LA Angels of Anaheim: AL West rival’s review


Dan and Chip are taking a look at the Astros’ AL West competition over the next several days. Today, Dan takes a look at the Angels’ chances against a strong western division.

LA Angels of Anaheim. Entering their 57th season. Extra points if you can name the 4 different team names they have used since 1961.

2016 Record. 74-88 Finishing 4th in the AL West

Last Playoff Appearance. 2014

World Series Appearances/Wins.  1 for 1 – Only appearance in 2002

Best Franchise Season. 100-62 in 2008

Worst Franchise Season. 65-95 in 1980. They won less games (47) in strike shortened 1994 season,  but with a better winning %

Manager.  Mike SciosciaEntering his 18th full season with the Angels  (1490-1264) – He has managed more games than the last 14 Angel managers, including interims, managed.

GM. Billy Eppler – Entering his second season after previously being Assistant GM with the Yanks

2016 Payroll (from spotrac). $181 million (7th in MLB).

2017 Payroll (projected by spotrac). $150 million (11th).

2016 Offense. 717 Runs (10th in AL),  156 HRs (14th),  73 SB (8th), . 260 BA (6th), .726 OPS (11th)

2016 Starting Pitching. 4.60 ERA (11th),  1.43 WHIP (14th),  309 BBs (5th worst), 699 Ks (13th), .276 BAA (14th),  .802 OPS against (14th)

2016 Bullpen. 3.77 ERA (9th),  1.34 WHIP (10th),  Saves 29 (14th),  Blown Saves 21 (5th worst), .258  BA against (12th)  .729 OPS against (10th)

It seems like it was only a few years ago that the Angels were spending a boatload of money and making the playoffs all the time. They made the playoffs in 6 out of 8 seasons between 2002 and 2009 and had that one WS win. Since 2009 they have continued to spend a boatload of money, but have made the playoffs only once getting steamrolled by the Royals (3-0) in the ALDS in 2014. They have been on a decline since that playoff appearance going from 98 to 85 to 74 wins. Do they stop the bleeding this year or sink a bit more?

Infield. Last season the Angels normal infield of 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Johnny Giavotella, SS Andrelton Simmons and 3B Yunel Escobar hit for good batting averages with very little power. The four of them combined for 31 HRs and 183 RBIs. By contrast Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa put up 44 HRs and 192 RBIs just by themselves. The Angels have tried to boost up the infield a bit by picking up former Astro Luis Valbuena as a free agent to be the regular 1B and backup 3B.  Valbuena had a nice .260 BA /.357 OBP/.816 OPS in and injury shortened 2016. They also picked up veteran SS Danny Espinosa in a trade with the Nats, who will bring more power (24 HRs and 72 RBIs) with a lot less contact (.209 BA and 174 Ks in 2016).

Outfield. The Angels OF in 2016 consisted of All World CF Mike Trout (123 R, 29 HR, 100 RBIs, 30 SBs), the solid RF Kole Calhoun (.271 BA/.786 OPS/ 18 HRs/ 75 RBIs) and amateur nights in LF between Rafael Ortega (1 HR/ 16 RBIs), Daniel Nava (1 HR/ 13 RBIs) and Nick Buss (1 HR/8 RBIs). The Angels picked up not one, but two veterans to address the LF hole – trading for Cameron Maybin from the Tigers and signing FA Ben Revere from the Nats. Maybin had a solid .315 BA/.801 OPS with the Tigers, but…. he had shoulder problems playing in only 94 games and is having shoulder problems again this spring. Revere had a 2016 very similar to the Angels LFs (2 HRs/24 RBIs/.217 BA/.560 OPS) so the Angels are hoping that Maybin stays healthy.

DH and C. Is it possible to have a pedestrian season at DH with 31 HRs and 119 RBIs like Sir Albert Pujols put up last season? Well it is pedestrian (.268 BA/.323 OBP/.780) when compared to the seasons the Angels thought they were buying – like Albert’s wonderful 2008 (.357/.462/1.114) with the Cards. Right now the Angels would take 5 more of that 2016 season before they get out from under the $140 million they owe him in the future.

In 2016 C was manned mostly by former Astro farmhand Carlos Perez, Geovany Soto and Jett Bandy. Soto is gone to FA and Bandy is gone to the Brewers in a trade for another journeyman C in Martin Maldonado. Perez hit poorly last season (.209 BA/.568 OPS/ 5 HR in 87 games), so the best guess is that he will be backing up Maldonado who was a bit better (.202 BA/.683 OPS/ 8 HR in 76 games).

Starting Rotation. One of the most important facts when looking at the Angels 2016 was that they had 15 different pitchers start games for them and their injured ace Garrett Richards only started 6. His improved health and performance is critical to their 2017. Two of the pitchers who might have vied for a BOR spot, former Astro Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney are both sitting out the season after having TJ surgery. Young Tyler Skaggs who pitched solidly in 10 starts last season (4.17 ERA) is penciled in behind Richards as is Ricky Nolasco, who pitched well in 11 starts (3.21 ERA/ 1.068 WHIP) after coming over from the Twins last year.  Matt Shoemaker outpitched his 9-13 record in 2016 (3.83 ERA) and is hoping to bounce back to his best season of 2014 (16-4/3.04 ERA). The last spot in the rotation is probably a battle between veteran Jesse Chavez who signed as an FA from the Dodgers (2-2/ 4.43 ERA) or Alex Meyer who came over from the Twins in the Nolasco trade (4.57 ERA / 1.385 WHIP). The key to their rotation will be returns to success and health for Richards and Shoemaker. And lots of rainouts.

The ‘Pen. Huston Street started 2016 as the closer and pitched poorly (6.45 ERA) and due to injury only pitched 26 times. He is injured again and was shut down the other day for 3 to 4 weeks. Cam Bedrosian who was brilliant in 2016 (1.12 ERA/ 11.4 K per 9 IP) would seem to be the heir apparent to the closer’s spot. Both Andrew Bailey (2.38 ERA / .971 WHIP) and Deolis Guerra (3.21 ERA / 1.106 WHIP) pitched well out of the bullpen in 2016 and would likely roll up to the set up roles. Jose Alvarez (3.45 ERA) is the most likely first lefty out of the bullpen though his 11.1 hits per 9 IP is disconcerting.

Prognosis. Their lineup has holes. Their rotation has holes, but potential. Their bullpen is fairly solid but not deep. This team would seem to be treading water.

Projection: 76-86

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97 comments on “LA Angels of Anaheim: AL West rival’s review

  1. I’m heading to a business appointment so I’ll give a more in depth reply later. The 4 names used are the Los Angeles Angels, California Angels, Anaheim Angels and, of course, the current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

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  2. Once Danny Ford, legendary Clemson coach was overheard in the last seconds of a defeat where the other team was simply downing the ball to run out the clock. Of the opposing Quarterback he yelled, “I hope he blows out a £*€%# knee!”

    That’s the sentiment I have for Matt Shoemaker,…and Albert Pujols now that I think of it🤕 Lol!

    I had a completely different take on the Altuve and Trout exchange, whereas when Jose speaks of wanting to always improve, he means he wants to be more valuable than Mike Trout.

    Their lineup couldn’t handle the big breaking stuff, pretty easy if you could keep men off the sacks when big hitters came calling. Calhoun’s a spark plug & grinder – I expect him to improve.

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  3. The Angels are one injury away from being among the worst teams in baseball.
    They have the best player in baseball in CF.
    They are weak offensively in the infield.
    They are very weak at catcher.
    They are weak in the bullpen.
    Their rotation is average, if their best pitcher heals properly after a revolutionary treatment on his elbow, and they have no help in the minors.
    Their DH is a legend who is now way overpaid and whose OBP is surprisingly low.
    They are probably 2-3 wins better than last season, barring injuries.

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  4. Morning, Becky! Hope this is the beginning of a brighter days for you!💐

    Ok, Sports Fans, we got LMJ on the hill today! Takers, anybody?
    2IP 2H 0R. Sound about right?
    Will it matter ‘long as he stays healthy and sharp? Anything in particular we’re looking for?
    ________

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.mlb.com/218466778-tyler-white-hopes-to-make-astros-bench.amp.html

    Tyler White might make this team? IMO, his best position is 3B with a solid glove. If it’s just confidence he needs to regain, we might que up another feel-good story! With Marwin on payroll, Reed and Moran hitting, it’s a tough row to hoe, though. With Jake hitting looks like curtains for Laureano Garcia Kemp Fisher Kemmer this go ’round.

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  5. Framber Valdez is two full years older than Francis Martes. That’s one of the reasons why Valdez may not be as far away from the majors as one might think.
    A versatile Tyler White may be a 2018 answer to the burgeoning salary of super utility player Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin has a team option of $5.12 mil next season, almost as much as Altuve’s. With Bregman’s ability to fill in at SS for Correa as needed, White could concentrate on 3B, 2B and 1B this season, especially if his bat continues to improve. He is the only guy who could fill those 3 positions defensively, while carrying a bat that has corner infield projection. Guriel adds to the flexibilty also.
    Charlie Morton looks healthy.
    Hoping like crazy to hear good things about Becky.
    Wondering how much of a difference playing in Carolina vs playing in Lancaster will help our pitching prospects develop.
    I wonder if Garrett Stubbs and Jake Rogers will ever be the combination behind the plate for the Astros.
    Apparently, Yuli is the Gurriel the Astros wanted.
    How good is Kyle Tucker?
    If Mike Trout keeps up this pace for another eight years, is he the best player ever?

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    • I’ve already stated Thornton was one of my favorite draft picks of the Luhnow era. I don’t see him reaching the top prospect list though – he probably ends up in the bullpen filling in like Devo did last year. He is capable of being that effective. However, I like his prospects as a starter better than guys like Paulino if given a chance at higher levels.

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      • As an aside, today David Paulino threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out a pair.

        Are you in favor of piggy backing Paulino, Devenski, Fiers and Feliz? I kind of see all of these as 3-6 innings (max) guys.

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      • ▼Option years considerations may push Paulino into MLB relief usage sooner than later.

        He’ll be down to one option year for 2018 at some point during 2017, and there just may not be enough time to both stretch him out to a larger workload and allow him to cut his proverbial teeth at the big league level before he’s completely out of option years. That Feliz’ option years clock was ticking away had a lot to do with how he ended up in relief and a similar story might play out with Paulino toward the middle to end of this season (or start of next season).

        Posted by reillocity on Mar 1, 2017 | 10:31 PM

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      • Yeah, I’m not in favor of it, but rather expect any of those guys as starters are more likely NOT to make it into the sixth inning. Having guys who can give you 6 outs in relief is a great asset.

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  6. LMJ throws two perfect innings. 3 Ks, 2 groundouts and 1 flyout. I wonder how his velocity was.
    Sonny Gray injured, will start the season on DL and is expected to miss most of April.

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  7. For any football fans – the Texans just traded Osweiler to the Browns with a 2nd and a 6th round pick in exchange for a 4th round pick.
    Now back to baseball

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  8. Nice 6 pitcher shutout for the Astros today. I guess I should not point out that the 6 guys involved with the 3 runs scored (Kemmer, Moran, Hernandez, Davis, Laureano and Brignac will probably not be with the big club when camp breaks….

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  9. I have a different take than OP on the Angels. They were the antithesis of the Rangers. Despite only having a -10 RD they finished 14 games under .500. They should have been closer to .500, 79-83 or 80-82, based upon RD. The key to them is Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker. If they can get a relatively healthy season from them, and there is no doubt his is a HUGE ‘if’, they could be an 83-85 win team. They upgraded their defense dramatically this off-season and the starting pitching, if healthy, is fairly decent. With the improved defense they will not give up as many runs as last year. The Angels are a puzzle because, if everything breaks right they could challenge for the division, but if the injuries crop up again they could finish last. It is so hard to peg where this team will land, but suffice it to say health will determine how their season progresses.

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  10. Hello guys and girls. I’m writing this comment so you figured out I’m alive! I was scheduled to have surgery at 2:00 yesterday, but the operation didn’t start until 4:00.
    Needless to say that was a VERY LOONG day for me. The surgeon freed up a bunch of adhesions and scar tissue in, and around my small intestines. AND……I LEFT MY GALLBLADDER AT Memorial Herman Northeast hospital.😳 I want to be free of pain, and this was a successful operation. My brain is still fuzzy (stop laughing daveb) and thank goodness for pain medicine!
    Diane and Sandy…thank you for thinking about me and your prayers.Love you both!
    Fellas….I want to thank all of you big guys for remembering me in your prayers!
    I know I can’t repay you for your friendship…..but just know how much each and everyone of you mean to me. It’s been a long arduous 3yrs, of getting poked and cut on. If you got to see today’s game share your thoughts on McCullers and the bullpen!
    Question: who is our opening day starter this season??!! And who starts the season on the DL. Once again….MANY, MANY THANKS FOR ALL PRAYERS❤
    Love, Becky⚾

    Liked by 6 people

    • Awwww – knowing you are OK is “repayment” enough for us! Did not see today’s game but it was very well pitched on paper against a Cardinals team that had been playing well this spring training.
      But the heck with that – thank you Lord for bringing Becky through safely!

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    • Awesome news, Becky!

      As of today, Keuchel as expected Mano y Mano vs. Felix Hernandez, two big game stars!

      Clear #2 is McCullers, though. Today, he praised “Mac” for calling a great game, anticipating what to throw and trusting he’d make the right call other times, that helped against certain hitters.

      When they interviewed Martes last week, he mentioned how he’d put away Giancarlo Stanton and several other big names .. I know he’s fuming already to make OD, and truly if we had a team like when we brought up Jordan Lyles, why wouldn’t we be starting Martes?

      Also, when McCann made that comment that got laughed at early on, the one about “everybody on the staff can hit mid 90’s” – turns out we do have a dozen fireballers🔥

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    • No repayment necessary. That’s what friends and family are for and family we are in our own weird little Astros way😍.
      So relieved to hear from you and glad you’re doing well.

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  11. Becky, you’re a bigger baseball fan than I am, Gunga Din. Terrific news. Won’t ask any questions. Assume all issues currently at rest. Have a great night!

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  12. God Bless You Becky! I’m not laughing. We’re all getting a bit fuzzy. It’s the new norm for more and more of us! Welcome back to the squad!

    If McCullers stays healthy, he’ll be a force. I’ll be interested to see how his innings are kept in check. The pen is deep and my hope is the righties will get lefties out. Our former Cy Young still gets the Opening Day nod. I’m not going to wish the DL on anyone. Just happy you’re coming off it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Becky, it’s great to hear from you! I couldn’t find the game on TV today, but I followed LMJ’s two innings on MLB Gameday.
    I think Keuchel starts on opening day, if he is fully healthy.
    Right now, the only guy I see on the DL is Preston Tucker. I hope that is all.

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    • How Gattis reacts to less work will be of interest heading into 2017 – he hit better in 2016 especially in the second half when he was getting a lot more time behind the plate.
      Can he give them 250-300 really good ABs?

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      • One thing I noticed about Gattis last year was his increased BB%. It still is below average, but it was not embarrassingly below average. He seemed to do a much better job of recognizing pitches that were falling out of the strike zone (changeups that look like strikes, but then drop below the knees). With his power the more he can layoff pitches out of the strike zone and swing at pitches in the strike zone the more deep flies we will see from him.

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  14. Just like I could not get too down with how the Astros played the first week of ST, I’m not going to get too up based on how they have played the second week of ST – other than the excellent pitching by Morton, LMJ and Musgrove. That is something we really need to see going forward.

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    • In WBC
      Correa played great at 3B, hit a monster HR to CF, and Beltran had a big game v Venezuela … their team knocked Felix Hernandez out in the 5th & Puerto Rico skunked ’em 11-0!

      Quintana pitched really well against the USA, but Adam Jones hit the walk off to win in extras.

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  15. What in the HECK is going on with Brady Rogers? Saw his pitching line today…….not good. I agree with you Gov….it will be a shame to send Musgrove back to Fresno at the end of spring training.

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    • Jeremy Booth of Program 15, Rodgers’ offseason trainer, seemed to think Brady is falling into older habits and away from what they worked on over the break.

      His other client, AJ Reed however may be turning the corner!

      If Moran keeps hitting, it’s going to make for even more of a stockpile. Surely the FO is hoping for a few guys to add to our influx of relievers in trade possibilities. A recent article mentioned that we should trade a reliever.

      Speaking of, Quintana was lights out last night..

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  16. I think Joe pretty much controls his own destiny at this point. Two more good weeks and they’lll be setting him up for his slot in the rotation.

    Fiers, with his hamstring setback, provides an easy DL solution to start the season, helping get the staff down to 13, keeping a guy that would have been on his way to Fresno.

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  17. All the hoopla over Jake Marisnick’s new and improved swing and blah…blah…blah.
    Leads the team in at bats, has an BA of .222, an OBP of .290, an SLG of .333, and an OPS of .694.
    He has 11 Ks in 27 ABs for a cool 40% K rate and he is not facing a ton of major league pitchers.
    Same old Jake.

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    • Saw that this morning, too..

      Jake’s another we could package, who has some value. Meanwhile, look who is starting to rise to the top: Derek Fisher. 5 BB’s 5 SB’s 4 Hits in 12 AB’s. Looks like he’s trying to head off the other two contenders; Laureano and Alejandro Garcia.

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      • My gut tells me that Jake is staying and will be one of the guys off the bench. He is relatively inexpensive at $1 million but Fisher, Laureano or Teoscar are going to eventually push him out if this new swing doesn’t help him bring his numbers up.
        What is promising is Reed’s new attitude and Moran’s power numbers. Those two guys are still so young and have the potential to eventually develop into major league players.
        If the Astros can find a way to continue to develop the bats of White, Reed, Moran, Laureano, Fisher, Kemp and Hernandez, they will have the young players to inject into the lineup as needed to fill the spots of LF, RF, DH, backups at inexpensive(relatively speaking) salaries. That will allow them to replace higher paid older players and then afford to sign guys like LMJ, Altuve, Springer and Correa to longer term deals and keep them here, thereby extending the window of being a powerhouse with a core of potential All-Star players into the 2020’s.
        The development of a prospect like Martes into a major league pitcher helps blend lower priced youth into the rotation. That might allow them to afford to extend Keuchel, if he returns to a TOR pitcher and keep the Astros at the top of the standings, while maintaining a payroll in the $125-150 million range for the next 7-10 years and not make them go out and have to sign other team’s free agents or make trades that rob the farm of it’s best prospects. By then, several others of the Astros starting pitching prospects will be ready to contribute.

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    • Plenty of guys out there would have been major leaguers except for the fact that they couldn’t hit. Jake hangs on because he does everything else so well. But that won’t last forever. If the team finds a solid defender that can also run and hit, then Jakes days are numbered, at least in my mind. I don’t want to see a Teoscar or any number of other multi talented kids held up by a guy with a .588 OPS.

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      • Unfortunately, no one plays defense or runs the bases as well as Jake. At least no one that may be in consideration for a bench spot. This is why Jake will make the team. The Astros don’t want to have Teoscar in the major leagues getting 1 start a week. He is better served in AAA playing regularly and being ready when he gets called up.

        I agree with you that Jake will eventually be replaced as soon as they find someone that can be a defensive substitution and can hit better than Jake. Presently, no one fits the bill, but someone will in the not too distant future and my money is on Laureano.

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      • Tim, I think we pretty much said the same thing. And I like Laureano too. But we’ve only seen 36 games of AA ball from him at this point. I’ll be following him daily in 2017.

        If we get into the second half of the season and Reddick proves to be hopeless against lefties and Jake does not do much better, that’s when we’ll see someone new, especially if we’re not running away with the division. I don’t think a wildcard is going to be acceptable this year.

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  18. Martes out of the game in the first inning after a single, an error on a pickoff attempt, a wild pitch, a strikeout and two walks. Aaron West comes in and gets out of the jam, as one run scores for the Marlins on a groundout.

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  19. Dennis Keuchel (dad) is doing stories and play-by-play with Sparks on the radio. He’s grown out his beard, and Sparks says Dallas is taking after you. “He didn’t get it from his mother.” Favorite thing about Robert Ford? “his bald head.”

    Funny guy – I hear the same about the Musgroves…

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    • A pretty lethal combination thus far has been Correa/Beltran for PR! Super impressed with Beltran’s bat, and last night he had an RBI single he tried to stretch into a double, caught him 2/3 of the way to 2B, retreated and scampered back to first (very nimbly) safe. Houston: we have some serious liftoff!

      I also saw something very, very subtle last night, but that reiterates my belief about Altuve. After scoring for Venezuela, he ran through a tunnel of hi fives, and there waiting at the very end of the line with hand waiting up hi to congratulate, …. Altuve turned his back on Odor. What an “Astros First” move — I hope he’s become the centerpiece of keeping in the fold, if for no other reason his grit for this club!

      Liked by 1 person

    • … a man of few words, he’s done it all, the minutiae is probably a bit boorish these days – especially with four daughters (never a dull moment).

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  20. The Astros assigned minor league pitchers Frias, Holmes, Sneed and West to minor league camp this morning, along with catcher Garrett Stubbs.

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    • More important, Chapman removed from 40-man … isn’t Aplin still on it, too? Tolliver. Not for long..

      And Keuchel on the hill today. My bet is he’s sharp and pretty close to being ramped up. Doubt he’d agree to pitch yet if he weren’t primed/”amped”.

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    • This might be the monster Spring that Julia Morales said he’d need!

      I remember writing how somebody needed to punch Reed in the mouth, and toughen him up. Came into this camp saying he just wanted to hit the ball hard.

      His trainer had done quite a lot of background work on Reed to get him fit into this club. Looks like their approach (with knowledge comes confidence) has really paid off!

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    • We saw him start slow and adjust at every stop. Hopefully he continues to hit once pitchers have their real fastballs flying. Regardless, I’m not sure they can find a spot on the 25 due to his defensive limitations.

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      • I don’t think the FO sees it that way, Devin. They see a lefty/righty option at 1B, and the future they invested in. Marwin and Gurriel have the glove, Reed the power tool. Also, when Reed is in play (pull hitter), the shift is on (less ground to cover). Where he’s a liability is running down sprinting foul balls. I could live with that trade off if he hits like Fresno.

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  21. This week has been a positive one for the starting rotation. Good starts from Musgrove, LMJ, Morton and Keuchel. Now they need to get McHugh up and rolling.

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  22. The one sentence that caught my eye about Bagwell being at spring training was:
    “Despite his 449 home runs, and his .948 OPS, Bagwell will go through hitting coach Dave Hudgens before offering any batting advice.” ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.!!!
    Man…..if this is their attitude, just put ear plugs in their ears, because CLEARLY they don’t intend to listen to anything Bagwell has to say. WOW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree 100%. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Why bother if no one is gonna take your advice. Roy Oswalt was a welcome sight for our pitching coaches!

      Like

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