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OC Register: Mike Trout eager to end the Angels playoff drought


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Mike Trout’s annual press conference at the start of spring training has become, in recent years, a referendum on the Angels.

As each Hall of Fame caliber season of Trout’s career goes into the record books and ends without a playoff appearance, the cries from around baseball — not merely among Angels fans — grow louder.

When will the Angels put a good enough team around Trout to take advantage of the window of opportunity that comes with employing the best player in the majors?

“I hear it every year,” Trout said before the Angels first full squad workout of the spring on Monday in Tempe, Ariz. “I think the only way to change it is to get to the playoffs.”

Although Trout has 10 seasons left on the record-breaking $426-million contract he signed nearly two years ago, he is now 29, so the window on his prime will close before the contract ends.

“I’m getting older for sure, but I’m still young,” Trout said. “I still feel great. It’s a lot different now. This year I’m a dad. Maybe something different will change our luck.”

Angels president John Carpino admitted in a press conference last October that the organization feels the pressure to break out of this rut that has become six straight seasons without reaching the playoffs.

Manager Joe Maddon, who has only been around for one 60-game season in Trout’s career, also acknowledged the importance of capitalizing on Trout’s presence.

“It’s almost like a mortal sin in the Catholic faith,” Maddon said. “You just can’t miss out on that kind of an opportunity when you have that kind of generational talent.”

Whether the Angels have assembled the pieces to end that drought remains to be seen.

Skeptics say the Angels didn’t sufficiently address their pitching needs, hoping for bounceback seasons from past-their-prime starters José Quintana and Alex Cobb.

First-year general manager Perry Minasian has said at every opportunity that he believes the players they’ve added have more in the tank, and also that they are such good clubhouse influences that they will help improve the players the Angels already had.

Trout said he was consulted throughout the winter — by owner Arte Moreno, Carpino and Minasian — on the organization’s plan.

“They want to know what’s going on in the clubhouse,” Trout said. ‘They want to know what the vibe is and what we need to improve the team, to make the team click on all cylinders.”

Trout said he thinks “little things will make the difference.”

He pointed out that the Angels finished strong last season — they won 17 of 26 at one point — and that if they’d had a full six month season, things may have end up looking better. They ended up 26-34.

“We needed to come out hotter in the start, but the last few weeks of the season we played good baseball,” Trout said. “Add a few guys and I think we can build on that.”

Trout said he’s already developed a good relationship with Minasian and likes his moves.

“I think it’s going in the right direction,” he said.

Trout didn’t get into any specifics about roster moves, though.

“I’m tired of hearing ‘Mike is adding this guy going to help? Adding that guy?” he said. “I’ve got to worry about myself and try to do what’s best for the team.”

As far as Trout’s individual performance, he is coming off a season in which he finished fifth in the MVP voting, which was the lowest finish of his career. Trout hit .281 with a .993 OPS and 17 homers in 53 games. He became the Angels’ all-time home run leader when he hit his 300th, and he finished with 302.

His one goal for improvement is tightening up his defense. Defensive metrics, which have never rated Trout as elite, last year ranked him as one of the worst center fielders in baseball.

“I take pride in that, and obviously last year I had a bad year,” Trout said. “I think I got away from a few things and it’s got to tighten up.”

Trout said he had neglected to do some of the fundamental drills he’d done in other years, “and if you don’t work on it, it will show.” He said he has told the Angels outfield coaches that he’s committed to improving.

“I’m trying to win the Gold Glove,” he said. “So that’s the goal.”

Off the field, one of the projects for Trout and his wife, Jessica, has been raising awareness for mental health issues and suicide prevention, because Jessica’s bother, Aaron, committed suicide in 2018. Trout said he was shocked to learn that Andrelton Simmons had been dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide during the 2020 season.

“I harp on getting that mental health awareness out there, because you don’t know who’s struggling,” Trout said. “Simmons came in every day, happy as can be. Only inside he obviously was feeling something a little different. …

“I wish I could have done something when he was here. You don’t see it. I talked to him a little bit after it came out. You just never know who’s hurting inside.”

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2 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

 

His one goal for improvement is tightening up his defense. Defensive metrics, which have never rated Trout as elite, last year ranked him as one of the worst center fielders in baseball.

“I take pride in that, and obviously last year I had a bad year,” Trout said. “I think I got away from a few things and it’s got to tighten up.”

Trout said he had neglected to do some of the fundamental drills he’d done in other years, “and if you don’t work on it, it will show.” He said he has told the Angels outfield coaches that he’s committed to improving.

“I’m trying to win the Gold Glove,” he said. “So that’s the goal.”

Just wanted to highlight this part. Last time he said this he went from -3.5 Def Runs in 2017 to +4.2 in 2018.

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10 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

Just wanted to highlight this part. Last time he said this he went from -3.5 Def Runs in 2017 to +4.2 in 2018.

I noticed that as well. I remember discussion at the time more of less highlighting that CF that play a deep CF tend to rate better analytically than ones that line up shallow. 

I don't agree with assessing a players defensive ability based on dWAR, but with statcast beginning more accessible to fans, we're seeing numbers line up that support different stats like DRS. 

So if the numbers almost universally suggest that the best defensive CF tend to line up deeper then I think we'll probably see Trout do that.

His arm strength also improved dramatically the last time he wanted to improve.

Edited by Second Base
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6 minutes ago, Second Base said:

I noticed that as well. I remember discussion at the time more of less highlighting that CF that play a deep CF tend to rate better analytically than ones that line up shallow. 

I don't agree with assessing a players defensive ability based on dWAR, but with statcast beginning more accessible to fans, we're seeing numbers line up that support different stats like DRS. 

So if the numbers almost universally suggest that the best defensive CF tend to line up deeper then I think we'll probably see Trout do that.

His arm strength also improved dramatically the last time he wanted to improve.

I'm a bit confused by what you're saying here. dWAR uses DRS, while fWAR uses UZR. Obviously they're similar, but UZR is less swingy (volatile).

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1 hour ago, Angelsjunky said:

Just wanted to highlight this part. Last time he said this he went from -3.5 Def Runs in 2017 to +4.2 in 2018.

I think he's capable of it as we haven't seen any noticeable decline in his athleticism. It's more positioning and timing. 

That said, I'd still like this to be his last year in CF. 30 seems like the right time for him to move to LF and Marsh to move to CF. 

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He wouldn't have signed an extension with a team that hasn't won and showed no signs of trying to if he was eager to win. He's now eager this year after looking at his teammates? He was consulted by ownership and this team is the result? That's sad. The team is better on paper but are not favored to win the division and many don't even have them making the playoffs. Odds are once again against Trouts team.

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1 minute ago, ThisismineScios said:

I think he's capable of it as we haven't seen any noticeable decline in his athleticism. It's more positioning and timing. 

That said, I'd still like this to be his last year in CF. 30 seems like the right time for him to move to LF and Marsh to move to CF. 

Torii Hunter was 34 when he moved and even then, it was by his choice. They were going to slot Bourjos in RF but Hunter came to Scioscia and asked that Peter take over CF, because he'd reached that point in his career and Peter was clearly an elite defender at age 23. 

I think Trout spend this year (age 29 season), as well as the next two in CF before sliding over to LF. 

Defensively speaking, neither Adell or Marsh are better than Trout in CF right now. Trout's routes, the arm accuracy, his instincts are all still solid, and while Marsh has similar range and a better arm, he'd need reps and a degradation of skill from Trout to pass him. Adell isn't better than Trout in any aspect defensively. At least not yet. 

However, Adams is right there. He has greater range and athleticism than any other option, and his arm is on par with Trout's. The big difference is that Adams needs work on his routes, decision making and arm accuracy out there. His speed makes up for the shifting routes right now, but each of those areas of improvement just come with reps. Eventually, Adams will be better than Trout. 

But then that scenario is dependent upon Adams not being traded, which would be hard to pull off. It would require one of Marsh, Adell or Trout to move to 1B. And while I can picture Trout moving to DH around age 35, it Ohtani isn't around, the only player that has any experience in the infield is Marsh and that was at 1B at the alt site. It's not a likely scenario, just something to potentially explore down the road.

 

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1 hour ago, Second Base said:

Torii Hunter was 34 when he moved and even then, it was by his choice. They were going to slot Bourjos in RF but Hunter came to Scioscia and asked that Peter take over CF, because he'd reached that point in his career and Peter was clearly an elite defender at age 23. 

I think Trout spend this year (age 29 season), as well as the next two in CF before sliding over to LF. 

Defensively speaking, neither Adell or Marsh are better than Trout in CF right now. Trout's routes, the arm accuracy, his instincts are all still solid, and while Marsh has similar range and a better arm, he'd need reps and a degradation of skill from Trout to pass him. Adell isn't better than Trout in any aspect defensively. At least not yet. 

However, Adams is right there. He has greater range and athleticism than any other option, and his arm is on par with Trout's. The big difference is that Adams needs work on his routes, decision making and arm accuracy out there. His speed makes up for the shifting routes right now, but each of those areas of improvement just come with reps. Eventually, Adams will be better than Trout. 

But then that scenario is dependent upon Adams not being traded, which would be hard to pull off. It would require one of Marsh, Adell or Trout to move to 1B. And while I can picture Trout moving to DH around age 35, it Ohtani isn't around, the only player that has any experience in the infield is Marsh and that was at 1B at the alt site. It's not a likely scenario, just something to potentially explore down the road.

 

Yeah, I don't mean to say Trout is 34-year old Torii. Like I said I think he is very capable and hasn't quite showed signs of slowing down. But I think that Marsh will pass him in CF defense fairly soon. I share your feeling about Adams, but it seems he will be the odd man out. 

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1 hour ago, beatlesrule said:

He wouldn't have signed an extension with a team that hasn't won and showed no signs of trying to if he was eager to win. He's now eager this year after looking at his teammates? He was consulted by ownership and this team is the result? That's sad. The team is better on paper but are not favored to win the division and many don't even have them making the playoffs. Odds are once again against Trouts team.

Congratulations on one of the worst takes in the history of AngelsWin.

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21 minutes ago, T.G. said:

And I would have missed it if you hadn't quoted him, since I have him on ignore.  I highly recommend using that feature.

I'm thinking of ignoring cals for like a week, just for the lulz.

 

No offense, cals.

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7 hours ago, Second Base said:

I noticed that as well. I remember discussion at the time more of less highlighting that CF that play a deep CF tend to rate better analytically than ones that line up shallow. 

I don't agree with assessing a players defensive ability based on dWAR, but with statcast beginning more accessible to fans, we're seeing numbers line up that support different stats like DRS. 

So if the numbers almost universally suggest that the best defensive CF tend to line up deeper then I think we'll probably see Trout do that.

His arm strength also improved dramatically the last time he wanted to improve.

Actually Trout’s metrics are bad in part because he plays too deep, not too shallow. 

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10 hours ago, beatlesrule said:

He wouldn't have signed an extension with a team that hasn't won and showed no signs of trying to if he was eager to win. He's now eager this year after looking at his teammates? He was consulted by ownership and this team is the result? That's sad. The team is better on paper but are not favored to win the division and many don't even have them making the playoffs. Odds are once again against Trouts team.

Maybe he wanted to build a winner instead of jumping to a perennial winner like Kevin Durant did with the Warriors.

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On 2/22/2021 at 3:30 PM, beatlesrule said:

Have the Angels won a playoff game with Trout on the roster? How many times have they gotten to the playoffs with Trout on the roster? If Trout really wanted to win, he would not have signed an extension with a team that has not won the whole time he has been on it.

That Tatis guy is such a loser, if he really wanted to win he would have demanded a trade to the Dodgers. Losing mindset. 

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