Los Angeles Angels Roundtable: Chuck Richter

After five days of interviews, we have now come to the end of the line. We kicked it off with Eric Denton on Monday, passed the ball to Sam Miller on Tuesday, got snarky with Garrett Wilson on Wednesday, watched me try not “fan boy” all over the place with Riley Breckenridge on Thursday and got a unique history lesson from Matt Welch on Friday. Today, we give the ball to Chuck Richter, founder and editor of Angels Win, and ask him to close this thing out.

Chuck is a regular on Twitter, and isn’t afraid to let his true feelings fly. A dedicated fan who doesn’t settle for mediocrity, or have the patience for a Joe Blanton start.

He’s playing Ernesto Frieri this week, so without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, Chuck Richter.

It’s the halfway point in the season. This team was picked by people who are smarter than I am to win, not only the AL West, but the whole thing. On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you in this team for the second half of the season?

I’m about a 5. One one hand I feel the talent is here to make a run and agreed going into the season that they would win the AL West and go far in the playoffs — but at the same time, this team hasn’t inspired much confidence in me this season outside of two good runs they’ve had.

One of the tougher decisions for a fan is probably the decision to temper their expectations for a team’s season. Is it fair to a team for fan’s to do that? And, when is it proper for fan’s to start rooting for a team to get a high draft pick the following season?

No it’s totally fair. Us fans are the ultimate armchair GM’s and managers. Be that as it may, as a fan you want to win every game, just as the GM and manager do. I don’t think it’s EVER good for a fan to root for the team to lose, even if it means a higher draft pick. Remember, Mike Trout was selected 25th overall, Albert Pujols was selected in the 13th round.

It has been a long time since Angels fans have seen this team go into full-fledged “seller” mode. This team has quite a few valuable, young, cost-controlled players. Who, in your mind, is most likely to be dealt by the trade deadline? And, if they don’t go into “fire-sale” mode this year, do you think the team will if the same thing happens next year?

If the Angels go into full-fledged seller mode, which I doubt happens, I can see them trading Howie Kendrick, but not a Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos. With Taylor Lindsey and Alex Yarbrough approaching the Big A quickly, and with Howie’s attractive contract, he seems the most likely to go in a trade. On the flip side, I can see them offering Jason Vargas a contract extension.

Of those young players, some have been more impressive than expected this season. Who has impressed you the most?

Taylor Lindsey. His power totals in a tough league to produce at that level is extremely encouraging. I’ve been really impressed with Mark Sappington and Kole Calhoun too, though I never doubted Calhoun’s ability to play at the big league level. #FREEKOLECALHOUN

Howie Kendrick is killing it this year. We are finally seeing the Howie that we all were expecting to see when he was first called-up. Is it a shame that he didn’t get the starting nod for the All-Star Game?

No, his numbers are very good, but not Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis good. Should have he beaten out Pedroia? Absolutely!

What song would you replace Buttercup with?

As our own writer Jessica Melendez so eloquently presented, “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys.

Let’s pretend you are Jerry Dipoto. What would you do to improve this team between now and the beginning of the 2014 season?

Trade from a position of strength to obtain more pitching and sign or trade for a good leadoff hitter so Trout can hit third. I would trade the likes of Howie Kendrick, CJ Cron, or keep Kendrick and trade Lindsey. I would cut ties with Blanton, Hanson and sign Vargas and obtain one very good starter via a trade, giving Garrett Richards the 5th spot in the rotation. I would also pursue an upgrade at the third base position. Callaspo is decent, but he’s not really that productive offensively.

The Angels have two very high priced players on the team in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Neither of which are hitting at the same level that they once did before becoming Angels. Is Pujols in a full-fledged decline?

I do not believe Pujols is on a steep decline. Decling a bit? Absolutely, but not as rapidly as some think. I’ve seen him turn on 96, 98 MPH fastballs and drive them off or over the wall this year. I really believe his injured foot is playing into his poor performance this season. Last season he showed after a slow start that he’s a tier-1 offensive performer in the big leagues. His 2012 slow start can be contributed to trying to live up to that contract and the expectations thereof. I believe it’s all mental with Josh Hamilton. He needs more than an accountability partner in my opinion. The talent and bat is there, but his head is somewhere else. Someone send this guy some good chew and a therapist!

Keeping with that last question. Do you think that this season is an outlier for Josh Hamilton, or the beginning of a long and ugly decline?

Outlier, but he needs help. See above.

Quite possibly the biggest underlying story of the season has been the thermostat setting underneath Mike Scioscia’s seat. Last year, fans were calling for his head. This year, much of the same. Should we expect a new Angels’ manager in 2014?

No. Unless Mike Scioscia quits, he’s here for the long haul. I second guess Scioscia’s decisions all the time and I disagree with a lot of his moves, but these high priced players and the bullpen just haven’t performed the past couple years and you can’t blame him for 2010-2011.

Rapid Fire Round

Who is your center fielder? Peter Bourjos or Mike Trout?

Bourjos. He’s just better, but that’s not a knock on Mike Trout who could be the centerfielder on 29 other teams, including the Baltimore Orioles.

Discounting money, who is the worse offseason signing? Joe Blanton or Josh Hamilton?

Tough question. Considering there’s more to gain I believe from Josh Hamilton and Blanton is at best a 4.50 ERA guy in the AL, I’m going with Blanton. Outside of a recent good stretch, he’s been absolutely horrible and has cost the Angels more games than Hamilton has.

Other than Mike Trout, what Angels’ player should be at the top of the “We need to extend this guy” list?

Jason Vargas. I believe he’s the perfect #3 in any rotation and with C.J. Wilson coming around, it gives the Angels a good 1-2-3- going into 2014.

Does Ryan Madson actually exist?

Nope, even though I have the pictures to prove he does.

In the “Stats vs. Scouting” argument, which side do you stand on?

I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m a bottom line guy and stats don’t lie, but at the same time there’s also grit, work ethic, determination and a little ‘Eckstein’ that you look for in all kinds of players. There’s also projectabiltiy and raw tools that should never be overlooked just because the stats are not there.

Final Thought

Should the Angels blow up the roster and go into “rebuilding” mode?

No. It’s a bummer that the past two seasons have flamed out right from the starting line and into May, but this team is a good or just .500 April/May from being in contention. When you consider that, it really is a bummer that they couldn’t even play below their expectations with a .500 start the last two seasons. But no, you don’t blow this up, nor could you really.

Thank you Chuck. And another round of thank you’s to Eric, Sam, Garrett, Riley and Matt for being a part of this. Things like this make blogging fun.

Topics: Angels Roundtable, Los Angeles Angels

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