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Three Reasons for Optimism in 2023


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56 minutes ago, Angels 1961 said:

Someone unexpected needs to step-up and be a big surprise in BP. Just like Brendan Donelly was. Maybe a Jacob Webb

Yes one or two unexpected surprises in the bullpen to match Canning (wasn’t counting on his health and even now it’s wait and see) and Davidson.

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5 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

At the risk of being chastised by @Docwaukee for writing an optimistic post heading into the season (he and I have a shared bad track record), or garnering complaints about the infamous AJ Jinx, I can't help but feel...hopeful for the season. Being an Angels fan of 40+ years, I've long learned to sublimate optimism, but hope springs eternal, and there are actually legitimate reasons to feel good about the 2023 season.

1. The Rotation is Deep(ish)

In another thread discussing the Angels #5-6 starters, I wrote "I like the rotation depth. Suarez, Davidson, Canning, and Silseth are a solid group to have for the #5-8 slots."

The rotation was already a strength last year, at least relative to the last half-decade or so. After the implosion of literally every young starter in 2015-16, the rotation has been plugged with a casting call of mediocre free agents, minor league journeymen, and clean peanuts. But last year, with a healthy Shohei Ohtani, an improving Patrick Sandoval, and a Reid Detmers who seemed to find his sea-legs by the second half, the Angels had a strong 1-2-3 by season's end, with Jose Suarez also being solid #4. GM Perry Minasian went for depth, bolstering the rotation with Tyler Anderson.

Best of all, there are plenty of options to provide depth: Tucker Davidson didn't wow anyone last year but has looked excellent in Spring Training; Griffin Canning is finally healthy, and Chase Silseth--while still raw--has upside and isn't far off. And that doesn't even count oft-and-understandably-forgotten prospect Chris Rodriguez, 2021 top picks Sam Bachman and Ky Bush, not to mention a variety of fringe prospects in AA/AAA.

The point being, the rotation looks deep, or deepish if we want to be modest, but in better shape than it has been in many years.

2. The Lineup has a Range of Weapons (and Immense Upside)

Last year the offense fell apart, devastated by major injuries to Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Taylor Ward, and David Fletcher, plus off years for Jared Walsh and Max Stassi, and a terribly weak bench who were stretched filling in as regulars. This year, not only does everyone look healthy (knock on wood), but the lineup has been strengthened by the addition of Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Drury, and Gio Urshela. Furthermore, top prospect Logan O'Hoppe is on the cusp and should contribute behind the plate. Like the rotation, there's a lot of depth here, both players to move around as needed and back-up plans for nearly every position. 

There's a not-insignificant chance that the Angels offense could be one of the best in the majors. At the least it should be very good.

3. Shohei Ohtani's Walk Year

Now we're all worried that Shohei is going to leave for more lucrative waters, but consider how many players have a career year in their walk year. If we combine the best of Shohei's last two seasons--his hitting from 2021 (5.0 WAR, 151 wRC+) and pitching from 2022 (5.6 WAR, 2.33 ERA), you get a 10.6 WAR player. Even combining the reverse yields 6.8 WAR.

Anyhow, the point is that barring major injury, Shohei will, once again, be the best show in town. Enjoy it while it lasts, whether that is one or ten more seasons.

Addendum: A Tempering Concern

My biggest worry for the season is health, namely that of Trout and Rendon, but also just in general. That aside, my biggest on-paper worry is the bullpen. So if there's a tempering factor to the optimism above, it is that we enter the season, once again, with a wildcard bullpen. Perhaps the silver lining is that with the rotation depth and a few intriguing minor league relief prospects (e.g. flamethrowing Ben Joyce), there might be enough talent in the upper layers of the org to field a competitive bullpen. But we shall see.

Agree with all points made. Definitely looking forward to the season.

Thanks Angelsjunky for yet another great write up.

Always appreciated.

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I think I am more excited for this season than any of the last 5. All of the moves they made raise the sea level. And we are seeing clear progression from Sandoval and Detmers. The weakest spot in their lineup right now is either Fletcher/Rengifo or Stassi/O'Hoppe. The former are at worst solid hitters, the latter have power and average hitting upside with really good defense. 

I am a little uneasy about Davidson as the #6 guy. I don't like 5 lefties in the rotation, and I think putting Davidson in Barria's role and having Canning be the #6 is more useful. Barria has very average stuff and can't start. Davidson could easily slot in the rotation when needed. Barrias flames out after 2 times through like clockwork. 

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11 hours ago, tdawg87 said:

This offseason, I think Perry has taken the best approach to improving the main roster since 2014. He actually went after the team's biggest need and did quite well IMO. 

Amazing what an unrestrained GM is capable of doing.  Hope it wasn't a one time thing.

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7 hours ago, ThisismineScios said:

I think I am more excited for this season than any of the last 5. All of the moves they made raise the sea level. And we are seeing clear progression from Sandoval and Detmers. The weakest spot in their lineup right now is either Fletcher/Rengifo or Stassi/O'Hoppe. The former are at worst solid hitters, the latter have power and average hitting upside with really good defense. 

I am a little uneasy about Davidson as the #6 guy. I don't like 5 lefties in the rotation, and I think putting Davidson in Barria's role and having Canning be the #6 is more useful. Barria has very average stuff and can't start. Davidson could easily slot in the rotation when needed. Barrias flames out after 2 times through like clockwork. 

Well, the good thing is that they have a ton of options for #6. If Davidson gets blown out a few times, they can either insert Barria for a start or two, or go with Canning, who should be waiting in the wings. I expect that, by the second half, Silseth will be ripe. And C Rod, Bush, and Bachman may also be options.

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2 hours ago, Inside Pitch said:

Amazing what an unrestrained GM is capable of doing.  Hope it wasn't a one time thing.

Perry seems capable of learning from his, and the organization's, mistakes. Up until this offseason, he has looked somewhat like Eppler 2.0. But this offseason he adjusted. 

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55 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

Perry seems capable of learning from his, and the organization's, mistakes. Up until this offseason, he has looked somewhat like Eppler 2.0. But this offseason he adjusted. 

Perry for this year really did add to the depth halos have lacked. Will be it same position this off season if not worse. Renfroe and Gio will be gone plus if Ohtani leaves 2 major holes will be created. This year is very crucial to make playoffs. Like most halo fans BP is big question mark. Without a closer in place and many roles not yet defined. If Loup, Tepera, Moore and Carlos E. come up big team can go far. Herget has year like last year would be huge.

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23 minutes ago, Angels 1961 said:

Perry for this year really did add to the depth halos have lacked. Will be it same position this off season if not worse. Renfroe and Gio will be gone plus if Ohtani leaves 2 major holes will be created. This year is very crucial to make playoffs. Like most halo fans BP is big question mark. Without a closer in place and many roles not yet defined. If Loup, Tepera, Moore and Carlos E. come up big team can go far. Herget has year like last year would be huge.

A year from now, we should have a better sense of a host of young pitchers: In addition to hopefully further development/health from Sandoval, Detmers, and maybe Canning, also Silseth, C-Rod, Bush, and Bachman -- all of whom should be major league ready by the end of 2023. So while the Angels can't replace Ohtani's quality from within, they have some quantity of pretty good quality. 

Renfroe and Gio will be gone, but hopefully Adell will have turned the corner and can take on regular duties in the OF, and Neto also should be close to ready by the start of 2024.

But yeah, it feels very important that they have a good year in 2023.

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2 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Perry seems capable of learning from his, and the organization's, mistakes. Up until this offseason, he has looked somewhat like Eppler 2.0. But this offseason he adjusted. 

I just don't think much of went down was the first two seasons was his choice. 

Year one was pretty much Maddon getting all his old buddies back together - a lot of the adds had ties to Captain Culture at his previous stops. Last season he essentially went about filling out Maddon's wish list at the end of the previous year when he went to the press and whined about not being able to count on the guys they had -- the same guys that pretty much all stepped up and have become rotational foundation pieces.. This season Arte still had his case of the "F-its" and there was no Maddon around to talk about the vibe and how getting the right mix of players was more important than actual performance and boom, we see a bunch of moves that seem to jive with what one would expect from a Minasian/Tamin front office.   Seriously -- there's been almost no mention of culture this winter compared to the last two seasons.

More importantly..  If indeed Arte wanted Turner and Minasian told him the team had bigger fish to fry then maybe we have a GM with the balls to tell Arte to let him work.

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