Los Angeles Angels Roundtable: Garrett Wilson

Two down, four to go. We kicked this series off on Monday, with an interview featuring Eric Denton. Yesterday, we turned the mic over to Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus. Today the spot light shifts to Garrett Wilson, editor and snark-master of Monkey With A Halo.

In November, the interview with Garrett hit the presses while Hurricane Sandy was on my doorstep. Today, it’s unbelievably hot, but the skies are clear. Suffice to say, I can no longer blame Mr. Wilson for the weather chaos I went through eight months ago. Consider yourself acquitted, Garrett.

The weather is nice and the time is right. Garrett Wilson, you are now on the clock.

“Keep calm, and light up the halo,” right? How long until we change it to “Keep calm, light up a torch, and let’s burn this mother down?”

I consider it to be more like “Keep calm, light up the ‘accidental’ electrical fire, burn down the garage, collect the insurance money and build an even better garage.” I want to be positive in light of the Angels’ recent hot streak. I just think they dug themselves too big of a hole to get out from. Still, there is no reason to blow up the roster (not that they could). This team is in World Series mode so we won’t see much more than minor upgrades that don’t impact the foundation.

The Angels were lucky to grab a first round talent in Hunter Green with their first pick in this year’s draft. What’s your take on the 17 year-old? And, how important was it for the Angels to not only sign him, but sign him for slot money?

I don’t really see the slot money issue being important. It is nice in that it allowed them to sign other members of the draft class, but it was more the cherry on top. The real treat is they FINALLY have a legit starting pitcher prospect in the system. They have some nice arms in Austin Wood, Mark Sappington, Mike Clevinger and Reid Scoggins, but none of their best arms are considered pure starters. It seems likely that most, if not all, of them will end up in relief. Green is still years away, but at least there is hope on the horizon now.

You’ve been running a series on your site profiling trade candidates on the Angels current roster. In your opinion, who is the most likely to be moved?

Can I cheat and say C.J. Cron? I know in my series I am talking about the Angels being sellers, but in the last two weeks, I think they might’ve screwed all that up, the bunch of jerks. How dare they make me look bad!

Anyway, I think they are now close enough to flip into “buyer” mode. If that is the case Cron is the most likely guy to go. He is one of their top prospects and he is all different kinds of blocked from ever reaching the majors with the team. I also think there is some urgency to move him before people start getting too suspicious about why his “light tower power” is playing more like “warning track power” this year.

If they do sell though, I think the one guy who definitely gets traded is Scott Downs. Contenders always need another quality lefty in the bullpen and the Angels would have no need for him in this his final year before free agency (or retirement?).

Ditto for extension candidates.

Trumbo, and I don’t even really think it is close. I know everyone wants them to extend Trout and I am confident that will happen eventually, but it is going to take time. Trumbo though has become such a fan favorite and a proven producer that I think the team will look to lock him up, if only for marketing purposes. Plus with the timeline of things, they need to talk with him about his first year of arbitration anyway this off-season, so he’ll have his extension conversation before it is even close to contract talk time with Trout.

Jason Vargas is a candidate, too, but I think it is more likely that they wait until the off-season and trap him with a qualifying offer like the Nationals did with Adam LaRoche last off-season.

Do you ever say Monkey With A Halo’s acronym (MWAH), and then follow it with a “ha ha ha” for the funsies of it?

Well, I do call myself the Supreme Overlord of Monkey With A Halo, so what do you think?

Back to regular sense. Peter Bourjos has blown my face clean off with his hitting this year. I expected him to hit with a batting average in the .280ish region. Are you surprised by the consistent contact that he has made this year? Even with having to come back from injuries?

No, not really. I have had an unhealthy mancrush on Bourjos since he got called up, so I have been in his corner for some time. His .404 BABIP is obviously unsustainable, but I don’t see a reason why he can’t be a solid hitter going forward. I think a lot of people forgot how productive he was in 2011 and simultaneously forgot that he was playing all of 2012 with hip and wrist injuries. Now, his current spate of injuries are a concern, but I take solace in the fact that they have all been of the freak variety, so it hopefully won’t become a chronic problem going forward.

Mark Trumbo’s swing-rates are down, his K-rate is down, his walk-rate is up, but his OPS is down. His ISO is right at his career norms, and he has a wOBA above .330. Is he the most confusing slugger ever?

I don’t think he is confusing so much as streaky. He is never going to be a guy that makes a lot of contact and as a result, he needs to have a sound approach to achieve success. That approach, to his credit, has evolved quite a bit since 2011. However, it makes him kind of a high maintenance hitter who is going to be vulnerable to prolonged slumps like he just had in June. It also means though that he should have prolonged hot streaks like he had to start the last two seasons. I didn’t believe in him as a rookie, but seeing the work both physically and mentally he has done the last two seasons has converted me.

After Mike Trout’s crazy/historical/best ever age-20 season, he is now on his way to having a crazy/historical/best ever age-21 season. OK, maybe. He has to top Rogers Hornsby’s 9.4 fWAR, but Dave Cameron thinks he will. I said we should be wary of expectations. You had said to hell with that. Here’s your chance to “Nelson Muntz” me and say “I told you so.”

I don’t really want to rub it in because I wasn’t exactly predicting greatness so much as preaching that maybe, just maybe, the guy who has been nothing short of phenomenal at every level of competition is probably not a guy you want to predict regression for until you see evidence of that regression. I simply felt that because he has never been NOT awesome, that I am going to continue to expect awesomeness until I see otherwise. In other words, I told you so.

Tommy Hanson is still very young, but he is also wildly inconsistent, and as he proved last month, still an injury risk. Would you consider him a non-tender candidate, or does he still have value to this team?

Yeah, he’s toast. I joked when he was acquired that his shoulder has the structural integrity of pudding, but now it looks like his elbow is going south too. He had triceps problems in camp and now he has forearm problems. He’s Tommy John surgery waiting to happen. While he might be able to muddle through and provide marginal value this season, it is hard to see the Halos holding on to him when he will be due for a raise of $1 million or more in arbitration (because arbitration is mind-numbingly stupid) in 2014. If they can’t find someone to take him off their hands via trade, he seems like a definite non-tender.

Hank Conger’s strong defense behind the plate as well as all-of-a-sudden cannon for an arm, have him getting more and more playing time. Should we be surprised by this? Or is this just matter of sample size?

Let’s not get carried away with saying his defense is strong, it is passable. He is framing well, though I think that could be a sample size anomaly, and he is no longer Rube Baker when it comes to throwing to bases, but he still rates poorly when it comes to keeping balls in front of him and other fielding plays. That is good enough though, which sounds weird for a Scioscia managed team.

I think it ultimately is a testament to him working hard to get better. What I find funny about the whole thing is that Angel fans have fallen into the Scioscia trap and have focused almost exclusively on Conger’s defense. It is almost as if we have all forgotten about the fact that he was drafted for his bat. Personally, I’m much more excited to see what he can do at the plate with some regular playing time.

Rapid Fire Round

Alberto Callaspo or Luis Jimenez?

Callaspo. He’ll figure out the throwing issue and he at least gets on base. I’m not opposed to the idea of a platoon, however.

Jason Vargas: Extend him? Or let him walk?

Objection, your honor, asked and answered.

Sustained.

Worse offseason signing: Josh Hamilton or Joe Blanton?

The Angels owe Hamilton a hell of a lot more money than Blanton. Josh all the way

Taylor Lindsey, or Alex Yarbrough. Who do you like more?

Not to toot my own horn, but if you come the MWAH Prospect Countdown archives, I have been hyping Lindsey for some time now. He had me at hello.

Bull Durham, or Eight Men Out?

Bull Durham everytime, Meat.

Final Thought

The thermostat under the seat of Mike Scioscia has been cranked up this year by local media and fans alike. He puts the lineup together and makes the on-field decisions. Seems reasonable. But is his seat warmer than that of Jerry Dipoto, the mastermind and architect of the roster and pitching staff that Scioscia has to work with?

I am a firm believer that every manager or GM should get at least three years to show what they can do since it takes time to shape a roster and install a philosophy. So, no, Dipoto should be fine, especially since Moreno has never demonstrated a quick trigger finger. Look how long he stuck with Reagins, for crying out loud! It probably helps Jerry’s case that, if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, Arte was the one who ordered some of the more questionable deals that Dipoto executed.

Scioscia though has obviously had more than three years and as much as Arte might love him, it is hard to envision him sticking with Scioscia if they miss the playoffs again. I’m not sold Scioscia is the problem, but this is now two years in a row where they started very poorly and seen great players inexplicably crater. Something has to give and I imagine that Dipoto will be in Arte’s ear asking to hire a manager that is more in line with Jerry’s more progressive and stat-minded way of thinking.

I’ve got my #SaveDipoto hashtag on standby.

Thank you, Garrett, for being a part of this. Up next on the dais, one-half of Productive Outs, Riley Breckenridge.

Topics: Angels Roundtable, Los Angeles Angels

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