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Cause for Optimism (It’s not as bad as you think)


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By Jason Sinner, AngelsWin.com Contributor - 

*Warning – this article is optimistic and does not necessarily reflect the views of AngelsWin.com or its members.  In fact, it is likely to be met with ridicule and suggestions that the author be committed to a mental institution.  At the writer’s request, AngelsWin.com has been asked to inform its members that if they don’t like it, they can go suck it! (happy face emoticon to make it seem like a joke). 

Everyone remember the movie ‘Brewster’s Millions’? Remember when Monty Brewster earns back a bunch of the money he had worked so hard to spend?  He get’s really pissed and proclaims ‘GDammit, I’m right back where I started!!!’  

Yeah, that movie sucked, but it had a happy ending.  Except that in real life both the main characters are dead.  Anyway….

Although the Angels aren't getting any of their money back any time soon, they are damn close to where they started before the 2013 season.  After an 89 win campaign in 2012 that saw some successful upgrades prior to the season (yes, that’s right, successful upgrades), yet even still, they were left needing 3 starters and a spanky new bullpen.  Or at least most of one.  And here we sit at the end of this season.  Needing three starting pitchers and a spanky new bullpen. 

So why did we go from almost 90 wins to what will likely be near 90 losses when we essentially have the same needs?  Well, when you replace poor production with catastrophic failure, some good production with catastrophic failure, and you add some injuries to good producers being replaced by bad producers, you get failure. 

But here’s the good news.  Horrendous disasters are easy to upgrade.  Example: No offense to teams like the Twins, Padres, and Brewers, but as a whole, they have a bunch of players who really aren't that good.  The Halos?  They have a bunch of really good players and a few that really suck or have performed poorly yet usually do better.

So let’s fire up the flux capacitor, cross the streams, and combine the last two off seasons to get us where we are now.  Coming off an 89 win season (wink wink, cough cough)

Year 1
Moves made
Pujols – left two OF spots open to Trumbo, Wells, Abreu, and Bourjos.  Trumbo essentially took one of them and Trout eventually took the other.  So Albert essentially took what would have been at bats to Bourjos and Wells. 

Iantetta – replaced Mathis and Wilson
Wilson – took the spot vacated by Joel Piniero and minor leaguers
Izzy – took innings from Cassevah, Thompson, and Bell
Hawkins – essentially replaced Fernando Rodney
Frieri – Move everyone down a notch
Greinke – replaced innings from Williams and Richards

- Expected Production  
- Actual Production 
- Production they replaced (estimates)

.300/900ops
.280/.860ops
.240/.700ops

.240/.750ops
.230/.740ops
.200/.600ops

3.00era/200ip
3.80era/200ip
5.00era/200ip

4.00era/50ip
4.10era/50ip
4.50era/50ip (gross estimate)
3.5era/50ip
3.6era/42ip
4.5era/40+ip 

2.8era/50ip
2.3era/50ip
4.0era/50ip

3.3era/100ip
3.5era/90ip
5.0era/90ip

Added a lot of long term payroll and weakened the farm system long term but let’s assume Arte’s goal was to win a championship now (and minimize eye contact with the staff).  Don’t want to get into who the ringleader was. The moves worked.  Everything that was supposed to be an upgrade turned out to be.  The existing players failed, and the off season moves weren't enough to offset that. 

Yr 2
Madson – supposed to be the closer or 8th inning guy.  Replacing innings from Izzy, Hawk and moving everyone down a slot.

Burnett – same as above
Hanson – obtained for Walden.  Replacing Haren
Blanton – replacing Santana
Hamilton – replaced Torii
Vargas – for morales.  Replacing production from Greinke, Richards, Williams 
De La Rosa – pen depth.  Not much expectation here.

- Expected production
- Actual Production
- What they were supposed to replace
- What we got instead 

2.8era/50ip
Nothing
Innings from the bottom of the pen (4.5era/50ip)
The above innings
  
3.0era/50ip
Almost nothing
Innings from the bottom of the pen (5.0era/50ip)
The above innings

4.3era/180ip
5.6era/67ip
4.3era/180ip (Dan Haren the previous year)
5.0era/110ip (from guys like williams, buckner, enright, roth)

4.75era/200ip
5.7era/120ip (as a starter)
5.2era/180ip (Ervin from the previous year)
5.0era/80ip (from guys like williams, buckner, enright, roth)

.280avg/.875ops
.235avg/.715ops
.313avg/.820ops (Hunter)

4.0era/200ip
4.25era/200ip (innings from Greinke, Williams, Richards the previous year)
3.5era/150ip (on pace)
4.2era/50ip (from Richards)

4.5era/30ip
3.5era/40ip (Jordan Walden)
3.4era/70ip

Also, Morales being replaced by Bourjos 
.250avg/.720ops + Trout over Trumbo’s defense in LF
.280avg/.780ops 
.290avg/.715ops (Bourjos and Shuck - without the improved defense or much of it)

So where are we now relative to where we were at the end of the very very recent 89 win season:

Rotation

2012 – Weaver (2.8era 190ip), Wilson (3.8era 200ip), Greinke/Richards/Williams (4.25era 200ip), Haren (4.3era 180ip), Santana (5.2era 180ip)

Like Caddyshack II, Hanson and Blanton did not exist.  

2014 – Weaver (3.2era 190ip), Wilson (3.5era 200ip), Re-sign Vargas? (3.7era 200ip), Richards (4.3era 180ip), New Guy? (3.5-4.5era, 200ip)

So we need 2 maybe one starter to be better than that season depending on Vargas?  Hmm.  Not bad

Bullpen

2012 -  Frieri (2.3era, 50ip), Jepsen (3.0era, 45ip), Downs (3.2era, 45ip), Hawkins (3.6era, 42ip), Izzy (4.2era, 50ip),  Walden (3.5era, 40ip), Williams (4.0era, 45ip).  The rest included Richards, Taka, Carp and a few other (5.5era, 125ip)

2014 – New Closer (2.7era, 50ip), Frieri (3.2era, 50ip), Burnett (3.0era, 50ip), DDLR (3.5era, 50ip), (3.0era, 50ip), Kohn (3.5era, 50ip), Williams (4.5era, 50ip), and the rest including Rasmus, Coello, Bosher, Jepsen, Maronde and maybe Morin and Alvarez.

By era, the 2012 pen look ok, but the problem was that the ‘other’ category that comprised a boat load of innings to the tune of a 5+era saw a large number of high leverage situations.   Why?  Because really no one was to be trusted.  A new closer and good high leverage reliever as well as the bottom of the pen performing more capably would make it all better like a cherry otter pop and hello kitty band aid.  
(Frieri will be fine – I heard he’s working on a knuckleball. )

Offense

2012
C- Iannetta/Wilson/Hester
1B – Pujols
2B – Kendrick
3B – Callaspo
SS – Aybar
LF - Trumbo
CF – Trout
RF – Hunter
DH – Morales
Bench – Izturis, Wells, 

2014
C – Conger/Iannetta
1B – Pujols
2B – Kendrick or Green
3B – Green/Nelson/Jimenez/FA
SS – Aybar
LF – Trout/Hamilton
CF – Bourjos/Trout
RF – Hamilton/Calhoun
DH – Trumbo/Shuck/Calhoun

Can Hamilton, Calhoun, Green, and Bourjos replace the production of Hunter, Morales and Callaspo? Can 2014 Pujols be 2012 Pujols?  Sprinkle a little amnesia, a dash of defense, and a pinch of faith on there and sure.

Does the team have a bunch of financial commitments? Yes

Is the farm system still pretty bad?  Yes.  But it’s better than it was at the end of 2012.

Are there some front office and coaching issues?  LALALALALA!!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!! Winning make the heart grow fonder. 

Will some additional moves potentially make the team even better?  You bet!

A couple of trades, a juicer, a few scouts, some first class seats to Asia, a rabbits foot and there you have it, 94 wins.  

Thank you and please try the veal.
W3njtankyXg

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Some interesting stuff, Doc. Some similar territory to my recent blog. I agree - this team, with just some regression to the mean from Pujols and Hamilton, and a moderate upgrade in the form of 52 starts of Blanton-Hanson-Williams at a 5.54 ERA, turns this from a 75-win team to an 85-90 win team. To get beyond the 90 win hump and into the postseason, they'll need some surprise performances and a strong bullpen.

 

On a side note, the formatting is confusing. I get what you're saying, but because it wasn't clear what was what I ended up just skipping the numbers. You also might want to considering writing "4.30 ERA" instead of "4.3era", etc.

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Some interesting stuff, Doc. Some similar territory to my recent blog. I agree - this team, with just some regression to the mean from Pujols and Hamilton, and a moderate upgrade in the form of 52 starts of Blanton-Hanson-Williams at a 5.54 ERA, turns this from a 75-win team to an 85-90 win team. To get beyond the 90 win hump and into the postseason, they'll need some surprise performances and a strong bullpen.

 

On a side note, the formatting is confusing. I get what you're saying, but because it wasn't clear what was what I ended up just skipping the numbers. You also might want to considering writing "4.30 ERA" instead of "4.3era", etc.

yeah.  I agree.  I did it late last night on word and should have labeled who I was referring to with the numbers or put them into a chart.  I actually did the numbers first and realized I could have condensed it a bit because the main point was to compare 2012 to what 2014 could look like at the end. 

 

The rotation isn't as bad as we think.  I would still like to have a backup to Richards if possible, but maybe we could get Hanson to play in the minors until he finds his way.  I really really want Blanton off this team.  He's bad and I also don't like his attitude. 

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Doc, I see Richards as the pitching equivalent of Kole Calhoun: I think he can be counted on to be about league average (say, a 4.00-4.20 ERA) but has a good chance of surprising (an ERA in the 3.50-3.80 range).

 

I agree that Blanton has to go. Among the Three Amigos, for mop-up/emergency starter I suppose I like Hanson best because he has the most upside. We know what we'll get with Williams - which is just that, a typical mop-up type, while Hanson could theoretically recover some semblance of his early promise with the Braves. I'd like to see the Angels offer him arbitration (if its <$3M) and then see how he looks in Spring Training. If he looks terrible they could always send him down to AAA and consider him either a risk that failed or hope he takes his demotion seriously.

 

Wait, aren't they doing that now?

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I do remember the Twins going from WS champs in 1987 to last place in 1990 to WS champs again in 1991.

Good blog, Doc

And + infinity on Blanton, bad pitching + bad attitude = bad teammate.

A knuckleball from Frieri would be beyond a sick complement.

And the veal is the best in the city. Just watch out for Michael Corleone being at the next table.

Edited by Angel Oracle
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I love it, Doc!

 

Two things

 

1. Brewster's Millions is an excellent movie to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon (between college football games) when recovering from a late Friday night's worth of fun and adult beverages.

 

2. Though it's small and insignificant to the article, I think there's a legitimate chance we can see Taylor Lindsey and Grant Green sharing the 2B duties next season, while the liklihood of Nelson still being around when we have Lucho, Green and even Romine or Marte is slim to none. 

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