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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.

Shawn O’Malley, PCL All-Star

July 13th, 2014
Shawn O'Malley has always been known as a glove man. . .

Shawn O’Malley has always been known as a glove man. . .

Shawn O’Malley was selected earlier this week to represent the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, in this year’s Triple-A All-Star Game to be held July 16 in Durham, North Carolina.

Angel fans may remember him from this year’s spring training as he had a hot bat and was one of the last players to be cut from the roster. The team chose to give the final 25-man spots to Ian Stewart and John McDonald instead of O’Malley.

O’Malley was drafted out of high school in 2006 by the Tampa Bay Rays and joined the Angels in 2014. He’s come to be regarded as primarily a glove man, but he brings more to the table than just his defense. He possesses above average speed and was named the Rays’ organization’s best base stealer in 2009 when he swiped 40 bags, and he is highly proficient at turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.  His minor league career OBP is 94 points higher than his career batting average, so he has always had the ability to get on base via the walk.

He’s primarily a shortstop, but like many players these days he is being groomed to be a super-utility guy: he has seen action at third base and all three outfield positions this year for the Bees.

What took him to the All-Star level, however, was the dramatic increase in batting average this year. In his minor league career, though he possessed several other important skill sets, he’d always posted a pedestrian batting average (~.250). This year, however, he has put it all together and is having a terrific year at the plate, hitting .339/.420/.476 for Salt Lake.

Due to the glut of quality middle infielders the Angels have with players like Grant Green, Taylor Lindsey, Eric Stamets, and Alex Yarbrough, a player like O’Malley helps to make middle infield a position of strength for the Angels if they decide to put together another package for a mid-season trade.

but now he's making a name for himself with his bat.

…but now he’s making a name for himself with his bat.

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!)

Aybar And Richards Left Off All-Star Team… For Now

July 7th, 2014
The Admiral is displeased.

The Admiral is displeased.

To the surprise of no one, Mike Trout earned his third consecutive All-Star selection on Sunday. A bit more on the remarkable side were the omissions of Garrett Richards and Erick Aybar from the AL’s initial roster. Richards was expected by many to slide in among a deep crop of starters on the back of his 10-2 record and sub-3.00 ERA, while Aybar and his position-best 2.5 fWAR was thought (by me, at least) to be a shoo-in at short in an exceptionally shallow field. Neither of those things happened, however, and now the Angels have to cross their fingers that a few things play out in their favor in order to have more than one representative at Target Field next week.

Richards is part of the AL’s Final Vote campaign, so his most direct path to the All-Star Game is winning a popularity contest against Chris Sale. Since that’s not very likely, Richards’ best chance to make the team is probably as a replacement for one of the arms already on the roster. As Masahiro Tanaka and David Price won’t be available next Tuesday because of their pitching schedules, there will be at least two extra spots on the staff for the taking. Unfortunately, it’s already been reported that John Farrell is filling one of those spots with Koji Uehara (which, -_____-), so it’s possible Richards might have just the one chance to sneak onto the team. In the best-case scenario, one or two more arms on the staff decide they can’t pitch next week and Richards waltzes onto the roster.

Aybar faces a similar uphill climb to get on the team. Three players among the AL’s position-player reserves—Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Moss, and Victor Martinez—are presently out with injuries, meaning there are likely a few chances for Aybar to be added to the squad. Given that all five of the league’s Final Vote candidates are pitchers, Aybar’s competition for those potential openings will come from the field at large. Shortstop, second base, and third base are the least represented positions on the roster—two players each—and also happen to be the positions of the four biggest AL snubs: Aybar, Ian Kinsler, Kyle Seager, and Brian Dozier. Assuming that Farrell wants some semblance of balance on his roster, then Aybar should have a great chance to make the team if those three guys mentioned at the start of this paragraph can’t suit up.

So, yeah. It’s a bummer that the Halos didn’t have more than one player named on Sunday, but don’t give up hope just yet. The rosters could look very different by the time the game starts next week.

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