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The Angels’ Family Tree

November 22nd, 2014
Garret Richards appeared in seven games for the Halos in 2012.

The oldest Angel, sort of…

 

In a bit of genius earlier this week, Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh went through the 40-man rosters of each MLB team and discovered the current roster spot (or spots) on each club with the longest lineage. In other words, he found which player could trace his roots back the farthest within an organization through trades and compensatory draft picks.

In addition to finding a Cy Young winner whose team ties go all the way back to the late 1970s, he found that Garrett Richards, David Freese, and Fernando Salas all share the longest tree for the Angels, as their places in the organization can all be traced back to the signing of Francisco Rodriguez way back in 1998 (!). The whole thing’s a fascinating exercise, and it made me curious about transaction trees for all the current Halos. Just how far back do the rest of the seeds go?

Note: Things get considerably less exciting the closer we get to the present, but be sure to stick around for the bonus trees.

 

1998

Francisco Rodriguez -> Garrett Richards/Randal Grichuk -> David Freese/Fernando Salas

K-Rod is the gift that keeps on giving. When the Mets decided to give Frankie a three-year, $37 million contract in free agency, the Angels were rewarded with the 24th and 42nd picks in the 2009 draft. Those picks became Randal Grichuk and Garrett Richards. (Side note: Can we bring back the old Type-A/Type-B free agent thing? Because that did wonders for the Angels’ drafting.) Grichuk, other than being “the guy drafted before Mike Trout,” eventually helped the Halos net David Freese and Fernando Salas from the Cards last winter.

 

1999

John Lackey -> Cam Bedrosian

Everyone from the 2002 World Series team might be gone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done contributing. When John Lackey left for the Red Sox in 2010, the Angels were rewarded with the 29th and 40th overall picks in the June draft. That 29th selection was Cam Bedrosian, future Bullpen Savior.

Lackey was a 2nd round pick in 1999.

 

2000

Kimera Bartee -> Chone Figgins -> Taylor Lindsey -> Huston Street

Easily my favorite non-bonus transaction tree. If only every random minor league outfielder evolved into an All-Star closer 14 years later, amirite? Kimera Bartee signed with the Angels on a one-year deal in winter 2000, then was dealt to the Rockies for some slap-hitting second baseman with a similarly singular name the following summer. Chone Figgins eventually morphed into the OBP machine we all adored, earned Type-A free agent status, and got the Angels two extra first-round picks from the Mariners in 2010. Those two picks went to Kaleb Cowart and Taylor Lindsey, the latter of whom was sent to the Padres as part of this summer’s Huston Street deal.

Halos Acquire Robertson; Lock In Roster

November 21st, 2014

 

The Angels (and everyone else) made a number of small roster moves on Thursday. The Halos acquired outfielder Daniel Robertson from the Rangers, added catcher Jett Bandy and righty reliever Dan Reynolds to the 40-man roster, and DFA-ed lefty Michael Roth, catcher Jackson Williams, and outfielder Alfredo Marte.

The flurry of transactions were made ahead of the annual offseason 40-man roster lockdown, which “freezes” all 40-man rosters from midnight Thursday until after the Rule 5 Draft on December 11. This is far less ominous than it sounds. The only thing it affects is a team’s ability to add in-house players to the MLB roster. The Angels can trade, sign, and claim (*cough*Ike Davis*cough*) as many players as they want over the next three weeks, they just can’t promote any more players from within the organization no matter how many guys they might deal away.

This is where Jett Bandy and Dan Reynolds come into play. They were two of a number of Angels minor leaguers eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter. By placing Bandy and Reynolds on the 40-man roster before Thursday’s deadline, the Halos have shielded them from selection. Not protected from the draft were prospects Kaleb Cowart, Austin Wood, and Daniel Hurtado, among others. It’s possible those three will be taken in the draft, but it seems highly unlikely given their poor performance, recent injury history, and inexperience at high levels, respectively.

Robertson, 29, was likely on track to be DFA-ed by Texas on Thursday to make room for prospects before the Halos swooped in and acquired him for a player to be named or cash. By grabbing him before he hit the waiver wire, the Angels guaranteed that another team couldn’t put a claim on him. Robertson’s calling cards are his speed and his discerning eye at the plate. The Oregon State alum has averaged about 20 stolen bases a year in the minors (at a 75% clip) and has walked almost as often as he’s struck out (312 vs 316) in over 3,100 plate appearances. Listed at 5’8 and 170 pounds, Robertson’s physical stature is that of a Collin Cowgill clone minus the 12-pack abs (probably).

Robertson was a career minor leaguer before the injury-plagued Rangers promoted him for a time in 2014, so it seems unlikely that he’ll get too much playing time with the Halos. Jerry Dipoto did say Robertson will be in the running for the 5th outfielder spot, though, and seeing as he plays all three outfield positions and his fiercest competition is noted outfielders Efren Navarro and Grant Green, he could end up being a familiar face.

Michael Roth, Jackson Williams, and Alfredo Marte have all been floating on the fringes of various 40-man rosters for several months, so their departures aren’t all that surprising. What would be surprising is if any of the three don’t make it through waivers: Roth already went unclaimed following his DFA in April, and Williams and Marte survived all the way to the Angels (read: the final team) on the waiver wire last month. I highly doubt anything’s changed in their outlooks between then and now.

The Angels’ roster remains full at 40, for now. If the team wants to participate in the Rule 5 Draft, they’ll have to drop at least one player from the roster between now and then. With a number of promising prospects left unprotected from the draft and the non-tender deadline (Dec 2) fast approaching, it’s probably safe to assume that one or two spots will open up before all is said and done.

The Halos And The Tommy John ‘Epidemic’

November 20th, 2014
Lock up your elbows. He's coming for you...

He’s coming for you…

 

Up to this past season, the Angels had done a pretty good job of keeping the elbows1 of their pitching staff intact. From 2006-2013, only two pitchers on the club’s 40-man roster—Michael Kohn, 2012; Brandon Sisk, 2013—had to endure Tommy John surgery, and the latter likely hurt his arm before joining the team. If one were so inclined, one might have believed the Halos knew the secret to keeping a certain elbow ligament strong. But then 2014 happened: Rule 5 pick Brian Moran fell victim to a UCL tear in March, relievers Sean Burnett and Ryan Brasier went under the knife in June, and Tyler Skaggs joined the club in August. After just two procedures on MLB arms in eight years, the Angels needed four in one, finally succumbing to TJ’s magnetic pull.

As you know, the Halos weren’t the only team to be stung by frayed elbow ligaments this past season. One of the biggest narratives early in the 2014 season was that Tommy John surgery among pitchers was growing at an exponential rate. Dr. James Andrews went so far as to call it an epidemic. Writers from all over used a variety of data as evidence of this ominous trend, but few touched on the fact that they could reach the same conclusion about any baseball-related injury over the last few decades.

How/Why? Because baseball injury data has always been incomplete, and probably always will be.

Extension Talk: Street’s Ahead

November 17th, 2014
"If you have to ask, you're streets behind."

“If you have to ask, you’re streets behind.”

 

The Angels will discuss a potential contract extension with closer Huston Street when Spring Training rolls around, according to Alden Gonzalez, much like they did with Mike Trout last season and with Erick Aybar two seasons before that. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss whether the Angels should extend Street or not, so for now let’s focus on what an extension might mean for the club financially.

The first thing for us to do is look at all the other multi-year contract extensions handed out recently to relievers over 30. Using the Extension Tracker over at MLBTR, as well as my memory for the few the tracker missed, I found 23 extensions since 2008 that fit our parameters. I highly doubt the list is exhaustive, but it is at least a representative sample: the contracts vary from the 2/$5.45 million pact between Jared Burton and the Twins in 2013, to the 4/$47 million deal between Joe Nathan and the Twins in 2008.

The average annual value (AAV) for all the extensions is $5.38 million, though that number is skewed some by service-time considerations. Just over half of the deals on the list were given to players still under team control for one or two more seasons, meaning arbitration is dragging down our mean a bit. If we measure only the 11 relievers extended after they became eligible for free agency, our AAV gets bumped up to $7 million. Conveniently, that is the exact salary Street received in his multi-year extension with the Padres. Not so conveniently, Street will probably ask for a raise from the Angels.

What Stanton’s Deal Says About Trout’s

November 15th, 2014
"He's getting how much?"

“He’s getting how much?”

 

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly on the verge of signing a record-shattering contract extension with the Miami Marlins for upwards of $300 million. (UPDATE: It’s a done deal. 13 years, $325 million. ) Along with a general sense of awe and a sardonic curiosity about what kind of loophole Jeffrey Loria will write into the contract language, the response to the deal has also included the sentiment that Mike Trout and his agent, Craig Landis, got hosed by pulling in “only” six years and $144 million last March.

 

 

I realize that many of these responses are of the tounge-in-cheek variety, but I still feel like the underlying belief needs to be addressed. The last thing we want is for the narrative surrounding Trout’s extension to be re-written to insinuate that the Angels somehow gamed him and his agent. Even if you’re one of those who already believes the contract is “a hilarious steal” for the Halos because of marginal-win fairy dust, there’s no need to ignore what actually happened.

 

Trout Didn’t Want A Longer Contract

Usually when an owner says the team “met in the middle” with a player on a contract, it means that the player wanted more but eventually settled. That wasn’t the case with Trout.

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