Hello, Angels fans. Your favorite baseball team is off Monday. For a night, their record will rest at 36-37, which translates to an 80-win pace for a full season. If it seems like they have been hovering around .500 all year, it is because they have.
As always, there is a plenty to talk about concerning the team, so let’s get to the weekly mailbag questions and answers.
It does look a bit weird, I have to say, but it turns out it’s not nearly as weird as it appears. As of this morning, the Angels have played 73 games this season, six more than four major league teams and the most in the majors, one more than Colorado and Tampa Bay. The Rays are not off today, so they’ll be tied shortly.
It is always someone, though. On this day last year, Toronto had played five more games than the Rays and the Chicago Cubs. Of course, this means the Angels will have more days off from here forward than anyone else, so that’s a positive. The downside is the club would have preferred the off days earlier in the season, so as to not overwork its bullpen when so many more games remain.
The Angels are not going to play Eric Young Jr. at second base when Mike Trout returns. He has not played the position regularly in a half-decade. More likely, he’ll become the club’s fourth outfielder upon Trout’s activation, which would force Ben Revere off the roster. He is having another awful season.
If the Angels fall out of the wild-card race, Cameron Maybin will become a prime trade candidate, which would allow Young and Revere to retain their spots. If the club does not fall out of the wild-card race, then, well, we’ll see.
My guess is that it won’t take Trout much longer to return, something between two and three weeks. The Angels are going to play some good teams between now and then, though. With the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, 10 straight games against likely playoff teams loom right now. If he’s out until the All-Star break, which begins three weeks from today, they’ll play nine more games against teams that are in similar standing: the Mariners, Twins and Rangers.
That written, I’d guess they’ll log eight or nine wins in that span, so two or three games below .500 when Trout gets back.
I think he is likely to be there. He could even play in the game.
This is a compelling question. There are a number of ways to examine it. Maybe most importantly: Trout is under guaranteed contract through 2020, one year beyond Calhoun, who has a team option for that season. It’s pretty likely that $14-million option is exercised, but obviously not a certainty.
Let’s assume that it is, and let’s assume also that neither player will be traded. Upon the expiration of both of those deals, Trout will be 29 and Calhoun will be 33. (Shortstop Andrelton Simmons will also be a free agent then, at age 31.) If the Angels cannot bring Trout back, it’s difficult to conceive of a reason why they would want to invest in an aging complementary outfielder. Without Trout, the club will not be in position to contend in 2021, barring some surprising, all-encompassing developments.
So, Calhoun will be easier to retain, but the Angels will want to retain Trout more. Altogether, I think their fates in Orange County are very closely connected. It’s not the answer I thought I’d produce when I saw this question, but I think I will go with Trout, barely.
The rotation looks uncertain. The Angels hope that Garrett Richards will be part of it, and Andrew Heaney, and Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano. But all of those guys are hurt right now, some more seriously than others. JC Ramirez and Alex Meyer could also be part of it. If their pitchers are healthy, the Angels shouldn’t need to pay a premium free agent. If their pitchers are not healthy, one premium free agent probably won’t push the Angels into contention.
Jo Adell, the Angels’ first-round pick last week, is an 18-year-old outfielder known for his athletic ability and raw hitting approach. If he makes the major leagues in 2021, that would be a tremendous outcome. Neither of the next two seasons is even a remote possibility. I’ve never watched him play baseball, but those who have believe he has a lot of potential. They also see a lot of risk within him.
Both remain a possibility, but given that, again, the Angels don’t have much to spend as a buyer, selling is more likely.
Send questions to the below addresses to be considered for the mailbag every Monday, all season long.
Published at Mon, 19 Jun 2017 19:50:00 +0000
The Dodgers are 44-26. That translates to 102-win pace, and yet the club still resides a rung below Colorado in the National League West — and tied with Arizona, to boot. The Dodgers swept the Reds this weekend to complete a 5-1 road trip through Ohio. Yet they gained no ground. The Rockies swept the lowly Giants and the Diamondbacks swept the cellar-dwelling Phillies.
So here we are, in the middle of June, in a dynamic division race. It will be fascinating to see if the pitching staff of the Rockies can hold up through the long summer at Coors Field. The same principle applies to Arizona’s lineup, which boasts Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and little else to concern opposing pitchers. The season is not even halfway complete, but the three-way dance should be entertaining.
The Dodgers return home on Monday for a four-game series with the Mets, their antagonists from the 2015 National League Division Series. These Mets have regressed into their injury-laden past, and flew west on Sunday after getting wrecked by Washington over the weekend. Here are the matchups for this week at Dodger Stadium:
Monday: RHP Zach Wheeler (3-4, 4.48 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23 ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Robert Gsellman (5-4, 5.50 ERA) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.14 ERA)
Wednesday: TBD vs. LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 5.14 ERA)
Thursday: LHP Steven Matz (1-1, 3.21 ERA) vs. LHP Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90 ERA)
As always, there are plenty of other things to discuss. You can send me questions on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.
I’m going to say false. Let’s go player by player.
1. Clayton Kershaw: Yes.
2. Alex Wood: He still does not qualify for the ERA title, but he ranks fifth in FanGraphs’ version of WAR for pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings. He belongs on the team.
3. Kenley Jansen: Yes.
5. Cody Bellinger: Here is where things get murky. Bellinger has been excellent, especially as a rookie. Only Eric Thames has hit more homers than Bellinger has (19). He stabilized the Dodgers lineup and has provided a slew of game-altering hits. But that’s what first basemen and left fielders get paid to do. Bellinger ranks seventh in weighted on-base average (wOBA) and sixth in OPS among National League first baseman. As an outfielder, Bellinger has a much better case: He ranks third in OPS and third in wOBA. It’ll be interesting if he makes it.
6. Chris Taylor: Another tough one. Taylor ranks second in fWAR among second baseman — but he’s been playing the outfield for several weeks. He’ll be reliant on the player vote, and I don’t think that will carry him.
7. Justin Turner: He belongs on the team, given his incredible .985 OPS, but I don’t know if he’ll make it. The National League roster will already include Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, and Turner missed some time with a hamstring strain. He may need the fan vote to make it.
8. Pedro Baez: No.
9. Yasmani Grandal: It’s a down year for National League catchers, so if the team wants to take a third backstop after Buster Posey and J.T. Realmuto, you could make an argument for Grandal.
McLovin’, you have to get some new friends.
Corey Seager has been fine. His power is down a tad (slugging .462 after slugging .512 in 2016) but his on-base percentage is up (.392 after getting on base at a .365 clip in 2016).
Baseball is a difficult sport. Alex Rodriguez posted a 9.4 bWAR season as a 20-year-old in 1996. He played 22 years in the majors. He only reached that 9.4-win mark twice more in his career.
Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you, besides mentioning that Hatcher provides depth. I thought the team would designate him for assignment last summer. I thought the team would non-tender him during the winter. I thought the team would try to sneak him through waivers and onto the Oklahoma City roster this spring.
Nevertheless, he persists.
Hatcher has pitched some good games this season, and he has shown some value by logging innings. But he also gives up home runs at an alarming rate, and Dave Roberts does not trust him in even medium-leverage scenarios. There are plenty of other arms in the organization (Josh Ravin comes to mind, as does Brandon Morrow) who could fill Hatcher’s role with better results.
I’ll say this: Hatcher’s staying power is certainly confounding, especially with a team that prides itself on being a meritocracy. Ross Stripling pitched a couple bad games and lost his spot. Josh Fields may lose his spot after four rough ones this month. Morrow didn’t even give up a run during his cameo, and he lost his spot.
The main reason Hatcher is still on the roster is he is out of options. If the team designated him for assignment, he could be claimed by any of the 29 other clubs. The Dodgers front office, it is readily apparent, fears this outcome far more than Dodgers fans do. I understand the theory behind depth — it is a guiding principle for the organization, and it has clearly worked these past three seasons — but Hatcher is testing the viability of that theory.
Fields could be a candidate for a demotion when the team looks to bring back Brandon Morrow. Morrow was optioned on June 10, so a 10-day period has to pass before he can be recalled. You may see some movement this week.
Andre Ethier is still rehabbing the herniated disk in his back, and he is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
Julio Urias has been shut down because of inflammation in his left shoulder. There is no timetable for his return.
Yimi Garcia underwent Tommy John surgery during the winter. He will not pitch this season.
Considering Julio Urias is hurt, while Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu have all been various forms of mediocre, I do not see the Dodgers finding a bevy of interested suitors in their rotation surplus. The team does not have an eight-man starting rotation. They have six starters, and three are in jeopardy of shifting into the bullpen.
Bullpen, starting rotation, corner outfield. Same answer as last week, and the week before, and the week before.
My favorite Thrice song is a newer one: “Black Honey,” from the record they did last year.
Also: I received at least a dozen questions complaining about Chris Hatcher.
David Vassegh, is that you?
I am not sure the rest of the club would want to wear those pants. Enrique Hernandez did say he received a compliment from noted fashionista Joey Votto about them, for what it’s worth.
1. A lot is riding on how Rich Hill performs this week against the Mets. His upside exceeds the upside of Kenta Maeda and the upside of Hyun-Jin Ryu. But Hill has been a mess for most of the season, and both Maeda and Ryu looked competent against the Reds. Hill looked something less than that against Cleveland earlier in the week. He has a chance to solidify his spot with a solid outing this week.
2. I was flying Sunday night, so I couldn’t watch the full show. I caught some clips this morning (whoa, they jobbed out Mike Bennett already?) and watched the men’s “Money in The Bank” match. It was a fairly generic version of this type of match. Some good spots, some decent action. Baron Corbin still belongs in developmental, but when you have Jinder Mahal as your champion, you’ve made clear that titles mean nothing, anyway.
3. “The Man” by the Killers sounds like it got recorded in 2009 and left in the studio for eight years.
Published at Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:40:00 +0000