Halos Daily

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2015 Preview: The Rotation

February 25th, 2015

 

The Angels’ offense was tremendous in 2014 (see our outfield and infield previews), finishing with a position player crop that ranked second in the majors in WAR and wRC+. However, it was the Angels’ performance on the mound that led to a 98-win season, and 20-win improvement. Rotational success was at the forefront of the turnaround, as a group that ranked near the bottom of many statistical categories in 2013 (including 23rd in WAR and 24th in FIP) moved into the upper-half of baseball (14th in WAR, 11th in FIP), a shift that was good enough to bring the club back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Entering 2015 with another offensive group that figures to be quite productive, the Angels will need their rotation to keep up its performance from last season in order to overtake the likes of Seattle and Oakland in the AL West.

 

Jered Weaver

Age: 32
Salary: $18 million
Free Agent: 2017

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2014 Stats

Innings: 213.1
ERA/FIP/xFIP: 3.59/4.19/4.30
K/BB: 2.60
fWAR: 1.5

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Even with Weaver’s production dropoff in recent years, the decision to sign him to a fairly discounted extension in August of 2011 remains one of Tony Reagin’s most astute moves. Weaver has just two years remaining on that five-year, $85 million extension, and with Garrett Richards’ status to start the season still somewhat uncertain, Weaver remains the staff’s de facto ace.

Despite the title, Weaver hasn’t exactly pitched like an ace in a few years. After a third place Cy Young finish for a 2012 season in which he led the league with 20 wins and posted a 2.81 ERA, 135 ERA+, 1.018 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, and 3.16 K/BB in 188.2 innings, Weaver missed time with a fractured elbow in 2013, limiting his innings total to 154.1 frames. When on the field, he was still productive, putting up a 3.27 ERA and 2.3 WAR.

2014 was somewhat of a revival for Weaver, as he was able to eclipse the 200 innings mark (he threw 213.1) for the first time since 2011. However, he saw both his ERA (3.59) and FIP (4.19) climb for the fourth consecutive season, and it was clearly his least successful season on a per-inning basis.

Angels Acquire Josh Rutledge from Rockies for Jairo Diaz

December 11th, 2014
Josh-Rutledge-Daniel-Shirley

While not nearly as good as Howie Kendrick, Rutledge is under club control for the next four years.

 

In the immediate wake of Howie Kendrick’s shocking trade to the Dodgers, the Angels have made a minor move to address their middle infield depth, acquiring infielder Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed reliever Jairo Diaz, the club announced.

The 25-year-old Rutledge is somewhat of an intriguing addition, though the move shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Halos have been tied to him in recent days. Rutledge gives the Angels an option capable of playing both second base and shortstop, though he grades out sub-par defensively at both positions. He has hit a decent .259/.308/.403 in 947 plate appearances with the Rockies over the past three years, though the role of Coors Field places his career OPS+ at just 83. Thus far, he has produced a -1.1 career WAR. However, he still offers potential everyday player upside, and has a strong track record of performance in the minors, with a .328/.386/.506 career slash line.

As the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher notes, the Halos likely don’t view Rutledge as an immediate everyday fill-in for Kendrick, as he is rather young, has options remaining, and hasn’t quite played up to his skill level yet. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, the plan is for Rutledge to compete with Grant Green for the starting second base job, though an outside candidate – such as Gordon Beckham – could be considered as well.

Having yet to reach arbitration eligibility, Rutledge has four more years of club control remaining, which isn’t insignificant considering Kendrick was scheduled to reach free agency next winter.

The 23-year-old Diaz has electric raw stuff, with a heater that routinely reaches triple-digits, and a plus breaking ball. Many have anointed him as having closer potential, but he likely wasn’t slated for a major role in the Angels’ 2015 bullpen. In 64.2 minor league innings last season, Diaz notched a 3.48 ERA, 11.8 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9. He reached the big leagues for a five-game trial in September, allowing two runs with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Overall, the Angels had a rather eventful day. They essentially traded Howie Kendrick and Jairo Diaz for Andrew Heaney and Josh Rutledge, which represents a significant improvement in terms of both youth and cost control.

 

Halos Hammer Houston at Home

September 15th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 11, Astros 3 | Game 2: Angels 5, Astros 2 | Game 3: Astros 6, Angels 1

Runs Scored = 17
Runs Allowed = 11

YTD Record: 93-56 | 1st in AL West | Magic Number: 4

Up Next: Monday vs. Mariners

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In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past five-and-a-half months, the Angels’ offense is really, really good. Ranking first in the majors in a plethora of offensive categories including wRC+ (113), runs scored (728), and WAR (29.9), the Halos’ lineup is much more than Mike Trout. In fact, the Angels have 10 players with over 200 plate appearances and an above-average OPS+ (better than 100). The aging corpses of Josh Hamilton (115 OPS+) and Albert Pujols (129), once thought to be lost to oblivion, are now providing ample support to Trout’s MVP-caliber bat; Howard Kendrick (115) and Erick Aybar (107) are both enjoying seasons that rank among the best of their careers; David Freese (101) has performed significantly better after a poor start; Kole Calhoun (130) is among the best leadoff hitters in the game; Chris Iannetta’s (129) offense and Hank Conger’s (76) spectacular glove have formed a top-notch tandem behind the plate; Meanwhile, CJ Cron (121) and Collin Cowgill (108) have both been spectacular support pieces. Simply put, the Angels have quite a lineup.

The Angels took two out of three from the Astros this weekend, with the offense coming through in both victories. Only a masterful performance from Dallas Keuchel stood in the way of an Angels sweep.

Halos Swept by Astros in Two Game Set; Remain Perched Atop AL West

September 4th, 2014

Game 1: Astros 8, Angels 3 | Game 2: Astros 4, Angels 1

Runs Scored = 4
Runs Allowed = 12

YTD Record: 83-55 | 1st in AL West (+4.5)

Up Next: Thursday @ Minnesota

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As we ride this rollercoaster of a season into September, we now find the Angels atop the AL West with a comfortable 4.5 game lead over the once-impenetrable Oakland Athletics. Just over a year ago, the Angels were finishing up their second season with under 80 wins since the beginning of the club’s aughts run of dominance, while also missing out on October baseball for the fourth straight season. Jerry Dipoto was on the hot seat. Matt Shoemaker was a 26-year-old with a 4.64 ERA in Triple-A. And Mike Trout was really, really good.

And today?

Well, the organization has done a near-complete 180°. The Angels appear to be locked into a playoff spot. Dipoto may be in line for the title of executive of the year. Shoemaker is fronting the rotation. And Mike Trout is still really, really good. 

So, yeah, the Angels are in first place. Still, shouldn’t a sweep at the hands of the Houston freakin’ Astros be bothersome?

For some reason, there’s just something about (finally) being in first place that negates the stigma that comes with being swept by the Astros (even if it was only two games).

Sure it is a missed opportunity, and it may very well come back to bite the club if Oakland climbs out of its rut and the Angels fall into one of their own. But in a period of good feelings, this seems to be just a minor misstep in an otherwise fantastic season.

Of course, it always helps when the Mariners take two of three from the A’s, only decreasing the Angels’ lead by half a game.

Angels Acquire Gordon Beckham from White Sox

August 21st, 2014
Five years ago, Gordon Beckham was really good.

Five years ago, Gordon Beckham was really good.

In the wake of Garrett Richards’ devastating injury, the Angels decided it was time to shore up the… infield?

On Thursday, the Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham from the Chicago White Sox, as Eric Kay, the club’s director of communications, announced on Twitter. In exchange for Beckham, the Angels will send either a player to be named later or cash to the White Sox. Beckham will join the team on Saturday in Oakland in time for game two of the club’s pivotal weekend series against the Athletics.

Per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Angels initially claimed Beckham off waivers, meaning all other AL clubs passed on him, as the Angels hold the best record in the league, and are subsequently at the bottom of the waiver order.

Beckham is far from an impact player, and has struggled with the White Sox this season. In 422 plate appearances, he has slashed just .221/.263/.336 with a 62 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR, though Baseball-Reference pegs his WAR at a more palatable 0.3. He comes rather cheaply, with less than $1 million remaining on his $4.175 million salary for this season, and isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season, though he is a non-tender candidate this winter as an arbitration-eligible player. 

Halos Daily

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