The LA Angels played it safe this offseason. They avoided any splash moves that could backfire on them. This has been the Angels’ offseason strategy ever since the Josh Hamilton debacle.
The signings of Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, and Martin Maldonado were the LA Angels highlights from this Winter. They are supposed to round out a lackluster offense and turn a good defense into a great one. However, last night was not an encouraging sign on the offensive end.
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Long story short, these three signings went a combined 0-11 at the plate last night in the 4-2 loss to the Athletics. Now before I go further into this, let me say that I’m aware this is only one game, and all of these players can go on to have good, if not great, seasons. However, they did not get off to a great start. It was absolutely awful to watch these players be owned by A’s pitchers as soon as they stepped into the box. Maybin and Espinosa each struck out twice, while Maldonado earned himself a strikeout hat trick, being sent down on strikes each time he came to bat.
It is not the hitless nights that concern me. It is the strikeouts that alarm me. The Angels’ strategy given
their roster should be to get runners on base, and to put the ball in play and win on the basepaths. A groundball, sacrifice fly, hit, walk, they all move baserunners. Strikeouts do not. As we saw last night, if the team is striking out a lot, it is going to be a lot of Mike Trout being Mike Trout and not much else. That works at the top of the lineup. However, for hitters 5-9 their primary focus should be putting the ball in play and running hard. Good things can come from live outs. Nothing good can come from a strikeout.
However, Espinosa, Maybin, and Maldonado all held up their side of the bargain when it came to defense. Espinosa used his past experience as a shortstop to play great at second. It is a luxury to have him in left field, as Maybin is athletic enough to play center. He made a nice catch backed up against the wall that would have bounced off for a double if he had not of been there.
Maldonado called a great game for Nolasco (except for a couple hanging curves). He did a great job of keeping the ball in front of him. This is even more impressive when you take into account how many of Nolasco’s pitches cut down late. His sinker is his best pitch, and having a catcher who can control it is very beneficial.
Last night did not start the 2017 season off many fans had hoped and expected. A large part of this was because of the new arrivals’ struggles at the plate. However, it is a long season. I expect each of these players to prove valuable in their roles in this offense.