The Angels currently sit at a record of 41-52, tied for last place in the American League West with the Oakland A’s…not pretty. Since opening day, Mike Scioscia has been able to use his regular Opening Day lineup only a select number of times. In the 2016 season alone the team has suffered a total of 18 different DL stints; including 5 starting position players, their setup man, their closer, and four starting pitchers. Of those injuries, CJ Wilson and Andrew Heaney are out for 2016 and Heaney 2017 as well. Starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano could soon be on their way to join Heaney on the DL till the 2018 season. As an Angels fan, part of me would like to say that if these injuries didn’t occur, the team would be a front of the line contender. However, the baseball fan in me knows that is not the case.
Lets face it, even if they were to have everyone healthy, they would still have more holes and question marks in their roster than the Ranger, Astros, and the Mariners. They would be contending for a third place finish in the west with the Mariners if 100% healthy. I simply do not believe in this core that they have right now to win any time soon.
Nick Tropeano’s injury news came out today. It’s officially time to start brainstorming plans. Luckily, the trade deadline is coming up and believe it or not we do have some pieces who could bring us a decent return.
Hector Santiago- Out of all their assets, I think that Hector can bring us the most in a return. He is a good pitcher with good potential, however being in his prime with a year and half of club control left on his contract, I don’t think his stock would ever be this “high”. The Redsox have made a trade for Drew Pomeranz, however they could still use pitching. General manager, Billy Eppler could also entertain offers from division rivals Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. I do not expect him to be traded if the return price is underwhelming; but if it’s a decent return, he’ll be the first to go.
Matt Shoemaker- This guy is intriguing. He started out the season with a 9.15 ERA and was sent down. Since his return from AAA, the right hander has posted a 2.36 ERA in 76.1 innings with a very good 88-9 K-BB in that span. If I were Eppler, I would be looking to trade him. He obviously is at the top of his game right now and is in the middle of his prime at age 29. He went from one of the worst pitchers in the game to one of the best in about a couple months. Fortunately for the Angels, his dominant stretch has continued close to the trade deadline. Thus his stock is high. Pitching is needed and there’s no David Price caliber player on the trade market this year; thus giving the Angels the ability to ask for a bit more in return than they would if there was a David Price on the trading block.
Yunel Escobar- The Angels being the Angels traded one of our most promising young bullpen arms for him last offseason. He is quietly having a nice season batting .318 with 3 HR and 28 RBI. If there was one player that I would say would HAVE to be traded, it would be him. He is a below average defender who can hit for contact. He hit well last year and continued that this year. However, I do not trust that he will be able to play at this level next year in his contract year. He’s playing well right now and won’t be around to help the team when they are ready to contend. So why not trade him at the point where his stock is the highest?
Joe Smith/Huston Street- I do not expect these two to be traded. That doesn’t mean Eppler can’t entertain offers for them. If they aren’t going to contend this year or next year, it wouldn’t hurt to give a young promising, Cam Bedrosian, an opportunity to close without having the pressures of a World Series run on his back. Add Mike Morin, Corey Rasmus, and company, then you have a decent mix in the pen. Don’t trade Smith and Street unless the return is reasonable.
Mike Trout- THE Mike Trout?? How dare I say Mike Trout??? It pains me. The kid has till 2020 for his contract to run out. He is playing the best he ever has. He is arguably the best player in Major League Baseball. So you may ask, “Isn’t it better to have one player to build your core around than have no players at all?” Yes and no. Let’s make this clear, I am not for a Mike Trout trade. However, nor am I against a Mike Trout trade. I just think you have to look at the possibilities. I completely understand the argument that you build around a player, especially a player at Trout’s caliber. My only argument for a trade would be the Cubs/Astros models. They created a core of young prospects who grew together and after continuous down years, they are finally strong contenders again. Trading Trout for a good return could bring the team the young strong core it needs for the future. I don’t think teams are as willing to give up prospects as they were before after they saw the Cubs/Astros models. I can almost guarantee a Mike Trout trade won’t happen anytime soon. As much as it pains me to say it, I think it’s something you could consider in the upcoming seasons.
My mindset is:
The team isn’t going to win this year; nor will it next year or the next year…etc. It’s time to rebuild the roster for 2018/2019. This isn’t basketball in which you could build around one player. Baseball has 9 people playing at all times and 25 in total on the Major League roster. In baseball you need a strong core and after that you can continue your rebuild around that core. Personally I don’t think the team will suffer any less if they trade Santiago and Shoemaker. They have a decent innings eater in AAA who is almost Major League ready in Nate Smith. So to finish off the 2016 season a Tyler Skaggs, Jered Weaver, Jhoulys Chacin, Tim Lincecum, and Nate Smith rotation will give us fans only a bit more pain than with Santiago and Shoemaker. The team has pieces in the minor leagues who could come up and fill spots after trades and give the team time to develop the players that were acquired in trades. Then they can use the poor records of this year and next year in the draft and bring excitement back to Anaheim.
Look to the future...As of right now the Angels have 3 players locked up to play in the 2019 season.. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Andrelton Simmons. The Wilson and Weaver contracts come off the books this year giving them an extra $40 million in payroll. The dreaded Josh Hamilton contract comes off the books in 2017. After the 2017 season the team only has 4 players locked up for 2018. Spend minimal money right now and next year…then once the core starts coming around in a couple years Arte can CAREFULLY splurge again while we pray for no more Hamilton type players. The 2018 and 2019 offseasons have a plethora of strong players who have the ability to help bolster the rotation/and or improve the lineup around the core. If you combine solid returns in these trades, with smart decisions with your high draft picks, and smart free agency signings in 2018 and 2019; the team could have an exciting contender in Mike Trout’s last few years of his contract. It all depends on the core Billy Eppler and Arte Moreno bring from the assets the team has right now. Of course this is the best case scenario.. things could play out very different.
Fellow Angels Fans,
Go find and grab your nearest Cubs, Astros, Indians, or even Mets fan. Ask them for advice on how to cope with the next few years. Just know, if the cards are played correctly, there can be hope for a World Series contender with time. Until then I am removing the name “Most Depressing Team in Baseball” from the Phillies and dubbing my beloved Angels it.