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Found 7 results

  1. Photo Credit: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer —"Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.” Semisonic In life, we all will face the point where we will be replaced. It’s never easy. If we are lucky, it’s on our own terms and we can retire when we want to. At other times, life dictates the ending. Whether it’s a business closing, an illness affecting us, a life event happening to someone else, a global pandemic, it will happen. That’s an unfortunate certainty to life. If baseball is anything, it is brutally honest about when it’s time to go. Injuries and age take their toll. Whether one is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, a regular player, or just up for a cup of coffee, players with more ability and skill will eventually force the issue. It may be hard for the player to accept it, but the game doesn’t lie about it. There are a lot of ways to analyze the end of the Pujols era with the Angels. As a baseball decision, it is an easy decision. His performance on the field wasn’t good enough to justify the playing time. The emergence of Walsh and Ohtani playing everyday made the team better offensively. There wasn’t going to be much playing time for Albert going forward. Additionally, after a shortened season last year, the concern about pitching is very real. The Angels aren’t the only organization to be struck by injuries to pitchers. Teams are carrying more pitchers for a reason, and that meant that keeping Albert in a bench role didn’t make sense. The Angels needed someone with more defensive versatility and better offensive performance than he could provide. Baseball, though, isn’t just a game of numbers. While fans may care most about numbers, those inside the business know that the people are just as important as the numbers. If I learned one thing from all of Tim Mead’s dugout talks with AngelsWin, it’s that how people are treated is of great importance in life. Right now, there’s a ton of speculation online of what happened prior to the Angels designating him for assignment. We have the statements from the Angels Front Office that the meeting with Albert ended with Minasian giving him a hug. Hopefully, the meeting went well and Albert didn’t feel “disrespected” as Pedro Martinez tweeted. Many fans have a hard time understanding the importance of respect for players. They focus on the money the players earn and the lifestyle and conclude that that should be enough for them. To those fans, I would say, everyone deserves respect, whether they make millions or hundreds. And, at some point or another, we will all feel disrespected. It may be how a doctor delivers bad news to us in an unfriendly manner, or a judge rushing us through a traffic ticket violation, a boss giving an unfair performance review, etc. At some point, we will all be treated with disrespect and would not want others telling us to just accept it because they envy our position As fans, we will never know the whole story. I have every reason to believe that Albert will continue to be as classy as he can about the situation and won’t divulge all the details of the meeting. While I do expect him to talk about it at some point, I don’t expect him to reveal much more than what we already know. The Angels Front Office won’t issue more statements about it, so, as fans we have about as much information on the subject as we are likely to get, at least in the short term. We will have no way of knowing how this may affect the Angels in future negotiations with other players. If there is more to the story (not assuming that there is more to the story), those inside the industry may learn about it. How this affects future players signing with the Angels remains to be seen. If this changes the perception of the Angels as a franchise within the industry, it could have long-term consequences as players and agents may steer players away from the Angels if they perceive the team as disrespectful. This could be a case where those fans gloating over Albert’s release should be cautioned to be careful of what they wish for. What does this mean going forward for the Angels in 2021? Honestly, not too much. Releasing Albert won’t solve the pitching and injury problems that are hampering the team. It won’t help with many of the shifts from the analytics department that didn’t work. Until those issues are resolved, the team will struggle. There is one way, though, that releasing Albert will help the Angels in 2021. It will alleviate a potential issue for the future. As noted above, from a baseball standpoint, the move made the most sense. At some point this season, a Minor Leaguer such as Adell or Marsh would likely emerge and force the issue by performing so well that the Angels would need to promote him to play the outfield and move Walsh back to first base. At that point, the issue of Pujols’ playing time would become a distraction for the team. It would take a toll on players, the coaching staff, and the Front Office as Albert got less and less playing time and reporters asked about that issue more and more. In many ways, biting the inevitable bullet now prevents a future issue and team distraction from arising. How this affects the team in the future remains to be seen. There’s no doubt that the Pujols contract had wide ramifications on the baseball industry. Paying older players large sums for many years is not likely to happen often again. Teams now know that paying players more money in their prime years is less risky and less detrimental to the franchise than spreading the money out over more years. So, if the Angels are at the end of an era with Pujols, I hope this means that the Front Office is going to move ahead fully with the notion of paying players more money for prime years. There’s no need to repeat the mistake of jumping onto a new idea with one foot, like they did when they signed Roberto Baldoquin and no other major international free agents. There are signs that this may be the case under Perry Minasian with the recent contract for David Fletcher. Hopefully they will lock up their own players earlier in their careers and find ways to sign free agents for more of their prime years. But again, I will caution fans who want this approach to be careful of what they wish for from the Front Office. Not all those future contracts will work out, even for younger players in their prime. The Angels, like all teams, will get burned eventually on a deal with a player. Injuries and aging still happen, and at some point, the team may get hampered by a shorter-term deal with a higher salary. It is the nature of the industry. So fans wishing for this approach need to understand that there are risks to these deals just as there are risks to signing players for longer term contracts. Personally, I would like to think of the Pujols era for what it meant to the franchise. When we signed him, it was the third largest contract in MLB history. I remember the buzz online and at the stadium for the press conference announcing the signing. The national perception of the Angels dramatically changed as a result of signing him. Suddenly, the Angels were on the map as a destination for players—not just some players, almost all players, especially the best of that year’s free agent class. Signing Albert changed the way the Angels were seen nationally—much in a way that signing Vlad did not. The Angels went from being a scrappy team that won the World Series in 2002 to one of the larger payrolls in baseball. During every offseason for years, we were the rumored “mystery team” involved in negotiations, and that made being an Angels fan special. Our payroll has gone up quite a bit since we’ve signed Albert and doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy of shrinking. I get that many fans are upset because the Angels never got the performance from Albert that they paid for. That is truly regrettable as he was such a joy to watch in St. Louis. The fact that Albert didn’t perform so well wasn’t due to a lack of effort on his part. Age and injuries take their toll on everyone, and baseball is brutally honest about that. He is still, a no-doubt first round Hall of Famer, and he should go into the Hall of Fame with a unanimous vote. As for the contract that he signed—that was the result of the way baseball operated at the time. The Angels were freely negotiating with him, and was later revealed, the Marlins had a higher offer for his services. The fact that the Angels never won a postseason game with him was not entirely his fault. That had more to do with the lack of pitching and lack of depth in the organization throughout his time with the Angels. According to Matt Birch, the Angels had a 590-591 record in games in which he appeared. Albert was and is a class act on and off the field. He never whined to the press or complained about the team or its record. I saw him personally interact with fans in meaningful ways, often not in ways that the public could see. He gave us some great moments (my favorite being when he and Trout fired arrows back at Fernando Rodney on July 20, 2014). He hit many milestones with the Angels and ranks in the top-10 in many all-time records for Angels offensive categories. Now that it’s closing time on the Pujols era with the Angels the endless debates about his contract and performance will come to an end. We can and should appreciate him for what he was throughout the entirety of his career, and hope that as we move forward, that the end of his era leads to a better new beginning—one with Walsh at first base and Ohtani as the full-time DH. I wish Albert Pujols all the best in the remainder of his career and look forward to seeing him inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  2. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer Special Request from Angelswin.com: This year, after discussion with Chuck, we have decided to tie-in the 2021 Angelswin.com Primer Series with a wonderful GoFundMe effort called “Hope for Education”. This is a focused fundraiser, to help ten needy families in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, obtain laptops for educational use in this challenging COVID-19 pandemic environment. These families are unable to afford these computers, themselves, and so it is up to charitable people and donors to help bridge the gap so these children can continue to learn, safely, from their homes. Education is very important to me, personally, and Chuck and I are asking our fellow Angels fans to contribute to this very worthy cause, organized and supported, in-part, by a former colleague of mine and her friend. Any amount is appreciated and you can donate here to help them reach, and even exceed, their initial goal: Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/give-a-child-a-chance-4-education Introduction Chaos. That is probably the right word to describe the year 2020 and the disorder and bedlam around the country, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a direct impact on baseball and sports in general. In addition to the country’s turmoil, a battle is looming between the Player’s Union and team owners. Real and potential reductions in scouts, Minor League farm systems, and front office personnel have plagued the professional ranks. Real or feigned cutbacks in team payroll are already heavily influencing the 2020-2021 off-season. Coronavirus impacts, to the industry as a whole, are striking players and families, now, while the long-term impact of a poor U.S. response to the pandemic now threatens the 2021 regular season as well. Yeah, lot’s of chaos. Set to this scene, the Angels entered the off-season without a Major League General Manager (GM), both Assistant General Managers, and a slew of personnel cuts and player non-tenders that seem destined to make this another challenging off-season for the Halos. More chaos, more entropy. The Angels appear to have set sail with their long-tenured shortstop Andrelton Simmons, although a very unlikely reunion is still a possibility in free agency. Steady reliever Cam Bedrosian is gone, after an outright assignment and subsequent decision to elect free agency. Relief pitcher (RP) Jacob Barnes, another looming arbitration decision in a depressed economic environment, was picked up by the Mets on waivers. Additionally, non-factor’s from our 2020 roster, like starting pitcher (SP) Julio Teheran, are mercifully off of our payroll. This leaves Mike Trout, a champion looking for a supporting cast, yearning for the changes needed to take the next step toward contention with an uncomfortable amount of signs possibly pointing in the wrong direction. Mr. Trout may or may not be growing concerned about when the Angels are planning to flip the script and shove; and fans, from the outside, looking in, are thinking the same thing, based on team standings and zero visits to the postseason over the last several years. Unless Albert Pujols suddenly decides to retire, the Angels will have some payroll space but will have to strategically determine where to spend it, to fill the multiple holes on their 40-man roster. Trades are certainly a possibility with an improved farm system but everything has a price and the Angels may not be able to absorb the loss of quality Minor League depth; you have to give to get. That could derail the long-term farm system rebuild that former GM Billy Eppler initiated and new GM Perry Minasian just inherited, which is just beginning to come to fruition but could provide controllable talent to address some, if not all, of the holes on the Angels roster. Save for a complete out-of-character turnaround by owner Arte Moreno to push the pedal-to-the-metal and exceed the Competitive Balance Threshold (CBT) by a hefty amount, the new Angels management team will have a finite set of resources to answer the pressing questions in the rotation and bullpen as well as at catcher (C) and shortstop (SS). To be clear it is not all doom and gloom. There were some bright spots in 2020 that gave some hope for the future. Mike Trout had another solid season. David Fletcher continued to shine on both sides of the ball. Young prospect Jo Adell got his feet wet, as our new right fielder (RF). Jared Walsh came up to play first base (1B) and showed why his reputation with the bat is so well deserved. Starting pitcher (SP) Dylan Bundy and relief pitcher (RP) Mike Mayers looked like stars on the mound. SP’s Griffin Canning and Jaime Barria had really solid showings this year, as well. The question is can they repeat or even build off of these performances? Can the rotation and team defense regress toward the mean, improving on the poor showings in 2020? As we do every year, Angelswin.com will attempt to answer these pressing team questions and provide some visibility into team decision-making. Because of the increased chaos and entropy in baseball, the conclusions will likely be more general and the Primer Series more succinct simply due to a historical lack of clear general manager guidance, quotes, and transactions and a disarray and lack of visibility around baseball in general. So, just like the 2020 baseball regular season, enjoy the abbreviated 2021 Angelswin.com Primer Series!
  3. By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer In 2020, Justin Upton will be entering his 14th professional season in Major League Baseball at the tender age of 32 years young. He is one of those guys, like Brett Anderson, that you feel like they have played forever and should be old men but they still have kick and life left in them as they progress through the seasons. Certainly, last year is one of those seasons that Justin would prefer to forget. In 2019, Upton ended a 10-year streak of playing 130 games or more each season, playing in only 63 Major League games to the tune of a weak wRC+ of 92, which also broke his streak of posting at least a wRC+ of 105 over that same time period. Uncharacteristically, Justin suffered from ailments, including a quad and knee injury, that ultimately limited his playing time and forced him to end his season early to receive treatment. The good news is that he appears to be recovering well and is projected to return to good health prior to Spring Training. This is good because the Angels really need Upton to recover to form. His offensive woes in 2019, most likely tied directly to his injuries, can be seen in his three-year hitting history, below: Justin Upton's Three-Year (2017-2019) Hitting History It should be noted that Justin has a career wRC+ of 120, so, other than last year, he has been above his own average during his tenure with the Angels. Really last year seems to be an injury-related abnormality. In that light, assuming Upton recovers well and is healthy to start the 2020 campaign, it would not be unexpected to see his numbers regress to his career mean and see a more productive season (say a wRC+ in the 115 to 125 range) out of the Angels left fielder. This brings me to one important note. Justin has been strikingly poor against LHP the last two seasons. Quite honestly when the author looked this up during mid-season 2019, it was stunning to see how bad the numbers were, as it was unexpected: Justin Upton's Five-Year (2015-2019) Hitting History Vs. LHP In fact, over the last five years, he has had three really bad offensive seasons (2015: wRC+ of 58 , 2018: wRC+ of 66, and 2019: wRC+ of 47) against them. On the flip side he had better years in 2016 and 2017 where he had a wRC+ of 100 and 202, respectively, both on elevated BABIP numbers (.300 and .369, individually). He has been wildly inconsistent against lefties and the trend is worrisome. To be clear poor production against LHP is not going to hurt the 2020 Angels too much. In fact, the Angels can mitigate this by simply having a back-up outfielder such as Goodwin, Hermosillo, or even Ward, pick-up some of Justin's at-bat's against them. The Angels could even acquire another bat to play 1B with some outfield experience to split time between the two positions to pick up some of the slack. One thing Upton has done well, consistently, is hit RHP: Justin Upton's Five-Year (2015-2019) Hitting History Vs. RHP People do not realize or want to recognize what an accomplished hitter Justin has been in his thirteen seasons in Major League Baseball. Recently, on Twitter, @MLB asked the question, "Who is the best left fielder of the 2010's?", and Upton came in last, vote-wise, which is a shame but is a by-product of his relatively low profile in baseball. Certainly Braun, Gordon, and Yelich are great players but Ryan has a PED's history, Alex was a strong defender but not nearly as good of a hitter, and Christian may go down as the best LF of all-time but he picked up the most recency bias in the voting process, perhaps deservedly so. The point is that Upton has been a durable power-hitter across his entire career and heading into his age 32 season, there is no reason to believe that 2020 will be any different for him, from an offensive perspective. Defensively, it might be the same or it might begin getting progressively worse. By both FanGraphs and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), Justin has been below average, mostly via unforced errors and an imprecise throwing arm. His range has been about average as well as his Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Basically as he continues to age, his defense will get worse and his tendinitis issue from last season may or may not contribute to his defensive performance moving forward, only time will tell. It is this potential for worsening defensive skills that will ultimately drive Upton to the designated hitter spot once Pujols contract expires or he retires. Basically, Brandon Marsh, one of our really good young prospects, took a huge stride forward near the end of the Minor League season in the Arizona Fall League and he will almost assuredly be ready to play in the Majors next year or the year after. So these next two seasons will be the last that the Angels place Justin in left field, based on what happens with Pujols. Once that change occurs the Angels will have an incredible outfield of Trout, Adell, and Marsh, which should be very exciting for Angels fans as all three have really dynamic tools and Mike Trout is, of course, Mike Trout. Upton is owed $72M over the next three seasons. When Eppler signed him the Angels were, in-part, paying for his durability and for the most part he has been on the field pretty consistently minus last season. This is actually a trend across many of the players that Eppler is acquiring as evidenced by the Bundy trade and the Teheran signing. Having good players produce on a regular basis is what carries teams successfully through 162-game seasons as well as having excellent team depth at every position. Justin is a good example of this quality, consistent production. Finally, if Brandon Marsh has a breakout season in 2020 or 2021, there is always a possibility that the Angels might try to trade Upton, particularly if Justin also has an excellent season and the Halos are, for some reason, out of contention. This seems really unlikely and is further complicated by the fact that Upton has a no-trade clause, perhaps making this a moot conversation, but if the player and management agree a move is best for everyone involved, it could be a long-shot possibility, but highly doubtful. The expectation should be that Justin Upton will continue to play at an above average level for the next three seasons and, when Pujols is gone, take over full-time designated hitter duties, perhaps with a touch of left field, first base, and pinch hitter appearances until he, too, leaves after the 2022 season is complete and the Angels move forward with young prospects like the aforementioned Marsh and possibly others like Jordyn Adams or Trent Deveaux for example. Next up is the Right Field article of the Primer Series.
  4. By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer So I almost didn't write the series this year. A lot of things happened, one of which the company I worked for, Vector-Launch, unfortunately shut down in mid-August due to the loss of our primary financial backer, Sequoia. This was a real loss to me because that was the best damn job I ever had and likely will ever have the remainder of my career. It is rare that you find a position where you enjoy the work so much that you don't even feel like it is work, you have a supervisor that respects and mentors you, and you have fantastic relationships with virtually all of your coworkers to the point that they become family and you even hang out with them outside of work. Vector was all of that and it is a damn shame that it had to go. There are parallels to that situation with the 2019 Angels. The Halos, at the start of the season seemed locked in. Our new manager, Brad Ausmus, was at the helm and seemed to have a good grasp of how to manage the team and appeared to have the respect of the players. Most importantly the team seemed to gel well and the clubhouse atmosphere seemed loose and fun. However, as we are all aware, injuries, ineffectiveness, and a lack of leadership at the top ravaged the 2019 Angels team. Players like Matt Harvey and Cody Allen, larger ticket players Eppler signed on one-year deals in the off-season, failed to produce and were eventually cut. The Angels tragically lost Tyler Skaggs mid-season to a deadly concoction of opioids and alcohol. Justin Upton, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Luis Rengifo, and Tommy La Stella all hit the Injury List (IL) at various points in the season creating a discontinuity in the field and lineup that was reflected in the Angels very poor win-loss record at the end of the year. These losses certainly added up to a recipe for disaster in Anaheim that seems, on the surface, difficult to overcome in 2020 and proved fatal to Brad Ausmus' tenure. Like Vector-Launch, they had to close it down. So, once again, it will be up to Billy Eppler in what could be his last year as General Manager, and the front office staff to set a path for success this off-season if the Angels will have a real chance at post-season play. One very bright point is the signing of future Hall of Fame candidate Mike Trout to a career-long extension at the beginning of the 2019 season. The Angels now have the premier player in baseball locked up and can rest easy knowing that he is the centerpiece to build the remainder of the team around as they look to contend in 2020 and beyond. Some of these pieces are already here. Despite Justin Upton's poor offensive performance in 2019, he is still signed for three more seasons making him a likely complimentary piece in left field for next year. Andrelton Simmons will be entering his final year of control and, barring a trade, will man shortstop again in 2020 with the possibility of an extension contract in his future. Kole Calhoun turned out to be a luxury the Angels couldn't afford in an off-season where they need a lot of starting pitching but fortunately, the Angels have Brian Goodwin to fill their right field need to start the season. Other complimentary players like Zack Cozart (if healthy), David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo, Matt Thaiss, Taylor Ward, Jared Walsh, and Tommy La Stella should help fill one or more holes in the infield not called shortstop. Catcher may turn out to be a patchwork again manned by some combination of Max Stassi (who probably won't be ready to start the season), Anthony Bemboom, Kevan Smith, and perhaps one or more other, yet-to-be-acquired, backstops. Shohei Ohtani should be ready to pitch again, along with Andrew Heaney, giving the Angels a decent base to create a rotation with the likes of Griffin Canning, Jaime Barria, Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, Dillon Peters, and possibly others like Felix Pena filling up the back-end of the starting five. However, it should be clearly noted that the free agent starting pitching market has some very attractive players that the Angels will almost certainly target to create a strong rotation for 2020. Our relief corps will probably contain names like Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Noe Ramirez, Cam Bedrosian, Luke Bard, Justin Anderson, Keynan Middleton, Jake Jewell, and Taylor Cole among potential others. In fact this group may be enough to rely upon for the 2020 season, making it one potential area that the Angels need not worry about this off-season in terms of expending resources. The rebuilding process in the Angels Minor League system has actually been underway for some time now. Eppler has been steadily building it up and there are some notable names that have joined or are on the verge of joining Trout in Anaheim. Potential stars like Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, along with contributing pieces like Luis Madero are making strides to join the big league club in 2020 or after. Adell in particular appears to be the closest to the Majors and is likely, based on Calhoun's option being declined, a call-up in the May/June time frame. Other potential contributors like Luis Pena (bullpen), Jahmai Jones (2B/OF), and Chris Rodriguez could accelerate fast if they have a productive start in 2020. The unexpected replacement of Ausmus with Joe Maddon and Moreno's recent comments that there will be an increase in payroll this off-season clearly points to a sea change and acceleration to push the Angels into a window of contention that many fans have been awaiting for a long time. Based on the groundwork laid to date, owner comments, and a largely new, but experienced, coaching staff, it seems highly probable that there will be at least one or more significant free agent signings and/or complimentary trades to help position the Angels to fight for a playoff spot in 2020. The Astros and A's still pose a significant threat in the Division but an improved Angels squad will make for a much more interesting race in the A.L. West. In terms of team needs, clearly the Angels need to add at least one top-of-the-rotation starter and likely an additional mid-tier type to create solid depth. Adding a high-quality defensive catcher, to compliment one of Stassi (likely), Smith (maybe), or Bemboom (unlikely), would be a nice add to receive all of those pitches from the revamped rotation. The infield will need to be reinforced, likely at the corners with third base a long-term strategic concern for Eppler. Right field will be open to competition with Jo Adell in the mix (and the future of the position) but likely only after the Angels retain the extra year of team control on him (thus the projected May/June call-up). Adding another reliever or two to the mix, even if they are waiver claims or Rule 5 picks, will add depth. The question will ultimately be how high will Moreno let Eppler spend? Is it a modest increase or something much more significant that would take us into Luxury Tax territory for the next two years? Will a poor free agent market in the 2020-2021 off-season drive spending now? What moves can be made in free agency and trade to strengthen the team? Can the team supplement from the Minors in key areas throughout the season to create the missing depth that recent Angels squads have lacked? All that and more in what is sure to be an active Angels off-season in the subsequent installments of the 2020 Angelswin.com Primer Series!
  5. http://baselinetimes.com/albert-pujols-and-the-600-hr-club/
  6. Hey guys, I'm new to this site, but I'm a huge fan of Albert Pujols and everything he does with his foundation, The Pujols Family Foundation. I work for a company that works with professional athletes and helps them raise money for their charitable foundations using fantasy sports! Tonight, Albert Pujols is hosting a game on our site and all the entry fees go to his foundation! The first place prize is a signed ball from Albert and there are some more perks you can buy that will be donations as well. Just thought I would post here and see if anyone would be interested! https://fantasyhub.com/all-star-pujols
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