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Which questions will be answered in Spring Training?




By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

As an aside, while there has been some confusion about Minasian's plan, I think it is pretty clear at this point: to raise the floor of performance, and hope that the premier talent already on the team actualizes itself better. Or to use another metaphor, he's patching holes in the boat. But he's not upgrading the engine....why? Presumably because of payroll considerations and the impending sale, but also - and adequately enough as an explanation - the engine itself is already pretty good, it just had problems last year. Raising the floor not only fills out the gaps in the roster with better players than last year, but it also means better replacements in the eventuality of injury.

Meaning, the Angels already have star power: Trout and Ohtani are still among the very best in the game, and if you squint just right, a healthy Rendon would still be pretty good; and Sandoval and Detmers are emerging studs. And we can dream on what Ward might do, bounce-backs from Stassi and Walsh, and a solid secondary group of new and old players like Rengifo, Fletcher, and some of the new guys.

Which brings me to the question of the thread. If we assume that Minasian is done with significant moves, aside from a small move here and there, what questions remain that won't be answered in ST, but also will presumably be answered then?

Here's the chart from the 26-Man Roster thread:


Looking at that, I think the questions that will be answered in spring are:

Who will the second catcher be?  

This will depend on how everyone looks in ST. We assume that Stassi has the starting gig, but what if he looks like he did last year and O'Hoppe looks great? Or if Stassi is fine, do they roll the dice on Thaiss's defense as back-up and put O'Hoppe in AAA? Or do we see them go with Wallach?

Who will be the (and will there be a) fourth outfielder? 

One would assume Adell will start in AAA (again), but I could go either way on Moniak. I think the best thing for him would be to a get a month or so of regular playing time, and then be called up in May or June. But who will they go with, if anyone? They could carry another infielder (Lamb, Soto, or Velazquez) and use one of the infielders as the 4th outfielder.

Who is the sixth starter?

There have been rumors that the Angels will go with a five-man rotation but even if they do they'll probably still have someone start when there are no off-days during the week. My estimate for that is April 22: That's the first day that Ohtani's spot (assuming he pitches on Opening Day) would come up without having had a day off since his last start. Similarly with the following week, April 28th.

So my guess would be that whether or not they go for a five or six man rotation, they don't really need a sixth starter until April 22, three weeks into the season. By that point, they'll have some data on guys like Chris Rodriguez and Griffin Canning, and see how rusty they look in live games. Right now is probably is probably Davidson or Silseth, but the former has limited upside and the latter could use a bit more seasoning.

What does the back-end of the bullpen look like?

I imagine the bullpen will be a work in progress for at least the first couple months, and there will be lots of fantasy baseball-esque "streaming" of players in the bullpen all year, with a ton of options. Later on, the Angels will want to at least get a look at prospects like Bush, Erla, Joyce, Murphy, Torres, Bachman, etc.


Meaning, I think the dark red players in the chart are all set - locks to start the year on the roster (barring a spring injury). That's 21 players. So we're still looking at five slots: a catcher, a bench hitter who can play outfield, and three pitchers, which I'm guessing will be three relievers on Opening Day, with a sixth starter called up when needed.

There's of course the big question of When will the team sale go through and who will the new owner be (and what will be their strategy)? But that isn't a question specific to spring training. 


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