Apr 20, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout hits a solo home run in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-349334 ORIG FILE ID: 20170420_mjr_su5_029.JPG

 

 

The 30/30 Club

Club 13: Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels made a huge splash in the off-season – no, the biggest splash – by signing highly touted Japanese import Shohei Ohtani for six years at the league minimum in addition to their $2,315,000 international signing pool money.  Ohtani’s services were wanted by all 30 teams; however, the Angels were the team that made the biggest push even though there were other teams that had more money to offer.  Ohtani has been compared as the Japanese Babe Ruth, as he was a star hitter and pitcher for the Nippon Ham Fighters.  Ohtani will be the biggest story for the Angels, and probably in baseball, during the season as they navigate how best to utilize his skill set.

Past reports:

BaltimoreChicago ALHoustonAtlantaChicago NLArizona
BostonClevelandLos AngelesMiamiCincinnatiColorado
New York ALDetroitOaklandNew York NLMilwaukeeLos Angeles
Tampa BayKansas CitySeattlePhiladelphiaPittsburghSan Diego
TorontoMinnesotaTexasWashingtonSt. LouisSan Francisco

 

2017 Record: 80-82, 2nd in the American League West

Acquisitions: SP/DH Shohei Ohtani (international free agent), RP Jim Johnson (Trade – ATL), OF Rymer Liriano (minors – ST invite), 2B Ian Kinsler (Trade – DET), 3B Zack Cosart (free agent), SS Kevin Maitan (free agent – top prospect), C Rene Rivera (free agent), SP John Lamb (minors – ST invite), OF Chris Young, 1B Chris Carter (minors – ST invite), RF Jabari Blash (trade – NYY)

Departures: CL Bud Norris (free agent), RP Andrew Bailey (retirement), 3B Yunel Escobar (free agent), RP Jesse Chavez (free agent), 2B Brandon Phillips (free agent), RP Fernando Salas (free agent), RP Yusmeiro Petit (free agent), LF Bud Revere (free agent), SP Ricky Nolasco (free agent), RP Huston Street (free agent), CF Shane Robinson (free agent), 1B CJ Cron (trade – TB)

Projected Lineup:

2B Ian Kinsler

CF Mike Trout

LF Justin Upton

DH Albert Pujols

RF Kole Calhoun

3B Zack Cosart

1B Luis Valbuena

SS Andrelton Simmons

C Martin Maldonado

Projected Rotation:

SP Garrett Richards

SP Shohei Ohtani

SP Andrew Heaney

SP Tyler Skaggs

SP Matt Shoemaker

SP Nick Tropeano

Position Battles:

The only battle, and it may be an all-season battle, will be at the closer position, as the Angels have named young fireballer Blake Parker as their closer.  However, if he struggles (and as a young pitcher that is likely), the Angels did acquire former Braves and Orioles closer Jim Johnson who has experience in the closer role.

Outlook:

All eyes will be in Los Angeles this year as the Angels figure out what to do with Shohei Ohtani.  He’s currently being penciled in for the #2 slot in their rotation, but if his early spring struggles are any indication, he may end up being moved further down the line as the Angels go with a six-man rotation to accommodate what he is used to doing.  This may be a blessing in disguise for this team, as their rotation is filled with talent, but it is talent that has been injury prone up and down the rotation.  The only pitcher to make 30 starts for the Angels last year was Ricky Nolasco, and he’s no longer with the team.  Garrett Richards made 6 starts, Andrew Heaney made just 5, Tyler Skaggs made 16, Matt Shoemaker made 14 and Nick Tropeano missed the entire season.  Giving these guys the extra rest could be a huge benefit to this pitching staff, so their arms won’t have as much pressure put on them.

There are question marks about this offense as well.  Zack Cosart comes over from the Cincinnati Reds and is moving from shortstop to third base.  It is a transition we have seen some success with, from Cal Ripken to Manny Machado (who is moving back to shortstop this season), while other guys have failed in that transition.  His bat will play there though as he is coming off a career year in which he hit .297 with 24 home runs.  Then there is this Mike Trout guy, who has only finished in the top four in MVP voting every year since his rookie season.  However, they won’t get much production from 1B or catcher, so those might be positions they look to upgrade as their expectations are raised into possible playoff contention in 2018.