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Back on Track: Angels Win Series Against Astros

April 8th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 11 – Astros 1 | Game 2: Angels 5 – Astros 1
Game 3: Angels 4 – Astros 7 | Game 4: Angels 9 – Astros 1

Runs Scored = 29
Runs Against = 10

YTD Record: 3-4 | 3rd in AL West

Up Next: Two Games @ Seattle Mariners

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One of the key objectives for the Angels last season was to take advantage of the Houston Astros and win as many games as they could against them, as the AL West title could have very well gone to the team who beat up the most on the divisional newcomers.  Suffice it to say, the Angels were not successful in achieving this goal as they sported a 9-10 losing record against the Astros last year.  The Halos may sing a different tune this year, as they took the first series against the ‘stros three games to one on the strength of their starting pitching and the hot bats of Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick.

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What a Glorious Opening Day!

April 4th, 2014
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Arkansas Travelers third baseman Kaleb Cowart had a monster Opening Day.

For all of you Angels fans who are just sick over the complete meltdown the Halos had in their three game series against the Mariners, there is some good news that may lighten your spirits: the Angels’ top three minor league teams all resoundingly won their opening day games on Thursday.

The Triple-A Salt Lake Bees beat the Sacramento River Cats 8-3.  JB Shuck hit a three-run home run.  Luis “Lucho” Jimenez hit a solo homer.  CJ Cron hit an RBI double, Grant Green went 3-for-5, Taylor Lindsey went 2-for-5, and Efren Navarro went 3-for-5 with three RBI.

The Double-A Arkansas Travelers beat the Midland Rockhounds 20-7.  The Angels’ top prospect last year, Kaleb Cowart, had a huge night.  He went 5-for-6 with five RBI and a home run.  Catcher Jett Bandy also hit a solo home run.  Shawn O’Malley hit a triple and had three RBI.  Last year’s Cal League MVP Zach Borenstein had two hits, second baseman Alex Yarbrough had three, and outfielder Drew Heid had four.

The High-A Inland Empire 66ers shut out the High Desert Mavericks 7-0.  Starting pitcher Nate Smith threw five scoreless innings.  Third baseman Cal Towey, the player last year with the highest OBP (.492) in the entire Angels system, went 3-for-4 and drew a walk.  Another highly regarded newcomer for the 66ers is shortstop Jose Rondon, who went 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored.

The teams were running.  Grant Green stole a base for the Bees.  Kaleb Cowart stole a base for the Travs, and Jose Rondon stole a base for the 66ers.

The relief pitchers were lights out.  Jeremy Berg, Robert Carson, and Cory Rasmus pitched three innings and gave up just one run for the Bees.  Ryan Chaffee, Orangel Arenas, and Carmine Giardina pitched six shutout innings for the Travs.  Danny Reynolds, Austin Adams, and Kurt Spomer pitched four shutout innings for the 66ers.

That means these three Angels minor league bullpens yesterday pitched 13 innings and gave up just one run for a 0.69 ERA. If only the big-league bullpen could come anywhere close to that…

Halos Claim RHP Michael Brady from Miami

April 3rd, 2014
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Here’s a story / Of a man named Brady…

The Angels finally filled the final spot on their 40-man roster Wednesday morning, claiming righty reliever Michael Brady off of waivers from the Miami Marlins.

Brady, 27, will initially report to Double-A Arkansas for the Halos, but he could find his way into the big-league bullpen before too long if he’s able to repeat his strong 2013 performance. The right-hander posted a 1.53 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and just 1.5 BB/9 in 53 innings for the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate last season, his first full year above High-A.

A glove-first shortstop in his four years at UC Berkley, Brady was taken by the Marlins in the 24th round of the 2009 draft and–after his strong arm earned him a brief tryout behind the plate–was quickly pushed into full-time relief role. The Southern California native wasn’t a total novice on the mound–he pulled double duty as a starter/shortstop at Santa Margarita High School–but was still four years removed from any real time as a pitcher.

To the Marlins’ delight, Brady took to the role immediately. He obliterated Low-A hitters by pounding the strike zone with a sinker/slider combo, allowing just five runs and walking four (while fanning 25) over 28⅓ innings in his first year (2010) as a pro pitcher, good for a 1.59 ERA. Bumped up to Single-A in 2011, Brady proved his fast start wasn’t just beginner’s luck, upping his strikeout rate to better than 11 per nine and keeping his earned-run average under 2.00 in just over 60 innings.

He ran into some trouble with the luck dragons upon his promotion to High-A in 2012–he had a .350 BABIP against on the year–but maintained his stellar peripherals and eventually pitched his way onto the Marlins’ 40-man roster last season.

Brady credits much of his success to learning how to better sequence his pitches and not just throw strikes for the sake of throwing strikes:

“[In 2012] I think I learned more about pitching and how to set up hitters and when to throw balls as opposed to pumping fastballs for strikes,” Brady said. “I also learned mixing up your pitches and changing speeds often is more effective, especially for a guy who doesn’t throw upper 90s like most closers.”

Brady sits in the low 90s with his sinker, and his minuscule home-run rate leads one to believe that he gets a host of ground balls with the pitch. He’s also reportedly added a forkball to his repertoire, which (thankfully) gives him a third option on the days the slider’s not working.

From his stats alone, one gets a strong Mike Morin vibe from Brady: he’s a guy who certainly won’t walk anyone and whose peripherals look mighty pretty against minor leaguers, but who you can’t really tell if his less-than-overpowering stuff will hold up against big-league hitting. Both Brady and Morin would be huge boons to the Halos’ current walk-heavy bullpen if they can keep hitters from barreling up pitches, so let’s hope their stuff holds out.

Angels Agree To Extension With Mike Trout

March 28th, 2014

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and superstar outfielder Mike Trout have reportedly agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $144.5 million. The deal begins in 2015, meaning that the Angels will retain Trout for his first three would-be free agent seasons. The deal includes a no-trade clause.

In general, like this deal for both sides.

The Angels have locked up the best player for three seasons beyond his arbitration years. Those arbitration years were likely to be outrageously expensive, and, assuming Trout continues trouting, any deal following them would certainly come with an average annual value greater than $24 million, especially as baseball’s economy continues to inflate.

Trout gets $144.5 million. That’s enough money to cover roughly 3,000 teachers’ salaries in the United States.

Trout gets security. If something horrible were to happen and he should become, like, a four-win player, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal because he will have enough money to host several End of The World Parties.

Trout gets a crack at free agency while he’s still in his twenties. If he trouts for the next seven years, the open market competition for Trout’s services would be LeBronian. (The Internet would shut down if Trout signed with the Marlins.)

There are at least three more things to think about from the Angels’ perspective.

First, the deal includes no option years at the tail end, which could be a major issue. If Trout were to remain great, options on the back end of the deal could be used to retain him at very high salaries that would, in theory, be worth it because of his production.

Second, the Angels did not guarantee a ten-year deal. Let’s not forget how risky long-term contracts are. This seems like it can’t go wrong because it’s Mike Trout, but there are actually many ways that this could go wrong. Serious injury is a real possibility, despite its relative unlikelihood. The Angels are not prohibited from negotiating another deal halfway through this one, if they’d like to extend at that point.

Third, the Angels get cost certainty. As they look to supplement their team over the next few years, they’ll know exactly how far their long-term commitments leave them from the luxury tax threshold, which is apparently very important to ownership.

Ultimately, this is a win-win deal. It would have been kind of cool to see Trout go to arbitration, just because there really isn’t a fair, modern-era comparison for him, but it’s just as cool to watch him laser the ball to all fields, steal bases with ease, and patrol the outfield diligently.

Trout Gets Raise, Awaits Extension

February 26th, 2014

While we all eagerly await confirmation of a contract extension, Mike Trout and the Angels whetted our appetites this morning by agreeing to a 2014 contract worth a cool $1 million, per multiple MLB reports. The raise is relatively large, as the Angels paid Trout “only” $510,000 last year, a $20,000 raise following his Rookie of the Year 2012 campaign.

Given that Trout is still pre-arbitration eligible, Arte Moreno didn’t have to give Trout a raise at all if he didn’t feel like it. He could have said “no,” chuckled to himself and stroked a pet kitten, and there’s nothing Trout or his agent could do about it until a year from now. But, with extension negotiations ongoing, why risk ill will? Employing Mike Trout for 3+ seasons for roughly $2 million total should still be a felony. What’s another five hundred grand?

Trout’s 2014 salary will break the record for the largest one-year, pre-arb contract for a ballplayer — Ryan Howard held the previous record at $900,000. Some fans may panic and assume this means a Trout extension is off the table. However, Trout’s extension was never going to count for 2014 anyway, as the Angels still want to come in under the $189M luxury tax line. A Trout extension would have shot them well past that, so the Angels needed to figure out Trout’s salary this season before an extension was finalized. Expect Trout’s extension, if it happens, to begin in 2015.

For now, Trout is officially a million-dollar ballplayer, and there are many more zeroes in his very near future. The lesson as always kids: be a professional athlete.

Halos Daily

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