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  1. New Angels manager Joe Maddon, right, spent part of his Tuesday evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope in Tustin, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon’s Respect90 organization has coordinated events at each of the stops where he’s managed before. (Photo by Jeff Fletcher, SCNG staff) New Angels manager Joe Maddon, left, spent part of his Tuesday evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope in Tustin, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon’s charitable foundation, Respect90, organized a dinner and provided socks, shirts and backpacks to the kids and their parents. (Photo by Jeff Fletcher, SCNG staff) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Show Caption of Expand TUSTIN — The turnaround that Joe Maddon is trying to lead with the Angels is nothing compared to what is facing the people he met on Tuesday night. Maddon spent part of his evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon, whose Respect90 organization has coordinated events at each of the stops where he’s managed, walked away from this event impressed. “This might be the best I’ve seen,” Maddon said. “It’s a complete program. It’s not just about a meal. It’s not just about some counseling. It’s about getting people back on their feet and keeping families together and sending them back to the workforce with a lot of dignity and feeling good about themselves.” The Village of Hope is a full-service facility for homeless families, offering dormitory-style living, with a communal dining area and medical facilities. Jim Palmer, the president of the Orange County Rescue Mission, said it is “the most comprehensive facility in the country for homeless women and children.” The facility can house 265 people, and it was nearly at capacity on the night that Maddon’s group came by. Respect90 – so named because Maddon asks his players to respect the game by running hard all 90 feet to first base – was created five years ago because of Maddon’s desire to give back to the communities where he’s lived. While managing the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, he held events in Tampa, Chicago and his hometown of Hazelton, Pa. Maddon had been looking for a place in Orange County since he was hired by the Angels in October, and this event came together in just three weeks, Palmer said. The dinner was catered by Louie’s By the Bay, a Newport Beach Italian restaurant. As kids and their parents munched on pasta, salad and cheesecake, Maddon spent 45 minutes bopping around the room, shaking hands and taking pictures and meeting the people. “It’s really awesome because so often support is through a check we get in the mail,” Palmer said. “To have someone of his caliber and heart say ‘I want to come down and talk to folks and be part of their lives,’ that’s outstanding.” Related Articles 2020 Angels spring training preview: catchers Inside the Dodgers: What’s it like to get exactly one Hall of Fame vote? Hoornstra: Hall of Fame voting has become a feedback loop Angels add two pitchers on minor-league deals Letter demanding vote on Angel Stadium sale be reversed for more public discussion sent to Anaheim Maddon also helped hand out socks, shirts and backpacks to the families. “They may be struggling a little bit, but they are on their way back,” Maddon said. “The kids are really bright. The kids converse really well. The grown-ups are grateful and polite.” A few of them were even Angels fans, wanting to engage Maddon with talk about how the team was looking as it prepares for spring training in less than two weeks. “The pitching has to answer the bell,” Maddon told reporters. “The pitching is going to dictate our success or not success. You can anticipate a certain level of play from the offense and the defense and the position players. Whatever we can extrapolate from the pitching staff will take us to the playoffs and beyond. My goal is to be in the playoffs this year, not next year.” View the full article
  2. New Angels manager Joe Maddon, right, spent part of his Tuesday evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope in Tustin, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon’s Respect90 organization has coordinated events at each of the stops where he’s managed before. (Photo by Jeff Fletcher, SCNG staff) New Angels manager Joe Maddon, left, spent part of his Tuesday evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope in Tustin, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon’s charitable foundation, Respect90, organized a dinner and provided socks, shirts and backpacks to the kids and their parents. (Photo by Jeff Fletcher, SCNG staff) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Show Caption of Expand TUSTIN — The turnaround that Joe Maddon is trying to lead with the Angels is nothing compared to what is facing the people he met on Tuesday night. Maddon spent part of his evening at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope, helping to feed and clothe hundreds of homeless families. Maddon, whose Respect90 organization has coordinated events at each of the stops where he’s managed, walked away from this event impressed. “This might be the best I’ve seen,” Maddon said. “It’s a complete program. It’s not just about a meal. It’s not just about some counseling. It’s about getting people back on their feet and keeping families together and sending them back to the workforce with a lot of dignity and feeling good about themselves.” The Village of Hope is a full-service facility for homeless families, offering dormitory-style living, with a communal dining area and medical facilities. Jim Palmer, the president of the Orange County Rescue Mission, said it is “the most comprehensive facility in the country for homeless women and children.” The facility can house 265 people, and it was nearly at capacity on the night that Maddon’s group came by. Respect90 – so named because Maddon asks his players to respect the game by running hard all 90 feet to first base – was created five years ago because of Maddon’s desire to give back to the communities where he’s lived. While managing the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, he held events in Tampa, Chicago and his hometown of Hazelton, Pa. Maddon had been looking for a place in Orange County since he was hired by the Angels in October, and this event came together in just three weeks, Palmer said. The dinner was catered by Louie’s By the Bay, a Newport Beach Italian restaurant. As kids and their parents munched on pasta, salad and cheesecake, Maddon spent 45 minutes bopping around the room, shaking hands and taking pictures and meeting the people. “It’s really awesome because so often support is through a check we get in the mail,” Palmer said. “To have someone of his caliber and heart say ‘I want to come down and talk to folks and be part of their lives,’ that’s outstanding.” Related Articles 2020 Angels spring training preview: catchers Inside the Dodgers: What’s it like to get exactly one Hall of Fame vote? Hoornstra: Hall of Fame voting has become a feedback loop Angels add two pitchers on minor-league deals Letter demanding vote on Angel Stadium sale be reversed for more public discussion sent to Anaheim Maddon also helped hand out socks, shirts and backpacks to the families. “They may be struggling a little bit, but they are on their way back,” Maddon said. “The kids are really bright. The kids converse really well. The grown-ups are grateful and polite.” A few of them were even Angels fans, wanting to engage Maddon with talk about how the team was looking as it prepares for spring training in less than two weeks. “The pitching has to answer the bell,” Maddon told reporters. “The pitching is going to dictate our success or not success. You can anticipate a certain level of play from the offense and the defense and the position players. Whatever we can extrapolate from the pitching staff will take us to the playoffs and beyond. My goal is to be in the playoffs this year, not next year.” View the full article
  3. As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 12, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today, the catchers. (Previously, the rotation and bullpen). 2019 RECAP The Angels started the season with a pair of new catchers, Jonathan Lucroy and Kevan Smith, and neither performed as they’d hoped. Lucroy hit .242 with a .681 OPS and had trouble blocking balls. He was eventually released after the Angels made a trade for defensive-specialist Max Stassi at the deadline. Smith came to the Angels with a reputation as an offensive catcher, and he actually finished strong to end up with a .251 batting average and a .710 OPS, not quite up to expectations but passable. He suffered a concussion and a wrist injury that limited his playing time. Stassi also ended up getting hurt shortly after he was acquired, finishing the season with three hits in 42 at-bats with the Angels. Overall, Angels catchers combined for a .638 OPS, which ranked 25th in the majors. HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW The Angels added Jason Castro (free agent, from Twins) and he figures to get the bulk of the playing time. Castro, 32, has been a solid defensive catcher, known in particular for his pitch-framing. Offensively, Castro is coming off a season in which he hit .232 with a .767 OPS in 79 games (he hit .125 with a .347 OPS in 40 at-bats against left-handers). For his career, he’s got a .703 OPS (.553 vs. left-handers). Castro also gives the Angels a left-handed bat to add some balance to their right-handed heavy lineup. Stassi, who might not be ready for Opening Day after hip surgery, figures to be the backup (or platoon partner) to Castro, but he might get plenty of playing time. The Angels are hoping that Stassi’s disappointing 2019 season at the plate was a fluke, and he can return to being more like the hitter he had been prior to 2019, when he had a career .713 OPS. THE NEXT LAYER The Angels picked up Anthony Bemboom last year, and he ended up getting some playing time around all the injuries to Lucroy, Stassi and Smith. Bemboom could make the Opening Day roster if Stassi isn’t ready. After that, it doesn’t look good. Don’t be surprised if the Angels pick up someone on waivers, or sign a veteran to a minor league deal, just to provide another warm body for depth. MOVE THEY COULD MAKE The Angels’ catcher of the future doesn’t seem to be in their farm system yet. In Baseball America’s just-completed ranking of the Angels prospects, they had no catchers in the top 30. Unless they are going to keep piecing it together with one-year band-aids or spend a lot to sign J.T. Realmuto as a free agent next winter, they could try to make a trade for a top catching prospect. The Cardinals have three good catching prospects: Andrew Knizer, Ivan Herrera and Julio Rodriguez. Meanwhile, the Angels’ prospect surplus is in the outfield, so maybe they could deal D’Shawn Knowles or Trent Deveaux for a catcher. Related Articles Inside the Dodgers: What’s it like to get exactly one Hall of Fame vote? Hoornstra: Hall of Fame voting has become a feedback loop Angels add two pitchers on minor-league deals Letter demanding vote on Angel Stadium sale be reversed for more public discussion sent to Anaheim 2020 Angels spring training preview: bullpen View the full article
  4. Hello OldTimber,

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  5. Hello 951ANGEL,

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  6. Editor’s note: This is the Thursday, Jan. 23 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. For today’s editions of the Southern California News Group papers, I wrote about Hall of Fame voting in the social media age. There’s a thought nestled in that piece about the value of private ballots. Namely: any vote cast for a player who does not meet the usual Hall of Fame standards has value and (usually) shouldn’t be ridiculed. That vote can spark a discussion about a player’s career, rather than preemptively closing the debate because the voter feared social media backlash. The player might not ultimately get into the Hall of Fame, but every now and then he might. I wanted to close that thought by speaking to someone who received exactly one Hall of Fame vote this year. We always hear from the people who are inducted to the Hall of Fame. We often hear from the players who just miss the cut (a player needs to appear on 75 percent of BBWAA ballots to gain induction). We don’t often hear from “one-and-done” candidates ― players who appear on the ballot once, then never again because they were not listed on at least 5 percent of ballots. This year, 16 players fell into that category: Paul Konerko, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, Eric Chavez, Cliff Lee, Raul Ibañez, J.J. Putz, Brad Penny, Adam Dunn, Carlos Peña, Heath Bell, Rafael Furcal, Brian Roberts, Jose Valverde, Chone Figgins and Josh Beckett. The BBWAA’s screening committee determines the ballot. Every year it selects newly eligible candidates to add with at least 10 years of MLB experience. A player becomes eligible five years after his final major league game. Since this is a Dodgers newsletter: Konerko began his career in Los Angeles, Beckett and Figgins ended their careers there, while Penny and Furcal had some of their best seasons in a Dodger uniform. Ibañez never played for the Dodgers, but he’s a special advisor to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and has always been generous media. This week was no exception. “Whether I got a vote or didn’t, just being on a ballot with those guys was an honor,” Ibañez said in a telephone interview. “Just to get the opportunity to be placed on a Hall of Fame ballot was an extreme honor.” Ibañez was a 36th-round draft pick out of Miami-Dade College in 1992. He didn’t become a regular player for any team until he was 29, in Kansas City. He made one All-Star team and collected MVP votes in three different seasons. “It took five years to get my first three years of service in the major leagues,” he said, “up and down, going from the back of the order guy to a middle of the order bat.” So no, Ibañez wasn’t paying attention to the Hall of Fame voting results when they were announced Tuesday afternoon. Only later did he learn he received a vote. “That was a huge honor,” Ibañez said. “It’s something that I’ll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life.” Ibañez was teammates with Derek Jeter, and he was incredulous that one voter left Jeter off their ballot. He played with Mariano Rivera, who last year became the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. He did not know that there’s a long history of bad ballots, like Joe DiMaggio needing four tries to get in, or Jackie Robinson being left off 36 ballots in 1972. I told him about the voters who were so fatigued by social media backlash for supporting a “one-and-done” candidate, they stopped making their ballots public. I neglected to mention the voter who, because of the backlash, stopped voting altogether. That gave Ibañez pause. “From that perspective,” he said, “nobody should be shamed about who they did or didn’t vote for.” -J.P. Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. Money man ― Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling talked to (and about) the Astros, and his unusual contract payout structure. Since you asked ― MLB commissioner Rob Manfred won’t retroactively award the 2018 and 2019 World Series titles to the Dodgers. Helping hand ― Various Dodgers are taking part in community service projects in Los Angeles this week. Eight in a row? ― One online oddsmaker projected the Dodgers’ win total as the best in the National League. View the full article
  7. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer There are only two words you need to remember for 2020 in Right Field: Jo Adell. Certainly Brian Goodwin will factor into the playing time, perhaps even more than we anticipate, but the light will be shining on the Angels top prospect as he is nearly a lock to be called up early in the season, perhaps even cracking the Opening Day roster. As Jeff Fletcher recently noted, the Halos may not even be concerned about his service time due to the fact that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will have to be negotiated prior to the 2022 season and one of the hot topics is player service time, due to some high profile cases, including the current, ongoing one, Kris Bryant is fighting. The potential result of a new CBA could be a complete rework of player service time that would possibly redefine Adell's overall years of control. Realistically, the Angels will probably error on the side of caution and wait until they gain the additional year of control which also, per Fletcher, should not be to long after the season begins. Regardless, Jo appears to be ready for the challenge of playing full or part-time in right field for the Angels in 2020. Below is a snapshot of his batter splits in the Minors over the last three seasons per Baseball-Reference.com: Each season he has shown pretty consistently equal splits against both sides of the mound, perhaps favoring LHP slightly which is not surprising and points to Jo being an everyday player and potential star in the making if it all breaks right. However, fans should temper their expectations for the Halos young star. Adell, currently, has some swing and miss to his game that could translate into his first couple of years in the Majors. Basically, he may struggle with strikeouts early on in his career as he adjusts to big league pitching and he would certainly not be the first to do so in the history of baseball careers. More to the point, the Steamer projection system, across 600 plate appearances (PA's), only sees a .241/.295/.405 slash line, good for an 85 wRC+ from Adell in 2020. However, Dan Szymborski's 2020 ZiPS projection sees more: Certainly Jo has the talent to exceed that Steamer slash line (or even the ZiPS line) but every player has variance in their total performance and migrating to the Majors can prove to be a challenge for any young player. That being said, Adell's floor appears high, as his right field defense should be solid and, with his power, he is very likely to contribute hitting-wise, probably, in the back of the order, in regard to total run production. Luckily, too, if Adell struggles, the veteran Brian Goodwin, who himself had a nice year of production in 2019, can bridge the gap, picking up the remainder of the games that Jo does not play. Additionally, the Angels have Michael Hermosillo who can also accrue playing time, particularly very early in the season, probably, hitting against left-handed pitching, which he excels at, creating a nice platoon with either Goodwin or Adell, as needed. It should be noted that Steamer believes both Brian and Michael will not exceed Jo's projected wRC+, as the projection system has them pegged at 83 and 73 wRC+, respectively. Remember that projection systems are generally conservative, so the author believes all three of them can exceed those projections handily. Also, to be clear, the Angels might best be served by signing a player to man first base that has some outfield experience in case one or all of our right field options falter, to ensure production remains steady, but that may be a luxury Eppler cannot afford right now which is understandable considering that team payroll is creeping toward the Luxury Tax limit for 2020 ($208M). Names like Mancini, Bell, and Castellanos would add additional firepower and depth to the 2020 Angels squad but are probably not in the cards, giving young prospects like Jared Walsh, Matt Thaiss, and Taylor Ward or an established veteran, like Tommy La Stella, more time at the position next season, foregoing the additional depth another outside acquisition might bring, that can split time at the cold corner and in the outfield. Kole Calhoun served the Angels well for multiple seasons in right field, but the position is about to be given a super-shot of adrenaline for the next several seasons and it could not have come at a better time with the Halos positioning themselves to make a real run at the A.L. West Division. We here at Angelswin.com are very excited to see what Jo Adell can do in 2020 and beyond!
  8. We all write things in private that we would never share publicly, like a child secretly passing a folded-up note in class. Baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot is, for some voters, a secret folded-up note. We always discover the note eventually, but we don’t always learn who wrote it. In fact, we learn every year that the authors of some notes want to keep their identities hidden. Of the 397 BBWAA members who returned a ballot this year, all but one checked the box next to Derek Jeter’s name. The dissident has so far remained anonymous. To some fans, the Jeter-less ballot spoke louder than the other 396. Omitting Jeter was hardly a criminal act, let alone an affront to baseball tradition. Only Mariano Rivera has been listed on more than 99.7 percent of all Hall of Fame ballots since the first group was inducted in 1936. And there have been less sensible ballot omissions in history. Joe DiMaggio needed four tries to become a Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra two. Thirty-six voters left Jackie Robinson off their ballot in 1972. Cooperstown has received many taboo ballots and will receive many more in the years to come. The BBWAA has called for total transparency, for an end to secret ballots. Yet the Hall of Fame continues to allow anonymity to the voters who request it. This “private option,” if you will, always leads to interesting results. The ballots that fascinate me most are not those that omit Jeter, Robinson, Berra or DiMaggio. I’m more interested in ballots with checkmarks next to names such as Adam Dunn, Brad Penny, J.J. Putz, and Raul Ibañez. It’s a slightly more consequential version of the “Remember Some Guys” bit. Dunn, Penny, Putz and Ibañez each received a single, anonymous vote this year. Ibañez, a left fielder for the Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels from 1996-2014, never led his league in a major hitting category. He made one All-Star team. Putz was a closer for 4-1/2 of his 11 full major-league seasons. He retired with 189 career saves, one All-Star Game appearance, and no black ink on his resume. Penny had his best years with the Dodgers, leading the NL in wins in 2006. He won 121 games before retiring with the Marlins in 2014, 14 years after his debut. Dunn broke in with the Reds in 2000 and bounced around to the Diamondbacks, Nationals, White Sox and A’s during a 14-year career. He was a curious player by the standards of his day, combining a high on-base percentage with lots of home runs and even more strikeouts. (Dunn led his league in K’s four times.) By contemporary standards, however, his skill set is downright common. Add it up, and these four players have six All-Star Game appearances among them. None won an MVP award, or a Cy Young, or was named Rookie of the Year. In 59 combined seasons, the quartet has garnered fewer accolades than Justin Verlander. If social media wasn’t made for disseminating information, it was made for backlash. Tuesday turned Baseball Twitter into one big comment section for the Jeter-less ballot. The commentary overshadowed the usual vitriol reserved for the one-vote down-ballot darlings du jour. It’s not by coincidence that the Ibañez/Dunn/Penny/Putz voters haven’t outed themselves. They don’t need to read the comments section to know what’s coming. Who would voluntarily raise their hand and direct faux outrage toward him or herself? Related Articles Angels add two pitchers on minor-league deals Alexander: Please, Dodger fans, cool it with the demands for redress Derek Jeter, Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame 2020 Angels spring training preview: bullpen 2020 Dodgers spring training preview: bullpen I know of at least two voters in the past decade who were ensnared by the trap of giving sincere votes to a player who was named on no other public ballots. (In each case, their player was named on one private ballot.) Since the anonymous voters couldn’t serve as a lightning rod for public criticism, guess who did? Those two voters haven’t cast a public ballot since. The BBWAA has pushed for transparency. Although I am a BBWAA member, I am two years short of receiving my first Hall of Fame ballot. There’s time for my perspective on this to evolve. In lieu of any first-hand experience, I can offer an observation: Hall of Fame voting has become a feedback loop. There’s a reason the social media era gave birth to the first unanimous ballot. It’s the same reason the ballots missing Jeter, and those including Ibañez, Dunn, Penny and Putz, remain anonymous. The power of the secret ballot lies in the diversity of thought it promotes. You can turn to the politics section of this newspaper and see the same phenomenon play out on its pages. When it comes to Hall of Fame voting, ostracizing the dissidents seems less consequential. Then as now, however, the three dozen voters who stiffed Jackie Robinson have some explaining to do. View the full article
  9. The Angels have agreed to minor-league deals with right-handers Jacob Barnes and Jake Thompson, with invitations for both to come to spring training. Barnes, 29, has pitched in 182 big-league games over parts of four seasons, with a 4.25 ERA and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He split last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals, combining for a 7.44 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. In 2018, he had a 3.33 ERA in 48 2/3 innings with the Brewers. Jake Thompson, seen with the Philadelphia Phillies in an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Clearwater, Fla., has signed a minor-league deal with the Angels. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)Thompson, who will come to camp as a starter, has pitched parts of the past three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 25-year-old has a 4.87 ERA over 116 1/3 innings. He’s averaged 6.3 strikeouts and 4.7 walks per nine innings. Thompson did not pitch in the majors in 2019, instead posting a 1.99 ERA in 31 2/3 innings at Class-A and Double-A. He started five times in seven games. This winter, Thompson had a 3.60 ERA in 25 innings in the Dominican Winter League, with five starts in eight games. Related Articles 2020 Angels spring training preview: bullpen Whicker: No winners in Spyball scandal, not even the Dodgers Ex-Angels player Bobby Grich describes theft on Coto de Caza golf course MLB releases statement clearing Angels’ Mike Trout after HGH accusation Angels and Shohei Ohtani benefit from this new MLB rule View the full article
  10. Hello max mariner,

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  11. When the Anaheim City Council decided to sell Angel Stadium rather than negotiate a new lease, and whether city officials improperly discussed deal terms in secret, are among questions raised in a letter an open government lawyer sent the city on behalf of residents this week. The Jan. 19 letter from attorney Kelly Aviles alleges city officials violated the state’s open meetings law (known as the Brown Act) and thwarted public involvement before the council’s Dec. 20 vote to sell the 153-acre stadium property to a business partnership of Angels team owner Arte Moreno. If the city doesn’t resolve the issue within 30 days by rescinding the council’s key decisions on the stadium sale and holding future discussions of the issue in public, Aviles said the residents she represents could file a lawsuit challenging the city’s actions. City officials on Tuesday, Jan. 21, denied any wrongdoing in how the deal was negotiated. While some residents have expressed support for the deal – under which the city will sell the stadium land for up to $325 million in exchange for a long-term commitment that the Angels will play there and the promise of community benefits still to be negotiated – others have argued the land price is too low, the deal includes a number of uncertainties and the public was largely shut out of the discussion. Aviles wouldn’t disclose the names of her clients, but said they have similar concerns. It was widely assumed Anaheim was negotiating a new lease for the stadium, so the sale proposal came as a surprise, Aviles said – and she disputed that such a major decision about a valuable public asset would fit into the Brown Act’s narrow list of issues that can be hashed out behind closed doors. Few public discussions of the goals or potential framework for negotiations took place before the proposed deal was publicly released Dec. 4, and after it went public, the council majority asked no substantive questions, Aviles said. “They intentionally rammed this through, and it’s not appropriate for this kind of big-ticket decision.” Aviles also suggested the city’s negotiating team (Mayor Harry Sidhu, City Manager Chris Zapata and City Attorney Rob Fabela) also would meet state criteria to announce its meetings and open them to the public. The city flatly disputed Aviles’ assertions. “We stand by our process,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said in a written statement. “While we welcome any and all voices as part of the conversation, the speculation and characterizations of the letter are unfounded.” Several council members have said previously they didn’t meet with anyone or discuss the negotiations outside the official, legal process. Reached Tuesday, Councilman Stephen Faessel declined to comment before speaking with the city attorney. The council’s Dec. 20 vote on the land sale was the first step in a multi-part deal. Sometime this spring officials expect to finish and make public a development agreement that would sketch out what could be built on the stadium property and the dollar value of benefits the city requested, including affordable housing, extra parkland and a fair wage or local hiring deal, which would be subtracted from the final sale price. Related links Anaheim votes to sell Angel Stadium and the land around it for $325 million What’s in the Angel Stadium deal? Here’s what we know and are still wondering Experts look at Angel Stadium deal before Anaheim council’s big vote Friday How Angel Stadium land deal affects a proposed $700 million performing arts center View the full article
  12. As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 12, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. This week, the bullpen. (Previously: the rotation): 2019 RECAP The Angels’ bullpen was a strength at times in 2019, but the failure of the starters to get deep in games – or Manager Brad Ausmus’ reluctance to let them try – forced the bullpen to handle a heavy workload. Cody Allen began the season as the closer and struggled so much that he was released in June. Hansel Robles emerged to become the closer and the Angels’ best overall pitcher, posting a 2.48 ERA. Ty Buttrey had a 2.45 ERA in late June, but it ballooned to 6.93 the rest of the season. He insisted it was just a mechanical issue, and not fatigue. Cam Bedrosian tweaked his slider and was consistently effective all season. They also got solid work out of Noé Ramírez, who had 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. One of the most disappointing performances came from Justin Anderson, who looked to be a potential back-end reliever in 2018, but regressed to a 5.55 ERA. HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW The Angels’ best hope for improvement might be Keynan Middleton, who missed almost all of 2019 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. When he returned, Middleton gave up one run in 7-2/3 innings, showing an improved changeup that could become a key pitch for him. Assuming Middleton can pitch the way he did before surgery, he could be a part of a dominating late-inning trio, with Robles and Buttrey. Bedrosian could also be in the mix. Noé Ramírez will be back with the potential to fill a key multi-inning relief role. After that, the Angels have Anderson, Mike Mayers (waiver claim from Cardinals) and non-roster invitee Neil Ramírez (free agent from Blue Jays) to compete for middle relief spots. Matt Andriese (trade from Diamondbacks) is coming to camp as a starter, but he’s been a reliever most of the past two years, so he is likely to be in the bullpen if he doesn’t crack the rotation. THE NEXT LAYER Right-hander Kyle Keller (trade from Marlins) has pitched just 10-2/3 innings so far in the majors, and he still has options, so he figures to be one of the relievers who move up and down, with a chance to stay in the majors if he pitches well. Luke Bard, Taylor Cole and Parker Markel (trade from Pirates) also have options, making them likely candidates for the Anaheim-Salt Lake shuttle. Félix Peña, who was a reliever when the Angels acquired him, also could get some work in the bullpen if he doesn’t remain a starter. MOVE THEY COULD MAKE Every pitcher mentioned so far is a right-hander. Lefty Ryan Buchter was non-tendered by the Oakland A’s, after posting a 2.98 ERA in 64 games. Although the new three-batter rule will make it more difficult for pitchers like him to be used as situational lefties, Buchter has held righties to a .210 average, along with .187 against lefties. He also has a career average of 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which is just what the Angels like to see. Related Articles Ex-Angels player Bobby Grich describes theft on Coto de Caza golf course MLB releases statement clearing Angels’ Mike Trout after HGH accusation Angels and Shohei Ohtani benefit from this new MLB rule Is technology bumping against its limits in baseball? Angels acquire Matt Andriese, plan to try him as a starter View the full article
  13. The Houston Astros were not brought to justice. General Manager Jeff Luhnow should have been exiled for five years. Their share of national TV revenue should have been revoked and reallocated among the other 29 clubs. They should have lost the entire 2020 and 2021 drafts, not just the first two picks. All their 2020 games against the Angels should be canceled. Okay, too harsh. Given all that, spare us the petitions on behalf of the Dodgers. They did not lose the 2017 and 2018 World Series because Alex Cora was sitting in the other dugout with his two-way wristwatch, autographed by Dick Tracy. They began losing Game 5 in 2017 because they felt it was important to pitch Brandon Morrow into puddling exhaustion, and then because Kenley Jansen walked a batter and hit another before Alex Bregman’s game-winning single. They began losing Game 4 in 2018 because they felt it was important to remove Rich Hill with a cruise-control 4-0 lead. In the 2017 Series they hit .205. In the 2018 Series, they hit .180 and their final six hitters struck out. The Dodgers lost four home games in those Series. Both ended in Dodger Stadium with rivers of champagne engulfing Mitch Poole’s visiting clubhouse floor. Unless the Astros and Red Sox were able to tote cameras and monitors into the ballpark unnoticed, they probably did not have the electronic edge. Maybe the 2016 Cubs hacked the Dodgers’ computers and rearranged the data to show that Chicago was 0 for 249 lifetime against Joe Blanton. Maybe the 1985 Cardinals employed remote-control hypnotism and, upon two claps from the third row, convinced Tom Lasorda to pitch to Jack Clark. Get it all out. Sign-stealing is an art when done by eyes and ears, instinct and observation. Ultimately, the team that leaves its signs unprotected is leaving its car unlocked. It deserves its fate. The Washington Nationals weren’t naive. According to the Washington Post, they used maximum security in the playoffs, even against the innocent Dodgers, whom the Brewers accused of cheating their way through the 2018 NLCS. At times Washington used “outs-plus-one,” meaning that if there were two outs, the third sign by the catcher was the activator. Houston scored 11 runs in four home World Series games and lost them all. Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer cited audio that registered the Astros’ trashcan-banging throughout the 2017 season but also showed that the data did not translate into more production. If it was a foolproof system, all hitters would welcome the information. The MLB report says some Astros did not. They try to keep their minds clear up there. Even the act of processing something as simple as one-if-by-land, two-if-by-sea can get in the way. It’s the same principle that clouds the steroid controversy. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will probably fall short of the Hall of Fame threshold on Tuesday because of steroid suspicions. The Mitchell Report, commissioned by MLB, noted that such household names as Chris Donnels, Larry Bigbie and Marvin Benard also purchased or had experience with PEDs. Those drugs were not an elixir, not any more than the mega-wedge on those golf infomercials. Hall of Fame voters do not have to be swayed by that. They can point to “criminal intent” or “consciousness of guilt,” even though MLB did not have a PED policy until 2006. In the Astros’ case, MLB’s warnings were explicit. They ignored those warnings because they felt immune from baseball’s ethos. If there is one positive to be fished out of this cesspool, it is the likely curtailment of video dependence. A team that wants to challenge a call should do it immediately, instead of waiting for its own Captain Video to give thumbs up or down. Related Articles 2020 Dodgers spring training preview: bullpen Dodgers trade Casey Sadler for minor-league infielder Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, Alex Wood speak out on Astros cheating scandal Is technology bumping against its limits in baseball? LA city councilmen to MLB: Give our Dodgers two championships, please There is much criticism of pitcher Michael Fiers, who blew the whistle. Maybe it was borne of his resentment from 2017, when Houston left him off the playoff roster, but it also took courage. Fiers pitches for Oakland, which plays three series in Houston. Because of the times in which we live, he will need Secret Service-level protection from the moment he lands. The Astros themselves can anticipate a season from hell. At each stop, they will confront a severe inquisition, plus massive fan abuse. The bright spot is that MLB attendance should rise, for a change. At the Astros’ fan fest, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve offered glorified no-comments, but there’s no need to withhold remorse at this point. They were in on it. Will the Astros or the Dodgers be more successful at turning victimhood into 100 more wins? Both will feverishly play that card. Neither has the right. View the full article
  14. Former Angels All-Star second baseman Bobby Grich is warning Coto de Caza residents of a brazen thief in the area who sped away in his golf cart and made off with his clubs and wallet. On Jan. 10, Grich was on the North Course of the Coto de Caza Golf & Raquet Club at about 5:30 p.m. There usually aren’t many people around just before dusk but he was hoping to get in a couple of holes and relax, he said. He was on the green of the 16th hole when he heard something near his cart. “I was just picking up my ball out of the hole and I hear kind of a clamor,” he said in an interview. A man had jumped into his golf cart, which was on the cart path. At first he thought maybe the unknown man was mistaking the vehicle. “Oh this guy is confused and he’s in the wrong cart,” Grich said he thought at the time. “I yelled at him and he didn’t acknowledge me … he didn’t pay attention.” Theft was the last thing on Grich’s mind. But when the man, clad in black, sped off, it became clear. “I went ‘Oh my gosh, he’s stealing my clubs,’ ” and Grich ran after him. Apart from the clubs, his wallet — containing cash, credit cards and his license — and phone also were in the cart. The former baseball player said he ran after the cart halfway down the fairway, about 200 yards. “That’s about as fast as I’ve run since I tried to steal second base about 30 years ago,” he said. He couldn’t reach him so he found another golfer with a cart and hopped in. But by then the thief had driven down the 17th fairway, then took to the streets. Grich saw the man take a right on San Miguel then another right onto Coto de Caza Drive, which runs parallel to several residential communities. When Grich made it to Coto de Caza Drive he said, he found the cart, ditched. His phone was still there but his wallet and top-quality golf clubs gone. He got in the cart and drove around the quiet neighborhood asking people if they’d seen the culprit. When he came up empty he called his wife so they could work on getting the three credit cards in his wallet canceled. But within about 30 minutes of the theft, Grich said, the suspect had gone on a spending spree – $410 at Rite Aid, $268 at Ralphs and $270 at Target. Grich said he reported the theft to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department but also did some investigations of his own. He managed to get surveillance images of the purported suspect from Rite Aid. His wife also posted about it on a neighborhood Facebook group page which garnered a lot of attention. Grich has since replaced the golf clubs. “The bummer of this whole thing is the driver that he took … I’ve never had a driver that good.” The Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed they were called that evening and took a report for grand theft. Grich said he’s still shocked that the incident happened. It was so “bizarre” that it makes him wonder if the man lives in the area. If so, he wants his neighbors to know. “I just want to alert people and other golfers as to what happened,” he said. “There’s so much crime going on now and even our golf courses are not safe, even in our gated communities.” Related Articles Firefighters put out blaze in Seal Beach, 2 people suffer minor injuries Deputies, CHP search for man with Alzheimer’s who went missing in Bellflower Family of 3 rescued after falling through ice on Big Bear Lake 2 more bodies found at Tijuana home where Garden Grove couple was buried Inmate dies after Orange County jail fight, faced trial in Tustin murder View the full article
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  16. Major League Baseball and the union issued a joint statement on Friday afternoon saying that no player has ever received an exemption to use Human Growth Hormone, reacting to a rumor about Angels All-Star Mike Trout that seeped into social media a day earlier. While not using Trout’s name, the statement was clearly a reaction to a Thursday Instagram post – that was deleted and then retracted – alleging that Trout had received MLB approval to use HGH because of a thyroid condition. View the full article
  17. A new rule would allow the Angels some unprecedented flexibility in how they bring two-way player Shohei Ohtani back from Tommy John surgery. General manager Billy Eppler said Friday that teams now have the option of having a two-way player pitch in the minors, for purposes of rehabbing an injury, without going on the injured list. That means Ohtani could continue to hit for the Angels in between outings in the minors. Because Ohtani would not be on the injured list, he would remain a part of the Angels’ 26-man active roster while he’s gone, so they’d essentially be playing one man short in those games. The Angels have said they plan to manage Ohtani’s innings this season, because he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2016 in Japan. They have not said exactly how they’ll do that, and they probably won’t detail the plan until the start of spring training. One option on the table, however, would be for Ohtani to simply start his season as a pitcher late. If the Angels don’t want him to pitch in games until, say, May 1, they could essentially have him make his “spring training starts” in the minors in April, without losing his bat during that time. If the Angels did that, they would probably only need to send Ohtani out for his last two or three starts, when he would need to get his pitch-limit up to a point that couldn’t be reached simply with a simulated game with the major-league team. It’s still uncertain if that’s the approach the Angels will take. They could also prepare Ohtani for opening day, but have him skip starts throughout the season to manage his innings. Ohtani had been scheduled to finish his pitching rehab in October, but that work was put on hold when he had September knee surgery, so Ohtani actually finished in December. Since then, he’s been throwing lightly, just to keep his arm in shape, Eppler said. Related Articles Is technology bumping against its limits in baseball? Angels acquire Matt Andriese, plan to try him as a starter 2020 Angels spring training preview: starting rotation Whicker: MLB’s punishment of Astros was the least it could do Brian Goodwin is Angels’ only unsigned arbitration-eligible player View the full article
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  20. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer This series will attempt to identify other potential front-line starters that the Angels can possibly trade for and we will continue the series looking at the New York Mets, SP/RP Seth Lugo. Facts Contract Status - Seth has entered his first year of arbitration control, in 2020, and settled with the Mets for a yearly salary of $2M for next season. After that he will have the additional, standard two years of arbitration control for a total of three years of team control. If he does return to a starting role, it would not be surprising to see his 2021 salary jump to somewhere in the $4.5M-$5.5M range and in his last year to something approaching the $8M-$9M realm. Repertoire (2019 as a Reliever) - Four-Seam Fastball (34.8%, 94.5 mph), Curve Ball (23.4%, 79.6 mph), Two-Seam Fastball (22.2%, 94.0 mph), Slider (13.3%, 87.9 mph), and Change Up (6.1%, 87.8 mph) Statcast Information - Seth has a nice five-pitch mix with his four-seam, two-seam (sinker), and curve ball being the best three of the group. In particular his curve ball has an incredible amount of spin, sitting at 3,285 rpm, which is pretty ridiculous. Those three primary weapons helped Lugo to have a very good season throwing 80 IP out of the bullpen and could serve him well if he moves back to the rotation as he, himself, has indicated he wants to do. Although Lugo's change up and slider have interesting characteristics, they have not developed into put away weapons yet. The other three, however, generate high strikeout rates and poor contact, against both sides of the plate, making Seth a good candidate to return to a starter role. Despite the fact that Seth threw in relief in 2019, take a look at this Statcast graphic below of all his four-seam fastballs in the zone last year: The results? A 43.2 K% with a corresponding .173 Batting Average Against, across 81 plate appearances. Pretty sick numbers even in a relief role! Outside of the zone? Results are, expectedly, even better, as Seth struck out 51.4% of the hitters and held them to a ridiculous 0.074 Batting Average Against, across a modest 37 plate appearances! To be clear, moving to a starting or long-man relief role would likely result in a lower average velocity and decreased effectiveness of his four-seam and other pitches but when you start at such an amazing level it may not be too noticeable. Injury History Risk - Medium-High (Spondylolisthesis, partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and right shoulder impingement) Three-Year History - As you can see, Seth's K-BB% has significantly increased year-to-year over the past three seasons. Certainly, over the last two years, his move to the bullpen can be directly attributable to that improvement but it is also partly due to the increased use of his exceptional curve ball and the upgraded performance of his four-seam fastball. Additionally, his pitch mix usage has fooled batters more, creating poor contact off the bat, particularly against LHH's. Also here is Lugo's batted ball data: Seth creates a fair amount of ground ball contact with a lot of balls getting pulled or hit up the middle. Additionally, his line drive contact has gone down year-to-year, again, in-part, due to the move to the bullpen but also attributable to his improved four-seam fastball and curve ball. Why? Already this off-season the Mets have added a lot of back-end and relief pitching through free agency. Behind the Mets starting four of deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Matz, they recently signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello on one-year deals to supplement the rotation. Additionally, the Mets signed reliever Dellin Betances to an already strong back-end four of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach. This leaves little room in the rotation or the bullpen for both Lugo and Robert Gsellman, although if the Mets placed both of them into late inning roles they would have a very frightening relief corps. However, Seth has made it abundantly clear that he wants to be a starter, in his words an "ace" for the Mets or another team. Lugo had been a starter his entire career up until the 2016-2017 off-season where he played for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and ended up with a partial tear of his UCL. This forced him to miss the first two months of the 2017 season until June where he continued pitching out of the rotation for a total of 101.1 IP, across 18 starts and 19 games. Even in this abbreviated season with his lingering arm injury he still had solid peripherals. Certainly the move to the bullpen has only strengthened his numbers but it seems pretty clear that Lugo could still thrive in a starting role, particularly with his broad arsenal and above average four-seam, curve ball, and sinker. All of this lends itself to the idea that someone like Lugo might be available in a trade and his ability to work as a starter or reliever would probably spark interest from multiple teams. In particular, the Angels seem well-suited to placing him in a six-man rotation where they could ease him back into a starting role, allowing him to find his groove in Anaheim. Proposed Trade Because the Mets have utilized Seth as a reliever, his surplus value as a trade chip is slightly depressed versus what you could market his worth for as a starter. However, no matter how you parse it, Lugo does have desirability and New York knows this. In terms of surplus value, Seth probably has close to $35M due to his aforementioned three years of team control and the value he can bring out of the bullpen, even if he fails as a starter. That surplus value is probably two good prospects (think Top 10) or one good prospect plus two mid-tier prospects. Alternatively it could be a Major League-ready player like Luis Rengifo plus a lower-level prospect, for example. Realistically, looking at the Mets current projected roster they have pretty good position players around the diamond. However, it has been rumored that they might be shopping Jed Lowrie and Dominic Smith, which could create potential depth needs. If they are concerned about Rosario at SS they might like a player such as Luis Rengifo to platoon a bit with him since Amed hits LHP so well but RHP very poorly, which Luis is better at hitting. Alternatively, they might like to have someone like Taylor Ward who could play some 3B and 1B and in the outfield corners. Both Ward and Rengifo still have options so the Mets could move them up and down as needed throughout the season. Beyond those two players though, New York may prefer to restock their dwindling farm system instead. In that case they would be targeting two of our Top 10 prospects, probably and we would be offering something from the group of Jordyn Adams, Jose Soriano, Chris Rodriguez, Jerimiah Jackson, Matt Thaiss, Jahmai Jones, Jose Suarez, Jaime Barria, or Patrick Sandoval, in addition to the aforementioned Luis Rengifo and Taylor Ward. So a trade might look something like this: Angels send SS/2B Luis Rengifo and OF D'Shawn Knowles to the Mets in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo Alternatively, if they prefer pitching in return, more, they might prefer a grouping like this instead: Angels send SP Jose Suarez and OF Jordyn Adams to the Mets in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo Finally, if the Mets want to go prospect heavy, they could prefer the following: Angels send OF Jordyn Adams, SS Jeremiah Jackson, and OF Trent Deveaux in exchange for SP/RP Seth Lugo Conclusion Seth Lugo is similar to Carlos Martinez, insofar that their injury risk profiles are elevated. Certainly a partial UCL tear is nothing to trifle about but at the same time, Lugo has a tantalizing five-pitch mix with an absurdly high spin rate on his curve ball, able to successfully attack batters on both sides of the plate and the UCL tear is nearly four years in the rear view mirror. More importantly, based on the reports, he wants to not only be a starter but be an ace for any team and it appears that the Mets will not likely have that position available for him in 2020 because they are already six starters deep, unless they trade someone, which could very well include Seth. For the Angels, obtaining three years of a competent pitcher would be very useful and they could have Lugo start, be a long man, or pitch in high-leverage relief, the door really is wide open. As a starter, Seth would certainly not be throwing at a higher relievers velocity but the low-to-mid nineties should still allow him to operate in the 3.00-4.00 ERA range, particularly with his nasty curve ball and quality sinker to pair up with his good four-seam fastball. Seth will not come cheap but any good pitcher is going to cost the Angels in MLB-ready players or prospect capital and if the price is right, he represents a mid-rotation option with the potential for upside, based on his Statcast data and results to-date. View the full article
  21. I’ve been thinking a lot about the limits of how technology is applied to baseball – where the limits exist today, where they might exist in the future, where they should exist. There’s an obvious reason to ask the big questions. Baseball is reeling from the fallout of sign-stealing investigations into the 2017 and 2018 World Series champions. On Monday, after being fined $5 million and ordered to forfeit four draft picks, the Astros fired their manager and general manager. The Red Sox fired their manager Tuesday, having already fired their general manager last September. This is already Major League Baseball’s most conspicuous scandal since 2005, when some of its best players were hauled before Congress to discuss performance-enhancing drugs. The league hasn’t even released its findings from the Red Sox investigation yet. Now, MLB is reportedly planning to examine video replay rooms as a realm for illegal sign stealing. The report by Yahoo! Sports specified that the league is studying how replay rooms are policed. But the magnitude of this scandal is so large, a bigger question must be asked: can teams’ use of live feeds be policed at all? A few days before Commissioner Rob Manfred disciplined the Astros, I was visiting Doug Latta’s batting cage in Northridge for a story. The private instructor has worked with Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, retired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and more recently was credited with reviving Hunter Pence’s career by helping reshape Pence’s swing. When I arrived, Latta was working with a major-league client; a few minutes later, another arrived. A minor league catcher followed. Another minor leaguer called Latta’s cell phone while the catcher was in the cage. After some college players floated through, the day ended with a 12-year-old taking some hacks. Latta does not lack for clients. He does lack for gizmos. There’s a pitching machine in the back of his cage, but that went unused while I watched. The facility holds nothing resembling wearable technology or bat sensors. Latta films his clients’ swings with a camera and will break down their mechanics frame-by-frame when they find it helpful. Some clients use a simple mirror as much as, or more than, the video. Too many gizmos collect too much useless information, Latta believes. “The data,” he said, “is going to make it worse.” Future generations of hitters might need some yet-to-emerge technology if they want to play baseball at the game’s highest level. For now, there are some very good major leaguers who require nothing more than a good coach, a mirror, a camera and a monitor to get their swing right. This was the preferred boundary for hitting technology on one afternoon, at one facility. The limits on which team employees should be privy to live in-game feeds, and the extent to which 21st-century technologies are needed to coach hitters, are grounds for debate. The answer lies in some gray area. Smart people can agree to disagree. That’s usually the case with debates that affect baseball, and sports, and the human condition in general. The same is not true for electronic balls and strikes. In the future, either the umpire will have the authority to make the final call or he will not. If he does, you will be watching the game of baseball as we know it today. If he does not – if the strike zone is determined by some electronic entity – the game will be dramatically different, if not unrecognizable. I didn’t reach that conclusion quickly. One of the featured speakers at this year’s American Baseball Coaches’ Association convention in Nashville was Ryan Sienko, the Dodgers’ catching coordinator. Sienko didn’t dedicate any portion of his presentation to electronic balls and strikes. But some of the coaches who heard Sienko’s talk – the total numbered in the thousands by his own estimate – asked him about it afterward. If MLB moved to a system of automated balls and strikes, Sienko said, “it would just strip away so much.” Begin with base stealing. Catchers crouch behind home plate in order to present pitches to an umpire standing behind them. The crouch is useful to an umpire’s sightlines, but not ideal for throwing out attempted base-stealers. If the umpire doesn’t need to see each pitch as it crosses home plate, astute teams will position their catchers however they need to throw out runners. Goodbye, crouch. Coincidentally, when the independent Atlantic League tested an automated ball/strike system last season, it instituted a rule allowing the batter to run to first base after any passed ball or wild pitch – to “steal first base,” if you will. “If they don’t put that (rule) in there, you can basically have your (catchers) get out of the way,” Sienko said. “You don’t have to even catch (the baseball). If there’s no one on base, there’s no real reason for you to catch it. You’re just standing there retrieving the ball after each pitch. It can become a 100 percent offensive position.” In the Arizona Fall League last October, one batter was ejected for arguing after a pitch was caught inches above the ground and called a strike. The pitch was difficult to hit, or at least hit well, but a calibrated computer determined it passed through the batter’s strike zone. The Fall League is populated by minor leaguers. A typical major league pitcher has elite command and could be expected to exploit the limits of an electronic strike zone even further. That would ultimately have an adverse effect on offense. It’s another point in favor of allowing hitters to “steal” first base on any ball that gets past the catcher, regardless of the count. It could be a necessary avenue for game action, for allowing runners to reach base. Back to the Atlantic League. When it allowed hitters to steal first, a funny thing happened. Some of them chose to ignore the rule. They pretended it didn’t exist. “Most guys feel that it’s bush league,” journeyman catcher James Skelton told ESPN in August. Times change, and so do the accepted norms of a sport. Think about the de-emphasis on pitchers “brushing back” a hitter with inside pitches, or sliding hard into a fielder standing at second, third, or home plate. The norms guiding these behaviors changed over time. In some cases, the rules did too. In other cases, no rule change was needed. Maybe Atlantic League players will someday decide it’s OK to run to first base on any count; maybe they won’t. What does all of this mean for MLB? The league didn’t believe the first-base rule was a necessary companion to the automated strike zone when it tested both rules in the Atlantic League. Sienko believes it is. If he’s right, we can call it a secondary consequence of a rule (a computer has the final say over balls and strikes) that was the secondary consequence of a technological advancement (calibrating a radar to detect strike zones with greater accuracy than humans). This is the perfect example of why MLB needs to ask the big questions about who calls balls and strikes now, knowing teams and players will exploit every advantage a new system would create. What are the secondary consequences? What are the tertiary consequences? Sienko has thought of some. Certainly, there are others. We might ultimately learn, like Latta’s spartan batting cage and any replay room within earshot of a major league dugout, that in baseball less is sometimes more. View the full article
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  23. The Angels picked up right-hander Matt Andriese from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league right-hander Jeremy Beasey on Tuesday. Although Andriese has pitched mostly out of the bullpen in the past two seasons, he will come to camp as a starter, according to general manager Billy Eppler. Andriese has options, so he could be part of the club’s rotation depth that shuttles between Triple-A and the majors. Andriese, 30, posted a 4.71 ERA in 70-2/3 innings with the Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays last season. He struck out 79, for a career-best ratio of 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Andriese has been a durable big league reliever for the past three seasons, averaging 78 innings per season. The Rays also used Andriese as an opener frequently over the that time. Andriese last pitched as a traditional starter in 2017, when he had a 4.66 ERA in 17 starts. Andriese will make $1.35 million in 2020, and he will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. Beasley, 24, was the Angels’ 30th-round pick in 2017. He posted a 4.49 ERA in 2019, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A. Beasley was the inaugural winner of the Aaron Cox Award, which the Angels established to honor their former prospect who died in 2018. Cox was Mike Trout’s brother in law. More to come on this story. Related Articles 2020 Angels spring training preview: starting rotation Whicker: MLB’s punishment of Astros was the least it could do Brian Goodwin is Angels’ only unsigned arbitration-eligible player Hoornstra: MLB punishing alleged sign stealers is more difficult than banging a trash can Angels acquire reliever Kyle Keller from Marlins View the full article
  24. As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 12, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with different aspects of their roster. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Up first, the starting rotation: 2019 RECAP The Angels endured yet another season in which their rotation was decimated, this time not only by injuries but most notably by the tragic death of Tyler Skaggs. The Angels did not have a single starting pitcher make it through the season in the rotation. Their two free-agent acquisitions, Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey, performed poorly. Cahill was sent to the bullpen and Harvey was released. By the end of the season, Andrew Heaney was the only healthy starter who had ever spent an entire season in the big leagues. The Angels were relying on young pitchers such as Griffin Canning, José Suarez, Jaime Barría, Patrick Sandoval and Dillon Peters. The Angels resorted to using an opener in 27 games, and the openers and subsequent primary pitchers in those games combined for a 6.03 ERA. Overall, Angels starters, including the openers, had a 5.64 ERA, which ranked 29th in the majors. HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW Considering the price the Angels have paid for having pitchers get hurt over the past few years, it should be no surprise that General Manager Billy Eppler acquired two of baseball’s more durable starters. Dylan Bundy (trade with Orioles) and Julio Teheran (free agent) are two of just 23 pitchers in the majors who have made at least 89 starts over the past three seasons. One of the others is Gerrit Cole, who the Angels tried to sign before he agreed to a record-breaking deal with the New York Yankees. Without Cole as the ace at the top that many fans had hoped for, the Angels will instead hope for consistency and improvement from their other starters. Their best hope at developing their own ace is to have Shohei Ohtani make a strong return from Tommy John surgery. It’s unclear what type of workload restrictions the Angels will place on Ohtani, who will also be a DH. The Angels also bring back Heaney and Canning, each of whom has shown the potential to be a mid-rotation starter or better. THE NEXT LAYER Suarez, Barría, Peters and Sandoval each took their lumps throughout limited opportunities in 2019. All have options and figure to be cycled between the majors and Triple-A, with the opportunity to stick around if they pitch well. Because Ohtani isn’t likely to pitch more than once a week, and because the Angels might prefer to give their other starters an extra day when possible, there could be plenty of opportunities for pitchers to come up and get spot starts. The Angels also should get Félix Peña back after he recovers from knee surgery, although he might end up in the bullpen. MOVES THEY COULD MAKE There are no impact starters left on the free-agent market, and many of the best starters who could be acquired in trades are with teams that hope to contend, so their clubs aren’t motivated to move them. The exception could be left-hander Matthew Boyd. He is durable (88 starts in the past three years) and struck out 11.6 hitters per nine innings last season. Boyd has three seasons left, so he won’t come cheap, but the Tigers might be willing to settle on a package of the Angels’ better low-level prospects since they are rebuilding. Another option could be Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray, who would be a one-year rental. Related Articles Whicker: MLB’s punishment of Astros was the least it could do Brian Goodwin is Angels’ only unsigned arbitration-eligible player Hoornstra: MLB punishing alleged sign stealers is more difficult than banging a trash can Angels acquire reliever Kyle Keller from Marlins Angels, catcher Jason Castro agree to 1-year deal View the full article
  25. Jeff Luhnow believed he was smarter than baseball. That belief was suspended on Monday, as was Luhnow. He is no longer the general manager of the Houston Astros, who, in winning the World Series in 2017 and the American League pennant in 2019, tried to spook the game. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Luhnow for one season. In an eruption of conscience rarely seen in owners, Jim Crane fired Luhnow. Manager A.J. Hinch got the same suspension and dismissal. The Astros were fined $5 million and lost their top draft choices in 2020 and 2021. That will not be enough for baseball people who wanted Luhnow suspended permanently. When John Coppolella, the Braves’ general manager, misreported signing bonuses for international players and made separate deals with agents, he was banned for life. When Chris Correa, a functionary in the Cardinals’ office, hacked into Houston’s computer networks because he knew where Luhnow was burying his data, he went to the slammer for 46 months and also was banned for life. Manfred could have been far tougher. He could have taken an entire draft class or two away from the Astros, or fined them the equivalent of the national TV money they’d receive. But he cited the Astros’ cooperation, as opposed to Coppolella’s obstruction. The next casualty almost surely will be Alex Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 and Boston’s 2018 manager. The Red Sox beat Houston in that AL Championship Series and the Dodgers in the World Series. Cora helped design the Astros’ plan to relay the signs electronically to a trash can-banger in the dugout, whose signals told the hitter what pitches were coming. Since the banger could not transmit the nature of the pitch’s movement or velocity, it’s difficult to believe this really helped the Astros, as Manfred acknowledged. Their strikeouts plunged in 2017, but apparently the signals were garbled in Game 4 of that World Series, when they got one hit on Alex Wood’s 84 pitches. Houston struck out two fewer times per game in 2017 than in 2016. But the 2017 and 2018 Astros had better hitting numbers on the road than at home. Manfred said the players were the prime movers in Garbagegate, but couldn’t justify suspending them. He threw the book at Hinch for hiding his knowledge of it. He reprimanded Luhnow for lack of institutional control, saying there was no evidence he knew. It would take major gullibility to assume he didn’t. “I am deeply disappointed that I wasn’t informed of any conduct,” Luhnow said in a statement, “because I would have stopped it.” Luhnow descended upon baseball like a mall developer upon a family farm. He worked for McKinsey, the powerful consulting firm. There, he met the son-in-law of Cardinals president Bill DeWitt, and legend has it that his mastery of fantasy-league baseball helped him get inside the door, where he ascended from the scouting department. Once in Houston, Luhnow began firing scouts and managers and wound up with perhaps the strongest roster in baseball. But Bobby Heck, one of the fired scouts, was responsible for drafting George Springer and Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel were already there. Luhnow’s regime released J.D. Martinez and drafted Mark Appel with the top pick instead of future MVP Kris Bryant. To be fair, he pulled off the audacious trade for Justin Verlander that led to a championship. Related Articles Astros’ AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow suspended, then fired for sign-stealing Dodgers sign former All-Star Alex Wood to one-year deal Brian Goodwin is Angels’ only unsigned arbitration-eligible player Dodgers reach contract agreements with Cody Bellinger, 4 others Hoornstra: MLB punishing alleged sign stealers is more difficult than banging a trash can Luhnow also traded for spouse-beater Roberto Osuna. He didn’t recognize that he couldn’t close the clubhouse to reporters because Verlander didn’t like one of them. He didn’t disapprove when assistant GM Brandon Taubman could make a jackass of himself in a post-win celebration, or when pro scouting consultant Kevin Goldstein encouraged scouts to steal signs with their cameras. He thought baseball would prosper with fewer minor league teams, an idea from the McKinsey playbook. In the end, he was undone by a decision to leave Michael Fiers off the 2017 postseason roster. Fiers was 10-8 for the season and led Houston in innings, and the Astros were 8-2 in his no-decisions. Everyone forgot it but Fiers, now with Oakland. He told The Athletic about the inner workings. It’s fashionable to scoff at baseball’s unwritten rules and ethics, made up by Boomers who disavow “fun.” Luhnow thought he could skirt the written rules, too, even after Manfred warned him. The Dodgers will bask in their aggrievement, but no sign-stealing made them hit .205 in that series. No, the real issue is whether the punishment fell short of the crime and whether the Astros would do it again even if they knew the penalties. And they probably would. If cheating is your thing, cheat loud. View the full article