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The Pros and Cons of the Street Acquisition

July 19th, 2014
"Wait, so I take the 5 Freeway *that* way?"

“Wait, so I take the 5 Freeway *that* way?”

The Halos front office went for broke Friday night, sending four prospects to the San Diego Padres to acquire closer Huston Street and minor-league reliever Trevor Gott. The price for Street was a steep one, as the Padres’ return includes three of the Halos’ top 10 prospects—second baseman Taylor Lindsey, shortstop Jose Rondon, and reliever R.J. Alvarez—and a fourth player—righty starter Elliot Morris—who has turned a lot of heads this season and may have creeped into the top 10 come September.

As a Proven Closer™, Huston Street will immediately usurp Joe Smith as top dog in the Angels bullpen and push everyone down a rung on the reliever hierarchy ladder. Just who exactly will be pushed off the ladder remains to be seen1 and is unlikely to be resolved until C.J. Wilson returns from the disabled list in the next couple weeks.

If one ever wondered the kind of ultimatum Jerry Dipoto got about what was required to keep his job at the end of the year, this trade provides a very clear answer: Either the Angels win big in 2014/2015, or he takes his ball and goes home. There’s really no other way to explain the jettisoning of five (!) top prospects in a three-week span from an already barren farm system for the purpose of netting roughly 100 combined innings from two relief pitchers. Dipoto has gone all-in on the present at the expense of the future, and either you really like that course of action or you don’t.

Let’s look at it from both sides:

Halos Reach Deal With Top Pick Sean Newcomb

July 18th, 2014

The Angels finally reached an agreement with 15th overall pick Sean Newcomb early Friday morning, less than 24 hours until the signing deadline. Newcomb will receive a $2.5184 million signing bonus, per Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, which is just $43,000 over the allotted vale for the No. 15 slot and, not coincidentally, exactly the amount of money the Halos had remaining in their team bonus pool for the first 10 rounds.

That the final figure matches up perfectly with the club’s remaining funds makes one wonder just what took so long for the two sides to strike a deal. The penultimate holdout among the team’s first 10 picks was third-rounder Chris Ellis, but he signed way back on June 29, meaning that the bonus pool has been sitting at $2.5184 million for almost three weeks. It’s difficult to fathom that it took Newcomb’s advisor that long to get the Halos to cough up an additional 40 grand, a paltry sum in the big scheme of things.

We here at HD have no inside window into the proceedings, so everything on our end about what the holdup might have been is guesswork, but we have at least a couple ideas about what went on. The first, and seemingly most plausible, is that Newcomb’s advisor, Legacy CEO Greg Genske, actually wanted the Halos to exceed their bonus pool by a good amount — say, about $288,000 — but had to settle for taking the club to the limit instead.

The second, and more nefarious, idea is that Genske wanted the Halos to sweat it out to the last minute because of the way things have gone between the club and his clients in the recent past. The Legacy Agency represents dozens of big-league players, and among those just happen to be the quartet of Scott Kazmir, Vernon Wells, Tommy Hanson, and Bobby Abreu. You might recall that none of their tenures in Anaheim ended on a positive note: i.e. Kazmir and Hanson were released while still under contract, Wells and Abreu were traded after losing their starting jobs. Again, this is all wild speculation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Genske gave the Angels the cold shoulder purposefully as a sort of slap on the wrist for those past transgressions.

Whatever the reason for the delay, the most important thing is that Newcomb has signed. He’ll now likely report to one of the club’s Rookie Ball affiliates, where he’s expected to throw about 30 innings over the next month before shutting it down for the season. That innings amount would have been the same whether he signed last month or Friday because of his heavy workload during the college season, so the holdup in signing shouldn’t have any effect whatsoever on his development.

Counting Newcomb, the Halos have signed 35 of their 40 June draftees. That figure is a smidgen lower than last year’s take, but still a pretty good haul. All five guys who didn’t sign were late-round picks that decided to have another go at the college ranks.

Angels Sweep the Leg, Finish First Half Strong

July 15th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 15, Rangers 6 | Game 2: Angels 3, Rangers 0
Game 3: Angels 5, Rangers 2 | Game 4: Angels 10, Rangers 7

Runs Scored: 33
Runs Allowed: 15

YTD Record: 57-37 | 2nd in AL West

Up Next: Friday vs. SEA

RangersSeries2

How’s that for a solid end to the proverbial first half? The Halos drummed out 33 runs and a whopping 51 hits in their (first ever) four-game sweep of Rangers over the weekend, tacking several exclamation points onto the end what’s been an exhilarating three weeks for the club. With 20 wins in their last 25 contests, the Angels enter the All-Star break at 20 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and now sit just 1½ games back of the A’s for the division lead.

Speaking of the division… when we last checked on the Angels’ record in early June, the club was a disappointing 11-17 against the AL West and 23-11 versus everyone else. Since then, though, the Halos have won 11 straight and 13 of 14 over their division foes, bringing them within a stone’s throw of not only first place, but also the best record in baseball. Granted, all but two of those wins have come against the Astros and Rangers, who are in a heated battle for the “Worst Run Differential” crown, but that in itself is a big deal: The Halos are actually beating the teams they’re supposed to beat!

The big test (for now) will be to see if the club can keep things going when the Mariners come back into town on Friday. Seattle has trounced the Angels thus far this season, and actually appear to be a much better team now than they were at the start of the year. If the squad can survive the gauntlet of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and… uhh… Chris Young, then maybe setting our sights beyond just a Wild Card spot won’t be quite as unreasonable as we initially thought. Lord knows the Angels would love to escape another scenario where they’d have to face a Mariners ace in a one-off game to decide who advances to the Division Series…

Checking on the Cherubim: July

July 12th, 2014
Jose Rondon, legit shortstop prospect.

Jose Rondon, legit shortstop prospect

There are several fresh faces down on the farm this summer as a result of last month’s draft, but only a few have made the immediate impact to warrant a mention here.

However, their mere presence makes me ponder about the merit of using the same pre-season Top 10 list all year. If Baseball America were to re-do their list today, at least four of the Angels’ pre-season top 10 would no longer be in the group because of promotions (Cron), trades (Borenstein), and miserable performance (Cowart and Sappington). This is how it’s supposed to be, of course, but that kind of thing probably doesn’t best serve our function here.

I haven’t had the time to make an updated list of my own, so we’ll stick with the BA list for now, but I may sit down, pore over reports, and conjure up a whole new Top 10 for August’s installment. We’ll see.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 

1. Taylor Lindsey - 2B

Level: Triple-A | Rookie Ball
Age: 22
2014 Stats: .246/.323/.405 with 8 HR, 13 2B, 4 3B in 321 PA (Triple-A)

Lindsey missed most of June recovering from a concussion, but, thankfully, has shown no ill effects in the three weeks since returning to the diamond. In fact, Lindsey has been on fire over the past week, tallying 10 hits — including five for extra bases — in his last 22 at-bats. The second baseman’s BABIP (.288) is slowly creeping up to his career norms (~.330), so hopefully the front end of his slash line will be more representative of his performance by the time the season finishes up. If nothing else, Lindsey’s first foray through Triple-A should earn him a September call up to Anaheim.

Aybar Gets All-Star Spot, Richards Still Waiting

July 11th, 2014
Erick Aybar, All-Star

Erick Aybar, All-Star

The Halos got a bit of good news/bad news on Thursday in regards to the Mid-Summer Classic. Erick Aybar finally earned his All-Star stripes – earning a spot on the roster in place of the injured Alex Gordon — but Garrett Richards remained on the outside looking in following a second-place finish in the AL Final Vote tally.

Angels fans put forth a valiant effort in the last day of voting, but winning the six-hour hashtag standoff on Twitter wasn’t quite enough to surpass Chris Sale in the overall Final Vote total. Fans simply hit the virtual ballot boxes harder on the South Side, electing Sale with a whopping 6.7 million votes. (In a mid-term year, no less!)

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