The last time I wrote about the Anaheim Angels I suggested that they trade a middle infielder and a relief pitcher, and they did – sending Alberto Callaspo and Scott Downs. I like the young middle infielder, Grant Green, that they got in return for Callaspo, but Downs was sent to Atlanta for a questionable pitcher in Cory Rasmus.
What should the Angles do now? Well I don’t think they should drop the “Anaheim” from their name and it has become clear to all of baseball that the real L.A. team is the Dodgers so if anything the Angels should stop pretending that they are in Los Angeles.
Should the Angels fire their longtime coach, Mike Scioscia? Or their General Manager, Jerry Dipoto? I think you can make an argument for firing Scioscia. It chaps me that he has not let some of his players, notably Erick Aybar, steal this year. And it appears that the players are tuning out Scioscia. Several MLB teams have benefited by hiring younger former players as coaches. Wouldn’t Tim Salmon be a great choice as a new manager for the Angels?
Dipoto was apparently forced by the Angels’ owner, Arte Moreno, to make awful long-term deals with Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. So I cannot blame him for those signings. And he did pick up a few pretty good players over the past two years, in the now lopsided trades for Jason Vargas, Ernesto Frieri and Dane De La Rosa. He also picked up free agent J.B. Shuck and he did not give away much in trading for Collin Cowgill.
The biggest mistake by Dipoto was not giving a well-deserved raise to the Angels’ brightest young star, Mike Trout, last year. Good luck signing Trout to a long term contract. He grew up in New York and you can bet that the Yankees will offer him a mint when he becomes a free agent.
The Angels are an aging team but they cannot easily get rid of Pujols or Hamilton. They do have some younger players coming up, and we have seen some of them, such as Kole Calhoun, this year due to the many injuries to veteran players.
Their pitching staff is now anchored by Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Jason Vargas. They need to resign the latter, who is headed to free agency. This is not a bad staff to build on but the signing of Joe Blanton was an awful mistake and the team is stuck for him for at least another year. I am confident that they can fill their fifth starting pitching slot next year with either Jerome Williams or Garrett Richards but they need to pick up a fourth starter to replace Blanton, who should be relegated to long relief. The relief pitchers could use some help and the closer, Frieri, has been good but at times he has not been reliable.
Going into next year they need to trade Howie Kendrick and if possible Aybar too, for younger parts. They absolutely should not trade Mark Trumbo, who grew up in Villa Park. But they should consider trade offers for Peter Bourjos, their brittle but talented outfielder.
Can the Angels contend next year? That is hard to say. The Seattle Mariners got a bit better this year but may lose some parts to free agency next year, such as Kendrys Morales. The Texas Rangers are loaded. They will get Nelson Cruz back from his steroid suspension next year and were able to pick up a nice player in Alex Rios from the White Sox,in a recent trade. The Oakland A’s are very loaded with young pitching and seem best poised to win the West for several years. And the Houston Astros won’t suck forever – they have been picking up a lot of young players and have a good management team in place. They could be dangerous in a couple years.