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Angels Activate De La Rosa; Option Maronde

April 11th, 2014

The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 2.99 FIP and 1.1 WAR in 2013

The Angels have officially reinstated reliever Dane De La Rosa from the disabled list, the team has announced. In a corresponding move, the club will option 24-year-old southpaw Nick Maronde to Triple-A Salt Lake City.

De La Rosa has been on the DL since late March recovering from forearm inflammation. The 31-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Rays last March and was excellent last season as the team’s primary set-up man once injuries and poor performances struck the rest of the bullpen. He posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.1 K/9 in just over 72 innings pitched, while showing a reverse platoon split, limiting left-handed batters to just a .475 OPS.

Maronde, the Angels’ 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft, has made four appearances this season, striking out five and allowing just one earned run in three innings pitched. He figures to be one of the first names called upon were another injury to crop up. By optioning Maronde, the Angels are now one of just two teams without a left-handed reliever currently on their 25-man active roster.

De La Rosa should prove a huge boost to an Angels’ bullpen that is currently last in baseball with a 5.95 FIP. Most of the bullpen’s early undoing has been at the fault of the home run, as they are allowing a league-worst 2.63 HR/9 and 26.9% HR/FB.

Angels, Tigers Swap Romine for Alvarez

March 21st, 2014

Bye, bye Romine.

The Angels have dealt 28-year-old infielder Andrew Romine to the Tigers in exchange for lefty Jose Alvarez, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

For the Tigers, Romine’s acquisition figures to be a partial solution to Jose Iglesias’ recent injury that will cost him between four and six months, and significantly dents the Tigers’ lineup. Barring an unforeseen acquisition, Detroit figures to head into the season with Romine as either their starting shortstop or the left side of a platoon.

Romine was a highly touted defensive shortstop coming up through the minors with Baseball America ranking him as the system’s best defensive infielder four times from 2007 to 2011. However, those skills have failed to translate to the big leagues, albeit in a limited sample size. In just 189 career innings at the position, he has a UZR/150 of -1.9.

Romine was primarily used as a utility option during his time with the Angels, as he was capable of playing second and third base to go along with shortstop. He played in just 74 big league games from 2010-2013, hitting .250/.303/.270 with a 0.1 WAR in 174 plate appearances. He has been far more successful in the minors where he has a career .721 OPS.

Romine’s loss doesn’t really effect the Angels’ 2014 plans all that much considering they already had a plethora of Quad-A middle infielders, such as Tommy Field, John McDonald, and Matt Long, as well as some promising youngsters in Grant Green, Alex Yarbrough, and Taylor Lindsey.

Meanwhile, Alvarez immediately steps in as the team’s 6th or 7th starter, adding depth to a painfully thin organizational rotation crop. The 24-year-old southpaw made his big league debut last year, pitching 38.2 innings for Detroit in a swingman sort of role (he started 6 of his 14 appearances) while striking out 31 batters and posting a 5.19 FIP.

Before his debut, the Venezuelan, originally signed by the Red Sox in 2005, was outstanding at the Triple-A level, posting a 2.80 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 8.04 K/9, and 1.75 BB/9 in 128.2 innings. He owns a career minor league ERA of 3.50 and K/BB of 3.23.

Spring Training Scouting Notes

March 18th, 2014

Calhoun’s advanced approach is indicative of a bright future.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to make the trek to Arizona and catch some baseball. I saw the Angels twice over the course of the weekend: Friday’s game against the Padres in Peoria and Sunday’s home game against the Mariners. While both games were losses for the Angels, there were a number of positive (and some negative) takeaways.

  • Tyler Skaggs looked great at times (four strikeouts against no walks allowed) and bad at others (three earned runs in four innings pitched). His mechanics appear to be fixed from his Diamondback days, but he did have a tendency of leaving his curveball up during Friday’s start. There is little question that he should be able to contribute to the Angels at some point this season, though I would have no problem with him spending the first month or so of the season in Triple-A.
  • Carlos Pena looked like his usual three true outcomes self. His age is clearly catching up to him, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever be a 30+ home run guy again, but for the Angels, he could be a valuable 25th man, capable of providing power and on-base ability off the bench. My one qualm with that idea would be his inability to play anywhere but first base, and some added positional flexibility could be useful for the team, who is planning on going into the season without a true backup option at shortstop (sorry Grant Green).
  • Kevin Jepsen‘s control was erratic (he threw multiple wild pitches), although he still managed to strike out two Padres. Jepsen posted a 4.50 ERA last year, but his FIP was over a full run better at 3.38. While it’s hard to imagine him matching his 2013 FIP in ERA terms, a ~3.75 ERA is a reasonable projection, to go a along with a 9.0 K/9 and BB/9 of 3.5-4.0. He’ll no doubt be a fixture in the Angels’ bullpen once again.
  • Hank Conger looked at ease behind the plate, displaying a plus arm with sound receiving skills. Conger appears ready for a larger role in the Angels’ offense this season, and given Chris Iannetta‘s injury history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Conger finally reach the 300 plate appearance plateau.
  • Though he has been on fire this spring, Matt Long failed to impress on Friday, going 0-for-4 at the plate. While he is hitting .444 this month, Long appears to be a longshot to make the Angels’ Opening Day roster, though his positional flexibility (can play second base and the outfield), strong plate discipline (.370 career minor league OBP), and proximity to the majors (198 games played in Triple-A) should make him among the first names called upon should an injury arise.
  • I didn’t get to see much of David Freese, but he was impressive during Sunday’s game on both sides of the ball. On defense, he showed solid arm strength with the proper range for third base. Offensively, he went 1-for-2 with a walk. It wasn’t enough of a glimpse to really say anything definitive about him, but I did like what I saw.
  • Once again, my viewing of Kole Calhoun was limited, however, he looked excellent at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a walk. He was clearly comfortable at bat, and his approach was particularly advanced for someone with just 247 big league plate appearances. Defensively, Calhoun was less than stellar, making a first inning error in right field, though it very well could have been due to the sun.
  • Lastly, C.J. Wilson was easily the most disappointing player I saw this weekend. He was incredibly inconsistent during his five-inning start on Sunday, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts. The velocity was there, however, he kept leaving his breaking ball up, which Mariners hitters took advantage of, at one point launching four-straight line drives off him, each of which resulted in a base hit. Control will never be a strong suit for him (as evidenced by three walks and numerous balls in the dirt), but I would like to think that some of his issues on Sunday were the result of some close, missed calls by the home plate umpire. There were some positives to take away from his start (he was clearly missing bats), but the control was a major issue.

Los Angeles Angels of Tustin?

February 16th, 2014

Could this be the site of the Angels’ next stadium?

A day after learning that negotiation between the Angels and the city of Anaheim regarding the team’s lease on Angel stadium were at a stalemate, word has gotten out that the club has recently met with Tustin city officials regarding a potential new ballpark.

The team appears to be covering its bases after Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait rejected a deal that would have given the Angels a $150 million stadium renovation allowance and 66-year, $1 dollar a year lease to develop the parking lot surrounding Angel Stadium, citing that the city should be allowed to profit off the parking lot.

The Angels are currently allowed to opt-out of their stadium lease any time between October of 2016 and October of 2019, as long as they give the city 12 months notice. The lease expires outright in 2029.

Angel Stadium is now 48 years old and in need of numerous upgrades. The stadium was last renovated in the late 1990′s under the ownership of Disney. It is currently the fourth-oldest stadium in baseball behind only Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium, and still features its original plumbing, electrical system, and concrete. Owner Arte Moreno told Mike DiGiovanna that it would “cost between $125 million and $150 million just to keep [the stadium] serviceable.”

The talks are still in its “infancy stages” with Tustin according to Marie Garvey, who was hired by the team to advise them on any stadium issues.

One potential site for a new stadium could be the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station (pictured above), which is sandwiched between the Tustin Metrolink Train Station and outskirts of Irvine.

Along with Tustin, City of Industry has also been mentioned as a possible destination were Moreno and Co. decide to leave Anaheim.

You can follow Justin Millar on twitter at @justinmillar1, or email him at Justinmillar1@gmail.com.

Remaining Rotation Options: Chris Capuano

January 31st, 2014

Capuano has spent his entire career in the National League.

Things that happened in 2006: Wikipedia recorded its one millionth article, Crash somehow beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, Cory Lidle tragically died in a plane crash, and, oh, Chris Capuano made the NL All-Star team.

Drafted by the Diamondbacks in 1999, Capuano emerged as a full-time big league starter in 2004 after the Brewers acquired him in a trade for Richie Sexson. He proved to be more than just a replacement level arm when he broke out in 2005, going 18-12 with a 3.99 ERA (107 ERA+), 3.1 WAR, and 176 strikeouts in 219 innings. He would have the best season of his career the following year, when he posted a 4.03 ERA (113 ERA+) and 3.4 WAR in 221.1 innings. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse in 2007 (5.10 ERA) as he began to deal with a series of injuries, including a Tommy John surgery in 2008. He wouldn’t reach the big leagues again until 2010, before finally re-entering a rotation the following year as a member of the New York Mets.

Over the past three seasons with the Mets and Dodgers, Capuano has posted a 4.15 ERA (89 ERA+) and 4.8 WAR over 490 innings pitched. He has averaged 28 starts per season while posting his highest strikeout-to-walk ratios (3.17, 3.0, 3.38) since that faithful 2006 season.

While his ERA may seem a bit high, Capuano has actually posted FIPs of 4.04, 3.95, and 3.55 since 2011. His 4.26 ERA in 2013 is heavily inflated due to an abnormally high BABIP (.334), and with a career BABIP against of .300, that ERA total figures to improve if he can continue pitching at the same level that he did last year.

Capuano is 35 and an injury risk, but his velocity has actually jumped since returning from Tommy John surgery. His 88.4 average fastball velocity in 2013 was his highest since 2006, a sign that he is likely in good health, and could continue to be productive for a few more years.

Projection systems such as PECOTA and Oliver have also been optimistic with respect to Capuano’s 2014 outlook, with the latter projecting a 4.00 ERA (4.04 FIP) season from him, while Oliver sees a 4.06 ERA (4.09 FIP), 1.0 WAR player. Both systems also predict a strong SO/BB ratio around 3.20.

Capuano would be a solid fit in a park like Angel Stadium. Having routinely posted home-run-per-fly-ball ratios north of 10% (last year’s 9.6% was an exception), he would benefit from the friendly pitching confines in Anaheim.

There hasn’t been much of a connection between the Angels and Capuano, but a couple days ago, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times tweeted out that the team is leaning towards a Capuano/Jason Hammel type arm rather than a Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.

Capuano is reportedly seeking a two-year deal, but it’s more likely that he lands a one-year, incentive-laden contract considering both his age and injury history. On a one-year deal, he would be an ideal fit at the back of the Angels’ rotation behind Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Hector Santiago, and Garrett Richards, while also being an exemplary bridge to 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs.

You can follow Justin Millar on twitter at @justinmillar1, or email him at Justinmillar1@gmail.com.

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