Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top notch Angels analysis!

Halos Daily is Moving

May 13th, 2015

 

We were recently contacted by the fine folks at Monkey With a Halo about teaming up to create a mega-blog. They felt (and continue to feel) that the Angels’ vibrant online community would be better served if the blogging was unified on a single, comprehensive site, rather than spread all over the web. Sites like Dodgers Digest and Padres Public have found great success in this kind of collaboration, so why not Angels blogs?

We couldn’t agree more.

And so, starting right now, the entire Halos Daily team (Nathan, Andrew, Jeff, Justin, and Drew) is moving its operation over to Monkey With A Halo. We’ll be joined there by the long-standing MWAH crew, Garrett Wilson and Scotty Allen, as well as Mike Hllywa and MJ Lloyd (formerly of Halo Hangout), and a handful of other writers you’ll likely recognize from baseball Twitter and elsewhere.

This site will technically continue to exist, so you can check in on it if you want, but it will likely become a virtual ghost town. All of our writing from now into the indefinite future will be published at MWAH, so we highly encourage you to make it your go-to site for Angels analysis.

We are incredibly appreciative of the support you all have given us over the last four years by reading and commenting, and we sincerely hope you’ll follow us on our journey over to MWAH. (Final link, I promise.) We truly believe that this collaborative effort will not only strengthen the credibility of the Angels blogosphere, but also infuse it with a spirit of inclusion and positivity that’s often missing in online communities.

Thank you again for reading. This move wouldn’t be possible without your support.

So long, and thanks for all the

Does Jarrod Saltalamacchia Make Sense for the Angels?

April 29th, 2015

 

The Marlins designated Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment Monday and there are now reports five teams are interested in the struggling catcher. The Angels weren’t listed as one of those teams, but it’s safe to assume they would at least be a little intrigued — Angel catchers have posted a 10 wRC+ this year (!!!!!!!!), the worst production in baseball (duh). Remember, a 100 wRC+ is average.

Chris Iannetta has been run over by the regression train, posting a .176 wOBA just a year after having one of the best offensive campaigns of his career. Saltalamacchia, batting only .069* this season, is having a “better” offensive season than Iannetta, wOBA-ing at .187.

*Nice.

Acquiring Salty would essentially give the Angels the left-handed version of Iannetta.** Like Iannetta, Salty walks a lot, strikes out a lot, and is good for about 10 homers a year while providing less than stellar defense behind the dish. In what sounds like a ripoff of a John Woo film, does it make sense to platoon Iannetta…with himself? [dramatic music] Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of a potential Saltalamacchia acquisition.

**Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter that can’t hit left-handed pitching, so it’s best to think of him as primarily a left-handed batter — like with Hank Conger.

 

Pros

 

A viable catching platoon…maybe

Let’s assume Iannetta is just being victimized by an early season slump and that slumps in April are worse than slumps in, like, July because they’re more magnified and the numbers are uglier. Pray to your gods this is the case. Even still, Iannetta is below average against right-handed pitching, posting a 93 wRC+ for his career. He mashes lefties (131 wRC+), but he could use a buddy when it comes to same-sided arms. That’s where Salty comes in, who for his career has posted a 107 wRC+ against right-handed arms. (That drops to 56 against left-handed pitchers.) Platoon Iannetta with Salty and the Angels now have above average productions everyday from the catcher spot. Not many teams have that type of advantage. Drew Butera could use an aluminum bat and still not be an average hitter.

Angels Sending Hamilton Back to Rangers

April 25th, 2015

 

So by now you’ve probably heard… Josh Hamilton is likely headed back to the Texas Rangers in exchange for somewhere around $15 million in salary relief and nothing else. With no players coming back to Anaheim, the deal is more pawn than trade, which tells you everything you need to know about how badly ownership wanted to wash their hands of Hamilton.

A common refrain in wake of the news has been that Hamilton’s contract should immediately go down as one of the worst in franchise history. I can’t say that I disagree with the sentiment, but I would argue that his place on that list has much, much more to do with the Angels than it does Hamilton.

It seems pretty clear now that Arte Moreno was drawn in by Hamilton’s feel-good comeback story, and had no intention of ever confronting the reality of his addiction. Moreno and the front office should have known damn well he was a high-risk acquisition from the day they handed him a five-year contract — it’s not as though Hamilton was shy about his addiction being a constant struggle. For ownership to then go out of their way to pass his recent relapse off as some sort of unforgivable break in trust screams of ignorance at best, maliciousness at worst.

I’m not saying the Angels don’t have a reason to be disappointed in Hamilton. Of course they do. But the club’s reaction to the situation hasn’t been simply one of disappointment, no matter what they might say to reporters. Moreno’s need to not just jettison Hamilton from the organization as quickly as possible but also purge all of his merchandise from the team store well before any official transaction smacks of a spurned lover, not a concerned employer. Moreno’s public admission that he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton since the end of the 2014 season only reinforces the idea of some sort of personal betrayal.

Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Josh Hamilton: No Suspension Coming

April 3rd, 2015

 

Major League Baseball announced that Josh Hamilton will not be suspended for his offseason drug use after an arbitrator ruled Hamilton did not violate his treatment program.

Earlier this offseason, Hamilton self-reported his cocaine use to MLB, after which a four-person board consisting of two members from MLB and two from the player’s association met to decide whether new commissioner Rob Manfred would have the right to suspend Hamilton. The two sides split the vote 2-2, with the players’ union as expected ruling in favor of a non-suspension for Hamilton, forcing an arbitrator to make the decision and ultimately rule that Major League Baseball could not suspend Hamilton for this infraction.

Normally I would say “good job MLB,” but well, they’re PISSED about the result. In addition to appointing two people whose job was almost certainly to rule against Hamilton,  here’s their statement:

Angels Deal Top Prospect For 3B Depth

January 9th, 2015

 

I guess the Angels aren’t so worried about hoarding all their starting pitching anymore. The club dealt top pitching prospect Ricardo Sanchez to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday in exchange for two other minor leaguers: third baseman Kyle Kubitza and righty reliever Nate Hyatt.

The 17-year-old Sanchez was either the second- or third-best pitcher in the Angels farm system, depending on how one feels about his ceiling in relation to Sean Newcomb’s. Being a top-three arm in the organization was a bit of a dubious honor at the beginning of 2014, when the top end consisted of guys with utility but limited upside. Now, though, after a wave of additions through the draft and trades in the last year to restock the franchise’s pitching depth, it means the Halos have bid farewell to a young left-hander with serious potential.

Signed out of Venezuela in July 2013, Sanchez made his organizational debut in the Arizona Rookie League this past summer and was quick to make an impact despite being the second youngest pitcher in the league. The diminutive southpaw posted a 3.49 ERA and struck out 10 batters per nine in 38 ⅔ innings, never going more than four frames in any of his 12 appearances. His control (5.1 BB/9) left a bit to be desired, but that’s the case with just about every teenage arm ever. The most important thing—the thing that probably caught Atlanta’s attention—is that Sanchez more than held his own against guys three and four years his senior, and did so with a three-pitch arsenal that belies his age. The Braves potentially have a special pitcher on their hands, and I’m sure they’re excited to add him to their growing list of young, promising arms.

Why, you may be asking, did the Angels give up Sanchez when he represents something the farm system has been without since maybe the Dan Haren trade? Well, there are (at least) two reasons:

1) Even with his inaugural success, Sanchez is still several years and many developmental hurdles away from contributing at the big-league level. The Angels could afford to part ways with him simply because his future is still so volatile. If everything goes well and Sanchez is able to avoid major injury in the next few seasons, he could break into the Braves rotation by 2018. But there’s a reason an acronymic axiom like TINSTAAPP exists: even a single stumble in his race to the show could send him careening off track for years. Considering the Angels are going into 2015 expecting to repeat as AL West champs, it makes more sense to invest in potential contributors for next season and beyond than guys who, in the best-case scenario, are still four seasons away.

2) The Angels are pretty set so far as pitching depth goes, even with Sanchez gone. The additions of Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano, Jose Alvarez, Cesar Ramos, and Sean Newcomb, among others, have given the club the leeway to add depth elsewhere on the diamond via starting pitching. It’s a bit strange to write sincerely that the Halos have rotation depth to spare, but it’s true. Jerry Dipoto has worked some serious magic over the last year-plus to turn the weakest point in the organization into a strength, and now he’s using it to shore up other potential holes.

 

Speaking of which, the hole that existed behind David Freese at third was a massive one before Kyle Kubitza joined the fold. Before Thursday, the Angels’ only line of defense between Freese and having to bring John McDonald out of retirement was a quartet of infielders with a combined 10 games of MLB experience at third base. And seeing as how three—Grant Green, Josh Rutledge, and Johnny Giavotella—of those four are widely regarded as below-average defenders at second base, I can’t imagine how bad things might have gotten at the hot corner should they have needed to spell Freese for a chunk of time. Kubitza, unlike his roster competition, is a third baseman by trade and a pretty good defensive one at that. When rating him as the Braves’ No. 8 prospect in November, Baseball Prospectus noted that Kubitza has a “plus arm,” “quick feet,” and “soft hands,” which sounds like a pretty solid combination.

The 24-year-old will likely begin 2015 with some seasoning at Triple-A, but he shouldn’t be long for Salt Lake. He hit .295/.405/.470 with eight homers, 11 triples, and 31 doubles in 529 plate appearances at Double-A this past season, and seems primed to put up even bigger numbers in the PCL. Kubitza’s biggest strength at the plate is easily his patience: He walked in 14.5% of his plate appearances in 2014 and has averaged nearly 80 free passes in each of his three full seasons thus far. On the flip side, his biggest weakness is the swing-and-miss: His strikeout percentage hovers right around 25% at every level. That’s a slightly better than Brandon Wood managed at Double-A, but not much.

If Kubitza had (quite a bit) more pop to go with his two true-outcome tendencies, one might squint into a mirror and see a slightly smaller Troy Glaus. As it is, though, Kubitza’s power is much more of the gap variety—his current high for home runs is 12. With his 6’3 frame, there’s always a chance he’ll start clearing the fence more often, but failing to develop that kind of pop shouldn’t make or break his chances. So long as the extra-base hits are coming regularly, it doesn’t matter if they go off the wall or over it. It’s impossible to say whether Kubitza is the “Third Baseman of the Future” just yet, but he’s certainly a helluva lot better than anyone else the club had roaming around.

Nate Hyatt, 24, spent the last two seasons pitching well in High-A, where he posted a 3.20 ERA, struck out 10.5 per nine, and allowed just four home runs in 109 ⅔ innings. What held him back from a promotion to the high minors were control issues. The right-hander not only walked 4.7 batters per nine in his 100+ innings in the Carolina League, he also managed to throw 15 wild pitches. The Angels have shown no hesitation in recent years promoting relievers with questionable control–see: Michael Kohn, Jairo Diaz, Nick Maronde, etc.–so there’s no reason to believe Hyatt can’t make his way from Double-A to a September appearance in Anaheim next season. Well, except for the fact that the club still has about 15 righty relievers ahead of him on the depth chart…

Of note: Kubitza was on the Braves’ 40-man roster, so the Halos were forced to DFA recent waiver claim Marc Krauss in order to make room on theirs. Krauss will probably clear waivers and remain with the club, but it shouldn’t be catastrophic if he doesn’t. He was likely no more than an emergency DH option when the Angels picked him up. Now that Matt Joyce is on the scene, Krauss’ role has been relegated to organizational depth.

Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top notch Angels analysis!