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How to view the Angels present and future


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I was just reading MLBTR and an article in which Theo Epstein was discussing the Cubs.  He said, “It’s probably time to stop evaluating this in terms of talent and start evaluating it in terms of production.”

I'm not sure you can put it any better than that with the Angels.  We've got some talented guys that just aren't performing, both on the mound and at the plate.  With young guys, there's definitely an adjustment period, and you have to allow for that period.  But at a certain point, they have to get the job done, or they aren't.  It's been a couple years since Kole Calhoun was a good player.  In fact, he barely broke replacement level this year.  Same goes for Pujols, but enough ink has been spilled there.  

As far as the pitchers go, we all know Skaggs and Shoe have the talent to pitch toward the front of the rotation for extended periods of time.  But at the end of the day, their production is that of an oft-injured pitcher with an ERA over 4.   Something similar can probably be said for Cam Bedrosian and Noe Ramirez.  Their actual production indicates that neither should be guaranteed a spot next year unless they really impress in Spring, not with Middleton, Meyer and Ramirez all coming off rehab. 

It might be nice to see Eppler do something bold here, rather than have Angels fans watch another year of talented players underperform.

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I see your point, but I'm not quite ready to go there with you, at least with Shoe, Skaggs, and to a lesser degree, Calhoun.

Let's start with Kole. At most he's a place-holder until Adell and/or Marsh are ready, which will probably be by the end of 2019. If Kole stinks and Adell or Marsh aren't ready, I'm fine going with Hermosillo or Walsh until they are. Barring going after Bryce Harper, I don't want Eppler to sign anyone to play RF that will block Adell.

Shoemaker really deserves a chance to pitch. Not only did he have a 3.34 FIP, which implies better things to come, but he has really only pitched a few games this year.

Skaggs just finished his highest innings year. He also has a lower FIP (3.63) than ERA, so should improve. 

The Angels could go after Corbin, but that still leaves Skaggs and Shoe in the rotation. What I don't want to see is the Angels sign a couple mid-rotation types, when they already have five or six guys who are major league ready and able to pitch on that level. My preferred starting rotation for 2019 is Corbin, Skaggs, Heaney, Shoemaker, and Barria, with Pena as swing man/sixth starter and Tropeano, Ramirez, Meyer, Suarez, and Canning waiting in the wings. That's a bunch of #3-5 types, with a solid #1-2 type in Corbin and several guys who could be #2-3 types. 

 

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I just get the feeling it might be wise to move Shoemaker to the pen but in high leverage. He has the talent, pitches and what it takes between the ears to take the ball late. 

Let's be honest, he's already 31 and has had a roller coaster career so far with nerve problems and getting wiped out on a comebacker. If you Eckersly him it will extend his career and bolster the bullpen where it needs it most, late in the game. 

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7 minutes ago, Blarg said:

I just get the feeling it might be wise to move Shoemaker to the pen but in high leverage. He has the talent, pitches and what it takes between the ears to take the ball late. 

Let's be honest, he's already 31 and has had a roller coaster career so far with nerve problems and getting wiped out on a comebacker. If you Eckersly him it will extend his career and bolster the bullpen where it needs it most, late in the game. 

Agreed. Shoemaker is a solid starting pitcher when he’s healthy, but he may just not be built to be a starter. He’s always going down with something. Who knows what he could do as a reliever though? He could be even better as a reliever and he would have a  better shot at staying healthy.

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2 hours ago, Blarg said:

I just get the feeling it might be wise to move Shoemaker to the pen but in high leverage. He has the talent, pitches and what it takes between the ears to take the ball late. 

Let's be honest, he's already 31 and has had a roller coaster career so far with nerve problems and getting wiped out on a comebacker. If you Eckersly him it will extend his career and bolster the bullpen where it needs it most, late in the game. 

Anything to infuse more depth into that bullpen.

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At some point results matter.  I don’t care if Skaggs has potential to be a top of the rotation guy, he has to actually perform like one.  If he can’t comsistently perform like one then we have to find pitchers that can slot ahead of him.   I don’t care about Cam’s stuff, he has to actually get guys out with that stuff or fuck him, go to the next option.   Especially with Cam, he’s had a relatively healthy career and still hasn’t made the jump.  

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9 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

 

Shoemaker really deserves a chance to pitch. 

 

You can't go into the season with shoemaker penciled into the starting 5. He'll be 32, been injured the last two years, and never thrown over 160 innings in a season. He needs to be in the pen and then he a spot starter. 

We have to get away from the "let's hope we stay healthy" mentality with our pitching staff. 

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9 hours ago, hangin n wangin said:

Agreed. Shoemaker is a solid starting pitcher when he’s healthy, but he may just not be built to be a starter. He’s always going down with something. Who knows what he could do as a reliever though? He could be even better as a reliever and he would have a  better shot at staying healthy.

Again, Shoemaker has had one injury that cost him the past two years.

Otherwise, he had a strained oblique that cost him about 2 weeks in 2014, and he got hit in the head by a line drive.

Also, players who are actually injury prone don’t stay any healthier when going to the bullpen. You are just trading one kind of arm stress for another. 

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58 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

Again, Shoemaker has had one injury that cost him the past two years.

Otherwise, he had a strained oblique that cost him about 2 weeks in 2014, and he got hit in the head by a line drive.

Also, players who are actually injury prone don’t stay any healthier when going to the bullpen. You are just trading one kind of arm stress for another. 

I understand. But we also need bullpen help, so I think he would be a great asset in there.

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3 hours ago, Stradling said:

At some point results matter.  I don’t care if Skaggs has potential to be a top of the rotation guy, he has to actually perform like one.  If he can’t comsistently perform like one then we have to find pitchers that can slot ahead of him.   I don’t care about Cam’s stuff, he has to actually get guys out with that stuff or F*ck him, go to the next option.   Especially with Cam, he’s had a relatively healthy career and still hasn’t made the jump.  

That's why I've floated a semi-radical idea of dealing him for a good young hitter, and perhaps even as a catalyst to shed Calhoun's salary, and using some of the money saved to then pursue a little more durable replacement arm like Corbin and Keuchel.

I say this as a believer in Skaggs, and someone who was never all that interested in Corbin or Keuchel. I've often cited how his numbers were actually better than Finley, Langston, and Washburn through the same stage in their careers, but another year in which injuries cost him basically two months is concerning. We only have two more year of control at this point, and his arb. salary will start to negate his value. It's one thing when you have upside and you're making 15-20 GS for $500k or $2.5m, but another when it starts escalating to $6-10m.

A couple offaeasons ago, I pitched dealing Calhoun and Richards as they were at a theoretical pinnacle of their trade value, and it seemed a good time to cash in on that, despite the inherent risk. Skaggs is in that window now. 

Combine Skaggs arb. and Calhoun's salary and you're close to a Corbin/Keuchel AAV, and I bet a competitive team out there with some young hitter depth would be willing to roll the dice on those two, maybe with LAA throwing a prospect in or also eating some nominal salary back. Pederson? Franco or Hernandez? Segura? Travis Shaw? Jake Lamb? Camargo?

Also, I wouldn't say Cam's been healthy. Seems like he has a couple things every year that cause his to struggle, or at least that's his excuse.

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48 minutes ago, hangin n wangin said:

I understand. But we also need bullpen help, so I think he would be a great asset in there.

That's a whole different discussion.

In general, teams never want to make a starter a reliever until he's proved, definitively, that he can't be a good starter. Starters are more valuable.

I think there's still hope that Shoemaker can be a decent major league starter. He has been inconsisent, though, so the jury is still out.

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This is a really good discussion.

If we're looking at production then I would agree - it's time to find someone else to play RF. It pains me to say that because I'm a huge Calhoun fan, but it's time.  The Angels also absolutely have to get production out of 3B; however, that doesn't necessarily mean Manny Machado, IMO.

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Just now, True Grich said:

This is a really good discussion.

If we're looking at production then I would agree - it's time to find someone else to play RF. It pains me to say that because I'm a huge Calhoun fan, but it's time.  The Angels also absolutely have to get production out of 3B; however, that doesn't necessarily mean Manny Machado, IMO.

It applies just as much to the pitching too, specifically the rotation, but agree that Cam falls into the discussion as well. 

It'll be interesting to see how Eppler treats this offseason with a new manager...not that I feel Scioscia was pulling strings or influencing decisions or direction, but it might have been easier to shade towards the 'win-now' side, and now, with Eppler and his new manager likely in place for the next few years, they can view this almost as a fresh start, overlapping with the end of the Scioscia Era, and conversely a little bit the Trout Years, though I suspect he will re-sign, or at the very least, I suspect the Angels already have a very good idea on how likely they are to re-sign him, and are already working the contingencies through, no matter the end result.

We could see an offseason with a lot of moving pieces via trade. 

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IMHO, the Angels won't succeed until Arte Moreno sells to an owner that is more committed to winning.

Initially, he at least paid lip service to his responsibilities towards fans and recognizing that he is in the entertainment business. 

He spent big on Pujols and Wilson, but those were questionable moves that were probably against the advice of the GM.   The moves seemed more designed to gain Mr. Moreno a huge TV contract (the amount I heard was $3 Billion)...so, even if you throw the Hamilton debacle into the mix, he made a fortune.   The deal paled compared to the the one the Dodgers got later, but that is a different story.

Mike Trout has said he came to the team wanting to extend his contract to the Angels until the bulk of his remaining career.   To me, passing on an opportunity to lock up this generations greatest player is criminal.

In 2016, Mr. Moreno was quoted in the OC Register as saying "The reality is, it's a business."     That really rubbed me the wrong way.   Mr. Moreno has profited handsomely as owner of the Angels, especially if you factor in the increased value of MLB teams.   In the post steroid era, successful teams build through the farm system  (I think Eppler has made a good start there) AND the signing of  key FA's as needed.   

More power to Mr. Moreno in increasing his wealth, but that doesn't bring me a lot of joy personally.   It is an entertainment business and this team was hard to watch in 2018.

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Blarg said:

He wouldn't be depth, we've got depth just not much quality. I see him more of an 8th or even 9th inning guy that slams doors. 

I feel like that's not exactly true anymore.  Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Justin Anderson and Key Middleton are all quality relievers.  And the pen has all sorts of "potential" in Williams Jerez, J.C. Ramirez and Alex Meyer coming into the fold next year.  I think their main problem, is that when it rains, it pours.  If Buttrey loses it, Robles will hit the DL, Anderson becomes hittable and Middleton's control disappears and it all happens at once and the Angels season is derailed.  Or they're all performing at once and suddenly the bullpen can't be touched. 

I think the Angels need depth in their bullpen.  That way, when 2-3 guys suddenyl lose it, 2-3 guys step up and into a prominent role.  

I like the idea of using Felix Pena, Matt Shoemaker, Alex Meyer and JC Ramirez in the bullpen because suddenly we have a contingent of pitchers that are capable of getting 6 outs each.  But at some point, there will be a need in the rotation and we'll see Felx move up, and then the back end of the bullpen will falter and we'll need Shoe and Meyer to step in, etc...

I think depth is the bigger concern personally. 

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55 minutes ago, True Grich said:

This is a really good discussion.

If we're looking at production then I would agree - it's time to find someone else to play RF. It pains me to say that because I'm a huge Calhoun fan, but it's time.  The Angels also absolutely have to get production out of 3B; however, that doesn't necessarily mean Manny Machado, IMO.

Calling for Calhoun's replacement is hard.  I mean he's so easy to like, with his great defense, fiery competitiveness, the under-dog-ness and being a homegrown product. He's been a favorite of mine going back to my MWAH days, scouting him on the back fields at Tempe Diablo, or when he was playing first base for Inland Empire. 

Calhoun's been an Angel we won't soon forget. 

But I do believe the Angels should upgrade.  He's become too inconsistent at the plate, and this has grown into a long concurring issue, and while he does play some great defense in RF, it isn't difficult to find a good defensive RF on waivers or in the minor league system. 

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56 minutes ago, totdprods said:

It applies just as much to the pitching too, specifically the rotation, but agree that Cam falls into the discussion as well. 

It'll be interesting to see how Eppler treats this offseason with a new manager...not that I feel Scioscia was pulling strings or influencing decisions or direction, but it might have been easier to shade towards the 'win-now' side, and now, with Eppler and his new manager likely in place for the next few years, they can view this almost as a fresh start, overlapping with the end of the Scioscia Era, and conversely a little bit the Trout Years, though I suspect he will re-sign, or at the very least, I suspect the Angels already have a very good idea on how likely they are to re-sign him, and are already working the contingencies through, no matter the end result.

We could see an offseason with a lot of moving pieces via trade. 

If Eppler's previous seasons are anything to work off of, my guess is he's already got a deal in place, but is just waiting until the playoffs are over before announcing it, as per request from MLB.

Eppler works very quickly out of the gate in the offseason.

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14 minutes ago, Scotty@AW said:

If Eppler's previous seasons are anything to work off of, my guess is he's already got a deal in place, but is just waiting until the playoffs are over before announcing it, as per request from MLB.

Eppler works very quickly out of the gate in the offseason.

I think we could something  a little bit like the offseason where we moved Trumbo, Bourjos, Grichuk...made some significant moves with significant MLB players and prospects. 

A few prospects traded that are legitimately part of the 'plans' we so often draw up, a guy like Bedrosian, Alvarez, even something shocking like Anderson or Barria (trust me, it'd have to be something worth it), even a guy like Skaggs, Calhoun...it wouldn't surprise me if we saw a few trades involving some surprising names in an effort to really shuffle the pitching deck with a new group of guys to rely on, and maybe another significant hitter. 

Eppler can set the board a little differently and they can grow into this next wave of players with a new manager, with lessened expectations given the new manager, emergence of Oakland, knowing Ohtani won't be pitching, etc.

If they open the offseason with a Trout extension, it alleviates even more of that pressure and really lets them go any route they'd like, even saying that their focus isn't 2019, but now 2020+. So yeah, I could totally see a deal being announced right after the WS. It'd be a huge statement that the org will survive post-Sosh and be a great PR move, and it'd change the complexion of the offseason entirely, no matter which route they go.

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1 hour ago, Scotty@AW said:

Calling for Calhoun's replacement is hard.  I mean he's so easy to like, with his great defense, fiery competitiveness, the under-dog-ness and being a homegrown product. He's been a favorite of mine going back to my MWAH days, scouting him on the back fields at Tempe Diablo, or when he was playing first base for Inland Empire. 

Calhoun's been an Angel we won't soon forget. 

But I do believe the Angels should upgrade.  He's become too inconsistent at the plate, and this has grown into a long concurring issue, and while he does play some great defense in RF, it isn't difficult to find a good defensive RF on waivers or in the minor league system. 

Let go Erstad with him, put him in the 1B platoon / 4th OF slot. Just a thought

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1 hour ago, floplag said:

Let go Erstad with him, put him in the 1B platoon / 4th OF slot. Just a thought

~$10m for that? There were similar left-handed 1B/OF types going for $1m-$2m, if not minor-league deals, the last several offseasons.

Better off trading him for a similarly-priced/contracted SP/RP in a change of scenery deal. 

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53 minutes ago, totdprods said:

~$10m for that? There were similar left-handed 1B/OF types going for $1m-$2m, if not minor-league deals, the last several offseasons.

Better off trading him for a similarly-priced/contracted SP/RP in a change of scenery deal. 

You assume we could trade him, you dont want him out there what makes you think anyone else would?  Im just suggesting that if there isnt other options or if they did upgrade in the OF that there is another option. 

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34 minutes ago, floplag said:

You assume we could trade him, you dont want him out there what makes you think anyone else would?  Im just suggesting that if there isnt other options or if they did upgrade in the OF that there is another option. 

I'm fine with Calhoun as the starting RF in 2019. There will be some teams interested based off his defense and red-hot stretch alone, since they'd technically only be on the hook for 1 year. $10m is a tremendous amount of money for that role.

And of course there would be other options for teams to pursue, but that doesn't mean there'd be no interest. 

Calhoun still has some trade value. It's weird trade value, but it's there. 

I cited Teheran as a possible pitching equivalent to Calhoun and his contract. Similar years, similar dollars, similar levels of concern. Tanner Roark could be another option.

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