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Towey, Stamets Shine In Arizona Fall League

November 14th, 2014
Stamets

Eric “Mitts McGee” Stamets

The Arizona Fall League has come and gone already, meaning the Japan Series is now the only thing standing between us and the complete absence of baseball until March. To keep the (off)seasonal melancholy at bay for at least a few hours more, let’s take a quick look back at how the Angels prospects fared in AFL action.

The Halos had eight players suit up this year, and I’ve (sort of) ranked their performances here from best to worst. Whether you decide their numbers are really indicative of anything or not is up to you. Just keep in mind that in 2011, Mike Trout, on the cusp of setting the world afire, batted .245/.279/.321 in 106 AFL at-bats.

 

1. Cal Towey – 3B/OF

.279/.375/.426 with 2 HR, 4 2B, 9 BB in 68 AB

Towey performed incredibly well in his first real taste of pro ball against players his age, putting up a slash line nearly identical to his High-A numbers (.279/.364/.417) this past season. If the corner utility man can maintain that consistency at the plate in his first taste of Double-A next season, he could be in Anaheim by the end of the year. Lord knows the Angels can always use another lefty bat with some pop, especially one who can play third base.

From Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus: “If [Towey] can show that his left-handed pop will translate against better pitching and in a more neutral hitting environment, he could end up being a useful piece.”

 

2. Eric Stamets – SS

.279/.302/.377 with 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 1 BB in 61 AB

Widely regarded as a defense-first guy, Stamets surprised by holding his own at the plate against some of the minors’ top pitching talent. The low OBP is not great, but, with his glove, you’ve gotta think the Angels would be elated if he could put up that kind of offensive production at the MLB level.

Stamets OPS-ed only .601 in his first foray at Double-A, so a repeat appearance in Arkansas seems likely, but it’s fun to ponder if a promotion to Salt Lake City might be better for his confidence in the batter’s box. PCL-inflated or not, solid offensive numbers probably do wonders for a player’s self-esteem.

Scioscia Beats Yost At His Own Game; Loses

October 3rd, 2014
/groan

/groan

 

Oh, right. THAT’S what a postseason game feels like.

After four years on the October sidelines, I’d almost forgotten the agony and exhilaration that hang on every pitch for both players and fans. I know I let the moment get the best of me a number of times Thursday night — sorry, dog, for startling you with all the yelling and the kvetching and the gesticulating  — so it makes sense that it might affect the decision-making of a manager as well, even a seasoned one.

That’s the best explanation I have for the baffling offensive strategy employed by Mike Scioscia for Game 1, in which the Angels fell to the Royals 3-2 in 11 innings. After laying down just 26 sacrifice bunts all year — nine of which were put in play by either John McDonald, Luis Jimenez, or a pitcher – Scioscia decided that his offense needed to put down *three* on Thursday, or more than 10 percent of their season total. You may have noticed that neither McDonald, Jimenez, nor a pitcher were in the lineup. No, instead those three attempts came courtesy of Erick Aybar, who inexplicably laid down two with Josh Hamilton on deck and a lefty on the mound, and leadoff man Kole Calhoun, who’s not only the third-best hitter in a stacked lineup but who also looked about as comfortable squaring around to bunt as I do juggling chainsaws on one leg over a shark tank. (NB: I’m a terrible juggler.)

Roster Expansion, Activate!

September 2nd, 2014

 

September has finally arrived, and with it comes 15 new roster spots for every MLB team to utilize as they see fit. Some have surprisingly strong negative opinions about this late-season roster quirk, but I’m mostly indifferent on the matter. On many occasions, the expansion results in fans getting their first real opportunity to watch the future of the franchise on the biggest stage, which is undoubtedly fun. The Angels are no exception in this regard: Two years ago at this time, we got our first glimpse of Kole Calhoun; last year, it was Matt Shoemaker.

This year, though, the Halos’ initial roster expansion has a slightly different feel to it. While there’s still a chance that interesting prospects like Drew Rucinski and… well, that’s about it… get a cup of coffee in the show this month, most of the 11 (!) new players suiting up in Houston this afternoon have either already had ample time with the big-league club this year—e.g. C.J. Cron, Cam Bedrosian, Cory Rasmus, Brennan Boesch, Efren Navarro—or are unlikely to be with the organization come next spring—e.g. John Buck, Wade LeBlanc, Tony Campana.

Just three of the call-ups—Buck, Campana, and Shawn O’Malley—have yet to see any action in Anaheim this season. Buck is the third-string catcher the Halos haven’t needed for two years now, Campana is essentially a full-time pinch runner, and O’Malley is utility guy whose career year (in a hitter-friendly park) has earned him his first promotion to the Show.

The club’s uncommonly large influx of fresh arms and legs—most teams have called up four or five guys—smacks of a strong desire to give the regulars as much rest as possible down the home stretch. I doubt the meat of the lineup gets many full days off this month, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more late-inning “defensive replacements” as the season winds down. The addition of four bullpen arms seems to portend that Scioscia is planning to go with Rasmus and Friends again in Garrett Richards’ rotation spot rather than try a traditional “starter” like Michael Roth or LeBlanc. So long as the club’s able to rely on the new guys and not tax Joe Smith, Huston Street, Kevin Jepsen, et al., that seems like a pretty solid plan.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster for LeBlanc and Buck, the Angels designated J.B. Shuck and Michael Kohn for assignment.

Here’s the full list of roster additions:

Angels Acquire Gordon Beckham from White Sox

August 21st, 2014
Five years ago, Gordon Beckham was really good.

Five years ago, Gordon Beckham was really good.

In the wake of Garrett Richards’ devastating injury, the Angels decided it was time to shore up the… infield?

On Thursday, the Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham from the Chicago White Sox, as Eric Kay, the club’s director of communications, announced on Twitter. In exchange for Beckham, the Angels will send either a player to be named later or cash to the White Sox. Beckham will join the team on Saturday in Oakland in time for game two of the club’s pivotal weekend series against the Athletics.

Per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Angels initially claimed Beckham off waivers, meaning all other AL clubs passed on him, as the Angels hold the best record in the league, and are subsequently at the bottom of the waiver order.

Beckham is far from an impact player, and has struggled with the White Sox this season. In 422 plate appearances, he has slashed just .221/.263/.336 with a 62 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR, though Baseball-Reference pegs his WAR at a more palatable 0.3. He comes rather cheaply, with less than $1 million remaining on his $4.175 million salary for this season, and isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season, though he is a non-tender candidate this winter as an arbitration-eligible player. 

Angels Offense Stuck in Gridlock, Lose Freeway Series to Dodgers

August 8th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 5, Dodgers 0 | Game 2: Dodgers 5, Angels 4
Game 3: Dodgers 2, Angels 1 | Game 4: Dodgers 7, Angels 0

Runs Scored: 10
Runs Allowed: 14

YTD Record: 67-47 | 2nd in AL West

DodgersSeries1

After taking Game 1 of the annual Freeway Series, the Angels dropped the final three games against the Dodgers to fall three games behind the Oakland A’s in the division. The Angels scored 40% of their runs this series in the first inning of the series, four off Zack Greinke. After, the excellent Dodger pitching staff held the Halo bats to six runs over the final 35 innings. It’s tough to glean much from a four-game sample, but even with the Angels’ small advantage record-wise over the Dodgers, the Dodgers looked like a better and more dangerous team. Matt Kemp is apparently good again, and if he regains some of his peak form the Dodger offense could be lethal. Both clubs are probably locks for the postseason. The Dodgers are the best team in the  National League, and the Angels are still 6-1/2 games clear of Kansas City for the top wild card slot. Could we be in for a Freeway World Series? After these four games, I’m not sure Angel fans would want that.

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