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Mar 11, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds watches batting practice before the game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. The game was postponed due to rain after 4 innings. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Angels Roundtable: Eric Denton

This has been one incredibly hectic week, as anyone who lives on the east coast could probably attest too. Luckily, where I live, Hurricane Sandy just brought a bunch of wind. And, thanks to Twitter, Both Jason and Saxon came out of the storm with two thumbs way way up (according to Saxon, the part of Brooklyn he lives in was “bumping” the next morning. Kids and their sayings). Looks like mother nature only has an issue with MJ. You might want to consider sacrificing a chicken down their in the Quarter Mr. Lloyd.

Sep 1, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 1st inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Now that we are all aware of the staff’s recent weather issues, let’s carry on. The roundtable interviews began with Matt Welch here, soldiered on with Garrett Wilson here, and then we got to know a little about Chuck Richter and fu manchu’s here. Today, we conclude this round of awkward questioning with the Editor and all around good guy, Mr. Eric Denton of LAANGELSINSIDER.com.

Along with AngelsWin.com, Eric and the insider have press credentials, giving him access to things that the rest of us simply are not privy too, and making me incredibly jealous at the same time (note to self: get press credentials). So, last but certainly not least, I present to you good people of the Jury, Eric Denton.

Earlier this week, Tom Kotchman resigned from his role with the Angels. For some, it is just another minor league manager calling it quits, for the rest of us, we are well aware of what Tom brought as an instructor and molder of young talent. How hard will it be to replace what Kotch brought to the organization?

Kotchman brought 34 years of stability to the Angels minor league system so from that stand point he’s irreplaceable. Kotchman had a hand in molding almost every homegrown Angel for a long time. However, I don’t believe Dipoto forced him out, but it looks as if Jerry wants to purge the farm system and put his guys in place. Which, as general manager, he has every right to.

Zack Greinke as locked in as you could get down the stretch in 2012, right behind him were Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Zack is reportedly the Angels top priority this winter while the other two are likely to have their club options declined. Who do you keep out of those three, and who do you let walk?

Greinke is obviously the top priority. Dipoto can probably sign replacements for Haren and Santana at a lower cost. Hopefully the rumors are true and Dipoto is able to trade one or both. If I was the GM and didn’t have to watch a budget I would exercise Haren’s option over Santana. That said, Dipoto does so I expect neither to return to the Angels. If the Angels can lock up Greinke to go with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, that’s not a bad start to the offseason. I could see them signing a veteran and leaving the 5th spot to Garret Richards or Jerome Williams.

What was your initial reaction when the Ervin Santana trade news broke?

I was not surprised. It was pretty clear this was going to be his final season in Anaheim. Sisk, could give the club a potential lefty specialist out of the pen. Ervin will probably do well for KC. He’ll be missed amongst the press and the Angels staff. A good guy, who was always willing to talk.

Peter Bourjos will probably find himself on the trading block again this winter, and with Mark Trumbo’s epic slump and Kendrys Morales’ surprising return, they too could be coveted commodities. Who would you move, if you moved any of them?

Personally, I would keep my options open on Trumbo and Bourjos. They are young and cheap. Dipoto could probably get quite a bit for Trumbo. Do the Angels sell high on Trumbo believing that his 2nd half slump is the true Trumbo? I don’t see any reason to move Morales. The team needs left-handed power in the lineup. With a full year back under his belt, Morales could be back to 2009 form.

Kendrys Morales should have been named Comeback Player of the Year (There I said it), instead, Fernando Rodney and Adam Dunn won for the MLB and Sporting News awards respectively. Do you think he got robbed, or am I blowing this thing out of proportion?

Sept. 23, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales (8) meets designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) at home after a 2-run home run in the sixth inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

I agree. Let’s not beat around the bush. Morales came back from a career threatening injury. Dunn and Rodney came back from nothing more than “bruised talent”. In my mind, Morales and Joe Mauer were the clear Comeback Players of the Year.

We fans are a crazy bunch, and if I had my way, I would’ve named one of my sons new fish Mike. Would you name a pet after a player? And if so, which one?

We have two dogs but neither is named after an Angel. We did have a cockatiel named Percy, but he is no longer with us. I did name our fish “Lord Stanley” after the LA Kings win.

Did you get a chance to go to any of the Stanley Cup Playoff games? If so, how rockin was the Staples Center?

I did not get to go because they swept St. Louis. Staples gets rocking without the assistance of a winning team or thunderstix for Kings games.

What is, by far, the hardest thing to deal with during the offseason? Besides the obvious “no baseball,” we all know that sucks.

I enjoy the break. The Hot Stove stuff is very fun. All the speculation of who will sign where or trades is all a good time. As far as missing the games, the offseason is sometimes the best part of the year. See – Angels, Los Angeles 2012.

When the Alex Rodriguez trade rumors started swirling during the ALCS, Angels fans took to the interwebs championing an A-Rod for Vernon Wells trade. We all want Vernon to go bye bye, but I would not make that trade. Are there any players that you would NOT trade Vernon Wells for?

I can’t think of one. The Angels have outfield depth. From my perspective Vernon is blocking a guy like Kole Calhoun from a major league role, roster spot and paycheck. From a professional side, I will say Vernon has been one of the best guys to talk with and from all appearances fit in very well with his teammates. It’s a shame it hasn’t worked out.

Mickey Hatcher finally got fired this year. Now my irrational “hate for a coach” has been aimed towards Mike Butcher. I’d give anything to have Bud Black back except that won’t happen. Do you think Butch has a negative impact on the staff? Or is his impact minimal?

I’m not the type who calls for firings, I usually place the blame on the players. However, going back to our earlier conversation, how does Fernando Rodney go from atrocious to dominant? Who takes responsibility for the Scott Kazmir disaster? Is Ervin Santana that hard to keep focused? Angels might have also made the wrong call not promoting Hatcher to bench coach after Ron Roenicke left. Hatcher was Mike’s confidante and “devil’s advocate”. Not sure there is one there now.

Kaleb Cowart was named the Angels number one prospect at the end of 2012, rightfully so if you ask me. My timeline has him breaking in to the big leagues to start the 2014 season, just in time for Alberto Callaspo to hit free agency. Do you think that would be rushing him, or do you think he is progressing quickly enough to handle that quick ascension?

Cowart struggled his first couple seasons as a pro but he had a break out year for the 66er’s. I don’t think 2014 is rushing him. Major League players are getting younger and younger by the season. Cowart is a fine fielder and a switch hitter with power at third. Angels need him ASAP. I would not be shocked if he plays at three levels this season (AA, AAA & Sept call up).

Next year, the Angels get to play the Houston Astros 18 times. I’ve pinched myself several times trying to wake up from this dream (I have the welts to prove it), but it seems to be actually happening. How excited are you to see our boys play against that dreadful team?

I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with these Houston Astros. If MLB was run like European Soccer the Astros would be kicked out of the league. With the Angels luck they’ll go 2-16 against Houston for no good reason.

Rapid Fire Round

Worse looking frosted tips, Kevin Millar or A.J. Pierzynski?

A.J.

More endearing short person, Jose Altuve or Ken Rosenthal?

Me

Favorite Angel you’ve met?

Torii Hunter.

No question. I’ve had the chance to meet Salmon & Anderson now that they are broadcasters and I am happy to say they didn’t disappoint either.

Tim Salmon, Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds or Darin Erstad?

I’m going to catch heat but Jim Edmonds was my favorite at the time they were all together.

Which collapse hurt worse, 1982, 1986 or 1995?

1995 because I was old enough for it to truly hurt. 1982 I didn’t fully understand. 1986 was shocking. 95 was such a roller coaster. Huge lead, big tank, final surge to tie Seattle, then the Halos ran into RJ.

Final Thought:

In my opinion, the bullpen is the most important thing the Dipoto needs to address going into 2013. What, in your opinion, should Dipoto spend the bulk of his time this offseason trying to fix?

I’m in full agreement. Dipoto needs to find some relievers in their prime to help out Jepsen, Downs and Frieri. Los Angeles does have some good arms in the minors that could help, but they pen is pretty devoid of veterans. It’s a tricky balancing act. Relievers are like punters. They are replaceable and almost never consistent year to year.

One last question. What is throwbacks? Are you an owner, or is it just a frequented water hole that Angels fans should know about?

Throwbacks is co-owned by Angel Talk host Jason Brennan. It’s hosted many Angel autograph signings and was the home of the Rex Hudler Show on AM830KLAA. It’s been a great spot for the Twitter #AngelsFamily to get together and meet in person. That’s probably been the most rewarding part of doing LA Angels Insider. Putting faces to the Twitter handles of Angel fans I’ve interacted with over the last 3 seasons.

Thank you Eric for taking the time to answer my questions, and for patiently waiting for me to get my act together and get the questions to you.

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