Thursday, January 21, 2016

By Glen McKee and Nate Trop, Staff Reporters - 

Yeah, we know, it’s been a while.  What have we been doing in that time, besides not writing? We’ve been waiting for the Angels to fill the hole in LF.  Sigh.  In the meantime, our mailbox at PCP headquarters is chock-full of people not asking us questions so we figured this would be a good time to answer them.  Why aren’t you sending questions?  Because nobody uses snail mail anymore, it’s all email.  Feel free to email any questions to and we’ll answer them if we feel like it.  OK, on to your imaginary questions!

How would you rate the Angels offseason?  A. Dodge, Hillcrest, CA

Glen – Until Cespedes signs somewhere else and finishes the dream-stomping process it’s incomplete.  Once he’s off the boards it will be a D+ from me.  LF will be the same, if not worse, as it was last year.  If we don’t get Cespedes and have to make a trade we’ll be giving up potentially good starting pitching that we will need during the season, and that will take it down to an F.  I like having Simmons on the team but I think Newcomb alone should have been enough to get him.  The rest of the moves have just been treading water and searching for a clean peanut (thanks, tdawg). 

Nate – I don’t need to wait, I know the Angels aren’t going to sign Cespedes.  Arte has that wallet of his locked tight. After all he has to afford more yachts! The offseason has been pretty underwhelming.  First of all the trade for Simmons seemed like an overpay for a position that we didn’t even need to address.  That overpay left us with no trade chips left and holes in the OF, bullpen and starting rotation.  I would rate this off season a FU as in FU Arte for not buying a good OF! 

Will you guys miss Erick Aybar?  E. Aybar, Atlanta, GA

Glen – Every damn game I will.  I have no doubt that Simmons is a defensive improvement and I think he will surprise with the bat, but Aybar was Aybar.  Ghostface Killah and the village idiot wrapped into one.  He’s the only player I have a t-shirt for.  He’s like the dog that craps on the rug but then gives you a sloppy kiss after you clean it up: he pisses you off but he makes up for it.  I will learn to live without him but there will forever be a hole in my baseball heart.  Godspeed, you goofy fuck.

Nate – I already do.  Angels games will be so much less interesting now without knowing what crazy thing you are going to do next!  I will miss your stupid baserunning mistakes, crazy tantrums, goofy smiles, and all the rest of the tomfoolery we got used to over the years.  Good night my sweet prince!

What is your prediction for the Angels record this season?  M. Scioscia, Hometown Buffet, USA

Glen – My wife has a nickname for me: Mr. SOE (Shit on Everything).  I’m working on being more optimistic but I can’t see this team being aby better than 80-82.  I think Richards bounces back, Weaver plummets even further, Wilson is Wilson, Santiago repeats last year, and the offense will struggle.  Of course Pujols will declare himself 100% by the end of spring training but he won’t be. There are just too many things that could go wrong and not enough that could go right for this team to make the playoffs.  In the 80s Genesis had a hit with the excellent song (and even better video) “Land of Confusion.”  This is a team of confusion.  Not enough power to be a power team, not enough speed to steal more than a handful of bases, still not a great OBP lineup, a weak bullpen before the ninth, and unproved arms galore in the starting rotation.  It could be a long season.

Nate – My wife also has a name for me, it is footlong prick.  Barring any more major moves I do not see this team winning more than 75-80 games.  I think an aging already regressing Weaver, an aging, milquetoast, already douchey CJ Wilson, Pujols who just celebrated his 48th birthday, no LF, half a bullpen, terrible IF defense outside of Simmons and a strong division makes this a team that not even Mike Trout can carry.  I really don’t get this off season at all and I have no confidence in this team going into the season.  They project to be worse than last year and even more boring.  Really sucks that Mike Trout has to be surrounded by such a poor product.

Who do you think will play second base this year? J. Giovete Giavatoll Giavotella, Anaheim, CA

Nate – Unfortunately I think it will be you so maybe you could work on actually catching and throwing baseballs accurately.  Between you and the living statue known as CJ “not the douche one” Cron the right side of our infield may as well change their numbers to E3/4.

Glen – You.  Of all the options we currently have, you’re the best.  That’s less a reflection of your skills than it is an indication of how the offseason went.  Love your hustle, but I’d love you even more coming off the bench.  

What was your favorite move for the Angels during the offseason?  D. Nava, Boston, MA

Glen – Signing Al Alburquerque.  Every time I see his name I think of how it will look on a jersey and I also hear this song in my head:

Nate – A L B U…. querque!  I think of the same thing every time I see his name, Glen.  Weird Al is the best.  I just wonder if Al Al comes with his own meth lab and Thomas Crowe.

Is Arte the worst owner in baseball or the worst owner in the history of sports?  -The artist formally known as Toriitown

Nate - I wouldn’t be that harsh, I do think that Arte has good intentions but his meddling has cost this team in the long run.  I wish he would have let his baseball guys do their job instead of going for the big-name signing.  The fact that the Cardinals didn’t want to go more than five years on Pujols should have been a major red flag, and the fact that Hamilton really loves crack should have been an even bigger red flag.  Now Arte seems to be afraid to sign players for fear of being burned again.  I do wonder if he is getting ready to sell the team because he is fed up with the bad signings and the lack of a stadium deal.  I think the fact that his proposal to develop the land around Angel Stadium got shot down gets overlooked, that would have been a big windfall for Arte and losing out on that really has to chap his ass.

Glen – Arte is the worst owner the Angels currently have.  As for the rest of baseball, I dunno.  Loria sucks like a turbo-charged Hoover but he’s delivered a few championships mixed in with the fire sales.  Until a few years ago whomever it is that owns the Royals would have been high on the list. Five years ago Arte was still pimpin’.  I don’t agree with what the team has done so far this offseason, but I’m also a nine-to-five schlub and I have no idea what it’s like to be a billionaire team owner.  If I was in his shoes the Angels might be terrible, instead of just average.  

My Dodgers are going back to the World Series! T. Daddy, LA-ANA-SF-SEA-NY-BOS-Everywhere winning teams exist

Glen  – Ya know, you don’t get enough credit on these boards.  There’s probably a good reason for that, but you don’t.  Keep doing what you do.  And no, the Dodgers aren’t.  I look ahead to a boring season of Angels baseball but I have the slim and spiteful consolation that the Dodgers aren’t going anywhere either.  Invest in a Diamondbacks or a Giants jersey.

Nate – Uh, not really a question but early in the off season was schadenfreude at its best.  The Dodgers lost Greinke, botched a deal for Aroldis Chapman, and then made a few signings.  Then they signed some guy named Mazda or Maeda or something from Japan, I don’t know much about him since there is no point paying attention to international FAs as an Angels fan but even if he is good, the Dodgers also just signed JOE BLANTON… BAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I hope your beloved Dodgers lose 100 games Mr. Troll.

With the Chargers likely moving to LA, will they win the Super Bowl in 2017? Phillip Rivers is the best ever! – Anonymous

Nate – Dammit, Glen, you can’t ask questions in your own fake mailbag… I think the Chargers will continue to suck and Rivers probably punches babies for fun.  On another note, I still think that Arte might try and hitch a ride with the Chargers to Inglewood or sell the team to someone like Kroenke for that reason.  There has to be a reason that Arte isn’t spending this offseason other than the fact that he keeps getting burned.

Glen – Rivers is underrated because he’s a bit of a dick.  He’ll probably slot just below the great Dan Fouts in the Chargers QB lore, but he’s not gonna bring the Super Bowl home.  I bet if you looked purely at stats (get ready for blasphemy) Rivers is better than Bearded Dan. I hate football right now. Move or don’t move, I don’t care.  Put a good team on the field, wherever that field is, and I’ll be interested again.  Love you, Phillip.  Go have another kid.

Monday, December 21, 2015

By Jonathan Northrop, Contributor - 

The most successful franchise in the last six year is, by a long-shot, the San Francisco Giants - they've won three of the last six World Series. The next team to have three World Series titles would be the Boston Red Sox, but over twice as many years (going back to 2004).

Now I personally tend to prefer when a team builds from within, with a strong farm, an emphasis on international signing, savvy trading, and minimal free agent signings. By and large, big free agent contracts just don't seem to work out - at least in most cases. But certainly some teams have been able to build contenders with money - if they use that money wisely.

But the point of this (looong) post is to ask: How did the Giants do it? What sort of team have they fielded over the last six years and how did they build it? On the surface it is hard to characterize them over the last six years, so let's take a look at the Giants, from 2010-15.

  • They have one superstar in Buster Posey, a homegrown talent who has totaled 29.6 fWAR over that span of time - 9th most among all major leaguers during that time and 1st among catchers by a good margin (Yadier Molina is next with 22.3).

  • After Posey, there's a big drop-off to Pablo Sandoval (14.1), Hunter Pence (12.5), Brandon Crawford (12.4), and Brandon Belt (11.4) - all solid contributors and good to very good players, but no true stars.

  • In terms of individual seasons by position players, the Giants have had only seven seasons of 5+ fWAR performance (what we could describe as "star caliber") - three by Posey, one each by Pablo Sandoval, Andre Torres, Aubrey Huff, and Hunter Pence. Of those seven, four have been during World Series seasons and three not.

  • They've also seen 25 seasons of 2-5 fWAR position players (what we could call "Average to Very Good" players). In the World Series years, they are distributed like so: 4 in 2010, 5 in 2012, and 4 in 2014.

  • Among pitchers, the highest total fWAR is Madison Bumgarner at 22.5, followed by Matt Cain (13.6) and Tim Lincecum (11.4). Bumgarner is 11th in the majors over that span of time.

  • As far as single seasons go, there are six total 4+ fWAR pitching performances, only two of which were in a World Series year (both in 2010).

  • Nine seasons were in the 2-4 fWAR range (which is above average to very good for a starter), six in WS years.

  • Of all position players, only one regular has been part of all three WS teams: Buster Posey. Several others, including Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford, have been part of two.

  • Of all pitchers, Bumgarner, Cain, and Lincecum have been part of all three.

The Giants present us with an odd case, because every time they won the World Series, no one expected them to win another. They were--on paper--a very good team but never a great one; their WS seasonal win totals were 92, 94, and 88. Yet from 2010 (2009, actually) they won at least 84 games in all but 2013, and somehow managed to win three World Series. In other words, they were generally good enough to compete to make the postseason and when they did, they won.

As far as money goes, their payrolls during the World Series years were 10th, 8th, and 7th - so they were willing to spend, but weren't among the top spenders (and less than the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, and Tigers in all three years).

So how exactly did the Giants succeed? What is their "recipe for success?" Looking at the above, and the team year-to-year, it seems like a combination of things. They have a core of homegrown players--most of their best players came up through the farm--but they also supplemented with some savvy acquisitions. What about big contracts? I don't see any except for those given to home grown players. Here are the players making $10M or more in each of the three WS seasons:

2014: Matt Cain ($20.83M), Tim Lincecum ($17M), Hunter Pence ($16M), Buster Posey ($11.2M), Tim Hudson ($11M), Angel Pagan ($10.25M)

2012: Barry Zito ($19M), Tim Lincecum ($18.25M), Matt Cain ($15.83M), Aubrey Huff ($10M)

2010: Barry Zito ($18.5M), Aaron Rowand ($13.6M), Edgar Renteria ($10M)

Interestingly enough, the Giants won 2010 despite the three big contract players, all of whom were free agents and signed before the Giants got really good (Zito was signed in 2007, Rowand in 2008). The three together contributed only 3 fWAR for the over $40M they were being paid. In 2012, Zito was still on the books but not really contributing. Lincecum and Cain were homegrown, and Huff was basically done but being compensated for his excellent 2010. In 2014, all but Hudson and Pagan were homegrown talents who had come of age.

So here's one interesting point to consider: The Giants WS wins were not built on free agent mega-contracts; the only mega-contracts that turned out to be major contributors were homegrown talents.

What sort and quality of players have the Giants won with? Well as should be clear from the bulleted list above, among starting pitchers you really only have two bonafide stars in Bumgarner and Cain, and then a bunch of other starters who have contributed to much lesser degrees in Lincecum, Vogelsong, Sanchez, Hudson, and Zito. Among position players, you have just one big star in Buster Posey, a handful of very good regulars in Pence, Sandoval and Belt, and then standout seasons here and there from an assorted cast of characters--journeymen, many of them--including Pagan, Torres, Huff, Melky Cabrera, Pat Burrell, and several others, including rising star Joe Panik.

(I'm intentionally avoiding bullpens for the sake of relative sanity).

So what to make of all of this? Well, it is worth noting that like the Giants, the Royals won the World Series with a team that wasn't top-heavy with stars and/or big contracts. As did the 2002 Angels, while we're at it. Now there are a lot of other teams that have won the World Series, and many of them with big names and big contracts, bu the point is: there are many ways to build a World Series team, and not all of them require spending huge amounts of money on free agents.

How did the Giants do it? Well much of it has to do with team chemistry, clutch play, good management, and other factors that are hard to see in the record. All of that is very, very important. If you're a front office, you need to take that into account. But to a large degree it is also out of the front office's control. What they can do is assemble the parts; how those parts work together is up to the manager, coaches, and players.

It seems the Giants formula has been relatively straight-forward: Build from within with homegrown talents, and keep those talents as long as you can; supplement with free agency, but stay away from mega-contracts; also, look for veteran players coming off sub-par seasons who might surprise - e.g. Aubrey Huff - or former prospects from other teams that might need a change of scenery, e.g. Andres Torres or Ryan Vogelsong.

So again, the core of the team--in the "SF Giants World Series Winning Philosophy"--should be homegrown, and then supplemented through free agency and trades.

Another interesting thing to note is that if you look at Baseball America's farm rankings, the Giants don't stand out as particularly exceptional. From 2005 to 2008, the declined in ranking each year from #18 in 2005 to #24 in 2008. Then they jumped to #6 and #5 in 2009 and 2010, when players like Posey and Bumgarner, as well as complementary players like Crawford and Romo, came through. In other words, the Giants did have a strong farm, but only for a couple years - with a single big wave of homegrown players. From 2011 to 2015, BA has ranked the Giants no higher than #19.

The takeaway from that is that the farm doesn't need to rank highly every year, but what it does need to do is produce "waves" of talent every five years or so - like the wave of talent that populated the Angels contenders in the 2004-09 range.

Chances are the Giants won't win a 4th World Series in 2016, but they've retooled with a couple of big free agent signings in Jeff Samaridzja and Johnny Cueto, so you never know (although that goes against their previous winning formula) - and regardless, they remain the most successful franchise in baseball over the last six years, and it isn't particularly close.

Anyhow, that was a lot of words - but I'm hoping that it brings to light some of the elements that make a successful franchise, and I'm hoping that Eppler and Co are looking into this sort of thing. Who knows.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

By Geoff Stoddart, AngelsWin Director of Social Media - 

We have been getting a lot of request for the date of the AngelsWin Spring Training Fanfest.  After much internal discussion, we finally have an answer!

There will be no Spring Training Fanfest in 2016.

(Crowd:  “Boooo!!! You guys suck!”)

Yeah, yeah.  We know.  But between new jobs and extensive family commitments, we just couldn’t find a weekend that worked.  

We could have thrown something together, without some key members of the AngelsWin, but in truth … it just wouldn’t have been the event that we’re used to holding.  And candidly, it wouldn’t have been fair to the people who pay to attend.  People have grown accustom to a first class event.  And if we can’t deliver that, we’re just not going to do it.

So, our sincerest apologies to all of those who were looking forward to attending.  We’re bummed too.  

We’re still planning of holding our Summer Fanfest and Softball Tournament in Anaheim next summer, so please keep an eye out for announcements on that later.  

Go Angels! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer - 

The nice thing about having the best center fielder and player in baseball signed to a multi-year contract is that he brings so much certainty to a high-value, up-the-middle position.

Mike Trout continues to perform at a legendary level and he is the one, bright superstar that any team would love to build around and we, the fans, are really lucky he plays for the Angels.

For anyone who still has doubts about what direction the team should take, the fact that we have a Hall of Fame player in his prime years should erase that doubt.

The only way a complete rebuild happens is if we trade Mike Trout and to be completely frank his value in 2016, even with his current contract, is probably worth eight to ten Top 20 prospects or 4-5 elite MLB players.

His singular value to any team is what you wish for and build around not dismantle, i.e. a rebuild is out of the question as it should be.

Behind Trout the only three players that can readily back him up are Collin Cowgill, recently signed Rafael Ortega, and recently claimed Todd Cunningham (Great name!).

Just for kicks:

Educated Guess and Author’s Choice Mike Trout, all day, every day, for the rest of human history.

Right Field

So it is pretty clear that Kole Calhoun has right field locked up for the foreseeable future.

The only way this might change is if the Angels acquire an OF they would prefer to play in RF and move Calhoun over to LF.

That seems unlikely as Kole has shown a very accurate and strong arm but if a player is acquired that would fit better, or at least equal, at the position, such as Jason Heyward or J.D. Martinez for instance, the Angels could potentially shift him over to LF.

Since we’ve already covered several different corner outfield options in the Left Field section let’s focus on the three above starting with ISO:

Calhoun and Martinez lead the chart with Heyward a little closer to League average. In recent years power has become scarce (or League drug policies have improved) so any of these three players would provide League average or better power in RF.

Now let’s look at BB/K:

Here Kole and Jason lead in the graph with Martinez a distant third.

You’ll notice that Calhoun dipped below League average in the last two years and that primarily is a result of him exchanging plate discipline for better power numbers.

If the Angels do bring in another RF and move Kole to LF it would seem likely that the Angels would ask him to continue the conversion and move him permanently into the middle of the order which will keep his BB/K ratio suppressed compared to the leadoff version of Calhoun.

Finally we’ll examine wRC+:

Overall Calhoun leads the graph followed by an inconsistent Martinez and a steadier Heyward. Realistically any of those three would excel in RF and of course we know that Kole has been doing an excellent job there.

The real discriminator would be defense. Here Heyward clearly leads the pack but that is no slight towards Calhoun as he is an excellent defender in his own right. Martinez is more of an average defensive RF but he has a cannon for an arm. Any of them would be a boon defensively in RF.

Beyond defense you can speak about base running and base stealing.

As Dayn Perry wrote, Heyward adds unheralded value on the base paths. Jason has a career 76.1% success rate and knows how and when to take the extra base and avoids hitting into the double play better than most. Calhoun and Martinez aren’t good base stealers although both of them can run the bases fairly well.

You may be thinking at this point why there is such a limited list of candidates in this RF section. The answer revolves around Eppler’s statement that he wants to improve the “defensive spectrum of players” at each position.

If you pull up a list of qualified top defensive RF’s from 2014-2015 you have only four players who produced positive ‘DEF’: Jason Heyward, Lorenzo Cain, Ender Inciarte, and Kole Calhoun.

Even J.D. Martinez has a slightly negative FanGraphs DEF valuation over that time period (he’s ranked 5th overall behind the four above). This list should prove that high quality defensive RF’s are in short supply.

In fact they are in such short supply that when you have the chance to acquire one you should take it.

Since Lorenzo Cain, Ender Inciarte, and J.D. Martinez are very unlikely to be traded (Royals won a WS with Cain, the Diamondbacks are loading up so Inciarte is likely staying put, and the Tigers owner wants to win now) there is only one viable candidate left and that is free agent Jason Heyward.

Acquiring Heyward isn’t a necessity but when you have the opportunity to bring in an impact player at such a young age it is the type of decision you have to seriously consider even at the high price he’ll require to sign. This is, in part, why Eppler traded for Simmons.

As was stated above in the CF section the Angels have five years of a Hall of Fame player who they can’t trade because no team can come close to providing the return value he would demand and the Angels have no debt and have a lot of money coming off the books in 2017.

The only logical choice is for Arte to spend. Heyward represents one of the wisest investments on the market in terms of ability, youth, and the potential to impact the team. He fits the need to fill a corner OF spot and he can hit at the top of the order which are both critical areas of need for the team.

Now there is a very real possibility that the Angels could lose out on the bidding for Heyward. That would result in the Angels going to Plan B where they keep Calhoun in RF and go after Upton, Cespedes, or Gordon for LF. That wouldn’t be a total disaster but it’s not the ideal outcome that Jason represents for the Angels needs.

Heyward is a very complete player in that he has solid offensive production, is a smart base runner and base stealer, and is a premier defender not only in RF but he can also play CF and LF if necessary (positional flexibility). It is the latter aspect that is probably the most appealing ability that Heyward can bring to the Halos.

One important reason why our RF defense needs to be strong is the fact that there are a lot of left-handed power hitters in the American League West. Names like Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, and Robinson Cano, for instance, dot the AL West landscape.

Now certainly some balls they hit leave the field of play but those players and others like them generally hit a lot of doubles and singles to CF and RF and having an elite defender, to complement Trout in CF, makes a lot of sense in terms of run prevention and limiting potential triples or doubles to doubles and singles.

Kole was very active in RF this year and it doesn’t seem to be a fluke coincidence so it is an important defensive position for the Angels in the foreseeable future and Heyward is one of the elite OF defenders in all of baseball.

Educated Guess and Author’s Choice – The Angels sign Jason Heyward to a 10 Year, $250MM contract to play RF and move Kole Calhoun over to LF creating the best offensive and defensive outfield unit in baseball.

Jason Heyward will hit out of the leadoff or 2-hole spot and Calhoun, with his better power, will hit in the middle of the lineup, likely behind Pujols or Cron (4 or 5-hole).

This belief in acquiring Heyward is about as strong as I’ve ever felt about a free agent target in the last few years. It may not come to fruition as the author isn’t inside Jason’s head and doesn’t understand his wants and where he would like to play baseball but the Angels need and should go above and beyond to acquire him. It is a great fit and I hope they’re able to close the deal.

In the next Section we’ll discuss Designated Hitter and the Bench.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

San Bernardino, CA- The Inland Empire 66ers Professional Baseball Club announced on Thursday that it will host a public candlelight vigil at 6 pm to honor the victims of Wednesday’s shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The gates to San Manuel Stadium will open at 5:00 pm. The vigil is being held in conjunction with the City of San Bernardino as well as the San Bernardino Police and Fire Departments. 

All are welcome at the event. Civic leaders will address the attendees and begin the process of remembering the victims, their families and our entire community. The event will also serve as an opportunity to recognize the first responders that serve and protect our region. 

“Our community has been put in unfamiliar territory because of this terrible tragedy,” Inland Empire 66ers General Manager Joe Hudson said. “We know that our ballpark is a community gathering place and that is what we need now. We need somewhere that all of us can come together and grieve for the senseless loss of life and assault on our home.” 

Attendees are recommended to enter San Manuel Stadium’s parking facility through the G Street entrance. Media members wishing to be on premise can arrive beginning at 3:30 pm and should call (909) 888-9922 for more information

Monday, November 30, 2015

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer - 

Author’s Note: Aaron Hicks, who was noted as a possible Minor League target as an outfield acquisition, was traded to the New York Yankees likely making him unavailable now.

Rewind about a year ago to my Offseason Primer and we discussed Hamilton’s serious decline and even trading him due to poor production (Arte did stomach eating the money!).

Now, in the present, we are faced with finding a reasonable solution to what has been a long run of positional concern.

The Angels have internal options but virtually all of them are raw or not ideal.

Kyle Kubitza, Efren Navarro, Collin Cowgill, Alfredo Marte, Gary Brown, Chad Hinshaw, and Ruben Sosa could all battle it out for a full time or platoon role to start 2016.

Both Murphy and DeJesus were possibilities but both had their team options declined which was the most likely outcome as was discussed in Part II of the Primer.

Grant Green, Blake Gailen, and Roger Kieschnick were also alternatives but all of them elected Minor League Free Agency per MLB via Baseball America.

In order to grasp the offensive potential of our internal options let’s use the standard benchmarks set in Part II of the Primer series starting with ISO:

Alfredo Marte leads on this graph followed by the consistent Kyle Kubitza. Hinshaw spiked high in 2014 but his other two professional seasons are less than desirable to see in a full time outfielder. Chad’s book has not been written yet but he’s not seen as a high power type.

Cowgill has shown glimpses of better power but his inconsistent play time and injuries have kept him from really shining on a regular basis. Navarro, as we discussed in Part III of the Primer is more of a singles and doubles type of hitter.

Looking further here are their BB/K ratios:

As expected, Navarro’s and Kubitza’s on base skills lead the chart. Hinshaw is in the same range with the power hitting Marte and the defensively solid Cowgill picking up the rear.

Finally let’s examine their wRC+:

Kubitza, Marte, and Navarro sit in the top of the graph. Hinshaw is beginning to show similar ability but he’ll need to show a better gap to gap approach and improve his versatility if he ever wants to be a full time contributor.

Cowgill rounds out the bottom but his results are primarily due to his inconsistent playing time so the graph may not be showing his true potential (or lack of).

So where does this leave the Angels in terms of their left field solution?

Defensively Cowgill is the best of the group but all of the players listed don’t normally call left field their primary home although all of them can play average defense at the position.

Unfortunately none of them jump out and scream full-time regular.

The free agent market does offer other opportunities but most of those are likely to cost too much for the budget conscious version of the 2016 Angels.

Top names like Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cepsedes, Alex Gordon, and Ben Zobrist will not come cheap.

Upton, Heyward, and Cespedes have all been rumored to receive paydays that will top $150MM or more and based on recent history Upton and Heyward could easily top $200MM due to their young age and pedigrees.

Lower tier free agents such as Gerardo Parra, Dexter Fowler, and Austin Jackson are much more achievable for the Halos but are not necessarily huge production for value improvements over our in-house options ($550K Kubitza vs. a $15MM Jackson for instance).

Of course all of this changes if Arte spends big.

The reality, based on the financial discussion from Part I of the Primer Series, is that if Arte Moreno authorizes a significant payroll increase the Angels can blow past the Luxury Tax threshold and acquire at least one big-ticket free agent.

If that happens (and it seems more likely than ever now that the Angels have traded for Simmons) it would not be surprising at all to see the Angels go after any of the Top 4 names (Price, Greinke, Heyward, and Upton) in free agency and possibly more.

This is not just limited to free agency either as the trade market could also have some interesting choices for the Halos.

Major League names such as Jose Bautista, J.D. Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, and Curtis Granderson could make sense for the team if they are available and the front office can create the payroll space for one of them.

However none of those names have more than 2 years of team service so they are not ideal in terms of long term control.

To get a better idea of how some of these free agent and trade target possibilities compare lets apply our standard offensive benchmarks again, as always, starting with ISO:

Seeing Kole Calhoun at the top of this graph is both surprising and unsurprising.

It’s the former because he clearly leads the graph which you wouldn’t necessarily expect and it’s the latter too because he has had a pretty solid history of power throughout his Minor and Major League career.

Heyward, Gordon, and Zobrist round out the top four with Fowler, Jackson, and Parra bringing up the rear at or below the LF ISO League average.

Next we look at BB/K ratios:

So yeah we’ve pretty firmly established Zobrist’s on-base skills. Behind him though is our good friend Mr. Calhoun along with Heyward, Fowler, and Gordon. Grouped below those five, Jackson and Parra troll the bottom of the graph at the League average line.

Finally, wRC+:

Clearly Kole’s doing a pretty decent job as he’s in the same ballpark here as Zobrist, Gordon, and Heyward.

Following closely to that group is Fowler followed by Jackson and to a lesser degree Parra who has basically been below League average.

So there are options for our corner outfield needs with some obviously better than others in terms of Major League talent.

Minor League names of interest include Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox AAA/MLB), Josh Bell (Pirates AAA), Eric Campbell (Mets AAA), Eddie Rosario (Twins AAA/MLB), Max Kepler (Twins AA), and Aaron Hicks (Twins AAA/MLB).

Educated Guess – Although it would be nice to acquire Upton, Heyward, or Cespedes, the prices will be out of bounds for the Angels payroll unless we trade at least two of our big contracts or Arte opens his pocketbook.

If the Angels are budget constrained, one of Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon, or Dexter Fowler seems achievable if the Angels make financial room. Additionally Zobrist or Gordon would fit the team time horizon in terms of contract length. Parra might be a good choice defensively as he can play all 3 OF positions but all signs point to his 2015 offensive outburst being an outlier.

However if Arte takes Eppler to the ATM machine, Jason Heyward seems like a prime target with Upton and Gordon secondary choices and Cespedes a distant third (and only if his price is reasonable) if Billy Eppler continues to make good on his desire to improve the defensive spectrum of players as his main priority.

In light of the Andrelton Simmons trade the Angels do seem even more poised to do damage in the free agent market so the ATM machine scenario is, as we say in the rocket science realm, “Ready for launch!”

Author’s Choice – Kole Calhoun will be our starting left fielder for the 2016 season (see the upcoming RF section for further, unsurprising details).

The next section will cover both Center Field and Right Field.

AngelsWin Media

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