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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.

Angels Sweep the Leg, Finish First Half Strong

July 15th, 2014

Game 1: Angels 15, Rangers 6 | Game 2: Angels 3, Rangers 0
Game 3: Angels 5, Rangers 2 | Game 4: Angels 10, Rangers 7

Runs Scored: 33
Runs Allowed: 15

YTD Record: 57-37 | 2nd in AL West

Up Next: Friday vs. SEA


How’s that for a solid end to the proverbial first half? The Halos drummed out 33 runs and a whopping 51 hits in their (first ever) four-game sweep of Rangers over the weekend, tacking several exclamation points onto the end what’s been an exhilarating three weeks for the club. With 20 wins in their last 25 contests, the Angels enter the All-Star break at 20 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and now sit just 1½ games back of the A’s for the division lead.

Speaking of the division… when we last checked on the Angels’ record in early June, the club was a disappointing 11-17 against the AL West and 23-11 versus everyone else. Since then, though, the Halos have won 11 straight and 13 of 14 over their division foes, bringing them within a stone’s throw of not only first place, but also the best record in baseball. Granted, all but two of those wins have come against the Astros and Rangers, who are in a heated battle for the “Worst Run Differential” crown, but that in itself is a big deal: The Halos are actually beating the teams they’re supposed to beat!

The big test (for now) will be to see if the club can keep things going when the Mariners come back into town on Friday. Seattle has trounced the Angels thus far this season, and actually appear to be a much better team now than they were at the start of the year. If the squad can survive the gauntlet of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and… uhh… Chris Young, then maybe setting our sights beyond just a Wild Card spot won’t be quite as unreasonable as we initially thought. Lord knows the Angels would love to escape another scenario where they’d have to face a Mariners ace in a one-off game to decide who advances to the Division Series…

Revisiting “Angels in the Outfield,” 20 Years Later

July 14th, 2014

“That’s where your career is going to end up, Mr. Glover.”

Twenty years ago tomorrow, Disney released Angels in the Outfield, a movie that nobody has watched in at least 16 years. Unlike the ironic joy people of a certain age take from the loathsome Space Jam (I am one of these people), Angels in the Outfield never developed that cult following, even though it’s really not that much worse than Space Jam. Angels’ domestic box office take was only $50 million and it peaked at #4 at the box office in its opening weekend behind a who’s-who of 90s cinema: True Lies, Forrest Gump, and The Lion King. In fifth place, we have Speed. Four of those top five at the box office have an afterlife that extends through today. True Lies is many people’s favorite James Cameron movie, and with seemingly dozens of Avatar sequels in the works, possibly his last relatively modest success rather than box office behemoth. Gump won all the Oscars and is probably on AMC right now. The Lion King has a Broadway musical. Speed’s 20-year anniversary a few weeks ago sparked internet nostalgia and remembrances.

Then there’s Angels in the Outfield, the 1994 summer movie misfit. Based on the eponymous 1951 film — starring Psycho’s shower-taker Janet Leigh and focusing on the Pittsburgh Pirates — the story seems more or less the same, just with a male lead character and an American League team. If you don’t remember the plot, here’s the gist: a boy in foster care is told by his dad that if the last-place Angels somehow win the pennant, then they can be a family again; the boy prays that God will help the Angels win; God sends angels (lowercase) to help the Angels (uppercase) win. Fin.

Given this was one of my favorite childhood movies, I decided to re-watch it to see how it holds up. The answer is…not great. But I took notes during, so below you’ll find my reactions while watching this forgotten masterpiece movie.

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.

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