Imagine the LA Angels not making the postseason for sixth straight year in row, or what if the team doesn’t even have a winning season! Don’t worry none of these things have happened, but in honor of the Halloween spirit let’s look at a few tricks and a few treats that could shape up in the 2020 season.
As it stands as of now, the LA Angels haven’t done anything to bolster their starting rotation as the off-season hasn’t truly begun yet. We all know the biggest free agent out there is Gerrit Cole, who is rumored to be many different teams that are preferably on the west coast which would definitely benefit the Angels. But what if the Angels don’t sign the All-Star pitcher who is being reported to command the largest average annual value?
That would certainly be disappointing in the eyes of many Angels fans, and if the Angels don’t sign anyone that of equivalent value, it will most likely worry many for what would seem like a long season in 2020. Additionally, as much of their starting rotation last year was made up of first time guys, it would make sense for them to also add a second free agent pitcher.
He doesn’t have to command as much money as Gerrit Cole is looking to make, however, given the lack of experience and growing pains the current rotation needs to get through, it would be wise for the Angels to go out and get a lower tier starting pitcher.
The Angels are in desperate need of adding more depth at the catchers position considering the lack of production behind the plate. The Angels most productive catcher last season was Kevan Smith, who batted to a .251 batting average, .318 on base percentage, and .710 on base plus slugging, which he led in all three categories between himself and the other two catchers the Angels currently have Max Stassi and Anthony Bemboom.
While there are plenty of catchers out there on the free agent market, the Angels need to find a complementing pair in terms of both production and leadership, being able to help the pitching staff execute the right pitch to a certain batter is huge, and finding a catcher that does both well with the pitching staff and in the batters box is crucial for the Angels.
One free agent that comes to mind that the Angels could look at is free agent Travis d’Arnaud who made a exceptional contribution to the Tampa Bay Rays being in second in terms of earned run average (ERA) only behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. While d’Arnaud’s production at hitting is similar to the earlier mentioned Kevan Smith, the Angels ranked 25th in all of baseball in terms of ERA, which would give more consideration for them to go out and get a catcher that has the ability to get the most of the pitching staff.
The worst case scenario is that the Angels don’t go for any of the catchers that are out in free agency and stick with the ones they have to try and further develop them along with the young pitching staff.
The Angels bullpen didn’t do so well either as they ranked 20th according to ESPN team stats, (http://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/pitching/seasontype/2/split/128), this is in part to the relatively young age most of the relievers were and just under performing overall.
Some names that were hoping to have good season and to get Angels fans excited for the 2019 season were Justin Anderson, Cam Bedrosian, and Ty Buttrey that just didn’t show how good they were capable of being and as long as they are on the roster, there’s hope that they can improve going forward. The Angels could be looking to add this off-season to their bullpen with some free agent help, should they go that route, some names that are already on the free agent block include Will Smith, Will Harris, and Drew Pomeranz just to name a few.
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There’s one thing that could be seen as a bright spot for Angels fans is closer, Hansel Robles, who seemed to find an identity with the Angels and seemed to be finding himself as he found success in Anaheim. The worst case scenario for this particular problem is that the Angels stay put with the relievers they got, or the free agent pitchers they signed under perform in another disappointing season.
While we finally got past the multiple tricks that could occur during the off-season and regular season, let’s look at the treats that could be coming the Angels way. The Angels have a solid returning lineup that could be promising should they all stay healthy, including David Fletcher, Andrelton Simmons, and the return of a healthy Tommy La Stella for the 2020 season. While there are some question marks regarding Albert Pujols, and Taylor Ward possibly returning to man third base.
These issues shouldn’t outshine the good group of guys that are forming that were mentioned earlier, the Angels will take anything Pujols can produce at this point and with him showing good signs of a healthy 2019, there could be value for the aging legend. Matt Thaiss is another player to look at as although he didn’t have a stellar debut season, there is still plenty of time to show what he can do and improve in his development as a player over time.
Help could be on the way in terms of production and youth, with the soon to be called up Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh both players that Angels fans can’t get enough of and always begs the question when will they make their debuts? These two young superstars in the making feed well off of each other in terms of chemistry and production as seen in video and on the field. There have been some questions about a crowded outfield from fans that leave them speculating whether one player in particular, Brandon Marsh, will get traded to help the Angels fill some of their needs during the season.
However, I don’t personally agree with these suggestions as the Angels have depleted their farm system before, and are on the right track to bring it up to what is once was, and just by watching what Adell and Marsh can do, makes it exciting to see what they can do together in the Major Leagues. While the Angels will possibly weigh in all options to improve the team as a whole, they should take time to consider on not giving up prospects and risking the future again just for a couple shots or maybe even one shot at the playoffs.
Lastly, the full-sized candy bars that you normally get when you visit the large houses, both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani go into the 2020 season and find success. Mike Trout should be doing what he does best, by performing the best of his capabilities and continue to leave fans in awe at what he can do year after year. Ohtani should be on track to be fully recovering from Tommy John surgery which means that he’ll be coming back to pitch and if everything checks out, he’ll be back to being dominant on the mound while making adjustments to recovering from the surgery.
Both of these greats should also contribute to convincing some free agents to signing with the Angels because who wouldn’t want to play with these two superstars? Or should I ask for the sake of Halloween, what kid wouldn’t take a large-sized candy bar? So with that, there are the three tricks and treats that the Angels could have in store for the fans, hopefully we see more candy than actually being scared.