With the Winter Meetings coming to a close last week, moves were made and money was spent. I’m going to go over some moves the Angels made and how it could effect the team in the short run and in the near future. Let’s indulge.
My boy Anthony Rendon, who has one of my favorite quotes; ” “I don’t watch baseball — it’s too long and boring,” finally got his ticket signing with the Angles for 7 years, $245 million to play along side baseball’s best player in Mike Trout who is also under a very large contract, so you might have heard. Between just Rendon and Trout for the 2020 season, the Angles will be committing $61.5 million to just those two players. Not including Justin Upton’s $21 million he will be making in 2020 as well that pushes that total up to $82.5 million….. for three players. Best part about this whole conversation is I almost forgot to mention the biggest piece of all, do you know who I am referring to? I’ll give you a hint: He WAS one of the best hitters in baseball for about 10 years and then got paid and father time caught up with him. The man is Albert Pujols.
Pujols signed that massive 10 year, $240 million contract back in 2012 that was extremely back loaded. Pujols started out making $12 million back in 2012 and when his last year on his contract hits which will be in 2021, when he is 41 years old may I add, he will be bringing in $30 million right on the dot not including any bonuses. Back to my point, Pujols will be raking in $29 million, so added on to the contracts of Trout, Rendon, Upton, AND Pujols, the Angles are committed, in just the year 2020, to $111.5 million between FOUR hitters. Unbelievable when you start to put everything together. I mean, the Tampa Bay Rays probably haven’t spent that much money in 3 total years on players.
However, with the signing of Rendon, this allows the Angels some protection behind or in front of Trout in the order so he won’t be walking 110 times again. Or he will and he will once again lead the American League in OBP for the fifth year in a row. Incredible.
The Angels have a pretty solid lineup if Tommy La Stella can find the same stroke he had before he went down with a fractured right tibia that ended his 2019 All-Star campaign. La Stella has never before been as good as hitter as we saw last year, so there is some risk but if he can get back to that form of Tommy La Stella, it could only help. With the best fielding shortstop in the American League in Andrelton Simmons, things could be worse from an offensive perspective. Simmons will do his usual batting anywhere from .260-.290 with not a lot of power but his defense makes up for anything he cannot provide offensively. Justin Upton seems to always be the wild card. Dude has so much talent and unfortunately falls on his face every other year with injuries usually coming in the way. Another injury plagued season haunted Upton last year as he only appeared in 63 games and slashed a lowly .215/.309/.416 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. The 32 walks are not bad given the amount of games he played but when comparing his 78 strikeouts, it doesn’t look so good. In a full season that walk total could come close to 90-100 and if that’s the case it wouldn’t be so bad. But when you are hitting in the middle of the order and are going to strikeout around 180 times a year, things could be better.
The pitching needs improvement. It’s no secret when your ace is Andrew Heaney (Ohtani won’t pitch enough to be considered an ace yet) that pitching needs some help. Heaney has good stuff. He’s a tall lanky lefty with a three pitch repertoire, fastball, slider, change-up, and has yet to hit his full stride in the big leagues. Coming up on his sixth big league season, this is the time to put it all together as he is also available for his fourth year of arbitration and could strike it big with a nice contract following a productive year. If Heaney can stay healthy, he is a good bounce back candidate. Behind Heaney in the rotation sits newly acquired Dylan Bundy, just recently traded from the Orioles for four minor league players. Bundy isn’t the pitcher he was when he skyrocketed through the Orioles farm system at the young ripe age of just 19 but he is almost as durable as they come as he has averaged 152.7 innings pitched in his last four years in Baltimore. Can’t forget about Shohei Ohtani but as a two-way player he will be utilized a tad different depending on how the Angels want to push him.
The bullpen is a weak spot for the Angels. The Angles as a team had the fifth worst ERA in baseball sitting at a nice 5.12 ERA. The Angels were in 29th place in HR/9 given up at 1.7, only in front of a Baltimore Orioles staff (1.9 HR/9) that was historically bad throughout the entire 2019 season, not great company to be with. Closer Hansel Robles has now had two back to back good seasons with the Angels as last year he held a 2.48 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, 75 strikeouts compared to 16 walks all the while pitching 72.2 innings. Another bright spot in the bullpen for the Angels is 26 year old Kenyan Middleton. He throws a fastball that averages 96.4 MPH and a hard slider that averages 87.7 MPH. With him and Robles in the set-up closer roles, it gives the Angels something to build off of were they to try and make a run at the playoffs later in the 2020 season.
Well, I wasn’t expecting to do such a deep dive into the Angels but it kind of ended up that way. You don’t hear too much talk coming from there end besides having the greatest player on the planet and having the best two-way player baseball has ever seen. Besides that the Angels are just waiting for the baseball gods to send some good vibes their way so they can capitalize on a late season push. For now, they still have some areas they need to improve on. Thank you.