In his first offseason as general manager, Billy Eppler learned how to stretch a dollar. He entered the Angels' offseason with a variety of holes in the lineup, a payroll that was close to maxing out -- which in this case meant reaching the $189 million luxury-tax threshold -- and a farm system that wasn't going to be much help.
Eppler dealt a pair of top prospects early, jumping at the opportunity to fix shortstop long term, then he had to get creative. He needed to rely on the free-agent market, but mostly had to scrape the bottom of the barrel. He had to build depth, but needed to do it with minor trades, waiver-wire claims or Rule 5 pickups.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels dealt utility infielder Taylor Featherston to the Phillies on Wednesday, acquiring a player to be named or cash considerations for their former Rule 5 Draft pick. Featherston was designated for assignment last week in order to create room on the 40-man roster for lefty reliever Christian Friedrich.
The move was a bit surprising, considering Featherston spent all of last season in the Majors, partly so the Angels could keep him in the organization long term. Featherston would've had to be offered back to his original club -- the Rockies -- if he was taken off the active roster at any point in 2015, but entered 2016 with three option years, which would've allowed him to get some much-needed seasoning in Triple-A.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 18, it's time to dissect the Angels' 2016 roster. This is the sixth of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backup options heading into the season. Last, but certainly not least: starting pitching. (previously: catcher, corner infield, middle infield, outfield, bullpen)
ANAHEIM -- In an ideal world, the Angels would've used some of their starting-pitching depth to add an impact bat to their unstable lineup. They still might. But with nine days left until Spring Training, they still haven't, because the old baseball axiom, "You can't have too much starting pitching," still holds true, and because the Angels have a lot of uncertainty in their starting rotation.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels officially unveiled their promotional calendar on Tuesday, a slate that includes three Mike Trout-related giveaways and another attempt to set a Guinness World Record -- this time for the use of selfie sticks.
Single-game tickets for the 2016 season will go on sale Saturday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m. PT through Angels.com or the ballpark's on-site ticket office.
There are two distinct ways you can choose to look at this upcoming Angels team, though the best approach usually resides somewhere in the middle. You can be pessimistic and lament the fact that they didn't attain the marquee bat they needed to keep pace in an ever-improving American League West, or you can be optimistic and consider that they fell one game shy of the postseason last year despite a rough August and underperformances throughout the roster.
A bevy of players -- players with good track records, in fact -- are coming off down years and are in need of a rebound. If they do bounce back, perhaps the Angels will find out that they didn't really need that shiny new left fielder or that accomplished new second baseman.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels claimed lefty reliever Christian Friedrich from the Rockies on Friday and designated infielder Taylor Featherston for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster. Friedrich, who is out of options, will compete for a bullpen role in Spring Training. Featherston could be lost to another club, 14 months after getting selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
The 28-year-old Friedrich has posted a 5.81 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 2.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 167 1/3 innings in the Majors from 2012-15, but those numbers are likely inflated by the hitter-friendly conditions of Coors Field. Left-handed hitters have posted only a .678 OPS against him, compared to .908 for righties.
ANAHEIM -- Angels special assistant Bobby Scales is young enough, lucky enough, to have only heard about the plight of African-Americans secondhand. His mother grew up in Michigan and told him about how the 1967 Detroit riots took place right outside her door. His father went to segregated schools in suburban Atlanta and remembered how all his books were outdated hand-me-downs.
"You hear those stories, and it's powerful, man," Scales said. "It makes you want to do better. It makes you want to do whatever you need to do to make this world a better place."
ANAHEIM -- Former All-Star outfielder Garret Anderson will join Chuck Finley and Tyler Skaggs for "Moving Day" at Angel Stadium, the team announced Thursday.
"Moving Day," free to the public, celebrates the Angels packing up their equipment truck for the 365-mile drive to Tempe, Ariz., unofficially signaling the start of Spring Training. This year's event will be held Thursday, Feb. 11, in the ballpark parking lot (beyond left field, near Tunnel B) from 12-2 p.m. PT.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 18, it's time to dissect the Angels' 2016 roster. This is the fifth of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backup options heading into the season. (Previously: catcher, corner infield, middle infield, bullpen)
ANAHEIM -- The Angels received above-average production at only one of the nine positions last year, and still they weren't mathematically eliminated until the final day of the regular season.
Guerrero takes field with family, excited for 2017 Hall of Fame ballot
By Jesse Sanchez
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Five men wearing authentic baseball jerseys and the name Guerrero stitched across their backs emerged from the visiting dugout at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal on Wednesday night, but only one of them had the familiar stride and head bob that could bring fans to their feet.
Vladimir Guerrero, who will be 41 next Tuesday, tugged on his white jersey with Dominican Republic written across his chest and adjusted his white baseball pants. He pulled up his blue socks to his knees and tipped his black hat to the crowd as he walked to his seat near the first-base line.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' first-round pick in 2015, Taylor Ward, and No. 3-ranked prospect Nate Smith are among the Angels' 20 non-roster invites for Spring Training, the team announced Tuesday.
Ward, a 22-year-old catcher, was drafted 26th overall last June and batted .348/.457/.438 for Rookie-level Orem and Class A Burlington the rest of the summer. Ward ranks fifth in the Angels' system, according to MLBPipeline.com. He's still at least a couple years away, but first-round picks are typically invited to the ensuing Spring Training to allow the Major League coaches an up-close look.
ANAHEIM -- In the spirit of Groundhog Day, former Angels general manager Bill Stoneman was asked about the one trade he still regrets, and he struggled to come up with an answer. The Angels won a World Series and made the playoffs four times in his eight years at the helm, and Stoneman was mainly known for not making trades.
"My philosophy was, really, to build it from within," Stoneman said. "That was a philosophy that I arrived here with, and I continued to operate with that."
ANAHEIM -- Billy Eppler was 17 years old when his mom popped in a tape of a motivational speech from legendary football coach Lou Holtz. In it, Holtz talked about compiling a wish list, and how after a while, if you looked at it often enough, that wish list turned into a sheet of obtainable concrete goals.
"I remember sitting down at the kitchen table that day," Eppler said, "and I just started writing down everything I wanted to do with my life."
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 18, it's time to dissect the Angels' 2016 roster. This is the fourth of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backup options heading into the season. Next up: middle infield. (previously: catcher, corner infield, bullpen)
ANAHEIM -- On one side of second base, the Angels have one of the premier defensive players in the game. On the other side, well, not so much.
ANAHEIM -- FOX Sports West will televise a record 31 Angels spring games this year, the regional sports network announced on Thursday.
FOX Sports West will air 27 of the 30 Cactus League games, with only the road half of three split-squad games exempt. It'll then broadcast three of the four exhibition games from Southern California, on April 1 and 2 against the Dodgers and on April 3 against the Cubs. The March 31 game from Dodger Stadium will air on its sister channel, Prime Ticket.
ANAHEIM -- Manipulation of the Angels' 40-man roster continued on Wednesday, with Minor League third baseman Jefry Marte acquired from the Tigers and Minor League second baseman Ronald Torreyes, added two days earlier, designated for assignment in order to clear a roster spot.
Marte, who played in 33 games for the Tigers last season, was acquired for second-base prospect Kody Eaves, previously ranked 22nd in the Angels' system by MLB.com. He represents the 18th player added to the Angels' 40-man roster by new general manager Billy Eppler this offseason.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels avoided arbitration with Kole Calhoun on Tuesday night, signing their right fielder to a $3.4 million contract for 2016 and thus taking care of all their arbitration-eligible players, a source told MLB.com.
Calhoun's side originally filed for $3.9 million when teams and players exchanged figures on Jan. 15, while the Angels countered at $2.35 million. The agreement is $275,000 above the midpoint and marks the fifth straight year that the Angels have avoided an arbitration hearing.
ANAHEIM -- On Tuesday night the Mets formally announced a new three-year contract with Yoenis Cespedes, suppressing any hope that the Angels would take advantage of a free-agent market that was tailored to address their greatest need.
Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Chris Davis and Cespedes would have all satisfied the Angels' desire for a corner outfielder and middle-of-the-order bat. But owner Arte Moreno opted to stay below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, forcing new general manager Billy Eppler to find creative solutions and subsequently disappointing a large segment of his fan base.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels officially said goodbye to fan favorite Efren Navarro on Tuesday, trading him to the Orioles for cash considerations.
Navarro, a left-handed-hitting first baseman who can also play the outfield corners, was designated for assignment last week in order to create room on the 40-man roster for new reliever Al Alburquerque. Baltimore then claimed Navarro off waivers, prompting the trade.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 18, it's time to dissect the Angels' 2016 roster. This is the third of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backup options heading into the season. Next up: the bullpen (previously: catcher, corner infield).
ANAHEIM -- From 1970-79, 255 pitchers threw at least 250 innings in a season. In the 1980s, that total dropped to 109 pitchers. In the '90s, it was 33. From 2000-09, there were seven. And since 2010, there have only been two. Two. That's just one of several ways to illustrate a widely understood trend: Starting pitchers are utilized less frequently and bullpens are increasingly more important.
Five baseball oddities for the X-Files to investigate
By Michael Clair |
On Sunday night, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will return to their basement office and officially reopen the X-Files. Because, as we all know, the truth is out there, and we just need the FBI's two most intrepid agents to hunt it down.
While they will likely spend their time focusing on secret government conspiracies instead of baseball (even though they have tread that ground before), here are the five things that we need them to investigate right now.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels and starting pitcher Garrett Richards avoided arbitration on Thursday, coming to terms on a $6.425 million contract for 2016, a source told MLB.com.
Richards, who could end up as the Opening Day starter, went 15-12 with a 3.65 ERA in 207 1/3 innings in 2015, his first season removed from major knee surgery. When figures were formally exchanged on Friday, the Angels filed for $5.3 million, and Richards' representative, Fred Wray of Relativity Sports, countered with $7.1 million.
Since his full-time emergence on the Major League scene as the Angels' otherworldly center fielder in 2012, Mike Trout has been, among other things, the "King of the Road," seizing that title from Miguel Cabrera.
Over the past four seasons in road tests, where the playing field levels for everyone, Trout leads the sport in slugging (.572), runs (457), runs created (8.59 per 27 outs), total bases (695) and on-base plus slugging (.974) -- all by substantial margins.
Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
For this year only, Trade Deadline to be Aug. 1
Adjustment made because July 31 falls on a Sunday
By Tom Singer
This is a leap year, and for Major League Baseball, it will mean a one-day leap in the annual non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline this season will be moved to Aug. 1 from the traditional July 31 -- which in 2016 falls on a Sunday. The deadline is 4 p.m. ET, and on July 31, there are seven games scheduled to begin between 1-1:30, five between 2-3:30 and three at 4. There are only eight games on Aug. 1, all of which are night games.