Assessing and Addressing the Angels Depth Chart
By Saxon Baird
As Michael Hllywa pointed out earlier this week, the Los Angeles Angels have provided themselves a bit of financial wiggle room recently. By non-tendering a number of contracts, the Angels have saved themselves somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million. That currently leaves the Angels about $15 million under the luxury tax threshold.
April 9, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto attends practice before the Angels play against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
It’s good news for the Angels but it is not without problems. Non-tendering players leaves the Angels with some holes in their depth chart that need to be addressed. And judging from the amount of money that is being handed out this off-season, $15 million probably isn’t going to cover it. If it does, it won’t look pretty. For example, everyone knows the Angels need pitching. Now take Phil Hughes and his recently signed $24 million dollar contract over three years with the Minnesota Twins. Hughes does have some upside but we are talking about a pitcher whose ERA+ is 86 over the past three years. If he is getting $8 million a year then how are the Angels going to swing 2 pitchers for less than $15 million?
Who knows. This isn’t Economy 101 and that’s not what this article is about. Instead, lets run down the areas on the Angels depth chart that Dipoto and company still need to address regardless of the money.
Click to Enlarge. But don’t stare at it too long. Side effects from looking at the starting rotation are incurable.
Back-end of the Rotation
Currently, MLB.com has Joe Blanton and Matt Shoemaker rounding out the number 4 and number 5 spot of the Angels starting rotation. Or as Michael Hllywa jokingly wrote recently, “a batting tee and a batting practice machine.”
You can bet the Angels will not end the off-season without having acquired another starting pitcher. Even then, that still leaves the Los Angeles Angels mighty thin when it comes depth outside of the 5-man rotation in case when a starting pitcher goes down with an injury. That was further exacerbated when Jerome Williams was non-tendered this week.
With Feldman going to the Astros today for $10 million a year, the Angels options are even thinner. Oh, and guess who else needs pitching? The New York Yankees and their seemingly endless flow of cash which will likely only further increase the cost of obtaining a free agent starting pitcher.
Don’t be surprised if the Angels only sign one starting pitcher like Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez and then round out the fifth spot internally with Joe Blanton (again!) or Chris Volstad and/or Wade LeBlanc who both recently signed minor league deals with the Angels.
What?! Didn’t the Angels just trade for David Freese? Yes, they did. However, Freese has failed to play at least 150 games in any season of his career. Right now the Angels have Grant Green (who projects poorly with the glove at third-base) and the light-hitting Andrew Romine available to back Freese up. There’s also Luis Jimenez who posted a dismal 73 OPS+ in 110 plate appearances last year.
None of these options are particularly appealing at third. It might be wise for Jerry Dipoto to sign a versatile veteran infielder to a one-year contract to shore up the infield depth.
Good chance with the Joe Smith signing and Sean Burnett scheduled to be back in 2014 that Dipoto has stopped looking for relief pitchers. Yet, the Angels bullpen finished with an ERA over 4 last year and struggled greatly throughout 2013. With two left-handed relievers after Burnett in Buddy Boshers and Nick Maronde competing for a spot on the 25-man roster and with very little big league experience between the two of them, Dipoto might go after another high-risk/high-reward pitcher the same way he did with Ryan Madson. While that signing didn’t work out and looks bad now, it could have been a stealthy move on the part of Dipoto had Madson been able to make a full recover from Tommy John.
If there is any spending money left, Dipoto might want to try and sign someone like the left-handed Eric O’Flaherty who is also coming off a shortened year from TJ surgery. If he recovers and returns to form, O’Flaherty would be an excellent addition to the Angels bullpen. Don’t be surprised if Dipoto makes a late, off-season move to add even more bullpen depth for the 2014 season.