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Billy Eppler's whiffs on acquiring starting pitching


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It's widely known that before the trade Billy Eppler made this offseason to acquire Dylan Bundy, the Angels GM has swung and missed on acquiring & signing viable major league starting pitchers to date. One could also argue his track record of trading for and signing major league hitters is questionable as well you consider Cozart & Upton, but he's done much better in that department than pitching. Goodwin, La Stella and in a small sample size Stassi have been pretty solid. 

The jury is still out on Canning and Sandoval, one of which he drafted and the other who Eppler acquired from Houston in the Maldonado trade. There's also hope in the Angels 1st round pick Reid Detmers, Chris Rodriguez and a few other pitching prospects down the road, but in terms of results from the arms he has acquired, drafted & signed to date, there is little to be desired.

Let's take a look....

Chacin: 4.81 ERA, (2016)

Nolasco: 4.44 ERA (2016), 4.92 ERA (2017)

Meyer: 3.74 ERA (2018), 5.68 ERA (2017) 19 total starts across two seasons * RETIRED

Lincecum: 9.16 ERA (2016)

Despaigne: 8.20 ERA (2018)

McGuire: 6.07 ERA (2018)

JC Ramirez 4.15 ERA (2017), 9.45 ERA (2018), 4.50 ERA (2019) *Used mostly as a starter

Pena: 4.58 ERA (2019), 4.18 ERA (2018) across 15 starts *Used mostly in relief

Sandoval: 5.19 ERA across 13 starts

Canning: 4.62 across 22 starts

Ohtani: 4.39 ERA across 12 starts

Peters: 5.38 ERA (2019) 

Cahill: 5.98 ERA (2019) 

Harvey: 7.09 ERA (2019) 

Stratton: 8.59 ERA (2019) 

Andriese: 6.50 ERA (2020) 1 start, mostly in relief

Teheran: 10.38 ERA (2020) 3 starts

.......

Bundy: 2.48 ERA (2020) through 5 starts! 

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!  

Most people can say "you win some, you lose some" in life. Billy Eppler unfortunately has whiffed more than Dave Kingman blindfolded when it has come to acquiring viable major league talent that can take the ball every 5th or 6th day. 

If the rotation doesn't turn things around prior to the trade deadline and if the Angels miss out on yet another playoff berth since Eppler became the GM prior to the 2016 season, the Angels GM may find himself out of a job shortly after the conclusion of this 2020 campaign. 

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Hey Billy.  Here are six dimes, two nickles, four toothpicks, a spoon, some dip spit and a car blanket with a dodgers logo.  Now build me a pitching staff.   or in real life Hey Billy.  You'

The pen has settled down after starting out as a dumpster fire.  That set the tone for this shit show of a season but I think we'll see them end up being pretty decent by the time this season is over.

Gray, traded for  Shed Long now a starting MLB 2B and a 1st round pick (which the Angels couldn't get or much less trade). Bauer traded for a 3 time Top 100 prospect Taylor Trammell, SP Scott Mos

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Also, pointing out the GM, the owner, the manager's and the players faults have been a staple of fandom since the dawn of professional & college sports.

You don't have to take sides (Pro Eppler vs. Anti Eppler), I'm neither. But dear God, when something is so obvious as Eppler's track record in building a solid pitching staff, there's really nothing to refute on this topic unless you're a family member or friends of Eppler's.

Eppler has had another time to show he doesn't have a clue on building a solid starting pitching staff. That's pretty evident! 

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7 hours ago, mymerlincat said:

Hope everyone is respectful of each other in this thread.

You just have to compare it to what other teams have done in a similar timeframe.  The Reds acquired Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, Alex Wood, and Wade Miley since Eppler has been our GM. 

Gray, traded for  Shed Long now a starting MLB 2B and a 1st round pick (which the Angels couldn't get or much less trade).

Bauer traded for a 3 time Top 100 prospect Taylor Trammell, SP Scott Moss (currently in Cle rotation), and Yasiel Puig (who was part of the Alex Wood trade).  He also required SP, Logan Allen (Top 100 in 19), OF Franmil Reyes (134 OPS+ 2020), and 3B Victor Nova.

Alex Wood traded (w/Puig, 9 mil and Matt Kemp, 15 mil ), for SP Josiah Gray (top 100 2020), SS/2B Jeter Downs (top 100 in 2020) and a headliner in Betts trade, plus Homer Bailey.    Kemp and Puig earned more in 2019 than Harvey/Cahill combined and those salaries were part of the deal (offset by Bailey/Wood salaries).  

Wade Miley 16.20 ERA as a Red so far. 3 IP.

Castillo was a great cheap trade, no question.  Acquired when he was still a RP for Strailey.  Miley likely works out too, cheap enough FA buy.

But Wood gave them 7 starts of 5.80 ERA pitching.  Bauer gave them 10 starts of 6.31 ERA pitching last year and 15 regular season starts this year (give or take)....   So when its all said and done how many team controlled years did they piss away for 32 starts?   Obviously they couldn't see Covid coming, but it was still a ton of years to give up for 1.5 seasons of Bauer and 7 starts from Wood.

The opportunity costs to acquire Wood, Bauer, and Gray alone are more than Epplers combined total over his 5 years as GM.  I mean the only notable asset he's had that he traded was Sean Newcomb (for Simmons), who gave the Angels 5 years of SS and 16.0 bWAR to date.

People can stick their heads in the sand and pretend not to see things for what they are but, like Doc said in his post.... its all about context.

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His requesting respectful dialogue in on point.  @mymerlincat was also critical of this pitching staff all winter so, he's not someone popping off after the fact and he deserves his due there.  But neither Chuck's post nor his pointing to the Red's acquisitions were as black and white as they were attempting to paint them.

The argument for "context" when it comes to judging Eppler's moves has always been that he had his hands tied.    He deserves all the criticism in the world for Harvey and Cahill.   There are other moves that he could have made and didn't that might involve some hindsight but again are fair criticisms..  But to pretend the Angels weren't a dumpster fire and weren't victims of bad luck injury wise is just inane.

Anyway, I too hope this thread avoids being derailed.

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I’ll add one more piece of information that while 100% true will be looked at as me making an excuse for Eppler.  This past off season was the first off season you knew you had Trout for the long haul.   Prior to that you really didn’t know what direction the team was going to go.   If I’m not mistaken this would have been the final year of Trout’s contract.  If that’s the case And you don’t know if you have Trout, you don’t spend huge money to acquire pitchers on multi year deals if there’s a possibility you’ll be rebuilding.   
Also to put Ohtani in the negative column is stupid.   All 29 teams wanted him, we got him, then he got TJ surgery.   If you don’t have Ohtani the pitcher you also don’t have Ohtani the bat which outside of this season has been really good. 
Teheran got Covid and hasn’t really had a spring training or a summer camp.  You wanna put that on Eppler, uh ok.   
Yea Eppler could have guessed better with his one year deals.  

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On 8/23/2020 at 6:34 AM, Stradling said:

Teheran got Covid and hasn’t really had a spring training or a summer camp.  You wanna put that on Eppler, uh ok.   
Yea Eppler could have guessed better with his one year deals.  

Covid may be a factor but I'd definitely put Teheran on Eppler if for no other reason the dude had red flags. 

I termed him and Bundy both as "project" type pitchers.  They were guys who were being traded/non-tendered because they had their warts despite there being a path towards success.  So far Teheran has been piping 88-91 MPH FBs dead center and it's cost him, but the sample size is still small.  And thats just it -- it's early still.  Looking at Chacin as an example, there was spin and batted ball info that made him a no risk move when he was acquired, (minor league contract acquired for a minor league pitcher).  Chacin was a lottery type move.  He didn't have that breakthrough in Anaheim but he went on to pitch 373 innings of 3.69 (112 ERA+) ball the two years following his stint as an Angel and after changing to a more slider heavy focus.  Teheran like Chacin could turn it around but it's likely also going to require a change in approach.

I'm not trying to shit on Eppler. I flat out viewed Teheran as a potential value guy.  He was someone I pointed to as a possible get when the rumors ATL was going to non-tender him first came up, albeit I saw him more as a complimentary piece than one of the focal points of the offseason and that's where Eppler may have shot himself in the foot.   Unless I'm mistaken Eppler touted him as someone who could be counted on to bring stability to the rotation.  Stability sure, but he also had the potential to get lit up if he continued to throw bad FBs.... 

How much of this had to do with $$ and what he could and couldn't do?  We likely will never know..  It wouldn't at all surprise me if Arte wanted to see a successful pitching acquisition before letting Eppler spend on SP.   

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I think both Teheran and Bundy were acquired to provide stability in the area of keeping the team in games while pitching deep into games. I looked it up when we first acquired Teheran and it was something like he gave up 3 runs or less in 20 of 31 starts something like that last year.  With this offense anything close to that would have been welcomed. 

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20 minutes ago, Stradling said:

I think both Teheran and Bundy were acquired to provide stability in the area of keeping the team in games while pitching deep into games. I looked it up when we first acquired Teheran and it was something like he gave up 3 runs or less in 20 of 31 starts something like that last year.  With this offense anything close to that would have been welcomed. 

I agree that was likely his reasoning.  That, and the potential of two guys inducing a ton of GBs in front of what projected to be a very solid IF defense (when La Stella isn't at 2B).  My criticisms typically tend to focus on the reasoning more than the actual results, which is probably dumb in some ways but I'm comfortable owning it. 

Conversely, if I think something is stupid going in I don't think it was a good move if a guy lucks out and it works, I view it as one of those "better to be lucky than good" type of things.  When it's all said and done -- Teheran and Bundy were similar moves backed by similar data with very different results so far.   So, while I say that Epp should wear the Teheran signing, I'm also admitting I understand his reasoning.  Harvey by comparison was a bad bet at hello IMO and and example of him wishing on something he had no business counting on...  

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Going into the year with a starting 5/6 of:

Heaney, Ohtani, Bundy, Teheran, Canning, Warm Body (Sandoval Suarez)

Was a recipe for disaster. The person with the most success on that list is probably Teheran or maybe Bundy. The others were injury plagued or coming off a major injury, young and probably not ready, and then there's Bundy. Average pitcher on a bad team but a high draft pick so had some potential as we are seeing, hope it continues today after his rocky start.

Yeah we whiffed on all the big names last offseason but a lot of it is because we are / have been so bad. Had we built a team that was halfway decent perhaps all those guys who signed elsewhere would have been more agreeable to sign here? Who ever takes over as GM has some major work to do. I think our hitting will start being more consistent once we have a rotation that doesn't put us in a huge hole every game by the 2nd or 3rd inning. 

 

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Not sure if this somewhat details the purpose of the thread, but here goes.

I hate to say it, but it may be required to push back the anticipated start of contending to either 2022 or even 2023.

Because pitching acquisitions are more risky than position player ones, they may need to focus on developing starting pitchers.

Right now, of course, they have a limited number of starters (Bundy and Heaney), who can be counted on to pitch over 100 innings in a 162 game season.   

It’s going to take time for the Halos to have 3-4 starters available who can get to 160+ innings and pitch well enough.   We also don’t know if Bundy and Heaney will be here when hitting FA.

As I mentioned in another thread, only five individual seasons of at least 138 innings pitched have taken place for the Halos since Eppler arrived, none of them in 2019.   That’s an average of 1.25 per season, and not something that. can be changed right away.

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14 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

Not sure if this somewhat details the purpose of the thread, but here goes.

I hate to say it, but it may be required to push back the anticipated start of contending to either 2022 or even 2023.

Because pitching acquisitions are more risky than position player ones, they may need to focus on developing starting pitchers.

Right now, of course, they have a limited number of starters (Bundy and Heaney), who can be counted on to pitch over 100 innings in a 162 game season.   

It’s going to take time for the Halos to have 3-4 starters available who can get to 160+ innings and pitch well enough.   We also don’t know if Bundy and Heaney will be here when hitting FA.

As I mentioned in another thread, only five individual seasons of at least 138 innings pitched have taken place for the Halos since Eppler arrived, none of them in 2019.   That’s an average of 1.25 per season, and not something that. can be changed right away.

The way things are going, I hope we make the playoffs maybe once at the end of Trout's career. That's probably the upside case here once we go through another 5 or 6 complete GM/managerial/farm system overhauls. 

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7 hours ago, Dochalo said:

Hey Billy.  Here are six dimes, two nickles, four toothpicks, a spoon, some dip spit and a car blanket with a dodgers logo.  Now build me a pitching staff.  

or in real life

Hey Billy.  You've got about 40mil to spend on starting pitching spread out over the next 5 years.  And you don't know this yet, but 6 of the guys you inherited that were supposed to anchor the staff for the next few years will give you about 3 seasons worth of innings TOTAL over the next 5 years.  And one of those guys will die tragically.  

oh and your offense and bullpen are kind of a mess too.  

oh and you have the worst farm system in baseball.  

oh and you have a bloated payroll and can't spend hardly any money elsewhere either.  

the lack of context in the OP is impressive.  

I would be careful about claiming Bundy as a success or Teheran a failure so far.  

So when he's truly had and opportunity to improve via free agency, he 0-2 in Cahill and Harvey.  

Plus he's added Canning, Sandoval, Ohtani who are all 25 or younger.  

He also hasn't spent hardly a dime on the pen.  

The only misstep he's made that is currently impacting the team is Justin Upton.  

I'll repeat that in a different way.  There is one player on the roster that stands to have a negative financial impact in the next 2+ years.  

These are all perfectly valid excuses, and all equally worthless. You could look at any downside case ever and come up with logical, defensible explanations as to why said case occurred, and we could all agree and move on and the downside case would not be any more mitigated by virtue of said discussion. The team needs to start winning games. I'm not patient and I'm not one of those people that enjoys baseball for the sake of enjoying baseball like some people on here are.

I would like them to actually start winning games and doing better at some point (we all do, obviously), but for me they need to be doing better for me to enjoy them in the first place. Hence hearing this gets old. No more "whoops, we had a bad quarter because the market is tough"

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As much as i agreed with this, and totally see how bad Billy has done on the pitching side. I think we also have to consider the type of environment he came into. Our farm system was bad, really bad, and than Arti wasn't willing to spend either.

2016 our top prospect was Matt Thaiss

2017 we got Ohtani, and Adell. Outside of Ohtani we didn't have a single top 100 prospect, Adell and canning  were just drafted.

2018 and 2019 was when we started showing improvements, and talent was rising.

Bascially i'm saying is that we didn't really have the talent in the system to make a trade for a good pitcher. Like many said, some of those trades involved a  top 100 prospects, which we didn't have until 2018/19. Than you also had to consider the Major league roster as well, these guy would probably be needed to fill in a spot. 

Now the money side, the main issue has been Arti's inability to open his checkbook. If i'm correct, the 1st two years of Eppler  gm career, he didn't have the abilty to throw out money to sign non scrape junk talent.  When he did, felt like there was limit he could spend, I remembered we went after Corbin, but the Nats outbid us , same with Cole, we went hard after Wheeler to, but he wanted to stay in the east. 

Than there's also luck. Red got luck in the Castillo trade, similar to the Padres trading Shields for Tatis jr. Billy has also come up big in this area, La Stella, Goody, and even Meyers to an extend, who looked like he could have been a middle of the rotation arm 

 

personally if i have to, i would blame Dipoto and Arte, after them i'd place the blame on Eppler. 

The only area, i would criticize Eppler and even Arte to an extend is the health department or branch of the team. We just had two many injuries.  

 

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8 hours ago, Dochalo said:

Hey Billy.  You've got about 40mil to spend on starting pitching spread out over the next 5 years.  And you don't know this yet, but 6 of the guys you inherited that were supposed to anchor the staff for the next few years will give you about 3 seasons worth of innings TOTAL over the next 5 years.  And one of those guys will die tragically.  

oh and your offense and bullpen are kind of a mess too.  

oh and you have the worst farm system in baseball.  

oh and you have a bloated payroll and can't spend hardly any money elsewhere either.  

I think this is an accurate synopsis of the shit show Eppler inherited.  I am curious to know your perspective on the current status for each of the points you mentioned.

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9 hours ago, Chuckster70 said:

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It's widely known that before the trade Billy Eppler made this offseason to acquire Dylan Bundy, the Angels GM has swung and missed on acquiring & signing viable major league starting pitchers to date. One could also argue his track record of trading for and signing major league hitters is questionable as well you consider Cozart & Upton, but he's done much better in that department than pitching. Goodwin, La Stella and in a small sample size Stassi have been pretty solid. 

The jury is still out on Canning and Sandoval, one of which he drafted and the other who Eppler acquired from Houston in the Maldonado trade. There's also hope in the Angels 1st round pick Reid Detmers, Chris Rodriguez and a few other pitching prospects down the road, but in terms of results from the arms he has acquired, drafted & signed to date, there is little to be desired.

Let's take a look....

Chacin: 4.81 ERA, (2016)

Nolasco: 4.44 ERA (2016), 4.92 ERA (2017)

Meyer: 3.74 ERA (2018), 5.68 ERA (2017) 19 total starts across two seasons * RETIRED

Lincecum: 9.16 ERA (2016)

Despaigne: 8.20 ERA (2018)

McGuire: 6.07 ERA (2018)

JC Ramirez 4.15 ERA (2017), 9.45 ERA (2018), 4.50 ERA (2019) *Used mostly as a starter

Pena: 4.58 ERA (2019), 4.18 ERA (2018) across 15 starts *Used mostly in relief

Sandoval: 5.19 ERA across 13 starts

Canning: 4.62 across 22 starts

Ohtani: 4.39 ERA across 12 starts

Peters: 5.38 ERA (2019) 

Cahill: 5.98 ERA (2019) 

Harvey: 7.09 ERA (2019) 

Stratton: 8.59 ERA (2019) 

Andriese: 6.50 ERA (2020) 1 start, mostly in relief

Teheran: 10.38 ERA (2020) 3 starts

.......

Bundy: 2.48 ERA (2020) through 5 starts! 

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!  

Most people can say "you win some, you lose some" in life. Billy Eppler unfortunately has whiffed more than Dave Kingman blindfolded when it has come to acquiring viable major league talent that can take the ball every 5th or 6th day. 

If the rotation doesn't turn things around prior to the trade deadline and if the Angels miss out on yet another playoff berth since Eppler became the GM prior to the 2016 season, the Angels GM may find himself out of a job shortly after the conclusion of this 2020 campaign. 

It's a little unfair analysis.  When your budget constraints require you to take high risk gambles the chances of failure are extremely high.

 

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9 hours ago, Chuckster70 said:

Let's take a look....

Chacin: 4.81 ERA, (2016)

Nolasco: 4.44 ERA (2016), 4.92 ERA (2017)

Meyer: 3.74 ERA (2018), 5.68 ERA (2017) 19 total starts across two seasons * RETIRED

Lincecum: 9.16 ERA (2016)

Despaigne: 8.20 ERA (2018)

McGuire: 6.07 ERA (2018)

JC Ramirez 4.15 ERA (2017), 9.45 ERA (2018), 4.50 ERA (2019) *Used mostly as a starter

Pena: 4.58 ERA (2019), 4.18 ERA (2018) across 15 starts *Used mostly in relief

Sandoval: 5.19 ERA across 13 starts

Canning: 4.62 across 22 starts

Ohtani: 4.39 ERA across 12 starts

Peters: 5.38 ERA (2019) 

Cahill: 5.98 ERA (2019) 

Harvey: 7.09 ERA (2019) 

Stratton: 8.59 ERA (2019) 

Andriese: 6.50 ERA (2020) 1 start, mostly in relief

Teheran: 10.38 ERA (2020) 3 starts

.......

Bundy: 2.48 ERA (2020) through 5 starts!

This is a nice summary of the choices made by Eppler.  I don't have the bandwith to do the research but these players may have been the best choices at the time based on their cost.  If so, it is not Epplers fault for trying.

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This seems to be another case in which the answer is "both." Yes, we need to look at context, and in doing so almost everything Eppler did has made sense and doesn't look as bad if you only look at results. But results matter, and I think Chuck's point is that no matter how you look at it or what contextual factors you take into account, the end result--for five years now--is that the Angels pitching staff has sucked and continues to suck. I don't think it is entirely unfair to say, "Boo-hoo, Billy, you've had it rough, but in the end you haven't been able to build an adequate pitching staff."

Eppler's only job is to build a winning team--and preferrably one that is built to last. Yes, that is far easier said than done and he inherited a veritable train-wreck of a franchise (Trout notwithstanding). In some ways he has improved the club--he's strengthened the farm system and brought in Simmons and Rendon. But as zenmaster pointed out in another thread, it is always N+1 or N+2. 

That said, if I was Arte, I'd extend Eppler through 2021 and see how things look. This year probably should be ignored and looked at only diagnostically. I don't think we can really fairly view it as part of the "Eppler Plan," and that he deserves at least 2021 to better assess where he's taking the club. A year from now we'll have a better sense of farm system pitching, Ohtani, Adell and Marsh, whether Canning and Sandoval can develop into solid starters, etc. In other words, all the answers we were hoping to get this year but, due to a huge factor entirely out of Eppler's control, we haven't been able to. In other words, he deserves a "Covid pass" on 2020. I want to see how the various seeds he's planted start to bloom next year before jettisoning him and bringing in yet another GM to tear the whole thing down.

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