to crack a smile despite a crushing 3-2 loss. “Actually, it was kind of scary, because the last two times I did that with the White Sox it didn’t go so well.”

The more tangible difference was that Santiago had much better command in the opener of a three-game series, while pitching seven innings of one-run ball in what ended up being a no-decision because of John Jaso‘s two-run, ninth-inning homer off Ernesto Frieri. Against an A’s team that came in ranked third in the American League in walks, Santiago — with his career walk rate at 4.6 — didn’t issue a free pass until the seventh inning and didn’t allow much hard contact besides Yoenis Cespedes‘ fourth-inning solo homer.

Santiago felt “more in control of myself,” and that was particularly obvious while working out of jams in the sixth and seventh.

The Angels’ defense extended Santiago’s inning in the sixth, when Erick Aybar had a tough time reading Craig Gentry’s liner off the bat and Albert Pujols threw high of second on an ensuing pickoff. But Santiago got Jed Lowrie to line out and struck out Josh Donaldson for his third punchout. The A’s put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Santiago induced a flyout of Nick Punto and came back from down 3-0 to get Josh Reddick to pop out behind the plate.

This was the kind of outing the 26-year-old left-hander badly needed.

“Definitely; there’s no doubt,” Santiago said after lowering his ERA from 7.71 to 4.96. “Coming into today I was like, ‘I need some positive [momentum] moving forward. [First start of the season], I was antsy, man. I had a lot of adrenaline going. First game as an Angel. Last game I think I was just like, ‘OK, forget about it and let’s attack. Let’s go at ‘em, let’s go as hard as I can as long as I can.’ Today I was like, ‘Let’s attack, but let’s be under control.’ I took a little bit from each of those first two games and made it work in this game.”

And for next game, the high socks will return.

“Oh, there’s no doubt,” Santiago said. “I’m going to stick with it until it tells me not to. … I love the look, you know. I love the look for sure. And sometimes you just have to mix it up.”

Alden

Hamilton can start swinging again by Friday …

joshAngels outfielder Josh Hamilton was back at the ballpark for the first time on Monday, three days after undergoing surgery on his left thumb that’s expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks.

Hamilton will have his stitches removed on Friday, while also getting the hard cast around his left thumb replaced with a removable splint. He can’t do any rehab with his finger until May 2, but he can start running, lifting, swinging off a tee with his bottom hand — the most important hand for a hitter — and “doing all the things I need to do to keep in shape” when he gets the stitches removed on Friday.

Hamilton, who got back to about 240 pounds over the offseason, isn’t concerned about losing muscle during his rehab, saying: “It’s only a week, and then I’ll get my stitches out and I’ll be able to start doing leg workouts and body workouts. You can do a lot of stuff without gripping a barbell, so I don’t see that being a problem.”

He won’t travel with the team in its upcoming three-city trip through Detroit, Washington and New York, and the Angels are planning to have Hamilton go to Arizona to do some baseball activities while they’re in Toronto from May 9-11.

“I’m not going to put a time frame on it,” Hamilton said of his recovery. “I’m just going to do what I need to do as far as listening to the doctor as far as keeping it stable for the first two or three weeks, and then after that, once they tell me it’s healed, I’ll start doing rehab and being aggressive with it.”

Hamilton suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and also a torn capsule when he banged his left thumb into first base during a headfirst slide in the seventh inning at Safeco Field on Wednesday. It was a major loss for an Angels lineup that could be without its cleanup hitter and main power supply from the left slide until June. And it’s a major blow to Hamilton, who was named co-American League Player of the Week to start the season and was batting .444/.545/.741 through his first 33 plate appearances.

“I felt like my old self – my 2010, ’11, ’12 self,” Hamilton said in a press conference prior to the series opener against the A’s from Angel Stadium. “That’s why it’s my bummer, but there’s no reason why I can’t come back and still feel like that.”

Hamilton said he “reassessed” his headfirst slide as soon as he saw the replay, and in hindsight understands shouldn’t have done it. Asked if he’ll avoid sliding headfirst into first base moving forward, Hamilton, who has done it several times throughout his career, said: “I ain’t gonna make any promises.”

“What I’ve learned is no matter what you do, if something goes bad, you’re going to catch criticism,” Hamilton said. “When it goes good, no big deal. It just helps you guys write about a bunch of other stuff, so, you’re welcome.”

Some pregame notes …

  • Sean Burnett is with the team at home and was planning to play catch on Monday, after being shut down after his simulated game in Arizona on April 5. Burnett said he had some swelling around his left elbow that has since subsided. Nobody really knew the cause of it, but the lefty reliever plans to get off a mound again in a couple of days and doesn’t believe he’ll have to undergo surgery again.
  • David Freese (.458 OPS) started the season batting ahead of Howie Kendrick (.621), but over Freese’s last two starts — he sat on Sunday — Angels manager Mike Scioscia has flipped his two right-handed hitters. Asked what’s wrong with Freese, Scioscia said: “I think he’s trying to get comfortable in the box. There are some things I think he wants to get comfortable with in his stance to find some things and let him get to pitches easier. He’s working hard with Dave Hansen and Paul Sorrento on that. I think he just needs at-bats right now. But this guy’s going to hit. David’s going to hit.”
  • Kole Calhoun batted ninth on Saturday and fifth on Sunday, but he was right back in the leadoff spot against a right-hander on Monday, after his first multi-hit game of the season. My sense is Scioscia will hit Calhoun there against righties and Collin Cowgill at leadoff against lefties, at least for now.
  • On Dane De La Rosa, back in Triple-A after his velocity was surprisingly low in his 2014 debut on Saturday, Scioscia said he’s “getting evaluated on some medical things and having some tests.” “He feels good, he says he feels healthy, so I think you just want to explore why some of his velo is down,” Scioscia added. “Once he’s ready, I know he’s going to get right back on the horse. And Dane De La Rosa is going to be a big part of our bullpen. It’s just going to take a little more time.”

Athletics (8-4)

Craig Gentry, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Derek Norris, C
Alberto Callaspo, DH
Nick Punto, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Daric Barton, 1B

SP: RHP Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.38 ERA)

Angels (6-6)

Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Kendrick, 2B
Freese, 3B
J.B. Shuck, LF
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LHP Hector Santiago (0-2, 7.71 ERA)

Alden

Moran to have Tommy John, out for year …

Reliever Brian Moran is slated to undergo Tommy John surgery, a surgical procedure that typically carries a 12-month recovery, the Angels announced on Tuesday.

The Angels acquired Moran in the Rule 5 Draft this past December, with reasonable hope that he could be an important situational lefty in their bullpen and thus be the first Rule 5 pick to stick on their roster since Derrick Turnbow in 2000.

But Moran, 25, made only four appearances in Spring Training before feeling discomfort in his left elbow around mid-March. He began playing catch shortly thereafter, but was never able to take the next step and throw off a mound again.

In 2009, the Mariners – hosting the Angels for a two-game set starting Tuesday – drafted Moran in the seventh round. And in five years in their organization, the southpaw posted a 3.06 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 4.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while holding opposing lefties to a .594 OPS last season.

The Angels got him during the most recent Winter Meetings, in a pre-arranged deal with the Blue Jays.

Rule 5 picks must be offered back to their original teams if not on the active roster, unless they’re on the disabled list. The Angels can open up a spot on the 40-man roster by transferring Moran to the 60-day DL. But he’ll be with the organization all year, while merely rehabbing.

Alden

Angels facing RISP troubles again …

Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Chris IannettaThe Angels are struggling to hit with runners in scoring position out of the gate, just like they did last year.

Maybe that means you shouldn’t worry?

In 2013, the Angels had just 10 hits in their first 79 at-bats with runners in scoring position, good for a .127 batting average that ranked last in the Majors through the first nine games. By the end of the year, though, that number rose to .264, good for 10th in the Majors.

So, take what you will out of the Angels going 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position in a series-opening sweep to the Mariners.

“We talk about what parts of our team right now you need to apply patience to and what parts you need to adjust, and we need to be patient there,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’ll happen.”

Hitters will tell you it’s a lot more difficult to bat with runners in scoring position, because of the pressure of the situation and because the opposing pitcher is bearing down. But small sample sizes can be particularly deceiving in this circumstance. Many believe that over time, results with runners in scoring position – similar to results in the postseason – will reflect a player’s general track record over long enough stretches.

“Not hitting with runners in scoring position is really a function of guys not really being comfortable at the box right now for the first 10, 15 at-bats,” Scioscia said. “It’s going to go hand-in-hand where you’re not comfortable and you’re not hitting that some of those situations will find you and you may not get hits in it. But I don’t think it’s a problem at all with the approach.”

The Angels stressed situational hitting in Spring Training, with hitting coach Don Baylor calling out specific situations during batting practice. But acting that out in a regular-season game, in front of sold-out crowds and with a Major League pitcher taking it to another level with guys on base, isn’t really something can be simulated.

“You can talk about situations every day,” right fielder Kole Calhoun said, “but when you get in that situation, I don’t think there’s anything that can simulate it.

“This is a potent lineup. We ain’t clicking yet, but we will soon.”

Alden

De La Rosa, Burnett throw in sim game …

Dane De La RosaKey Angels relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett took important steps in their respective rehab programs while taking part in simulated games at Angel Stadium early Wednesday afternoon.

Not a moment too soon.

The Angels’ bullpen has started the year by giving up eight runs over six innings through the first two games, with closer Ernesto Frieri and setup man Joe Smith sitting idly by as the middle relievers struggled to keep small deficits manageable. On Monday, Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs in the ninth. On Tuesday, Michael Kohn gave up two more in the ninth.

But by the time the Angels play their next home game — on April 11 against the Mets, following a six-game road trip through Houston and Seattle — De La Rosa expects to be back.

“I’m getting antsy,” said De La Rosa, who’s working his way back from a right forearm strain suffered on March 6. “When we get everybody healthy, together at the same time, we’re going to be a shutdown bullpen.”

Before April comes to an end, Burnett — limited to 13 games last year, recovering from August elbow surgery — also hopes to return, giving the Angels a critical late-inning lefty reliever.

“I just want to get out there and play,” Burnett said. “I’m a baseball player. It’s been what I’ve doing since I was a little kid. I’m itching to get back out there.”

De La Rosa, who has already taken part in a couple of Minor League games, threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen and 25 more to hitters knew what was coming ahead of time. When the Angels hit the road, De La Rosa will venture out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas in hopes of being activated by next Friday.

Burnett threw 30-some-odd pitches in the bullpen and another 15 in the sim game. It was his first time facing hitters since May 26, 2013, and called it “the biggest hurdles I think I can possibly clear.” He’ll throw in another sim game in Arizona in two days, then hope to go out on a rehab assignment after that.

“I couldn’t throw the ball much better than I did today,” Burnett said. “Now it’s just arm strength, building up to 25, 30 pitches.”

Here are the lineups for the series finale, with the tarp currently on the field …

Mariners (2-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C
Willie Bloomquist, 3B

SP: LH James Paxton (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-2)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

Moving on without ‘Groove’ …

Don BaylorWhen Angels coaches passed the phone around late Monday night, shortly after a 10-3 Opening Day loss to the Mariners, Don Baylor‘s first reaction from UCI Medical Center was, “How’d our hitters do?”

When Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead checked in on Tuesday morning, hours before he would undergo surgery for a fractured right femur, Baylor had just one question: “What do you think is the best way to get me in the clubhouse on crutches?”

“That’s the kind of guy we’re dealing with, man,” said Angels assistant coach Dave Hansen, who played for the Mariners when Baylor was the hitting coach there in 2005 and will now take over for him on the interim.

“Don’s one tough guy,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia added. “He’s not giving in to anything. He wants to get back and help us. He’ll get this done and we’ll see exactly where he is, what he can do.”

Baylor underwent surgery at about 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, but results aren’t available just yet. Recovery time for a fractured femur is usually a minimum of 12 weeks, and may be longer for somebody who’s 64 years old and was previously afflicted by multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow.

But Baylor is cut from a different cloth.

“He’s one tough dude,” Hansen said.

“Knowing Don, he’ll want to come on the next road trip,” Scioscia said. “He’s going to have an impact for sure — watching video, texting, staying connected – whether he’s here or not.”

Baylor crouched down for Vladimir Guerrero‘s ceremonial first pitch on Monday night, his left knee on the dirt. The throw came in a little low, a little outside and a little fast, and Baylor’s weight shifted to the right side and caused his right leg to practically buckle underneath him (video can be found here, but it’s pretty graphic). He remained stoic, slowly tried to get up, but his right leg gave out, prompting the Angels’ training staff to rush out to the field and help him off it. Three innings later, he was taken to the hospital.

Minor League hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento has been summoned by the organization to help out on the Major League coaching staff. Rick Eckstein, a hitting coach with the Nationals the previous five years, will continue in his role as player information coach. Hansen will run the meetings, but said his workload shouldn’t change too much.

The greatest void will be Baylor’s presence.

“He brings a natural presence,” Hansen said. “He just has that about him. Plus he’s done so much on the field that demands that, too. MVP, so many years in the game, done so many things. That’s a pretty big presence. I can’t explain what the void will be. I’m just hoping he’ll be around enough to keep his presence felt.”

Mariners (1-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
John Buck, C

SP: RH Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-1)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

Vladimir Guerrero retiring with the Angels …

vladVladimir Guerrero isn’t just throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Opening Day today.

He’s signing a one-day contract, so that he can officially retire with the Angels.

Guerrero is one of two players in Angels history to win an MVP, along with Don Baylor, who will catch the first pitch. Guerrero signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Angels in January 2004,won the American League MVP in his first year and spent six of his 16 seasons with the Angels, batting .319/.381/.546 with 173 home runs and 616 RBIs.

If Guerrero enters the Hall of Fame — he’s got a good chance, with a career .318/.379/.553 slash line, 449 homers, 181 stolen bases and one of the greatest arms in history — he could be the first to enter as an Angel. But he could also go in as a Montreal Expo (.323/.390/.580 with 234 homers in his first eight seasons).

Guerrero batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs with the Rangers in 2010, then .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs with the Orioles in 2011, which ended up being his last season.

Here are the Opening Day lineups …

Mariners (0-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Logan Morrison, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Michael Saunders, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C

SP: RH Felix Hernandez (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-0)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Jered Weaver (0-0, -.– ERA)

Some pregame notes …

  • Mike Scioscia is happy to report that he’s lost 40 1/2 pounds since Nov. 1, “and I’ve got 25 more to go.”
  • In case you missed it, the A’s signed Joe Blanton to a Minor League contract. In semi-related news, the Mets signed Bobby Abreu to a Minor League deal.
  • Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) threw an inning in a Minor League game on Thursday and Saturday and is slated to pitch in a sim game at Angel Stadium on Tuesday, just before venturing out on a rehab assignment. He looks lined up to be activated by the time the Angels return from a six-game trip, for the April 11 home game against the Mets.
  • Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) expects to pitch in a sim game on Wednesday, then probably head to Arizona to appear in games there. On not being active for Opening Day, Burnett said, “Yeah, it’s frustrating, but we’re going in the right direction.”
  • Brian Moran (left elbow inflammation) is playing catch in Arizona, and Scioscia said he’s “close” to getting off a mound. Moran hasn’t since appearing in a game on March 12.

Alden

Door is open for a fast Angels start …

A strong belief in one’s roster is usually followed by a phrase like “as long as we stay healthy.”

Well, the American League West is anything but to start the season. The Rangers are littered with injuries, with starter Derek Holland (right knee), second baseman Jurickson Profar (right shoulder) and catcher Geovany Soto (knee) all out until midseason and Yu Darvish (neck) starting the year on the disabled list. A’s Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will miss all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin (right flexor muscle strain) is on the shelf. And the Mariners — in town the next three days — have two starters on the DL in Hisashi Iwakuma (right middle finger) and Taijuan Walker (right shoulder).

The door is wide open for the Angels.

Mike Scioscia, Jerry DipotoThey’ve had the fourth-worst April winning percentage the last two years, crippling any chances they had of reaching the playoffs. But of the Angels’ 27 games through the month of April this year, only nine will come against teams that made the playoffs in 2013. Four will come against an Astros team that has lost 100 games three straight years (though, granted, they won 10 of 19 games against the Angels last year), and three will come against the Mets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. But there’s one really tough swing — a three-city trip from April 18-27, which will see the Angels visit the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees.

The Angels will also be off in each of their first six Thursdays. Yes, you’d rather have the days off at the end of the year, but a fast start is crucial this year, and those off days certainly won’t hurt that cause.

In hopes of facilitating a better start, the Angels tweaked their Spring Training program. Position players took more swings and focused more on situational hitting. Starting pitchers were stretched out earlier. Relievers attacked their bullpens more aggressively. Live BP was re-introduced after a one-year hiatus. And more shifting is taking place defensively, after the Angels went from 2nd to 27th in Defensive Runs Saved over the course of one season.

One year after having by far the worst Spring Training record and ERA in the Majors, the Angels had a much better camp. Here’s a look at the numbers …

Record: 19-11-2, 2nd in the Cactus League
Runs: 190, 4th in MLB
OPS: .803, 3rd in MLB
SP ERA: 4.01, 11th in MLB
RP WHIP: 4.20, 4th in MLB

Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Kole CalhounPositives from camp: Albert Pujols looked light on his feet around the bag and on the bases. … Josh Hamilton quickly got his timing back after missing time with a strained left hamstring. … Tyler Skaggs was mostly sitting at 95 mph, after having a hard time touching 90 mph last year. … Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun — batting ninth and first, respectively, and ahead of Mike Trout — drew a combined 21 walks. … C.J. Wilson had a 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. … Ernesto Frieri didn’t allow a run in 10 outings. … Trout batted .414/.460/.828. … The Angels rid themselves of two potential distractions, releasing Joe Blanton and signing Trout to the much-talked-about extension. … Out-of-options infielder Andrew Romine was turned into much-needed starting-pitching depth in Jose Alvarez.

Negatives from camp: Sean Burnett is still working his way back from August surgery, but he’s expected to face hitters for the first time in a sim game on Tuesday or Wednesday. … Dane De La Rosa is starting the season on the DL with a right forearm strain, but he could be back as soon as the weekend series in Houston. … Brian Moran is working his way back from left elbow inflammation, leaving Nick Maronde (1.89 Cactus League WHIP) as the only lefty in the bullpen to start the year. … Skaggs and Hector Santiago had their occasional long innings, an indication that there will be some growing pains. … Newcomers David Freese (one extra-base hit) and Raul Ibanez (.218 batting average) didn’t have great results at the plate, but both were happy with the way they were driving the ball.

Now, what does all this mean for the regular season?

I have no idea.

***

The Angels’ depth chart can be found here.

Now, if you’ve followed baseball long enough you know that a team never goes an entire season with the same 25-man roster (or even the same five-man rotation). So, here’s a look at who’s next in line at every position …

Catcher: Luis Martinez
Third base: Luis Jimenez
Shortstop: Tommy Field
Second base: Grant Green
First base: C.J. Cron
Left field: J.B. Shuck
Center field: Matt Long
Right field: Brennan Boesch
Starter: Wade LeBlanc or Alvarez
Reliever: Brandon Lyon

***

Mike TroutOn that Trout contract

For months, many wondered how much Trout would be worth in the open market and speculated what it would cost to lock up the best all-around player in baseball. They put his three arbitration years at upwards of $60 million, had him pegged as a $35 million free agent and believed he could be baseball’s first $300-million player.

But three are three important things to keep in mind about Trout’s situation …

1. He isn’t in his free-agent years yet. He still needed to get through three arbitration years, which greatly limits how much a player can make.

2. Being a $300-million player would’ve probably required a 10-year, contract, and that wouldn’t have been ideal because Trout wants to cash in on another monster contract by hitting the open market before age 30.

3. There’s just as much incentive for Trout as there is for the Angels, no matter how great he is. Why? Because free agency is a whole four years away, a lot can happen in four years, and it’s hard to turn down that much financial security so early.

So, Trout’s contract is $144.5 million over the course of six seasons, from 2015-20 (with a full no-trade clause, basic incentives and no additional option years or opt-outs). And I think it gives both sides what they want. It gives the Angels three additional years of Trout and some cost-certainty. It gives Trout a chance to be a free agent again at age 29 and makes him the highest-paid player relative to service time at every juncture.

Here’s a look at the year-by-year breakdown, and who Trout surpasses …

2014: $1M (Pujols in 2003 and Ryan Howard in ’07 with $900K for a pre-arbitration player)*
2015: $10.25M (Howard, $10M in ’08 for first-year arbitration)**
2016: $15.25M (Howard, $15M in ’09 for second-year arbitration)
2017: $19.25M (Howard, $19M in ’10 for third-year arbitration)
2018-20: $33.25M (Miguel Cabrera, $31M AAV in ’14 for a free agent)

* the $1M compensation was done before the contract
** $5M of that will be paid to Trout in 2014, as part of a signing bonus

***

Jered WeaverSome questions, answered …

Can the Angels stay competitive for the next seven seasons to keep Trout’s interest in the team? (@ryanwjsmyth)

One of the reasons Trout felt comfortable staying with the Angels long term is because he knows the owner, Arte Moreno, isn’t afraid to put his money into making this team competitive. One thing is for sure: The Angels will not be in rebuild mode over the life of Trout’s contract, or even while Moreno is around. But it’ll be harder and harder to stay below the luxury tax and put a World Series-contending product on the field as Hamilton and Pujols naturally decline. Jerry Dipoto has a tough task at hand — continue to build a contending team while also developing young pitching. Getting Santiago and Skaggs is a good start, though. Also, keep in mind: Trout’s decision to stay will be based more on how good the Angels can be after 2020, not necessarily what they’ve done leading up to it.

Will Albert Pujols hit 30+ home runs this season? (@adreamersview)

If healthy, I think you can bank on that. He hit 30 in 2012 even though he went a month and a half without hitting his first (and I don’t expect that to happen again). Plantar fasciitis didn’t just limit his defense and baserunning. It made his right knee, surgically repaired the previous offseason, swell up. And it sapped his power because a hitter is nothing without a healthy base. I’m never going to doubt Pujols’ ability to hit. He’s proven it long enough.

If the Angels make a run for the postseason what do you see them doing at the trade deadline? (@gizmosol)

Trying to get their hands on more starting pitching. Justin Masterson and Max Scherzer are heading into their final seasons before free agency, Cliff Lee and David Price may get shopped, and all sorts of other starters could become available in July. The Angels still have roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold that they’re willing to use. Yes, the farm system is still pretty barren. But the list of teams in the market for a starting-pitching rental in July is usually very short, and the Angels could dangle Cron or Taylor Lindsey or Kaleb Cowart or some of their (few) good pitching prospects if they feel they’re close (and hope for a better result than the 2012 trade for Zack Greinke).

***

Here are some links to our Opening Day coverage …

The Angels 2014 Season preview
Jered Weaver gets franchise-record sixth Opening Day nod
Ibanez reflects on what Opening Day means to him
Broadcaster Jose Mota talks about the upcoming season

Some feature stories from earlier in the spring, in case you missed them …

Weaver leads rotation’s quest for redemption
Pujols, Hamilton facing more doubt than ever
Mike Scioscia eager to reclaim winning formula
John McDonald “a magician” with the glove
The odyssey of De La Rosa, and a lesson in never giving up
Trout can’t believe how fast this is all happening

Alden

ST Game 19: Mariners 5, Angels 3 …

C.J. WilsonMost important thing: C.J. Wilson gave up two runs and faced eight batters in the first inning, but rebounded in the next four frames, retiring 12 of 15 batters (including five on strikeouts) in a 91-pitch, five-plus-inning outing. Wilson was charged with four runs (two earned) and has a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings this spring.

Second-most important thing: The Angels had all their starters (minus Josh Hamilton and Raul Ibanez) in the lineup against 25-year-old Cuban left-hander Roenis Elias, but they didn’t do much. Erick Aybar went 2-for-3 with a triple, Chris Iannetta had a long sacrifice fly and David Freese notched an RBI single. That was pretty much it.

Third-most important thing: It came mostly against Mariners prospects, but Michael Kohn had a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts — three days after giving up three runs and recording only two outs against the White Sox.

Fourth-most important thing: Kole Calhoun subbed in for Albert Pujols in the sixth and got his first action at first base this spring. He immediately let a hard grounder go by him, then made a bad flip to Fernando Salas two innings later. Not easy going from outfield to first base from one inning to the next, especially when you haven’t seen much action there all spring. It’ll be Ibanez’s turn tomorrow.

Fifth-most important thing: Salas gave up a solo homer to Tyler Smith in the eighth. It was only the second run he’s given up in six one-inning outings this spring.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): With one out in the eighth, Calhoun cleanly fielded an Humberto Quintero grounder, but flipped low and wide of Salas as he Mexican reliever sprinted to cover first. Salas dove, toughed the bag with his glove, rolled, and luckily was not injured on the play.

Best quote: Wilson, on the ideal number of innings for a starter: “Your goal is to go out there and throw like eight, realistically. It’s a nice, round number. Like a snowman.

Angels’ record: 8-9-2

Alden

ST Game 13: Mariners 10, Angels 6 …

C.J. WilsonMost important thing: C.J. Wilson was solid once again, giving up only one unearned run in five innings and — most importantly for him — issuing zero walks. The Angels’ No. 2 starter hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last two starts, spanning nine innings. This was already Wilson’s second time facing the division-rival Mariners this spring, and he’s slated to see them a third time in five days. Weird.

Second-most important thing: A call was overturned, with Andrew Romine‘s bobble of a force out at second going from an out to a safe call after umpire’s reviewed the replay in the eighth inning. Afterwards, Mike Scioscia spent about 15 minutes talking to umpire Dale Scott to get some clarity on the transfer. With replay now used to confirm, umpires will be more strict with how they call outs on bobbled transfers. Now, Scioscia said, you have to have the ball in your bare hand and out of your glove in order for it to be ruled an out. “Before,” Scioscia added, “it was called really loosely where if you had the ball in your glove and you moved your glove to get it to your bare hand, it was [called an out]. That’s going to change the mechanics of how you turn a double play.”

Third-most important thing: Matt Long, who’s really putting an imprint on this spring, went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one day after going 4-for-5. I still think he’s a longshot to make the team, with J.B. Shuck, Collin Cowgill and Brennan Boesch all ahead of him. But it’s not like this is some fluke. Long has hit at every level in the Minor Leagues (look it up), and he’s very versatile, playing all three outfield positions and second base while batting left-handed. It could get interesting if he keeps this up.

Fourth-most important thing: Albert Pujols made his third diving stop at first base in the first inning, then hit an RBI double in the second that was the first time I’ve seen him really square up the ball all spring.

Fifth-most important thing: Erick Aybar drew another walk today. He now has seven in eight games this spring, a good sign for the speedy shortstop who typically doesn’t display much patience.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Grant Green, who spent all nine innings at third base, ranged slightly to his left to snag a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Humberto Quintero in the fifth. It wasn’t a spectacular play, but it’s a difficult one for someone who isn’t used to playing the hot corner and having to react so quickly.

Best quote: Wilson: “I need to learn to be more efficient. Today was a good example of that. I didn’t walk anybody, so I was popping apple-cider ginger ale in the dugout for that one.”

Angels’ record: 5-7-1

Alden

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