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Contenders and Pretenders, and the Problem of Desperation-fueled Consolation Prizes


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There isn't really anything wrong with spending money. All high priced players are luxuries. Trout, Rendon, and if he's re-signed Ohtani, are all unnecessary to building a winning team. Just look at the Rays, or Oakland, or San Francisco this year. Wasting money on guys like Pujols is a bit of a scape goat because, yes, while they do preclude you from signing other guys they distract you from the real issues in the organization, and that is an inability to support itself internally.

After the 2009/2010 seasons this organization saw the dissolution of it's core. It had experienced nearly a decade of drafting near the bottom of the draft and seen the end of their international's presence on the amateur market. Stoneman had retired and we had moved on to our first of many first time GM's. We had an opportunity to maintain organizational continuity and refocus on what had worked so well the previous decade, but instead we saw the emergence of Arte Moreno's organizational philosophy.

We have essentially been trying to supplement the 2002 core ever since. Salmon and Anderson got old, so we got Vlad, Lackey leaves and we bring in Dan Haren. Glaus, Erstad and Figgins leave and we're in on Beltre and Crawford but end up with Vernon Wells who fails into Torii Hunter. Vlad gets old and we start eyeing Pujols. Haren gets old and Weaver can't hit 85 anymore and we're trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Kazmir and later on Matt Harvey. 

It's just classic entropy. You can't find another Vlad. You can't sign and trade for a core like the 2002 team had. In the end no GM is going to be able to patch the holes that naturally open up, let alone make them good as new.

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The Angels need to develop a culture that emphasizes hard work and preparation. ‘02 team displayed that. They played “small ball” and had a dependable bullpen. It’s a mindset that starts in the minors. It’s one thing to act “as if” but this team is almost to the point of not even trying. Hopefully this off season changes are made that will make this organization envied for years to come.

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16 minutes ago, HanfordGuy said:

The Angels need to develop a culture that emphasizes hard work and preparation. ‘02 team displayed that. They played “small ball” and had a dependable bullpen. It’s a mindset that starts in the minors. It’s one thing to act “as if” but this team is almost to the point of not even trying. Hopefully this off season changes are made that will make this organization envied for years to come.

I wouldn't go as far as to say it, but this team does put out that vibe... for whatever reason.

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2 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

I wanted to tease out a specific element from this thread, specifically a remark from Dan O'Dowd that I addressed in a long post on the second page, but had a follow-up thought that I wanted to develop more fully. Dan O'Dowd said:

"It's not just about spending money in this game, it's about developing an organization that operates wholly, from every aspect to make your big league team good."

This "holistic approach" is key, and what separates the really successful organizations from the pack. Or rather, I would posit three general types of organizations:

The contenders: These are the teams that understand the holistic perspective, who are perennial contenders or, at least, go through cycles of contention and short fallow periods between.

The pretenders: These are teams that, on paper, should contend--they have the resources and certainly at least make a show of doing so--but for whatever reason, never seem to get there.

The fakers: These are the organizations who clearly aren't really trying, with owners for whom their teams are just cash-cows. 

Now it is really more of a spectrum and not every team can be so cleanly categorized, but think it is clear from the above which category I'd place the Angels in, but just to be blunt, they're a classic "pretender." During the first decade of the century, they looked like they had finally arrived as a "contender," but then that horrible 2010-13 phase occurred in which the front office flailed in trying to get back to previous glory, making moves that proved to be devastating for the next decade.

But to return to the O'Dowd quote, what set me off to start a new thread is that I saw several posts discussing whether or not the Angels would be able to attract a top free agent starter. I mean, we all remember losing out to Gerrit Cole a couple years ago, which prompted the Angels to sign Anthony Rendon, and most of us remember losing Zack Greinke to free agency, which led to the ill-fated Josh Hamilton contract. There is an obvious similarity in the two, separated by seven years: You want one thing that your team actually needs, and if you don't get it, you go after the shiniest consolation prize available (another such instance that comes to mind is the Beltre/Wells debacle of 2011).

What a I see happening, time and time again, is that fans, including myself, are caught in a vicious cycle that echoes this repeating GM error: We recognize clear needs that the Angels have, and then feel a kind of almost desperation that either the Angels get what they need, or all is lost, which leads to the kind of surrogate compensation like Wells, Hamilton, and Rendon.

(As an aside, to be fair to Rendon, he was and presumably still is a very good player, who should be expected to bounce back next year. Meaning, I don't think he's a Wellsian or Hamiltonian blunder, just a very expensive player that the Angels probably didn't absolutely need, and thus those resources--$35M a year--could have been spent more wisely elsewhere)

But here's the key point: the problem is not that the Angels don't get the guy they desperately need, it is that they desperately need him in the first place. 

Meaning, the problem is holistic: that the organization doesn't have the depth to churn out the players it needs from within. If you look at the very top orgs, they often seem to sign big free agents or trade for star players that they don't need. Did the Dodgers "need" MVP-candidate Trea Turner or Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer? Not really, but they're great players and not only solidified their playoff chances, but improve their already very good chances of going deep into the postseason. 

The point being, they were acquisitions made not out of desperation, but more a sense of augmentation. They added to what was already a very good team. The Dodgers were 62-43 (.590) on July 30, the day they acquired Scherzer and Turner, just three games behind the Giants and 6.5 games ahead of the second wildcard. Meaning, they were probably already going to make the playoffs; Scherzer and Turner just made them even better, and the team went on a 44-13 (.772) run.

What we can learn from this, and probably many other similar instances, whether during the season or offseason, is that premier free agents should not be acquired as a way to make a bad or mediocre team good; they should be acquired to improve an already good team. Why? Because they are just one player.

I think you could say that almost all of the Angels big free agents and trade acquisitions over the last decade were made from the perspective of hoping that the "big splash" would turn the team from mediocrity to contention. Compound that with the fact that such moves were often made in desperation and/or as consolation prizes and, well, you get Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and even Justin Upton and Anthony Rendon, to some extent. 

SO here's my recommendation for Perry Minasian and even Arte Moreno. No single free agent is going to get the organization to where we all want it to get to. No two or even three free agents.  If the Angels make the playoffs next year, the primary reason likely will not be whoever you acquire this offseason, but who you already have and how they developed and played.

Meaning, the homegrown and already present core: the big three of Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon; the complementary players like Fletcher, Walsh, and Stassi; the young starters like Ohtani (again), Sandoval, Suarez, and Canning; and the talented up-and-comers like Adell and Marsh, Detmers and Rodriguez. And furthermore, the increasing depth on the farm, which is seeing the upper levels fill out with, if not future stars, then at least a bunch of players who could play a role over the next few years. And a deepening farm system with higher upside talent in the low minors.

In a way, it comes back to what we all know (or should know): Build from within, supplement from without. And, to say it once more: The problem is not missing out on the free agents you want, but in desperately needing them in the first place, and compounding that problem by spending big on guys you don't really need or aren't very good.

In a way it is as if the Angels keep making the same mistake: "Going for it" before they're ready, as if they can fake it until they make it. Thankfully Perry seems to be taking a slightly different approach, thus the lack of long-term contracts last offseason. Hopefully he continues, and doesn't start working out of desperation to please the big man (Arte) or the illogical fan-base, or even the superstars (Trout and Ohtani). I hope Trout means what he says, that he trusts Perry. And moreso, I hope that Perry deserves our trust, in undestanding the dynamic that I've laid out here.

Only time will tell. This offseason won't make or break the Angels--that is kind of part of my point--but it will tell us a lot about where Perry's head is, and to what degree he understands what O'Dowd said, and I tried to elaborate on.

 

 

This is great work @Angelsjunky.  
 

From your keyboard, to Perry’s ears.

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3 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

 

But to return to the O'Dowd quote, what set me off to start a new thread is that I saw several posts discussing whether or not the Angels would be able to attract a top free agent starter. I mean, we all remember losing out to Gerrit Cole a couple years ago, which prompted the Angels to sign Anthony Rendon, and most of us remember losing Zack Greinke to free agency, which led to the ill-fated Josh Hamilton contract. There is an obvious similarity in the two, separated by seven years: You want one thing that your team actually needs, and if you don't get it, you go after the shiniest consolation prize available (another such instance that comes to mind is the Beltre/Wells debacle of 2011).

 

Great post AJ.  That's why I hope to see Minasian trade for an affordable SS early, and take that prize off the table.

This sophomore off-season and season, Minasian is on the clock (not hot seat).  He is going to have to utilize prospect capital to get this team where it needs to be and that is a good thing if done judiciously.   Getting them to the point where they can start well enough to actually be in contention for the first wild card spot by the trade deadline is a feasible goal.  That doesn't mean he has to have a Scherzer or Gausmann.  Augment the bullpen by signing Iglesias and bringing in a good setup man , then a #2 & #3 type starters would be sufficient (perhaps Cobb being the #3).  Stassi doesn't seem like he'll catch more than 90 games so a legit #2 is needed and Thiass is not it.  Defense-first moderately priced SS and up the middle is covered.  Trades to bring in the setup guy and SS will cost but there are redundancies to be exploited and as you mentioned, there is real talent coming in from rookie/single A.  

The team does have something to prove and should Minasian make the foundation solid without shooting his wad on an old ace, he will have funds to bring in reasonably good pitching and/or take on a salary dump at the deadline

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So agree with everything you said about roster building AJ, I think that most teams understand this (except maybe the Rockies).

To play a little bit of Devil's Advocate: Something important happened in the Rule 4 Draft in 2009 and then that player had his first cup of coffee in 2011 where he showed well, despite the numbers not quite being there.

That offseason (2011-2012) Moreno authorized the Pujols and Wilson deals, in part because they thought they were forming the core of a contending team (and let us not forget they got to the Division Series in 2014). We all know the history, but one might argue that Mike Trout is the driving factor in not only the preseason 2012 decisions, but virtually every decision since. His recognized value to the team drove decision making to win that would not be the norm in other situations. You could even argue that getting to the Division Series justified, to a degree, the decisions made from 2012-2014. What if the Angels had not gotten steamrolled by the Royals? The Angels won 98 games that year, that is not insignificant and in fact is quite good.

For better or worse one could continue the argument that Mike Trout has been the primary reason the team has pressed forward making the "desperate moves" since they brought him up in 2011 and that it was and still is a legitimate reason to keep pressing as they have over the 10 years since then. Now you add Ohtani to the mix and you have even additional reasons to press harder.

Bottom line is that, yes, you shouldn't generally add free agents to fill holes. As Jeff Fletcher has often said, free agents should be finishing pieces to a contending team and I basically agree with yours, AJ, and Jeff's philosophies. However, someone like Mike Trout only comes around once in a generation and as much as I have hated many of the decisions made by the front office over the last decade, those decisions to try and build a contender around him actually worked (2014) in the early years, but have generally maligned the team since then, despite the probable good intent.

As I will discuss in the Primer Series, this offseason will be a pivotal one in the history of this ballclub and we will look back on this offseason, no matter what baseball operations and financial decisions that are made, for better or for worse.

 

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1 hour ago, ettin said:

So agree with everything you said about roster building AJ, I think that most teams understand this (except maybe the Rockies).

To play a little bit of Devil's Advocate: Something important happened in the Rule 4 Draft in 2009 and then that player had his first cup of coffee in 2011 where he showed well, despite the numbers not quite being there.

That offseason (2011-2012) Moreno authorized the Pujols and Wilson deals, in part because they thought they were forming the core of a contending team (and let us not forget they got to the Division Series in 2014). We all know the history, but one might argue that Mike Trout is the driving factor in not only the preseason 2012 decisions, but virtually every decision since. His recognized value to the team drove decision making to win that would not be the norm in other situations. You could even argue that getting to the Division Series justified, to a degree, the decisions made from 2012-2014. What if the Angels had not gotten steamrolled by the Royals? The Angels won 98 games that year, that is not insignificant and in fact is quite good.

For better or worse one could continue the argument that Mike Trout has been the primary reason the team has pressed forward making the "desperate moves" since they brought him up in 2011 and that it was and still is a legitimate reason to keep pressing as they have over the 10 years since then. Now you add Ohtani to the mix and you have even additional reasons to press harder.

Bottom line is that, yes, you shouldn't generally add free agents to fill holes. As Jeff Fletcher has often said, free agents should be finishing pieces to a contending team and I basically agree with yours, AJ, and Jeff's philosophies. However, someone like Mike Trout only comes around once in a generation and as much as I have hated many of the decisions made by the front office over the last decade, those decisions to try and build a contender around him actually worked (2014) in the early years, but have generally maligned the team since then, despite the probable good intent.

As I will discuss in the Primer Series, this offseason will be a pivotal one in the history of this ballclub and we will look back on this offseason, no matter what baseball operations and financial decisions that are made, for better or for worse.

 

Hmm...nice post, and I hear what you are saying, but think you're fudging the dates a bit, with a touch of revisionist history.

Specifically, I don't think Trout being the driving factor really came into play until later. In the 2011-12 offseason, they had no idea how good Trout would become. He looked promising, like a bonafide star, but not one thought he would be a generational player, or at least not on the Mays/Mantle level (I think the hope was more Griffey). I think at that point, the idea was to build a contender around Pujols and Trout, and then Hamilton a year later. They had a nice group of promising young pitchers, every single one of whom went down for a year or more. So as much as we complain about the org, there was some seriously bad luck involved, that intermixed with bad decision making (especially the big splashes of Pujols and Hamilton).

The decisions of 2010-13 all seemed based on trying to recapture the glory of 2002-09. Arte's disappointment in 2010, and then the stupidity of going after (and thankfully failing to get) Carl Crawford instead of Adrian Beltre, pushed Tony Reagins to make that terrible Vernon Wells trade, which was the first of three truly horrible franchise-crippling moves in a bit over two years. Despite those moves, in 2014 it seemed to have worked, though at that point it was still based on building around Trout and Pujols. Then they fell back to earth in 2015 and spent the next few years trying to get back there, but wading up-stream with all of those pitching injuries, and the collapse of Pujols as a valuable player.

I think Trout started becoming a more of a dominant factor in their decision-making sometime in the second half of that decade, as the "Trout Window"  loomed larger, with his 2014 contract's termination date being after the 2020 season. We all breathed a sigh of relief in early 2019 and lauded Eppler as a genius. I mean, the guy nabbed Ohtani  just over a year before. But 2019 was their worst record (72-90) since the 90s, and Eppler didn't seem able to crack the riddle. Yet. That was the time of the "N+1" thing, when we saw little glimmers of hope in Eppler's long-term planning and interesting prospects emerging in the minors, but the arrival date of when it would all come together kept being pushed back.

The Trout Window was replaced by the question of how could the Angels be mediocre, year after year, with the best player in the game? So that was an influence, although Eppler's approach seemed to be a combination of gradually rebuilding the farm and patching holes, but with no real big splashes, other than Ohtani and the Trout contract, and I suppose Upton.

It is hard to make anything of 2020. It really wasn't much of a season, and really, the only good news was that Rendon was as advertised, Bundy was resurgent, and maybe one or two others (Fletch looked legit). But the Rendon acquisition had a certain resonance with the Greinke/Hamilton debacle, and 2021 was a continuation of a decade plus of mediocrity.

Now Minasian is in a similar position that Eppler was in his first few years, with an Ohtani Window. Let's hope he looks at the mistakes of the recent past, and doesn't follow a similar approach. 

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1 hour ago, Revad said:

Sorry but we are DESPERATE for pitchimg

 

 

 

 

no we're not.  We could really really use a TOR starter.  But we actually have depth.  

Tampa won their division running away.  They had 0.1 more starter WAR than the Angels.  

Yet they had about 3 more wins from their pen.  Which is actually pretty significant but not insane.  What is insane is their pen depth.  We got -0.4 WAR from four guys who had the 4th through 8th number of innings for us.  So there's a couple ways to skin this cat.  Go out and spend 30m per on one guy or create way better depth in your pen.  Or both.  

The other way that tampa won this year?  They had no holes in their lineup.  1-9 was above average.  The main difference between the rays and the Angels this year was offense.  Not pitching.  And they had an average to slightly above defense.  

My point is that we can improve this team tremendously via SS and 2b.  I know we're not gonna at 2b as I'm sure Fletcher will get another crack, but the dude had 0.2 WAR for year in almost 700 PA.  Even Griffin canning did that in his 60 innings and with a 5.42 FIP.  

Let's say a starter is of equivalent overall value to a position player.  If Dylan Bundy was allowed to pitch 170 innings, he would have had about 0.2 WAR.  Jose Quintana even accumulated 0.3 WAR in 35 innings over 10 starts.  3.5 innings per start!  And yet we're cool with Fletch and people want to bring back Jose Iglesias who had 0.4 WAR?  Where is the desperation to improve those spots?

Why does it matter is someone is a pitcher or hitter?  A black hole is a black hole.  Run production and run prevention count the same.  

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and again, the last thing I'm saying is to ignore starting pitching.  Yes.  look to improve but look to improve anywhere you can.  What's the cost to improve from replacement level production at various positions?  We actually have more pitching depth right now than we do position player depth.  As evident by the fact that we had guys hurt on both sides of the ball in the second half of 2021.  The offense fell apart.  The pitching actually improved.  

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I can't wait until Minasian upgrades at SS and C and the casual plebs on Facebook flip out because they weren't pitchers.

I'm not as cavalier as you are regarding the pitching, doc. I really think we need to upgrade and can't afford to add minor "improvements" (again). But I definitely agree the team needs to improve in several places.

I think one thing that people get stuck on, myself included, is the "on paper" expectations. Even if we re-signed Iglesias, and brought in Scherzer and Baez, the Angels still aren't going to be expected to be anything more than a potential wild card team. This team just isn't set up to be "favorites", no matter what they do. And that’s mostly because we have a lot of unproven depth. 

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Posted (edited)

Good stuff, @Dochalo, with one caveat: there are different routes to fielding a winning team, as far as team composition is concerned. The Rays are a good example of depth - it isn't a top heavy team, with their best position player at 4.5 WAR, best pitcher at 2.6 WAR (and that guy, Tyler Glasnow, missed half of the season to injury).

What the Rays have is incredible depth: Among 18 position players with 50+ PA, only two of them produced negative WAR, for a total of -0.8. And 11 guys had 1.4 WAR or higher.

Compare that to the Angels, who had 20 position players with 50 PA, seven of whom produced negative WAR for -2.7. And they only had five guys with 1 WAR or higher.

As for pitching, the Rays had nine guys of 1 WAR or better and of pitchers with 10 IP or more, only two with negative WAR, for a total of -0.4. The Angels had six 1+ WAR pitchers, and seven guys with negative WAR for -1.2.

Just on negative WAR players, the Rays were about 3 wins better. They had more decent guys to plug in as necessary. And, of course, the overall better quality of their players made up the difference between 77 and 100 wins.

Now the Angels have three position players that are better than any of the guys the Rays have, and there's nothing wrong with having a "stars and scrubs"  lineup if the stars are healthy and the scrubs are decent (better than scrubs). That didn't happen for the Angels in either case, or at least not nearly enough.

But they can find a hybrid between the Rays balanced and deep lineup (which was somewhat similar to the 2002 Angels) and an extreme stars and scrub lineup, especially if they get solid performances from their complementary players and rising young players. I mean, it is very possible that the Angels have 8+ players with 2+ WAR next year: Trout, Ohtani, Rendon, Stassi, Walsh, Marsh, Adell, Fletcher, even Rengifo. And at least three of those guys could be much, much better.

Edited by Angelsjunky
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Posted (edited)

So I'm not sure they desperately need a catcher and shortstop, or at least not really good ones. What they need at both positions is someone who isn't a negative, who is of positive value. And preferably guys who can play defense.

The free agent pool is rather shallow among catchers, so they could go the route of Thaiss and spend a bit more on shortstop. I'm not saying Correa or even Baez, but someone like Jonathan Villar or Freddy Galvis would be a nice addition.

And the same goes for the bullpen and, to some extent, the rotation. But i think they already have all the depth they need among starters, and mainly need a second #2 or better, and/or a reliable #3 (or two).

 

Edited by Angelsjunky
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So how about this:

Marcus Stroman for 4/$84M

Jonathan Villar for 2/$15M

Alex Cobb for 1/$8M

Raisel Iglesias for 3/$45M

Kendall Graveman 2/$10M

= $52.5M AAV

Then you have:

Catchers: Stassi, Thaiss

Infielders: Rendon, Walsh, Fletcher, Villar, Rengifo

Outfielders: Trout, Upton, Marsh, Adell

Starters: Ohtani, Stroman, Cobb, Sandoval, Suarez, Detmers

Relievers: Iglesias, Graveman, Mayers, C Rodriguez, Barria, Warren, Quijada, Herget

Or something like that. Lots of pitching depth in AA/AAA, including Canning waiting for a chance to prove himself, and Daniel on the cusp, plus guys like Diaz, Naughton, Tyler, Criswell, Ortega, etc.

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3 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

Good stuff, @Dochalo, with one caveat: there are routes to fielding a winning team, as far as team composition is concerned. The Rays are a good example of depth - it isn't a top heavy team, with their best position player at 4.5 WAR, best pitcher at 2.6 WAR (and that guy, Tyler Glasnow, missed half of the season to injury).

What the Rays have is incredible depth: Among 18 position players with 50+ PA, only two of them produced negative WAR, for a total of -0.8. And 11 guys had 1.4 WAR or higher.

Compare that to the Angels, who had 20 position players with 50 PA, seven of whom produced negative WAR for -2.7. And they only had five guys with 1 WAR or higher.

As for pitching, the Rays had nine guys of 1 WAR or better and of pitchers with 10 IP or more, only two with negative WAR, for a total of -0.4. The Angels had six 1+ WAR pitchers, and seven guys with negative WAR for -1.2.

Just just on negative WAR players, the Rays were about 3 wins better. They had more decent guys to plug in as necessary.

Now the Angels have three position players that are better than any of the guys the Rays have, and there's nothing wrong with having a "stars and scrubs"  lineup if the stars are healthy and the scrubs are decent (better than scrubs). That didn't happen for the Angels in either case, or at least not nearly enough.

But they can find a hybrid between the Rays balanced and deep lineup (which was somewhat similar to the 2002 Angels) and an extreme stars and scrub lineup, especially if they get solid performances from their complementary players and rising young players. I mean, it is very possible that the Angels have 8+ players with 2+ WAR next year: Trout, Ohtani, Rendon, Stassi, Walsh, Marsh, Adell, Fletcher, even Rengifo.

the Angels are screwed if any of their key offensive pieces suffer significant injuries again and that the nit with the stars and scrubs approach.  But they're kinda locked into some version of that because depth comes from the farm and their upper level position player depth is pretty weak.  Unless you get some breakout performances from the like of guys like Davis, Rengifo, Stefanic.  That's why I think an add like Chris Taylor becomes important.  If Trout get's hurt, you're f'd.  As any team would be.  But you need a couple of actual major leaguers to create more depth and you're not gonna get that by going cheap on ST invites or league min deals unless you get really lucky.  My point is that they should consider spending in that area and I view that as being nearly as important as trying to find additional pitching.  Taylor and/or a guy like Villar instead of Mayfield and Gosselin.  There's enough at bats in there somewhere for guys like that.  Villar made 3.5 mil this year and got 505 PA with time at 2b, 3b, and SS.  and a 102 ops+ with solid defense.  

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1 minute ago, Angelsjunky said:

So how about this:

Marcus Stroman for 4/$84M

Jonathan Villar for 2/$15M

Alex Cobb for 1/$8M

Raisel Iglesias for 3/$45M

Kendall Graveman 2/$10M

= $52.5M AAV

Then you have:

Catchers: Stassi, Thaiss

Infielders: Rendon, Walsh, Fletcher, Villar, Rengifo

Outfielders: Trout, Upton, Marsh, Adell

Starters: Ohtani, Stroman, Cobb, Sandoval, Suarez, Detmers

Relievers: Iglesias, Graveman, Mayers, C Rodriguez, Barria, Warren, Quijada, Herget

Or something like that. Lots of pitching depth in AA/AAA, including Canning waiting for a chance to prove himself, and Daniel on the cusp, plus guys like Diaz, Naughton, Tyler, Criswell, Ortega, etc.

heh.  see my comment about Villar.  

I think you're low on Stroman.  I bet he gets 5 years.  And someone is gonna overpay Cobb.  

Manny Pina is my sleeper for backup C.  Great defender and some pop.  He'll run into one here and there.  

Villar AND Taylor.  but that's pie in the sky.  I'd just love to have that depth considering Taylor can play just about anywhere.  Rengifo, Thaiss and Ward all have options left.  I like the C experiment with Thaiss and I think it justifies him starting in the minors.  I just can't hand SS to Rengifo.  He's earned the right so far to be a shuttle guy.  He shows those flashes here and there but it's not enough.  And Ward.  Here's the thing about him.  He played a really good CF in the limited time he was out there.  If you could convince a rebuilding team of that you might be able to trade him for a really good pen arm.  Otherwise, he's minor league depth and pretty decent depth at that.  

I don't think you'll get Graveman for 5mil per.  My guess is someone pays him 8 or 9 per.  so 2/18.  But I like him a lot.  

I'd really love to get Iglesias back.  I really just don't see the halos spending what it will take to keep him.  

And my main SP target is Jon Gray.  He characteristically doesn't get deep into games.  

I'm also keeping Rodriguez a starter.  And I'm trading from our SP depth if I add two starters.  Barria might not get you much but I think he would net a serviceable pen arm.  I would also consider moving Suarez but that depends on the health of Sandoval.  I'd keep Canning for now.  Not selling low.

So 

Taylor 3/27
Villar 2/12
Gray 3/45 maybe 4/60
Cobb 2/20
Graveman 2/16
Pina - league min.  
That about 50m so far.  

I'd fill out the pen with a couple trades.  If Sam Selman is in the pen next year I'm gonna pitch a fit.  Same with Guerra.  

And the wild card is Iglesias.  Maybe Arte finally says f it and goes there which puts the total spend at about 67 mil.  Which pushes payroll to about 200m.  

And something else to think about if you add both Gray and Cobb.  You've also got Ohtani of course, Sandoval, Suarez, Canning, Rodriguez, Detmers, Barria, and a mess of depth in the minors.  You might be able to trade from that instead of spending on Taylor or Villar or even Graveman.   
 

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Maybe you add one TOR and do a hybrid Tampa thing. Ohtani and your new guy throw as long as they're capable and all the others like Sandoval, Suarez, Barria, Canning, Rodriguez, Detmers, and maybe even Bachman are twice through the order guys in tandem unless they prove worthy of more innings. Two 160 inning guys and six 110 inning guys could be their best bridge to the back of the pen 

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11 hours ago, Dochalo said:

no we're not.  We could really really use a TOR starter.  But we actually have depth.  

Tampa won their division running away.  They had 0.1 more starter WAR than the Angels.  

Yet they had about 3 more wins from their pen.  Which is actually pretty significant but not insane.  What is insane is their pen depth.  We got -0.4 WAR from four guys who had the 4th through 8th number of innings for us.  So there's a couple ways to skin this cat.  Go out and spend 30m per on one guy or create way better depth in your pen.  Or both.  

The other way that tampa won this year?  They had no holes in their lineup.  1-9 was above average.  The main difference between the rays and the Angels this year was offense.  Not pitching.  And they had an average to slightly above defense.  

My point is that we can improve this team tremendously via SS and 2b.  I know we're not gonna at 2b as I'm sure Fletcher will get another crack, but the dude had 0.2 WAR for year in almost 700 PA.  Even Griffin canning did that in his 60 innings and with a 5.42 FIP.  

Let's say a starter is of equivalent overall value to a position player.  If Dylan Bundy was allowed to pitch 170 innings, he would have had about 0.2 WAR.  Jose Quintana even accumulated 0.3 WAR in 35 innings over 10 starts.  3.5 innings per start!  And yet we're cool with Fletch and people want to bring back Jose Iglesias who had 0.4 WAR?  Where is the desperation to improve those spots?

Why does it matter is someone is a pitcher or hitter?  A black hole is a black hole.  Run production and run prevention count the same.  

I agree but we need pitching.  In the pen and a TOR starter.  

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