We kicked this whole thing off with a Matt Welch interview here, soldiered on through Hurricane Sandy with Garrett Wilson being awesome here and today we keep it rolling with Chuck Richter from AngelsWin.com.
Chuck is both the founder, and the editor of AngelsWin.com, one of the premier Angels blogs on the web. An inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, he wears his Angels heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to vent those feelings into the twittersphere or the blogoverse (Pretty sure I just made that last one up). So, without further adieu, Chuck Richter.
Peter Bourjos was the hot ticket on the block for the Angels up until July 31st. This offseason, it looks like Bourjos will be joined by Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales on the block. Each one could bring in a very valuable piece. Which one (you have to pick one) would you trade this offseason to upgrade the Halos going into 2013?
First off let me say that Bourjos is one of my favorite players on the Halos. Peter is an absolute game changer in the outfield — a future gold glove winner — and could be a decent player offensively, but I feel it would behoove the Angels to deal him to a team that has a spot for him in CF in an effort to land a solid return to bolster one of the 3B, SP or RP spots. I believe the Angels should re-sign Torii Hunter, keep Mark Trumbo in LF, Mike Trout in CF. I know Trumbo disappeared in the 2nd half at the plate, but both Morales’ and Trumbo’s offensive potential would be tough to replace. My question to anyone who doesn’t want to re-sign Torii Hunter is: Who replaces his production in the 2-hole on the Halos? Hunter was a big reason the Angels even had a chance at the wild card spot in September. Without Torii the Angels are battling the Mariners for last place in the AL West. I like Kole Calhoun as a solid lefty off the bench and Travis Witherspoon as a late inning defensive replacement like we saw from Bourjos this past season. Witherspoon’s bat isn’t major league ready, but he can’t do much worse at the plate than Bourjos did this past season and his range and glove in centerfield is nearly on par.
I’m simply a staff writer, and couldn’t imagine the hard work and dedication it takes when running a blog. What, for you, is the most gratifying thing about where AngelsWin is now compared to when you started?
There are several really. The growth of the website in terms of membership and discussion will always rank high in terms of feeling gratified. The Angels issuing me a full media credential in 2009 for AngelsWin.com was an incredible experience. Tim Mead noted that it was the first time the organization issued a media pass to a blogger/fan site. I was both humbled and honored. Now several of our writers have been credentialed and covered several stories, captured some incredible interviews with the players, coaches and former players roaming about the press box, field and clubhouse. I would say that earning the Angels trust is the most gratifying thing about our website from where it began and now. Tim Mead’s annual talks to us in spring training and under the Halo every summer is an absolute rich time of information being bestowed upon all of us in attendance. There’s some knowledge of stuff that not even the media shares with its readers. Also, its not often you get the owner of any professional team to stop by your web events and talk to the fans, but Arte Moreno fielded questions in front of a crowd of 130 AngelsWin.com members & Angels fans for 45 minutes this past March. Definitely one of my favorite website moments I’ve experienced since I started AngelsWin.com back in 2003.
Jerry Dipoto spent a lot of Arte Moreno’s money last offseason on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. It’s hard to argue against picking up those two and adding them to an already strong roster. Not everyone however is a big fan of spending money on the market with prices for top notch players going through the roof faster than prices at the gas pump. How would you approach roster construction? Would you go out and sign the big ticket free agent, or would you build your club from within?
Well one can argue that the two toughest teams to beat this season were the World Series Champion SF Giants & the AL West Oakland A’s, both of which had a majority of their top contributors built from within. Be that as it may, you need a good balance of filling voids on your club via free agency & trades, while trying to produce your own talent through the draft & international scouting.
With Torii Hunter looking for an extension, and Dan Haren and Ervin Santana seemingly on the outs, there are quite a few questions surrounding these three. It’s hard to imagine the Angels roster without Torii, and quality pitching is incredibly hard to find. Who, if any, would you bring back, and at what cost?
Torii Hunter is a must re-sign. As I alluded to earlier, who replaces his offensive production? His defense in right field is solid and in my opinion, he provides leadership in a way that we haven’t seen since Erstad roamed the clubhouse. One of my pet peeves is seeing players smiling after a strikeout or giddy in the dugout after a failed RISP at bat. You never see Torii doing any of those things! I would see if Haren could restructure his contract and if so, sign him. Haren is at this stage of his career a good back end innings eater. I would let Ervin Santana walk. We all talk about Pujols’ slow start and Mark Trumbo’s disappearing act in the 2nd half, the bullpen collapses, but can you imagine if Haren and Santana were as good as they were in 2011? The difference could easily meant a playoff berth in 2012. Santana is just too inconsistent and gives up too many bombs.
Mike Trout should win the MVP this year; he might get hosed because of Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown season though. But, that begs the question? How good will Trout be next year? Do you expect him to have the fabled sophomore slump? Or is our no longer budding superstar’s only trajectory up?
Trout is one of the players that I can’t see going into prolonged slumps because of his speed, short compact stroke and his ability to go the other way (with power even). I don’t expect a sophomore slump. In fact – and I know it sounds crazy scary – I think Mike Trout has a better 2013 than this past season based on him getting nearly a full season of major league experience under his belt. There is no player better on the Angels (maybe in all of baseball) who makes better adjustments at the plate. By the way, Mike Trout should win the MVP. To me ‘most valuable’ is a player who can run, hit, field and do all of those at a very high level. Miguel Cabrera is a great hitter, but that’s where the discussion about him ends.
Are Mariners fans as depressing as they are perceived?
I feel bad for Seattle Mariners fans. They’re pretty upbeat and fun to be around early in the season. They know their team sucks, but like every spring, there’s always hope right? As the season progresses you see more grumpy faces in the stands, but most of them are there to root their team on and play the role of the spoiler. If I was a fan of the Mariners, between the weather & lack of success, I may check out like Kurt Cobain – who coincidently is from up here.
Living in the northwest, I’m sure you see about as much wildlife as I do living in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. You tweeted a picture of Elk once on your property. How often do you see Elk, or any other woodland creature for that matter?
I may complain about the weather during the winter, but it can’t be beautiful and green in the spring/summertime without a little rain right? There’s all kinds of wildlife up here. Tons of Elk, black bear, bald eagles and even cougar. I see them pretty often, well expect cougar, but hear stories. I knew I was meant to be here after the first day I moved in. I was sitting on a wooden lawn chair in the morning overlooking the Snoqualmie River which flows through my backyard. I just took a sip of my coffee and out of nowhere this majestic Bald Eagle descends from the sky and snatches a rainbow trout out of the river, flying off with it in its talons. That was one of those jaw dropping moments that you wish you could get an instant replay of, but will forever be remembered. The bear crossing the highway and Elk popping its head up while I was chillin’ on my back deck was pretty awesome too!
Mike Scioscia spent a lot of time on the hot seat this year. Whether he deserved it or not is beside the point, because he was under a microscope before the season started. I gave him a pass on 2012, and I think he should’ve gotten one considering all the good faith he has earned throughout his tenure as skipper. If 2013 however, is a mirror image of 2012, should Scioscia be fired for the sake of bringing in new blood?
This is a tough one because I second guess Scioscia’s decisions all the time. He’s a bit stubborn with regards to sticking with HIS guys a bit too long (see Jeff Mathis). I think the way he manages the bullpen has gotten worse. There were several times this past season that Scioscia seemed to fall asleep in the dugout with regards to making decisions. You could also argue that he’s reigned in small ball a bit too much too. I would have liked to have seen more hit and running this season. There were many times when Bourjos or other average to above average runner was on first base only to get double off. Be that as it may, who replaces Scioscia if he’s let go after another disappointing season? There comes a time when the players themselves have to be held accountable for the team’s failures. Scioscia has a ton of baseball experience and is the only Angels manager to get the club to the World Series and win it.
One of the things I miss about Southern California is In N’ Out. There’s a burger joint in New Jersey that I’ve been too that, no joke, sells a burger that is the size of a plate. What is the burger joint scene like in Washington?
Triple XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah is my favorite burger joint. So many different delicious options to choose from, but my favorite is the Low Rider Burger for $9.95. I love their fries an outdoor atmosphere too. Also, Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky in Seattle is known for their fried chicken, but their $19 Spring Hill burger, named after the restaurant’s original name, is without a doubt the best up here. It’s a half-pound of freshly ground, applewood grilled chuck, house-cured bacon, artisan cheeses and a grilled English muffin. A big pickle crowns the whole thing.
Howie Kendrick has three more seasons left on his contract, Erick Aybar’s extension kicks in next year. I’m happy with the way that Aybar pulled himself up and finished the season as strong as anyone could hope for. Kendrick on the other hand, seemed to disappear more often than the Statue of Liberty at a David Copperfield performance when he was at bat in high leverage situations. What do you think of the deals? Would you have extended these two players? Or would you have rolled the dice on Jean Segura and Alexi Amarista in 2013?
I was for both deals when Dipoto signed them to extensions and Aybar made good on his big payday after a slow start, but Kendrick may have been the most frustrating Angels player to watch in 2012. His approach at the plate was terrible in 2012, as was his execution with RISP. I don’t know if I’ve cursed more at my TV screen than I did this past season, most of the expletives stemming from Kendrick’s at bats or miscues defensively. Maybe he was trying to live up to the contract so let’s see how well he fares in 2013, though I wouldn’t be pissed if Kendrick was traded for a second base prospect and bullpen arm. I’d also love to see Callaspo moved back to second base (his old position) with Kendrick + exchanging addresses for a more productive third baseman in an effort to give a boost in production to the third base position.
Rapid Fire Round
Spring or fall?
I love spring training and all the excitement that comes with it after a long offseason, but if your team is playing in October it was a good season!
Mark Gubizca or Mitch Williams (As announcers and pitchers)?
Mitch Williams! Would love to see ‘The Wild Thing’ in the broadcast booth for the Halos with Victor Rojas! Gubi doesn’t do it for me in the booth. Great guy though!
Woods or beach?
I love both the beach and the woods, so I made it a goal to own a home in and on both. Success!
Watch ESPN or walk on hot coals?
I can’t tell you the last time I watched Sportscenter. I only check out BSPN when the Halos are playing on the network or a football game of interest is on. Walking on coals sounds like a good time!
Better Fu Manchu, Al Hrabosky or Goose Gossage?
The Goose! True story, I struck out 11 and threw a no-hitter in a six inning compete game victory when I was 11 years old. I did so sporting my violent windup crafted after the great Goose Gossage.
Season one of the Jerry Dipoto Era is in the books. What grade would you give him and why?
A for effort as Jerry landed the best hitter and pitcher on the open market, signed a solid catcher in Iannetta, traded for Zack Greinke and Ernesto Frieri. B- overall. Bottom line is, the bullpen cost the Angels a trip to the playoffs. Dipoto failed to improve a bullpen that was terrible in 2011, mediocre in 2010 and the Angels missed the playoffs for the third straight season due to more late inning meltdowns.
Thank you Chuck for being a part of this. Up next for the conclusion of the Angels Roundtable is Eric Denton, full time editor, and part time TMZ’er running LAANGELSINSIDER.com.