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OC Register: Angels GM Perry Minasian believes there is plenty of room for internal improvement


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While Perry Minasian looks to add players to the Angels roster, the general manager acknowledged the obvious on Monday.

The Angels’ best hope for a significant improvement over last season is more production from the players they already have.

“We have to get better internally,” Minasian said on the first full day of the Winter Meetings. “We’re not going to buy a whole new team. We’re not going to trade for a whole new team.”

The pitching staff in particular has plenty of room to improve.

The Angels ranked ninth in the majors in ERA in 2022, and much of the same staff returned in 2023 and performed worse.

“I do believe what they went through last year will make them better next year,” Minasian said. “This game is hard, especially pitching in general, in a really good division with a lot of very good teams. It’s a tough, tough ticket.”

The pitchers will now work under new pitching coach Barry Enright and bullpen coach Steve Karsay.

“I’m excited about our pitching group,” Minasian said. “Just from talking to Barry and talking to Steve, I think they’ll bring some new things that might enhance the group. Sometimes it’s just hearing a different voice.”

Minasian was also quick to say that shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism of former pitching coach Matt Wise, who was hired as the Chicago White Sox bullpen coach, or assistant pitching coach Bill Hezel, who is still a candidate to stay in some role the Angels.

“Matt’s very talented,” Minasian said. “Matt got a job in two seconds. Bill is super talented.”

Minasian also believes getting Max Stassi back behind the plate will have a positive impact on the pitchers. Stassi missed the entire 2023 season with a hip injury and to deal with the health issues his infant son faced after he was born three months prematurely.

“We expect him to be ready to go,” Minasian said. “He’s working out. He’s in a good place family wise. Not perfect, but better.”

The Angels also did not put a very good defensive team on the field at times last year, which didn’t help the pitching.

Minasian’s hope for internal improvement goes hand in hand with his effort to find external improvements.

“You need as much pitching as you possibly can get to make them better,” said Minasian, who wouldn’t comment on any of his free agent or trade targets. “Adding quality, adding quantity, where (the returning pitchers) can get a blow here or there, I think is really important.”

Minasian also said the Angels haven’t yet decided if they will use a five- or six-man rotation in 2024. They used a six-man rotation in the past few years, mostly because that was best for fitting in Shohei Ohtani.

“We’ve had a ton of discussions on that topic,” Minasian said. “Nothing’s been set in stone. I think seeing how the roster shapes up, what we have, who are in those length spots in the bullpen, if they can make starts, I think that’ll answer itself once we get to spring training.”

WAITING ON OHTANI

Minasian wouldn’t comment on the Angels’ pursuit of Ohtani, who is expected to command a record deal worth more than $500 million. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, has so far orchestrated a free agent process with very little information leaking to the media.

At this point, the teams most often connected to Ohtani are the Dodgers, Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. The industry expectation is that Ohtani will make a decision in the next week or two.

If the Angels were to spend the money to bring back Ohtani, it would likely mean exceeding the $237 million luxury tax threshold. They are currently around $73 million short of that, according to FanGraphs.

Last season the Angels briefly exceeded the luxury tax threshold again, only to cut costs after they fell out of the race.

“From the day I walked in the door, people want to win here,” Minasian said. “I think we did it last year. We went to (payroll) places that I don’t think this place has ever gone. So I wouldn’t bet against that again.”

WHAT ABOUT RENDON?

As of now, the Angels are still hoping to have Anthony Rendon as their everyday third baseman, even though he’s missed most of the last three seasons with injuries.

“There is no doubt about it, you can look at it with wins and losses, we are a significantly better club with him on the field,” Minasian said. “Yes, I expect him to be our third baseman. I expect him to play every day. With that being said, with all players, you have to have contingency plans. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

Over the past three years the Angels are 81-66 (.551) when Rendon is in the starting lineup and 142-197 (.419) when he’s not.

Minasian added that it could help if Rendon — and Mike Trout, who has also had three straight injury-marred seasons — comes to camp with something to prove.

“Sometimes a chip on your shoulder is a good thing,” Minasian said. “We have a lot of guys with chips on their shoulder.”

New Angels first base coach Bo Porter has known Rendon for nearly two decades, so many assume that his additions to the staff was at least in part to help get the most out of Rendon.

“It matters to a certain extent,” Minasian said. “He knows him well. Bo’s reputation and knowledge of the game and work ethic and all those things are what got him the job, not one attachment to one player.”

NOTES

The Angels hired Tim Laker as their offensive coordinator, but Minasian said the meaning of that rather unusual title hasn’t yet been determined. Johnny Washington is the hitting coach who is in charge, but beyond that, it will be up to Washington and Laker to sort out which areas of hitting instruction will be handled by each, Minasian said. …

Minasian confirmed the retention of bench coach Ray Montgomery. They are still considering some options for additional big league coaches, but that likely completes the staff, Minasian said. …

Former assistant hitting coach Phil Plantier and former catching coach Bill Haselman will remain in the Angels minor league system, Minasian said. They are talking to former infield coach Benji Gil and former assistant pitching coach Bill Hezel about jobs within the system too. …

Left-hander Adam Kolarek, who the Angels signed to a major league deal last month, appealed to the Angels because of high ground ball rate and his success against left-handed hitters, Minasian said. …

Although the Angels have been connected to free agent catcher Martin Maldonado, Minasian said catching is “not an area we’re focused on currently.” At the moment they have Logan O’Hoppe, Matt Thaiss and Stassi at the top of their catching depth chart, not necessarily in that order.

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"The Angels hired Tim Laker as their offensive coordinator, but Minasian said the meaning of that rather unusual title hasn’t yet been determined. Johnny Washington is the hitting coach who is in charge, but beyond that, it will be up to Washington and Laker to sort out which areas of hitting instruction will be handled by each, Minasian said."

Kind of an odd.  Why hire him without having a clear idea of what he's being brought in to do?

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1 hour ago, jsnpritchett said:

"The Angels hired Tim Laker as their offensive coordinator, but Minasian said the meaning of that rather unusual title hasn’t yet been determined. Johnny Washington is the hitting coach who is in charge, but beyond that, it will be up to Washington and Laker to sort out which areas of hitting instruction will be handled by each, Minasian said."

Kind of an odd.  Why hire him without having a clear idea of what he's being brought in to do?

You add all the talent you can and figure it out from there. 

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4 minutes ago, jsnpritchett said:

I guess.  Seems like a recipe for disaster if there aren't clear roles, though.  It's one thing to do that with players, but with management/coaches, I'd personally want things more defined.

Don’t think of it as “no clear roles” think of it as “the roles are fluid until the find out how each other compliments each other” 

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11 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Don’t think of it as “no clear roles” think of it as “the roles are fluid until the find out how each other compliments each other” 

Semantics.  Obviously, I haven't worked in baseball before, but based on my previous experience in professional settings where something similar to this happened, every single time it has led to confusion and miscommunication.

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2 hours ago, jsnpritchett said:

Semantics.  Obviously, I haven't worked in baseball before, but based on my previous experience in professional settings where something similar to this happened, every single time it has led to confusion and miscommunication.

That's anywhere though.

Good companies get Direction from the top and it filters downward and then is implemented at the base level. While being directed daily by Middle Management. Then there is a review process.

Over the course of the last 10+/- years there has been varying disfunction that has materialized along the way. That has stunted the growth process of the overall organization.

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1 hour ago, SlappyUtilityMIF said:

That's anywhere though.

Good companies get Direction from the top and it filters downward and then is implemented at the base level. While being directed daily by Middle Management. Then there is a review process.

Over the course of the last 10+/- years there has been varying disfunction that has materialized along the way. That has stunted the growth process of the overall organization.

Can you please provide 3 examples?

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7 hours ago, jsnpritchett said:

"The Angels hired Tim Laker as their offensive coordinator, but Minasian said the meaning of that rather unusual title hasn’t yet been determined. Johnny Washington is the hitting coach who is in charge, but beyond that, it will be up to Washington and Laker to sort out which areas of hitting instruction will be handled by each, Minasian said."

Kind of an odd.  Why hire him without having a clear idea of what he's being brought in to do?

They want a head that can roll if the situational hitting doesn't improve.  Thus insulating other higher profile individuals.

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25 minutes ago, Swordsman78 said:

They want a head that can roll if the situational hitting doesn't improve.  Thus insulating other higher profile individuals.

If the Angels lose again this year, Perry’s getting fired. Or, in the words of some clown on here, the Angels will “decline to offer a new contract, which may or may not have been accepted based on the terms and salary.”

Perry can’t insulate himself, and that’s not what he’s doing.

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7 hours ago, jsnpritchett said:

"The Angels hired Tim Laker as their offensive coordinator, but Minasian said the meaning of that rather unusual title hasn’t yet been determined. Johnny Washington is the hitting coach who is in charge, but beyond that, it will be up to Washington and Laker to sort out which areas of hitting instruction will be handled by each, Minasian said."

Kind of an odd.  Why hire him without having a clear idea of what he's being brought in to do?

I think you’re reading too much into it.

They won’t say it aloud, but the offensive coordinator title was given to help bring Laker aboard. Title inflation.

Laker’s basically gonna be the assistant hitting coach. The duties might not be clear yet because the coaches haven’t gotten together to discuss things with each other and the players.

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13 minutes ago, BTH said:

If the Angels lose again this year, Perry’s getting fired. Or, in the words of some clown on here, the Angels will “decline to offer a new contract, which may or may not have been accepted based on the terms and salary.”

Perry can’t insulate himself, and that’s not what he’s doing.

LOL.  Whomever you were quoting seems to know alot about contracts.   It's good you were paying attention.

That being said, I do agree with the sentiment that for Perry it's Sydney or the bush.

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13 minutes ago, jsnpritchett said:

I had no idea...

Still think it's weird that you'd hire someone before defining the role for them.  Other folks don't.  No big deal.

Minasian secured a guy he wanted in place and it sounds like they are creating an innovative new position, whether in the dugout or like a offensive coordinator calling plays in from the booth. 

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12 hours ago, Blarg said:

Minasian secured a guy he wanted in place and it sounds like they are creating an innovative new position, whether in the dugout or like an offensive coordinator calling plays in from the booth. 

Seems to me this position could be partly used to teach, highlight and implement situational hitting principles and base running strategy. It seems to me that the last couple of years we have left a lot of runs on the table. 

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Same story, different year. The Angels have invested a lot of dough on Trout and Rendon ($70M/year) and need them to perform. When Rendon signed, I think it was reasonable to expect a baseline of about 10 WAR from them per year. Instead we've gotten:

2020: 5.0 WAR (Both 2.5 each; pro-rated to 13.5 for 162 games)

2021: 2.3 WAR (Trout 2.2, Rendon 0.1)

2022: 6.8 WAR (Trout 6.0, Rendon 0.8)

2023: 3.2 WAR (Trout 3.0, Rendon 0.2)

So in the last three seasons, the Angels have gotten 12.3 WAR from the two of them (or 4.1 per year)...which is less than what they produced in 2018 or 2019 alone. Or compare 2016-19:

2016: 12.1 WAR (Trout 8.6, Rendon 3.5)

2017: 12.2 WAR (Trout 6.3, Rendon 5.9)

2018: 15.4 WAR (Trout 9.5, Rendon 5.9)

2019: 15.1 WAR (Trout 8.3, Rendon 6.8)

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