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Taking stock as we approach spring training (and my take on the Perry Minasian Plan, v. 2024)


Chuck

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By Jonathon Northrop, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

So its February 5th and pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks. Let's take stock of Perry's moves and where the Angels might go from here.

Perry's made no major acquisitions - no starting pitchers, no positions players, only bench and bullpen guys. The team as it stands looks to be something like this (with likely 26-man roster in bold and potential first call-ups in parentheses):

C - O'Hoppe, Thaiss (Mejia, Wallach)

IF - Schanuel, Drury, Neto, Rendon, Rengifo, Sano (White, Stefanic, Soto, Lopez, Martin)

OF - Trout, Ward, Moniak, Adell, Hicks (Dozier, Calhoun)

SP - Detmers, Sandoval, Canning, Anderson, Silseth (Plesac, Rosenberg, Bachman, Daniel, Mederos)

RP - Estevez, Stephenson, Moore, Soriano, Cimber, Garcia, Joyce, Ciserno (Suarez, Quijada, Warren, Wantz, Herget, Caceres)

We can quibble with my choices for the 26-man -- maybe Sano doesn't make the cut and they insert White, or maybe Plesac starts the year in the rotation instead of Silseth, or Dozier as a starting OF with Moniak as 4OF, or the bullpen is slightly different. We enter spring training with some interesting roster battles. But including the guys in parentheses, I think I've included all the players who are candidates to start the year on the big league club.

So again, there are no big splashes, just some solid bench and bullpen acquisitions. Given that, it seems we're seeing one of two scenarios:

1) He went "secondary" first and is still going to sign a couple bigger free agents (e.g. Snell, Bellinger, etc) to try to at least give the appearance of contention.

2) What you see is what you get, aside from another possible small clean peanutty move or three. He plugged some holes, but is really just going the budget route for 2024, presumably with the idea being that realistically they can't compete and it is better to think long-term, or at least beyond "win now," regardless of the cost.

The first really seems unlikely at this point. I only really mention it because his moves so far kind of look like the type of secondary moves you make in addition to a couple big ones, and we all know Arte doesn't like to throw in the towel of playoff aspirations. But not only are we late in the game, but it is just hard to imagine the Angels getting some big names because they'd really have to get several to justify it as a win-now strategy. Meaning, not Snell or Bellinger but both...and I don't see that happening. And frankly, I'm not sure how much these guys want to wear Angels uniforms.

Either way, Perry seems to realize that no matter who they acquire, the biggest factor for 2024 success is the players they already have staying healthy and playing better. They could sign Bellinger and/or Snell and others and still go nowhere if Trout/Rendon/Ward can't stay healthy, or if the young guys don't develop.

So in a way, 2024 looks like a "taking stock" year. We've heard that before, but it hasn't really happened. With Trout and Ohtani, they've always at least "kind of" gone for it. But it looks like they want to answer two big questions before determining the plan for 2025 and beyond:

  • How good are the young guys?
  • Can Trout and Rendon reverse the downward spiral?

A best-case reasonable scenario and the Angels are pretty good, maybe winning 85 games and staying competitive into the second half but not reaching the playoffs. I suppose there's a tiny thread-the-needle possibility that they're good enough in July to make some moves at the deadline. But...

But if they show overall improvement to the 82-87 win range, this would enable Perry to augment for 2025 and make a run at it. But if it turns out that lots of young guys disappoint and Trout and Rendon continue to struggle with injury and decline, we might see an actual full-out rebuild, and some kind of fire-sale in July (e.g. Rengifo, Ward, Anderson, Stephenson, Moore, etc).

I know, the Arte Factor. Maybe he'll jump ship and sell after 2024, if the franchise doesn't turn the corner. It won't be as sexy a purchase for potential buyers without Ohtani and with Trout entering his age 33 season, but it also won't be as burdened with long-term contracts. After 2024, Rendon will only have two years left and Trout the only long-term big contract. The team will still have a core of young talent, even if it isn't awe-inspiring. Not taking on any big contracts this year only furthers this. And regardless of the dubious Angels tradition, they're still an LA team and potential buyers will look to 2002-09 as a case of what the Angels could be, if run well.

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