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Halos Acquire Robertson; Lock In 40-Man 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.

Mike Trout Wins 2014 MVP Award

November 13th, 2014
2014's Most Valuable Piscine

2014′s Most Valuable Pisces

 

At long last, Mike Trout is the American League Most Valuable Player. And it wasn’t even close this time. Trout took home all 30 first-place votes, making him the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history. Victor Martinez finished in a distant second, followed by Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and Jose Bautista.

I suppose we could complain that it took the BBWAA three tries to get it right, that Trout should be taking home his third consecutive trophy today, but that’d just spoil the moment. Plus, three years is an incredible turnaround by the BBWAA’s standards. Have you seen the Hall of Fame voting?

Anyway, there’s really not much we can write about Mike Trout that hasn’t already been written. At just 23, with just three full seasons in the league, his hagiography is already several volumes long. So rather than make a feeble attempt at describing what others have already penned more eloquently, I’m going to go the easy route and put some of his feats in bullet-point form.

If you’re into bad puns, you might call it Trout click-bait.

The Allure Of Jeremy McBryde

November 9th, 2014

McBryde

 

The Angels made another small addition to the organization on Friday, signing minor-league reliever Jeremy McBryde to a big-league deal and designating new-ish outfielder Roger Kieschnick for assignment. Before Friday, the 27-year-old McBryde had never been on a 40-man roster and had all of one season of experience above Double-A. Why, then, sign him to a Major League contract?

Well, for one, McBryde was a minor-league free agent. As he likely had other clubs vying for his services, the guarantee of at least part of a big-league salary from the Angels—rather than a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite—probably put them over the top. More importantly, though, McBryde got a spot on the 40-man because he deserved one.

The former 26th round pick out of Rose State College in Oklahoma toiled away as a starter in his first four seasons of professional ball, posting a 4.53 ERA in 340 innings between at the three levels of A-ball. His strikeout and walk rates were good, but hitters were squaring up the ball too often the times they did make contact. Slated to repeat High-A in 2011 at the not-so-young age of 24, the right-hander was moved to the bullpen.

Like most pitchers, McBryde had always found more success against same-sided batters than those with the platoon advantage, but it was nothing extreme. Once he moved to the bullpen, though, something clicked. His success against righties immediately magnified, and the more time he spent in the ‘pen the greater that success became. He put up a .630 OPS vs RHBs at High-A in 2011, then .579 at Double-A in 2012, then .451 in a repeat of Double-A in 2013. And finally, as his coup d’ grâce, McBryde made it to the Pacific Coast League in 2014 and posted a .401 OPS vs RHBs in 135 plate appearances. .401 OPS! In the PCL! That’s bananas!

Overall, McBryde has fanned more than 31% of the 692 right-handed batters he’s faced since converting to full-time relief four years ago. Meanwhile, he’s walked just 4.6% and allowed a .192 average. I have no idea what he does to make righties look so foolish at the plate—honestly, there are zero scouting reports out there—but whatever it is it’s potentially the stuff of legend. Personally, I’m pulling for it to be a wicked slider/change-up combo from some unheard of release point, but really I’m cool with whatever.

Of course, for all that success, there has to be a catch. In McBryde’s case, it’s that his numbers against left-handed hitters are what one would term “not good.” Lefties have batted .274/.372/.459 against him in 436 plate appearances since 2011, and have drawn a walk almost three times (12.6%) as often as righties. All but three of McBryde’s 26 free passes in 2014 were allowed to left-handed batters, likely meaning whatever he’s getting righties to flail at out of the zone isn’t doing squat against lefties.

McBryde’s lack of success against LHBs is unfortunate, but that alone shouldn’t keep him from breaking into the Angels’ bullpen because he’s such a dominant force against righties. A ROOGY can be a valuable weapon when deployed properly, even in limited time. The Halos already have several strong right-handed arms in their relief corps, but McBryde’s path to still seems somewhat clear: If the front office decides they don’t want to pay current righty specialist Vinnie Pestano the ~$1.2 million he’s likely to get in arbitration this winter, McBryde and his MLB-minimum salary could be right there to take his place.

The non-tender deadline isn’t until December 2, so stay tuned.

Angels Acquire Cesar Ramos

November 5th, 2014

ramos

In their second trade of the day, the Angels have acquired left-handed pitcher Cesar Ramos from the Tampa Bay Rays. Right-handed pitching prospect Mark Sappington heads to the Rays in the deal.

Ramos will join the Halos’ bullpen after a solid season with the Rays. He split time between starting and relieving in 2014, and, unsurprisingly, was significantly more effective out of the pen. In 52 1/3 innings as a reliever, Ramos posted a 2.92 ERA, striking out 45 and walking 22 in the process. Command issues plagued the southpaw, who struggled to put away right-handers.

For the Halos, Ramos represents a cheap left-handed option. After earning $750,000 in 2014, he will be eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason, and his salary should end up somewhere just north the $1M mark. MLBTradeRumors projected a $1.3M salary for Ramos for 2015.

Sappington emerged on the Angels prospect scene in 2013, when his power fastball helped him to a strong season across High- and Double-A. Originally a 5th round pick in 2012, the flamethrower seemed to be on the fast track, with many projecting him to make a cameo in relief at some point in 2014.

Things didn’t exactly go according to plan, as Sappington’s command issues worsened throughout the season, and eventually resulted in a demotion back to High-A and an earlier than expected shift to a relief role. According to Baseball America ($), Sappington’s fastball sits 92-95 (and can reach 97), and he possesses an average slider and a below average change-up.

In the Arizona Fall League, Sappington has allowed six runs in nine relief innings, while striking out seven and walking four. Back in July of 2013, Sappington sat down with Justin Millar for a quick interview.

Angels Trade Hank Conger

November 5th, 2014

Conger

The Angels traded catcher Hank Conger to the Houston Astros today for prospects Carlos Perez and Nick Tropeano, according to the Astros’ twitter account.

Conger has been with the Angels since his selection as the 25th overall pick in the 2006 draft. During his prospect days, the SoCal native was lauded as an offense-first catcher, but his value in recent years has come almost exclusively from his defense. In 2014, the switch-hitting Conger triple-slashed an unimpressive .221/.293/.325, but ranked among the top pitch-framers in the game. Hank the Tank ranked fourth in extra strikes, despite catching 2,000 fewer pitches than Russell Martin, who ranked third.

The presence and health of Chris Iannetta made Conger somewhat expendable. Iannetta’s game starkly contrasts Conger’s. The 31-year-old provides value with an advanced approach and adequate power, with his defense negating a healthy chunk of offensive value.

Nick Tropeano is the prize of this deal for the Angels. The right-hander brings to the table a strong, sturdy frame (6’4″, 200 lbs.) and a repertoire of three usable pitches. His delivery offers deception and simplicity, with a moderate stride and excellent balance. He tucks the ball behind his head prior to solid extension, giving opposing hitters little time to track the target.

Tropeano’s fastball will peak at 92 and sit in the 88-91 range, but the offering features heavy sink and arm-side run. His best pitch is his change-up, a potential plus pitch with fade and run. The cambio comes from an identical arm slot and the same arm speed as his fastball, and the Long Islander shows no fear in throwing it to right-handed hitters. Tropeano’s third pitch is a short, late-breaking slider that sits in the same velocity range as his changeup. The pitch is a 45/50 offering that plays up because of his ability to sequence it.

In four September starts, Tropeano posted a 4.57 ERA over 21 innings. Ultimately, he projects as an innings-eating #4 or #5 starter, and could compete for a spot in the Angels’ rotation as soon as next season.

Perez, 24, has put up uninspiring offensive numbers in Triple-A over the past two years, but he has thrown out runners with success (32% in 2014). He appears to be a solid defensive back-up option who could earn some time behind Iannetta next season.

Halos Daily

Dedicated to bringing you top notch Angels analysis!