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Getting to the playoffs in 2019 (by the numbers)


Dochalo

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I think we can all agree that it sure would be nice to make the playoffs in 2019.  We know we've got about $30 mil to spend and we know we've got some prospects.  So, as we approach the hot stove, how do we stack up?  

It may come as a surprise, but by current projections prior to any signings or movement of players, fangraphs has us projected to win 90 games and finish 2nd in the AL while getting the second WC spot.  Unfortunately, that would be 10 games back of Astros who are projected to win 100 games.  The Red Sox are projected to win 99 games, the Yankees 98 games, and the Indians at 98 games.  

The teams projected to finish below us are the Rays at 87, A's at 85, Mariners at 85, Twins at 83.  

Here's how we project by position (and our rank vs. other AL teams):

C - 1.8 WAR (25th)
1b - 0.2 WAR (28th)
2b - 2.1 WAR (18th)
SS - 4.3 WAR (6th)
3b - 3.2 WAR (9th)
LF - 2.5 WAR (11th)
CF - 9.3 WAR (1st by 5 WAR lol)
RF - 2.0 WAR (16th)
DH - 3.5 WAR (1st)

SP - 8.2 WAR (19th)
RP - 1.2 WAR (26th) 

So obvious positions of upgrade are C, 1b, SP,  RP and maybe 2b or RF.  

A couple things about some specific positions:
C - they have Kevan Smith projected for 1.1 WAR in half a season.  That's actually pretty decent and with the right platoon partner, it could be a middle of the pack position. 

3b - is probably overvalued with Cozart at 2.9 WAR in that he gets a ton of defensive value for his previous years at SS.  

RP - probably a bit undervalue in my opinion considering that most of the guys here are relative unknowns.  

There is an estimated 128 WAR available in the free agent pool so lets get started.  

C - to complete the platoon here we would likely need a lefty bat.  McCann is projected for 1.2 WAR although interestingly, Briceno is at 0.7 WAR.  Not a lot of bang for buck there.  If you add Ramos and his 2.8 WAR in his 480 PA and subtract a little from Smith, you've got around 3.5 WAR total.  That's a pretty good upgrade. 

1b - We aren't likely to grab a pure 1bman but someone who can play 1b and cover other spots as well.  Right now they have Albert getting 595 pa.  I really hope that's not the case.  An interesting option would be Jed Lowrie who is projected for 2.2 WAR in 630 PA.  If we get half that and basically 0 WAR from Albert, that's 1.1 WAR.  Again, not a ton of bang for buck.  

3b - There's been a lot of talk about Donaldson and he's projected for 4.5 WAR.  About 0.5 less than Machado and Harper.  Plugging him in would displace Cozart to 2b and Fletcher to util.  I don't think Cozart is a 2.9 WAR guy but maybe 2.4 or so.  That would add about 2 WAR to 3b and 0.5 WAR to 2b overall.  That's a pretty nice delta.  

SP - Heaney 2.5 WAR, Skaggs 2.2 WAR are currently the top 2.  Shoe at 1.4 WAR, Barria at 0.5 WAR, and Pena at 0.7 WAR.  as well as Trop at 0.5 WAR in 91ip.  I think Barria is getting short changed by at least 1 WAR.  They've got Happ at 3.4 WAR, Eovaldi at 3.0 WAR, Keuchel at 3.2 WAR (not including Corbin or Morton for obvious reasons) and then it drops pretty quick.  Trevor Cahill is interesting in that he's projected at 1.3 WAR in just 107 ip.  Lynn at 1.5 WAR, Anibal Sanchez at 1.6 WAR.  If you displace Shoe and Pena by adding Happ and Sanchez, you've added above 5 WAR minus that of the two displaced, and you've added about 3 WAR to the starting staff overall.  Plus you still have Shoe, Trop and Pena as depth plus some guys in the minors.  

RP - As I mentioned, I think we perform better here than projected.  But even still, displacing Pena and Shoe to the pen give us additional depth and allows us to bounce Noe and Maybe even trade Parker for some salary relief.  But I don't think we spend here.  

So where do we spend our 30 mil?  

I like the idea of Happ as long as its for less than 3 years and Sanchez who I am quite sure will get a 1yr deal entering his age 35 season.  I think it's reasonable to assume about 11m from Happ in 2019 (probably 12-14m in 2020), and 7mil from Sanchez. 

What I would consider if it's an option is to trade Kole for Roark (similar salary and similar WAR projections) and add Chisenhall in RF to platoon with Herm until Adell is ready.  That saves you about 3-4m overall.  Production wise, it's about 0.4-0.5 less WAR but Chisenhall actually gives you some positional flexibility.  This is contingent on WAS going for it assuming they don't sign Harper.  

The next big decision is whether to upgrade 3b or C.  It could be a moot point if Donaldson does get his 20m per over 3 years.  I'm gonna assume (unfortunately) that he's out of our price range and go with Ramos at 2/18 with 8mil in 2019.  Also want to point out that Realmuto is projected for 3.6 wins vs. Ramos 2.8 wins.  You can form your own opinion as to whether the upgrade would be worth it.  

I'm also gonna assume that WAS won't go for the Kole trade so we're at 26m spent on Ramos, Happ and Sanchez.  Leaving about 4 mil on that platoon option at 1b and/or float.  I think it comes down to Chisenahall and Descalso.  They're both projected to be pretty similar actually so pick your poison.   If you can move Parker's 3mil and restructure Shoe by a couple mil, it gives you an additional 5mil to play with which could put us in the range of grabbing someone like Moustakas, Asdrubal Cabrerea, Daniel Murphy, Lowrie.  OR, you could forego Ramos and have 17mil to spend on Donaldson and just pick up Stephen Vogt and hope he rebounds.  

If you do things right, you add about 5 wins.  Now, bear in mind that all that WAR floating around in free agency is going to get distributed among all the other teams so on a relative basis is probably cancels out our upgrades.  Leaving us with about a 90 win team.  I personally think a lot needs to go right in order for that to come to fruition and we're still no where close to what Houston has as I think they are going to be very aggressive in upgrading again this off season.  

But it puts us in the ballpark and that's all we can ask.  The other good news in my opinion is that while the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Astros seem to be locks for the playoffs, that 2nd wild card is wide open.  I don't see Oakland winning anywhere near the 97 games they did last year even with some pitching upgrades.  It feels like the M's will be a hot mess and I don't think teams like the twins or jays are gonna make a move just yet.  The Rays are the only other team that I see as a likely candidate and we all know that they aren't going to spend on upgrades.  Although they could be a dark horse for someone like Paul Goldschmidt.  But overall, we'll have a shot and I think we can do it without disrupting all the hard work Billy and Co. have done to rebuild the farm.  
 

 

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Just now, Dochalo said:

come on man.  I spent some time on this dammit.  I'm gonna start ordering my burgers as all separate so they have to rap everything individually and fuck with your line.  

I gave it a quick read, and now I am digesting it.  Give me time.  

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Doc, that is a ton of information.  You break things down better than anyone else on here with the possible exception of Ettin.  I am much more interested in getting a guy like Donaldson than I am guys like Ramos, Chisenhall or Happ.  I do not like Cahill and never really have, he just reminds me of Blanton and I don’t really know why, maybe it is that they both came out of Oakland.  

 

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I think that's a pretty low estimate on Happ. MLBTR thinks he'll get 16+ per season.

I think this team has a golden opportunity to improve by leaps and bounds without overspending. Kikuchi has a ton of upside, isn't expected to make more than 8-9 million a year, would enter a situation where Japanese fans attend games, we already have an interpreter on hand and a former teammate to connect with.

Yusei Kikuchi could be a valuable member of our rotation for a long time, with minimal investment, and you can keep your draft picks,

Then grabbing a notoriously good pitcher that hit a rough patch but can still be expected to be an improvement on the back end even if he doesn't pitch like he can....someone like Lance Lynn and 1/9 would fit their needs. If he's good, he's actually VERY good, and combined with Kikuchi, Skaggs and Heaney, could make this a steady but very solid pitching staff.

With around 12 million left to spend, they could trade Blake Parker, and make that number closer to 15. Adding a great leader that can make contact from the catching spot like Kurt Suzuki for around 3 million and a starting spot seems like a great idea. Around 12 million left.

Finally, add Moustakas for 2-24. He's the left handed power bat they need, would play 1B and 3B, and has expressed interest in coming ho,evand playing here. This move puts Cozart where he belongs defensively, at 2B, and puts Fletcher as the utility player which is what he was always supposed to be.

With that team, I can't guarantee they'd go to the playoffs, but I don't think much would need to go right for them to be there. Adds future depth to the rotation, without hampering the future finances because of short deals. And again, you get to keep your prospects and build the farm into a weapon of sustainable success.

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Very thoughtful, insightful, realistic, and accurate.  Your numbers might be a tad low, but not unreasonably so. 

My one concern is whether or not its impactful enough.  Does a Ramos/Happ/Sanchez and a platoon player do enough?  I know thats not all you listed im just using that as the basic core.  I dont think it does.  I think we need to get to those options you listed for it to really matter.  There needs to be another impact bat a la Donaldson, Moustakis, etc...

Bear with me on this, its long-ish.

Ill say up front i dont think Donaldson falls to our price range or terms.  Also that Sanchez scares me, his 2 season prior were pretty abysmal.

I also agree however that Oak wont win 97 again, but they also wont be terrible.  I think they will still be a hurdle at somewhere around 90ish.   That has to be the goal, to put a team out there that can win at least 90.  I think a better bullpen alone give us a few if not half of the difference by holding/saving games we gave away last year.  So we need to build the rest of the team to win another 7-10 games more than last years. 

We have been told 2 things:
#1 we will add about 30M.
#2 we are looking to shed some salary.
Those two statements to me dont jive, unless we assume that the intent in shedding is to have more available. 
We also know from the financials that we could spend 50 or 60 without hitting the luxury tax discussion, even if that doesn't fit into a realistic revenue based budget. 

For the rest of this im ignoring any trade possibilities.   I dont want to go back down that rabbit hole again so im just going to assume none.   So Realmuto, Arrenado, any of those options are off the table.  

We all agree, yes even me at this point, that we must get some pitching.  We also all agree we have holes on offense.  To address these the 2 spots i looked at most intently were C and 3B.  My original thought was all offense, clearly thats not going to happen, nor should it now that were hearing some guys may not be as ready as I/we originally thought.  My second list was both offense and pitching, but it didnt fit in the budget. 

The core problem is that i see not path where 30M get us there.   It simply doesn't buy enough quality.   This number is just too low unless we trade for some lower cost guys to get the same quality or better than we might in FA or the FA guys dont meet their projections salary wise.  This is why I looked at those options to begin with, but as said, im not considering any for this discussion. 

Pitching wise Happ, Gio, Miley... all projected to make 10-13M per.  Only one discussed around here that isnt is Lynn really thats worth much and he would still be 8-10ish.  Pick any 2, youre looking at 20+ mil maybe closer to 25.   Sanchez is also under 10 but there is a reason for that i think.  If we go lower tier, are they going to be good enough to matter?

Offense wise, lets start with catcher.  Ill assume say we target Ramos, hes projected at 9 or 10.  Hes not my first choice but hes the most realistic.   Even if we looked at bringing back Maldonado hes projected at 8 which surprised me. This likely puts us somewhere over 30, maybe as much as 35, and we still need another bat.  Kurt Suzuki inst a bad player, WAR wise only about half a point less than Ramos, but i think we would all agree a fair drop off offensively and still likely going to cost maybe 6 M.  

To me the next most obvious spot was 3B.  Assuming im right about Donaldson, the next best option would be Moustakis which makes a lot of logical sense.   Hes projected to get maybe 12-14.  Even if we assume the lower side to be where he supposedly wants to be, it still puts us way over budget at maybe 45ish.   Only other FA options might be Cabrera, projected at 7Mish. 

So it comes down to this, to do it what I see as the "right" way, (2 arms/Ramos/Moustakis) isnt feasable within the budget.   If I downgrade the bats from Moustakis/Ramos to Suzuki/Cabrera it gets close to reality, but is a drop off in performance and both arent exactly spring chickens.   Further downgrade one of the arms to Sanchez and were maybe within the budget, but again also a drop off in results perhaps.    How many more wins does Gio/Happ/Ramos/Moustakis give us over something like Lynn/Sanchez/Suzuki/Cabrera?   The first list gives us a combined WAR of about 10.7, the second 6.7 assuming we get 2018 Sanchez.  Hardly scientific i know but significant.

I cant help but wonder if the budget plan actually achieves anything standings wise.  I could be 100% wrong, maybe most of them find something and have great years and we get there, but we could also easily end up back in third place.  If we assume we need to get to 90 wins at least, does something like Lynn/Sanchez/Suzuki/Cabrera get us there?  Is going with aging short term solutions at spots we still have little depth organization wise the smart move?   

My one wildcard idea i mentioned previously that fits the platoon player guy, is Jose Bautista.  Can play 3B/RF. and would obviously be able to also slot in at 1B if needed.   Isnt likely to cost much, might find some of the old magic in a lesser role.  

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I am surprised they have us at 90 wins without making any moves as usually these types of projections are on the low side of reality.  I personally look at this team as about a .500 team assuming health we might move up to 85 or so wins.  I think you build a team out of spring training where you feel you are a 90 win team and then as the season goes you add to the team in areas of need with players that are performing this year.  How would I build from what we have now to what will win us an extra 6-8 games?  I would start with getting healthy arms, guys like Lynn, and possibly trade for a Teheran type of pitcher.  Are they front line guys, no, but they also take the ball and pitch.  I would then sign Donaldson, Murphy or Lowrie.  That could be another 3-4 wins over Ward.  I would then go after Suzuki, who would be a 2 win advantage over what we threw out there last year.  I still like the idea of adding another left hander in the pen, and if we need to let an arb guy go to make the money work then do so.  

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7 minutes ago, Stradling said:

I am surprised they have us at 90 wins without making any moves as usually these types of projections are on the low side of reality.  I personally look at this team as about a .500 team assuming health we might move up to 85 or so wins.  I think you build a team out of spring training where you feel you are a 90 win team and then as the season goes you add to the team in areas of need with players that are performing this year.  How would I build from what we have now to what will win us an extra 6-8 games?  I would start with getting healthy arms, guys like Lynn, and possibly trade for a Teheran type of pitcher.  Are they front line guys, no, but they also take the ball and pitch.  I would then sign Donaldson, Murphy or Lowrie.  That could be another 3-4 wins over Ward.  I would then go after Suzuki, who would be a 2 win advantage over what we threw out there last year.  I still like the idea of adding another left hander in the pen, and if we need to let an arb guy go to make the money work then do so.  

Come on Strad...don't make me say it!

Addition by subtraction....

los angeles angels baseball GIF by MLB

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16 minutes ago, Stradling said:

I am surprised they have us at 90 wins without making any moves as usually these types of projections are on the low side of reality.  I personally look at this team as about a .500 team assuming health we might move up to 85 or so wins.  I think you build a team out of spring training where you feel you are a 90 win team and then as the season goes you add to the team in areas of need with players that are performing this year.  How would I build from what we have now to what will win us an extra 6-8 games?  I would start with getting healthy arms, guys like Lynn, and possibly trade for a Teheran type of pitcher.  Are they front line guys, no, but they also take the ball and pitch.  I would then sign Donaldson, Murphy or Lowrie.  That could be another 3-4 wins over Ward.  I would then go after Suzuki, who would be a 2 win advantage over what we threw out there last year.  I still like the idea of adding another left hander in the pen, and if we need to let an arb guy go to make the money work then do so.  

Strangely enough this is about exactly where i see the team today.  They were snakebit last year, everything went wrong that could have it seems, still we 1 win under 500. 
We have ground to make up to replace the lost pitching to equal that, but the bullpen is already better, add in some offensive parts and 90 isnt that unrealistic.

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It's hard for me to decide what is easier to find.  Similar production equal to what Kole would do in 2019 for cheaper, or the pitcher that Kole would get us in trade.  Plus you have to weigh in the fact that we have Canning and Suarez to help the staff but Adell is also coming up fast.  

I don't want to see them spend $60m on Donaldson so if that his cost then forget it.  But if he's available on a 1 year pillow or a 1+1 where it'll cost a max of 17m in 2019, then I would really like to see them try to make that happen.  

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3 hours ago, ScruffytheJanitor said:

I think this offseason is simple:

We need to net:

* Two Durable #3/#4 Starters

* One league-average or better C

* One  solid-average 2B/3B

* One OF/1B Bench Bat that can hit lefties.

I'd say we need one durable starter who is a 2/3 and one who is a 3/4

We need Ramos, Grandal, or Realmuto at C.

I'd say we need a left handed bench bat who can play 1B/OF, as the infield is full. But platooning a guy with Albert at 1st should be a lefty, and the guy in the OF then should be a righty to platoon with Calhoun. So unless they get a new RF and let Calhoun play all three OF spots a little

I also like the idea of Moustakas as a lefty platoon at 1st and 3rd. But I also like the idea of Fletcher/Ward/Cozart essentially sharing 2nd and 3rd. There are likely 324 starts there which is 108 a piece. That's a little low, so if one of them can play 1st, that helps.

 

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